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on 25 March 2003
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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on 16 December 2016
"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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on 2 March 2017
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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on 26 August 2017
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on 15 August 2017
I consider myself lucky to have come to Joko first in the world of Zen so I can get her 'feet on the ground' view of practise rather than chase after 'special' experiences. Really helpful and it just feels right and true. Thank you Joko.
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on 30 December 2007
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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on 19 November 2015
This was described as in very good condition which does not describe it accurately, its pages and overall appearance is okay which surprises me considering I was expecting a book in better condition.
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on 17 April 2016
Bloody brilliAnt!
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on 20 October 2007
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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on 7 March 2006
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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