Joko Beck certainly doesn't beat around the bush. People who are looking for a feel good self-help styled book on Buddhism and meditation may not enjoy this one, or her style in general. Joko Beck is known for her clarity and down to earth take on Zen. She doesn't try to wrap in nicely and tie it with a bow. She cuts right to the core and will tell you exactly what Zen is NOT, and exactly what meditation is NOT. At the same time, if you're looking for a true explanation of what you can expect in a real daily practice, then this book will be an excellent companion. I have found it to be an immense help to my zazen practice.
Zen can be hard for many people to wrap their minds around, like one of the previous reviewers. In Zen we say that your life is perfect EXACTLY as it is, because IT IS. How could it not be? In this moment, everything is how it is, and that is perfect. That's the reality. This does not mean that we can't make choices to improve aspects of our life. Of course we can, and even then, at that very moment, and every moment, your life is perfect exactly as it is. Sit with that one for awhile.
I really disliked this book. I have been meditating for awhile now, but I still consider myself a beginner. I also consider myself a beginner as a Buddhist. I have enjoyed several books about meditation, Buddhism, and related topics - books ranging in style, era, approach, and variety of tradition. This is the first I've come across that actually seemed to be trying to dissuade people from meditating. It also seemed very different from any Zen style I've been exposed to and did not seem to resemble Buddhism at all. I did not finish reading the entire book, but this is what I got from how far I read it (about halfway): Meditation can be very dangerous and has few or no benefits. Enlightenment is dangerous... and then the author expresses doubt that anyone has ever actually been enlightened or become awakened! She stops short of saying Buddha was not enlightened, but everyone else gets referred to as "hypothetically awakened". Her advice about anger seemed irresponsible. She seems to think that the only kind of anger that exists is the passive-aggressive kind. She does not acknowledge the other kinds of anger. She also says that everyone's life is perfect EXACTLY as it is. That is definitely not Buddhism, and if it's Zen, well, I don't want to know anymore about it. If everyone's life is perfect as it is, why become a Buddhist, why meditate, and why study anything with a Zen master? Does the author answer these questions? I couldn't tell! The author gave many "transcripts" of conversations and question & answer sessions with some of her students which are supposed to highlight the best examples of her teaching and only seem to come across as evasive, wishy-washy, contradictory and needlessly cryptic and obtuse.
Zen American style by an American Zen Master.Zen Master shows how to awaken to daily life and cover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships and work.