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Nothing Special: Living Zen by [Beck, Charlotte J., Smith, Steven A.]
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Nothing Special: Living Zen Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Length: 290 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product description

Synopsis

This work shows how to make living itself a spiritual practice and how to discover that the extraordinary is really "nothing special".

From the Back Cover

WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western master.

"A splendid tour of the uncompromising and uncompromised teachings of Zen…Beck's lively texts lead the reader to the special 'no thing' of Zen tradition".
'Publishers Weekly'

"Deep wisdom; strong, clear, practical advice- wonderful common sense Zen".
JACK KORNFIELD, author of 'A Path with Heart'

"Joko Beck speaks from the timeless and the perennial, so her metaphors of ordinary things and everyday incidents illumine my mundane life. 'Nothing Special' is Zen alive and how to live it".
ROBERT AITKEN, author of 'Taking the Path of Zen'


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 612 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 1st edition (11 Mar. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001VA1PIE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #220,884 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: 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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By A Customer on 25 Mar. 2003
Format: 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Thousands of words myriad interpretations/ Are only to free you from obstructions..." - so says Shitou Xiqian's 'Song of The Grass Hut' - well worth a read, alongside Ben Connelly's useful commentary 'Inside The Grass Hut', if you can find it.

There's plenty of words in Beck's 'Nothing Special' and it does get a bit repetitive. Still, attritionally, it rams home the message I guess. Perhaps it's only a stylistic preference but compared with, Ezra Bayda, say, I do feel Beck's prose lacks warmth, plus, she rather lectures. She's very convinced by her own assessments, including the notion that no truly realised person exists, which strikes me as needlessly presumptuous. Then there's the clunky metaphors she employs: whirlpools, plug sockets, Victorian houses. All of them indulgent misjudgements that actually only serve to confuse the points she's trying to make, in my opinion.

Beck has a strong grip on the Zen essentials though and conveys them in an everyday language using everyday situations as examples. It's a commendable achievement and certainly worth the reading effort.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really glad I followed my instincts/intuition and bought this book. It's something special and has given me so much to think about. Recommended for anyone who is serious about living in a more present way.
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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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