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139 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can change your life
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...
Published on 14 Feb 2001 by Alistair G. Appleton

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few questions still left unanswered....
Hmmm... This was one heck of a difficult book to take in. It was my first exposure to Zen and Buddism and a good one, I think.

The premise, if I have it right, is that we spend most of our lives at the mercy of our emotions: for example, when we lose our job we are distraught, we may cry, we may feel life is unfair etc, when really these emotions are completely...
Published on 11 Aug 2006 by Ms. J. Francis


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139 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can change your life, 14 Feb 2001
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (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
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (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
By 
Philip Walker "always learning" (Staffordshire uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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
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L. Mateus "lolakaycee" (SW London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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
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Martin Bennett (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (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
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and right-on, 18 Mar 2008
By 
M. Haugen - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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.
No doubt, the best book on the topic of living that I have ever read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 22 Feb 2006
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
For me this book can be described as 'Life changing'. Joko explains all a student of Zen needs to know to set them on the path to enlightenment. I would reccomend this book if your just unhappy right now or even if your an exierenced student of the way.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few questions still left unanswered...., 11 Aug 2006
By 
Ms. J. Francis "Chamee" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
Hmmm... This was one heck of a difficult book to take in. It was my first exposure to Zen and Buddism and a good one, I think.

The premise, if I have it right, is that we spend most of our lives at the mercy of our emotions: for example, when we lose our job we are distraught, we may cry, we may feel life is unfair etc, when really these emotions are completely manufactured from within us in the first place. Acknowledging, noticing and living with this fact is the only way to shed this constantly churning cycle of pain we put ourselves through.

Events happen in life, it is only how we REACT and associate them that make them seem GOOD or BAD, when really they are neither, they are just mere happenings in the world they only become good or bad because of how we THINK about them. It is a hard fact to face that, well, our emotional reactions: e.g. 'oh my god, she is so MEAN', 'I can't believe he would SAY that to ME', 'What the hell was she thinking wearing THAT' is really not what makes our personality, they are just learned habits and reactions to pressure and threat and can be shed.

The only area that I don't think is addressed properly in this book is what we see as the 'positives' in life. I work for a corporate company and with so much emphasis on the 'here and now' I wonder what I am supposed to be working for and toward, should I even be thinking and planning for the future, aiming for promotion etc? If it's ok, how is the most Zen-like way to do it? I feel really demotivated to achieve now and genuinely confused about it. The author says that often we give up so easily on partners because they don't satisfy our ego-centric demands, which I often think is true enough. Though I see this as I should be contented to be romantically linked with ANYONE seen as most problems come from my learned habits in the first place and I can be joyful even during so called 'happy' and 'sad' events. So what exactly DOES motivate a Zen master to break-up with someone??

She talks of pain repeatedly and that joy, not happiness, is true freedom. I have to say, giving up pain for constant joy sounds pretty good but I suppose a true Buddha would have to give up the opposite pole of pain: sheer elation. No longer feeling that overwhelming obsession we get sometimes and completely unreasonable and painfully intoxicating infatuation, well that's probably much harder to get give up for a joyful lull. But, from the looks of it, it has to be done for true enlightenment. Where exactly is this addressed? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that this is a problem with Zen Practice, I'm reviewing a book here. All I'm saying is that these points were just not made clear enough, if at all.

Basically I think there is a limit as to how useful it is to merely READ about this subject area. I have got at least 20 questions that I wish I could call up the author and ask her opinion about. I would suggest reading around the subject so you know your stuff then going to one of those meeting groups, because this Zen stuff is serious discussion material.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Wisdom, 31 May 2014
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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 !
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Nothing Special: Living Zen
Nothing Special: Living Zen by Steve Smith (Paperback - 23 Jan 1995)
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