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Idiot's Guides: Zen Living

Book Description

In today's harried, ultra-connected, technology-laden society, it's easy to become overwhelmed. The term "zen" is used freely by those seeking to calm and simplify their lives. But to truly reap the benefits of Zen, one must understand what it is and how to change his or her thinking and actions to achieve it. Zen monk and sensei Domyo Burk shows readers how to get started on the path to enlightenment and peace, regardless of cultural or religious affiliations. In this book, readers get:

- An introduction to what Zen is-and what it isn't.

- A foundation for how to get started in Zen practice.

- Explanations of the essential teachings of Zen and how they can free readers from the dissatisfaction that is inherent in modern life and improve mental and physical health.

- Step-by-step instructions for engaging in Zazen meditation.

- Guidance on increasing mindfulness, seeking clarity and enlightenment, and living by the Zen moral code.

- Tips for maintaining daily Zen practice, using it to deal with difficult and painful situations, and mastering the art of living.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Introduction
  6. Part 1: Getting Started with Zen
    1. 1 Introducing Zen
      1. Zen Is the Art of Living
        1. Life Is a Great Opportunity
        2. It’s Like Learning to Drive
        3. Discovering Your Own Answers
        4. Dignified and Ready
      2. The Zen Tradition
        1. How Zen Relates to Buddhism
        2. Practice Versus Philosophy
        3. Dispelling Some Myths About Zen
      3. What Zen Practice Has to Offer
        1. Waking Up to Your Life
        2. Less Controlled by Emotions
        3. Stress Relief
        4. Greater Authenticity
        5. Being a Nicer Person
        6. Satisfaction and Gratitude
    2. 2 Trying Out Zen Practice
      1. Finding Out How to Do Zen
        1. A Brief Overview of Zen in the West
        2. A Few Recommended Resources
        3. Author/Teacher Credentials
        4. Trust Your Intuition
      2. Actually Doing Zen
        1. Beginner’s Mind
        2. Anxiety About Change
      3. Giving It a First Try
        1. Meditating for the First Time
        2. Paying Attention to Simple Tasks
        3. Visiting a Zen Group
    3. 3 A Zen Practice of Your Own
      1. What Is a “Zen Practice”?
      2. Making Zazen a Habit
        1. Regularity over Session Length
        2. A Designated Time and Space
        3. The Right Equipment
        4. Joining a Zen Group
        5. Attending a Retreat
      3. Zen off the Cushion
        1. Practice Applies to Everything
        2. It’s Not Practice Versus Life
      4. Keeping It Up over Time
        1. Patience, Patience, Patience
        2. Not Judging Your Practice
        3. Learning to Shrug
        4. A Sense of Curiosity
  7. Part 2: Zen Tools
    1. 4 Zazen: Seated Meditation
      1. Physical Instructions for Zazen
        1. A Straight, Upright Spine
        2. Positioning the Rest of Your Body
        3. Where and When to Do Zazen
      2. Mental Instructions for Zazen
      3. Exercise for Your Attention
        1. Habitual Mind Is Monkey Mind
        2. Three Levels of Mind
        3. Attention Exercise Techniques
        4. Concentration and Expansion
      4. Effort Versus Non-effort
        1. Expectations About Meditation
        2. Resistance to Just Being
        3. Sitting When Things Aren’t Okay
    2. 5 Mindfulness: Awareness in Everyday Life
      1. The Effort to Be Mindful
        1. Nothing Is Beneath Your Attention
        2. Wholehearted Activity
        3. Remembering to Be Mindful
      2. Awareness of the Body
        1. Hands
        2. Breath
        3. Movement
      3. Taking Care with Everything
        1. Valuable, Not Valuable
        2. Respect and Attention
    3. 6 Precepts: The Zen Moral Code
      1. Why Be Moral?
        1. Not Causing Suffering
        2. Your Suffering and My Suffering
        3. Actions That Disturb Your Zazen
      2. How the Precepts Work
        1. The Behavior of a Buddha
        2. Intention and Clarity
        3. Compassion Is the Trump Card
      3. Daily Precept Practice
        1. Precepts and Other People
      4. The Ten Zen Precepts
        1. Not Killing
        2. Not Stealing
        3. Not Misusing Sexual Energy
        4. Not Lying
        5. Not Abusing Intoxicants
        6. Not Dwelling on Past Mistakes
        7. Not Being Attached to Praise or Blame
        8. Not Being Stingy
        9. Not Indulging Anger
        10. Not Disparaging Aspiration
    4. 7 Karma Work: Habits of Body, Speech, and Mind
      1. About Karma
        1. Your Karmic Package
        2. Delayed Effects Can Fool You
      2. The Desire to Change
        1. Sorry About That
        2. Taking Responsibility
      3. Obstacles to Change
        1. Habit Energy
        2. Conflicting Desires
        3. Not Thinking Outside the Box
      4. Unraveling a Habit
        1. Watching How Things Unfold
        2. Catching It Sooner
      5. Making a Change
        1. First Just Stop
        2. Then Try Something New
      6. Support for Karma Work
    5. 8 Cultivating Insight: Seeking the Truth
      1. The Importance of Insight
        1. The Truth Sets You Free
        2. Stuff You Ignore
      2. The Zen Approach to Insight
        1. The Truth Is Right in Front of You
        2. Different Kinds of Knowing
      3. Insight and Zazen
      4. Doing or Not-Doing
        1. Samatha and Vipassana
      5. Samatha: Working on Stillness
        1. Clear Versus Turbid
        2. It’s Your Volition That Remains Still
        3. Judgment Prevents Clarity
      6. Vipassana: Inviting Insight
        1. Focusing on a Question
        2. Experiencing the Answer
    6. 9 Sangha: Practicing with Others
      1. Communities of Zen Practitioners
        1. Sanghas Together
        2. Benefits of Sangha
      2. Working with a Zen Teacher
        1. Guidance and Encouragement
        2. Witness and Challenge
      3. Meditation Retreats
      4. Ritual and Religion
        1. If You’re Turned Off
        2. The Good of Ritual
        3. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas
      5. Vows to Become a Zen Buddhist
        1. Lay Zen Buddhists
        2. Formal Students
        3. Monks, Priests, and Teachers
  8. Part 3: Essential Zen Teachings
    1. 10 The Path to Liberation
      1. How to Use Zen Teachings
      2. The Four Noble Truths
      3. One: Recognize Dukkha
        1. Admitting Life Isn’t Perfect
        2. What Dukkha Is
      4. Two: See What Causes Dukkha
        1. Desire Versus Grasping
        2. Grasping Doesn’t Help
      5. Three: Let Go of What Causes Dukkha
      6. Four: Practice What Supports Liberation
    2. 11 The Fundamental Misunderstanding
      1. Your Self-Concept
      2. The Real Nature of Self
        1. Empty of Inherent Self-Nature
        2. The Way You Really Exist
      3. Understanding No-self
      4. Medicine for All Suffering
        1. The Misery of I, Me, and Mine
        2. Illness, Old Age, and Death
        3. Existential Angst
    3. 12 The Way Things Really Are
      1. Waking Up to Reality
      2. The Empty World
        1. One Big Reality
        2. Bright and Precious
      3. Your True Nature
        1. Wise and Compassionate
        2. Ignorance Gets in the Way
      4. The Absolute and the Relative
        1. Big Self and Small Self
        2. Nirvana Is Not Elsewhere
  9. Part 4: The Zen Path
    1. 13 Letting Go of Attachment
      1. The Nature of Attachment
        1. Good Versus Problematic Attachment
        2. Holding On
      2. Non-attachment
      3. Letting Go
        1. Getting to Know Your Attachments
        2. Loosening Your Grip
      4. Favorite Attachments
        1. Your Body
        2. Your Relationships
        3. What You Do
        4. Thinking and Feeling
      5. Learning as You (Let) Go
    2. 14 Studying the Self
      1. To Study Buddhism Is to Study the Self
      2. Signs of Belief in Self-Essence
        1. A Sense of Imperative
        2. Anger and Resistance
        3. Greed and Stinginess
        4. Physical Tension
      3. Challenging Delusion
        1. It Doesn’t Go Away
        2. Independent of Not-Self Things
      4. Dispelling Illusion
      5. The Experience of Less-Self
    3. 15 Taking It Deeper
      1. A Strong Foundation
      2. Generating Determination
      3. Facing Fears
        1. Skeletons in Your Closet
        2. Fear of Emptiness
      4. Willingness to Not Know
      5. Challenging Yourself
        1. Working with Koans
        2. Everyday Life Koans
      6. Avoiding Complacency
    4. 16 Enlightened About Delusion
      1. The Concept of Enlightenment
        1. The Human Ideal
        2. Direction, Not Goal
      2. You Already Have It
        1. Clarity About Delusion
        2. No Longer Looking Elsewhere
      3. Enlightenment Experiences
      4. After Enlightenment
        1. No Enlightened People
        2. Meeting Each Moment
  10. Part 5: Living Zen
    1. 17 Zen in Relationships
      1. Relationships as Koans
      2. A Zen View of Relationships
        1. No One Makes You Angry
        2. No One Makes You Happy
        3. No One Owes You Anything
        4. Everyone Is Like You
      3. Zen Practice with …
        1. Family
        2. Intimate Partners
        3. Friends
        4. Co-workers, Customers, and Strangers
    2. 18 Dealing with Challenges Zen-Style
      1. Busyness
        1. The Effects of Busyness
        2. Creating More Space
        3. Giving Up Attachments
      2. Worry
      3. Afflictive Emotions
        1. Powerful and Compelling
        2. Not Helpful
        3. Getting Free of Affliction
      4. Betrayal
        1. Impatience to Get Over It
        2. Opening Your Heart Again
      5. Being Misunderstood or Criticized
    3. 19 Daily Opportunities for Zen Practice
      1. Your Work as Your Gift to the World
        1. A Story of Two Waitresses
        2. Shifting Your Attitude
        3. The Zen Approach to Work
      2. Contentment Instead of Materialism
        1. Happiness Dependent on Conditions
        2. Materialism and Zen
      3. Going on a Distraction Diet
        1. Not Enough Stillness
        2. Setting Aside Stimulation
      4. Zen in a Non-Zen World
        1. Negative Personal Reactions
        2. Cultural Tension
      5. The Behavior of Others
        1. Doing Your Own Practice
        2. Respecting People’s Paths
    4. 20 Zen and Mental Health
      1. Zen Versus Mental Health Care
        1. The Useful Dichotomy
        2. The False Dichotomy
      2. Mental Health as Zen Practice
        1. Who Cares What People Think?
        2. Letting Go of Ideas
        3. Appreciating No-Self
      3. When to Turn to a Mental Health Professional
      4. How Mental Health Care Complements Zen
      5. When to Be Careful with Zen
        1. Strengthening the Self
        2. Fighting Depression
        3. Dealing with Trauma
    5. 21 Zen When Life Is Tough
      1. Difficult Circumstances
        1. Dropping the Stories
        2. The Perfection of Forbearance
      2. Injustice
      3. Illness, Pain, and Old Age
        1. Worst-Case Scenario
        2. The Universe in a Cup of Tea
      4. Loss
        1. A Zen View of Grief
        2. Loss as Teacher
    6. 22 Zen FAQs
      1. Meditation
        1. What If I Can’t Concentrate?
        2. What If Seated Meditation Hurts?
        3. What If I Keep Falling Asleep?
        4. How Can I Make Myself Sit Regularly?
        5. What About Weird Experiences?
      2. Awakening
        1. Could I Achieve Enlightenment? Me?
        2. Did I Have an Enlightenment Experience?
        3. What If I Don’t Care About Enlightenment?
        4. Do I Have to Go to a Monastery or Become a Monk?
        5. How Can I Deepen My Practice?
        6. What If My Practice Has Gotten Boring?
      3. Zen Practice and Your Life
        1. Why Has Practice Seemed to Make Things Worse?
        2. What If Practice Causes Relationship Problems?
        3. Do I Have to Give Up Strong Emotions?
        4. Is It Still Okay to Want Things?
        5. What About Zen and Pleasure?
        6. Will Zen Change Me Too Much?
    7. 23 Mastering the Art of Living
      1. Allowing Intimacy
      2. Expressing Your True Self
      3. Finding What Is Yours to Do
        1. The Search
        2. Embracing Your Work
      4. Helping Others
        1. What Is Helpful?
        2. How Wisdom Helps
  11. Appendixes
    1. A Glossary
    2. B Resources
    3. Index
    4. About the Author