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Nothing Special: Living Zen [Hardcover]

Charlotte Joko Beck , Steve Smith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Jan 1994
The author of Everyday Zen offers a companion volume to her delightful bestseller--a book that shows how to culitvate life like a Zen garden: spare and simple. living comes from freeing ourselves from the baggage of desire, projection, and illusion--and that a spiritual practice does not require a separate life.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco (10 Jan 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062502565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062502568
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,421,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western master.

"A splendid tour of the uncompromising and uncompromised teachings of Zen…Beck's lively texts lead the reader to the special 'no thing' of Zen tradition".
'Publishers Weekly'

"Deep wisdom; strong, clear, practical advice- wonderful common sense Zen".
JACK KORNFIELD, author of 'A Path with Heart'

"Joko Beck speaks from the timeless and the perennial, so her metaphors of ordinary things and everyday incidents illumine my mundane life. 'Nothing Special' is Zen alive and how to live it".
ROBERT AITKEN, author of 'Taking the Path of Zen'

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charlotte Joko Beck was born in New Jersey and brought up a family of 4 children. In her forties she began the practice of Zen with Maezumi Roshi and Soen Roshi. Joko was eventually designated as Maezumi Roshi’s third Dharma heir and now lives and teaches in the San Diego Zen Centre.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
We are rather like whirlpools in the river of life. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
140 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can change your life 14 Feb 2001
Format:Paperback
Following on from "Everyday Zen", this book is another collection of Charlotte Joko Beck's dharma talks to her students in San Diego. Joko - as she's known - is a little granny look-alike, in her sixties I guess, and once an ordinary white American housewife and mother - now an extremely powerful Zen teacher. Having read lots of Zen and Buddhist literature, I keep on coming back to Joko's common sense wisdom. She has little time for doctrine, lazy religious belief, and her teaching has more to do with critical pyschology than classical Buddhism. But in this sense it is perhaps closer to the Buddha's original, revolutionary sceptical teaching. In essence, Joko exhorts us to sit meditatively with the reality of our life. Don't live in fantasy - fear or desire - she says, live in the hard, beautiful realness of life with all it's pain and confusion. She speaks really eloquently about the way in which our egos - habitual patterns of thought, learnt ad hoc throughout our lives and elevated to the status of concrete reality - how this illusionary sense of ego is the very thing that is keeping us unhappy and half dead. This book is just as confrontational as Everyday Zen, but perhaps a little more accessible. There are some very simple but powerful images that can really unlock a lot of clogged up life. Read it and meditate. It will change your life. It has mine.
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86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only what is real 25 Mar 2003
Format:Paperback
What amazes me about Zen teachings in general is their uncompromising hold on what is real and what is not. This is not to say that they reject the unnexplainable and mysterious, but their stance that things such as apparitions or prophecies are both as unreal and unnecessary as science and materialism in considering a spiritual life, simply because they do not exist in the unbending reality of the present moment.
I have read both of Joko's books now and conclude that for someone who has read quite widely about Buddhist meditation, she is the source of the most painfully honest, blunt and beautiful teachings I have yet to come accross. You will learn alot about yourself simply by reading this book, and putting her words into consistent practice will undoubtedly change the way you live your life. Her metaphors for human life are so simple and direct that you find yourself wondering how such things had not occured to you before. If you are a practicioner of Zen, I can only say that this book, along with Everyday Zen, have been the greatest aid to my practice thus far. Enjoy this book, and take it very, very seriously, because people like Joko are the greatest treasure this world has given us.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book I Have Ever Read 7 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Living Zen was brilliant... This is Better. Her use of Analogies make this book, the reader, able to see. Life changing. theres no going back once you have read this. Who would want to. I feel I can read it again and again and learn something new if I read it for the rest of my life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in this book actually WORKS! 30 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What sets Charlotte's work apart from other Zen books is that what she has to say is relevant to modern times: the reader can relate. I confess to being a self help junkie: I have read MANY books on self improvement and most are inspirational at best, but when put into practice the contents and methods fail to bring about practical results. This book is different: I tested out a few of her concepts and I saw a brief change in my life that left me gobsmacked. Of course sustaining the change is not easy, because it requires constant awareness and Charlotte is the first to say, it isn't easy.It doesn't happen overnight: after all bringing awareness to one's previously unchallenged mind is going to be challenging because one needs to question and be aware of oneself. This is something we're not familiar with, so the process requires a relearning of sorts.
What I like about her two books, is that she doesn't promise that what she has to say will be the solution to everyone's problems, and I really found that refreshing seeing as all the self help books out there all seem to make ludicrous promises.This, and her first book (just as excellent) is not the sort of book that I would recommend to just anyone, because to most it would just be boring and a whole lot of intangible concepts far beyond comprehension. You have to be at the stage of your life, when you hunger for the quietening of the mind, when you want to give up the struggle, the fears, the dramas. And then, and only then will Charlotte's Books start hitting home. I just wish she would write another book, as I have read and re-read her 2 books and would love to read some more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Zen 20 Oct 2007
Format:Paperback
Although I agree with another reviewer that the whirlpools analogy is a bit weak, this book is nevertheless the best of many, many I have read on Zen. Joko makes the principles of Zen graspable and workable in the context of a western lifestyle. I carry what is essentially the summary of this book ("Now Zen") with me everywhere, and have returned to reread Nothing Special several times.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring!!! 28 Dec 2006
Format:Paperback
This book is fantastic. Once you have read one page you are drawn into power. Its changed my life. It makes you see people and the world in a whole new light. And most importantly yourself. It shows you your place on this planet that we are all conected. Once you experience these teachings like the other reviews have said you wont go back. A must buy.

If you are looking for something life changing you have found it. In my opinion it is inspiring. You decide i maybe wrong. Try it i think you will love it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Wisdom
Really helpful views on they way things are, and how not to punish 'yourself' with that, but to find the connection and therefore peace; especially in difficult times !
Published 1 month ago by W
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal
One of the best books on zen of all time, in my opinion. What a remarkable teacher joko beck was.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, wise and tough
I love the way the book is constructed, with patches of conversation between teacher and student. It gives a sense of lived experience which is so important in following the path... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jean
5.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to pure Zen without the superstition
This book introduced me to the principles behind Zen, without the mystique and superstition of Buddhism. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Rod Dalitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Free at last
I love this book. It is a simply written book with clear and concise examples of the practise of Zazen. The reasons for doing it and how you should do it. Read more
Published on 15 Jun 2011 by G
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special: Living Zen
Book arrived promptly and I found it easy to read and an enjoyable read. I think I need to read it again as there is a lot to take in. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2010 by Mrs. R. J. Goodall
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and simple
This one was really clear and concise, with no over lecturing or any of the confusing zen language I was expecting. Read more
Published on 2 April 2010 by Susan Lucas
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and right-on
This book has given me so many answers, and they all feel so right-on and so honest to the bone. One chapter is enough for days. I'm sure this book will follow me forever. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2008 by M. Haugen
1.0 out of 5 stars Too cold!
I find this book to be too cold, I have much more appreciated Osho's books on zen.
Published on 14 Mar 2008 by F. Villa
1.0 out of 5 stars pseudo-mystical claptrap
I'm afraid I hated it from page 1. All "You are whirlpools in the river of life" and suchlike. Meaningless discussions such as "should I search for the absolute or the... Read more
Published on 31 July 2007 by ~PigleT
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