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141 of 142 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 15 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to pure Zen without the superstition, 4 April 2013
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Rod Dalitz "rod" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
This book introduced me to the principles behind Zen, without the mystique and superstition of Buddhism. Charlotte is completely matter-of-fact and understandable, a lovely Californian who approaches Zen from a Western position.

Anyone interested in religion should read the two books, "Nothing Special" and "Living Zen"
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11 of 15 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 It is a new way of looking at life for me and I recommend it to anyone that is looking for guidance too, 13 Mar. 2015
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I am slowly working my way through this book that was suggested to be a helpful guide through life for me, even though I am in my sixties. It is a new way of looking at life for me and I recommend it to anyone that is looking for guidance too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Free at last, 15 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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. The book describes the practise but one will get the most out of doing it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars clear and simple, 2 April 2010
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
This one was really clear and concise, with no over lecturing or any of the confusing zen language I was expecting. It was a fun book with quite a simple formula for enlightenment.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, 28 Feb. 2014
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One of the best books on zen of all time, in my opinion. What a remarkable teacher joko beck was.
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14 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars pseudo-mystical claptrap, 31 July 2007
By 
~PigleT (Perth, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
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 relative?"... what on earth? I gave it the benefit of trying to read a few chapters before abandoning it as ultimately unprofitable.
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too cold!, 14 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Nothing Special: Living Zen (Paperback)
I find this book to be too cold, I have much more appreciated Osho's books on zen.
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Nothing Special: Living Zen
Nothing Special: Living Zen by Steve Smith (Paperback - 23 Jan. 1995)
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