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Zen and the Psychology of Transformation: The Supreme Doctrine Paperback – Jun 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions Bear and Company; Reprinted edition edition (Jun. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892812729
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892812721
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Argues that Western psychology focuses on our problems rather than our possibilities, while Zen seeks to activate the potential of the individual and transform lives.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Benoit was a psychiatrist who was unable to move from his bed for several years after a serious accident. During this time he made a deep study of the human condition under the light of psychology with an extraordinary impartiality and thoroughness. The result is a book which, in the words of Charlotte Joko Beck, a highly respected American Zen Teacher and author of 'Everyday Zen', is "wonderful...the main teacher I've had all my life...It may be the best book on Zen ever written."
This book attempts to describe as explicitly as possible our inner phenomena and the ego's manipulative and harmful responses. His unsentimental approach is likely to produce strong reactions, due to the fact that he treats with such impartiality and clarity those things about which we are so partial. Yet this is the great strength of his writing.
Although he uses writings from the Zen tradition as the pegs on which to hang his explanations, they relate just as well to other mystical teachings, and quite naturally - for this is more a study of the human condition than an exposition of a particular teaching or tradition. His insights are clearly drawn from hard-won personal experience and he delivers them without regard for the traditional religious sensibilities. Such apparent arrogance certainly has the capacity to offend - but this is a feature commonly found throughout mystical literature. Benoits' goal is truth - he has no sectarian bias. As he says in regard to the Gospels: "...I find there with evidence a profound doctrine."
One warning should be given: the language, although precise, is not always easy - the book is translated from the original French and the style may not appeal to many readers, particularly those familiar with the more common approaches to this subject matter. Perseverance is rewarded, however - for this is a unique and peerless work.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
Few of us have the opportunity to retreat into an actual monastic way of life for years and years in order to sink into the nature of Zen experience. Therefore, many branches of Zen, with their emphasis on monastic methods, are often somewhat anachronistic amid the modern world of busyness, speed, information, and seemingly continual bombardment from every direction. Hubert Benoit's Zen and the Psychology of Transformation goes back to the impetus of Zen--a philosophy called Chan that derived in China in the 7th century from an illiterate philosopher named Hui Neng--in order to offer a form of Zen that is fully possible in the context of modern life. Chan is not centered in sitting meditation, or in traditional zazen techniques, but rather simply in a restful type of introspection that leads one directly to the core of Zen experience. Benoit details the mechanics of this introspective life in poetic and technical form, and in a way that leaves one with a clear and simple knowledge of how one is to live one's life according to the restful life of Zen.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
I have read this book several times over the course of five or so years; a rare occurence for me. The fact that Aldous Huxley writes the foreword should speak volumes in itself. In Huxley's own words this profound classic seeks to break through all that "obstructs the flow of life and grace and inspiration." A challenging read, but I doubt that you would regret having this book in your life. Consider it yeast!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rod Dalitz on 4 April 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for the fainthearted, I would recommend wider reading in Zen before approaching Benoit, especially Charlotte "Joko" Beck, but this book is seriously worthwhile once you are prepared to put in the effort of reading and understanding.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sanyata on 17 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, while theoretically strong is not about zen. The book isolates and analyses individual instances too much when zen says that individual phenomena do not exist apart from everything else. Too many analytical thoughts are actually detrimental to zen training!
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