Being Zen [Shambhala Sale Edition]
Bringing Meditation to Life
By the same author
New/Red dot to underside. A practical guide to actually bringing the teachings of Zen into our everyday lives, including how to develop clarity and equanimity amid the stress and turmoil of it all using techniques adapted from the Zen tradition.
"If you want to wake up, not just talk about it, this clear, inspiring book provides the practical guidance we all need. Many excellent books describe very well the human predicament...very few of them are helpful in making clear what is involved in developing a genuinely useful practice. To say `Just let it go` is like telling an exhausted drowning person to `Just swim to shore`...even though all reading is preliminary, it is often a crucial first step. Both for beginning students and longtime practitioners, this book will clarify the muddy waters." Charlotte Joko Beck.
Read an extract of this title
Besides, the point of spiritual practice can never be reduced to an intellectual theory or formula. Understanding must be rooted in our experience, and our ability to understand practice is always tempered by where we are on the path of spiritual awakening. At many points along the path, we may even find ourselves wondering what practice really is. Although I have practiced Zen meditation for many years, in this book I have tried to expand the definition of "practice" beyond just meditation technique to include any genuine meditation-based approach. It doesn't matter to me whether you sit Zen, vipassana, Tibetan, or whatever. What matters is whether you want practice to include your everyday living.
Mainly we need a clear approach to help us learn from our life experiences. Consequently I have divided this book into three parts, each pertaining to a different aspect of the path to awakening. Part I describes the basics of what is referred to as "practice," including the essential components of meditation. But it does so with the assumption that the reader already has some elemental familiarity with sitting meditation. If that is not the case, it would be best to get basic meditation instruction in person, particularly to learn the specifics on posture and breathing.
Part II emphasizes how practice can and must be an integral part of our emotional life, focusing especially on becoming free of the constriction of fear. As our protective veneer wears thin, we'll find ourselves encountering more and more frightening or painful experiences. Sometimes we can enter into them deeply. Other times we'll resist mightily. Whatever happens, everything we meet is an opportunity to practice. Everything that comes up is an opportunity to learn. This is especially true of our disappointments. To the extent that we can learn from our disappointments, to that extent we will be able to practice with all the ups and downs of life.
Part III is about awakening the heart of compassion, in which we begin to understand and taste the most essential component of the practice life-the willingness to just be. The more this willingness penetrates the very fabric of our life, the more we can step back from the self-judgments and the all-too-serious preoccupation with our own drama. We can learn to be at home, even in the midst of the muddy water of our lives. This book is about learning what it takes to cultivate that willingness. As we open to the willingness to just be, a sense of spaciousness develops around our suffering. It is my wish that this book guide you toward this experience of spaciousness. For isn't this what we all want-to experience the equanimity that arises when we can willingly be with our life as it is?
Johnson, Nathan J