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If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life
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on 15 December 2013
This book is worth reading. The title touched me straightaway. I value "Buddhist writing" that describes something of the author's own struggles/insights. There are surprisingly few around. (But then we forget how recent Buddhism is in the West). So, here is an autobiographical journey of the author's personal search for meaning in the Zen tradition, full of thought provoking nuggets that suddenly deepen the reader's understanding.

He sets out his stall here:
"What I write in the following pages represents the fruit of my Zen life. This is not an autobiography or memoir, but rather a deeply personal description of Zen teachings and central practices as best I understand them. Most of all it is written for those who yearn for a way into genuine depth, for a map through the wastelands of the human heart and mind to our true home".

And here:
"I've been walking the Zen way for the larger part of a lifetime. And along this way of terrible broken hearts and unspeakable joys, of learning what a fool I usually am, and of a wondrous beauty that pervades the entire world and invades the hearts of people - even people as difficult as me - I've learned a few things about this Zen way that may be worth sharing".

In truth I'm not so keen on the second half of the book in which the author offers some thoughts on how one can walk the walk, but then I always find suggestions as to how to live my life a little tedious. However this section is still well worth reading.

I'm grateful to the author for attempting to communicate the essence of his understanding. He has not got lost in theory or in politicking between different traditions. He keeps it simple.
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James Ismael Ford, Zen Master and UU Minister has produced another challenging book.
It is one of those books that compel to read only a chapter at a time.

If you are not familiar with Renzi Zen, I would suggest, skip the first chapter which has a challenging story of Paradoxical Intention.

But if you take the rest of the book, one lesson at a time ... along with some walking meditation, you will realize that IF YOU ARE LUCKY, YOUR HEART WILL BREAK.

Richard Boeke, Chair, British Chapter, International Assoc. for Religious Freedom [...]
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