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Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide to Ending the Pursuit of Happiness Paperback – 3 May 2008
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"This is an exceptional work, majestic in its scope and clarity. Barry Magid presents a mature vision and he does it with utmost care and intelligence. I really loved this book." --Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Psychotherapy without the Self
About the Author
Barry Magid is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York City, and the founding teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo, also in New York. He is the author of the Wisdom titles Ordinary Mind and Ending the Pursuit of Happiness.
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Here are some quotes that give a flavour of the book as I experienced it.
"Each of us is trying to cure ourselves in one way or another, but often our hopes go underground and we are never quite clear just what we are seeking or how we imagine we are going to get there. We may say a lot of different things about what we hope to get from meditation, but in the back of our minds there usually lurks the fantasy that something will fix us once and for all".
"I will explore the ways we can become aware of and more honest about that secret practice that we all engage in behind the scenes, so to speak, in our imagination, the practice that we hope will be our fix, or our cure".
"We are surrounded by therapies and diets and self-improvement programs, all of which promise to fix us. What we don't realise is the way all of them tacitly reinforce our assumption that we are broken and need fixing".
"After all our futile efforts to transform our ordinary minds into idealized, spiritual minds, we discover the fundamental paradox of practice is that leaving everything alone is itself what is ultimately transformative".
"It's hard to really do nothing at all. Over and over, we watch our mind trying to avoid or fix, fix or avoid; to either not look at it or change it. Leaving that mind just as it is the hardest thing to do".
"Meditation practices that aim at cultivating Samadhi, or states of clear, thought-free concentration, all too often end up fostering emotional dissociation and avoidance".
" Zen students, especially those who have had some realization, are in grave danger of imagining that they now are somehow "seeing reality directly" just as it is - without acknowledging all the ways that unconscious processes and organizing principles continue to operate, both on a personal and cultural level".
"By and large, there continues to exist within the overall Zen community an idealized picture of monastic practice. There is rarely any acknowledgement that the particular forms of that training may, for many, be part of the problem, not part of the solution. It is particularly hard to come to terms with the possibility that some teachers themselves have had their emotional lives badly warped by their traditional training".
I find this book very helpful. It is also full of common sense. Thank you Barry.
This book is best described as a no bulls!?t guide to Zen and I think it will appeal to both beginners and seasoned practitioners . Magid blows away many of the preconceptions we may have about Zen teachers being beyond human folly and reveals them to be ....... well.. human . He asks us what we hope to achieve from our own practice and what is our "secret practice "? He introduces some of the Koans and examines and questions their wisdom , not in a cynical way but in an open and honest attempt to help us gain insight into our own daily struggle . I suppose the big question that arises from this book is : What if this is it ? Do we continue to practice ? Do we dare hope for more ? OK that's three questions but that's the type of book this is , thought provoking ethical and without agenda . Needless to say I enjoyed this book and I leave you with this nugget
"Each one of you is perfect the way you are and you could use a little improvement "