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Everyday Zen: Love and Work

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  3,136 ratings  ·  157 reviews
A Zen guide to the problems of daily living, love, relationships, work, fear and suffering. Combining earthly wisdom with spiritual enlightenment, it describes how to live each moment to the full and shows the relevance of Zen to every aspect of life.
Paperback, 214 pages
Published February 22nd 1989 by HarperOne (first published 1989)
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Siddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIVZen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu SuzukiWhen Things Fall Apart by Pema ChödrönPeace Is Every Step by Thích Nhất Hạnh
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20th out of 61 books — 59 voters

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Community Reviews

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Bill  Kerwin

This a great no-nonsense guide to Zen spirituality, free of Asian exoticism and specialized language, whose only purpose is to make you see. According to Joko Beck, enlightenment is really very simple and yet may take an entire lifetime--or more--to achieve. Enlightenment consists in this: being present in the moment, every moment, for the rest of your life.

For you Christians who have been nourished by the spirituality of Juliana of Norwich, Meister Eckhardt and Brother Laurence of the Resurrec
I'll be honest here. The reason I got these books on Zen and meditation in the first place was to help me clarify what I was supposed to be doing in karate.

Damn this book is sobering. I don't even know where to start...

This book is a series of lectures that were transcribed by some of Joko's students. I guess the biggest thing that I got out of this book is the idea that yesterday is gone and tomorrow's not here yet so just live out today. Now I know that the point isn't that *tomorrow* isn't he
I learned more about Zen from this book than from any other I've read so far.
Sep 03, 2007 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who practices meditation/zen or has a genuine interest and open mind
It has helped me to be more accepting of myself and everything else, just the way it is. It has helped me to see (or reminded me) that I don't have to change myself or my life, to try to get rid of my "problems" (an endless and frustrating goose chase). Actually, I can accept them, and in that acceptance, they lessen. It has given me faith and clarity in my meditation practice, and inspiration and motivation to keep practicing. The first time I tried to read it (4 or 5 years ago), I didn't get a ...more
Joyce Lagow
My manual for Zen meditation and understanding. [return][return]The format of Everyday Zen is a series of transcripts of talks that Joko has given to students during intensive meditation retreats or during regular Saturday morning programs at the Zen Center of San Diego, which she heads.[return][return]Joko is a rarity in American Zen--American, not Asian; female; mother of 3 children; she had an independent career from which she retired. She started Zen when a mature adult. As a result, she bri ...more
One of the challenges of maintaining any kind of spiritual practice is bringing it into your daily routine. This modern world we live in is just full of distractions, some important, others less so- and I've found it's easy to run through an entire day without having spent even five seconds in the right mindset. For Buddhists and Buddhist fellow travelers like me, this tends to manifest most obviously as a neglect of sitting meditation, but it's really part of a whole lifestyle of neglect- readi ...more
This is my favorite Zen/Buddhism book to date. I read it in the middle of a crisis in my life, and it might have saved my marriage, because it spoke straight to me. About how life doesn't "work for you," about how people resist their lives and live in their dreams and fantasies, about how we expect things from other people and our lives and suffer when we are disappointed.

Joko speaks with such a feeling for the problems of real life that she could be any age, at any stage of practice (except th
Sean Raf
Much like Beck's subsequent book 'Nothing special' there is no other writer (that I've found so far) that has written with anywhere near the sort of clarity, intelligence, profundity, sheer scary ass wisdom about meditation/mindfulness/Zen as this lady did. She cuts through the bullshit with the sharpest hottest knife. There are no riddles, she does not try to be coy or obscure like some writers about something that is already quite hard to grasp already. And I thank her so strongly for giving t ...more
Don't let the possibly pop-psyche, self-helpy title fool you! Joko is the real deal. The path is nothing but practice, thorough-going effort to accept this moment as it is, with no reservations. On giving up hope - "We have to give up this idea in our heads that somehow, if we could only figure it out, there's some way to have this perfect life that is just right for us. Life is the way it is. And only when we begin to give up those maneuvers does life begin to be more satisfactory."
Una lettura davvero intensa che riesce a far sentire il lettore sempre più leggero, pagina dopo pagina; il problema è che, chiuso il libro, la mente analizza ciò con cui si è confrontata e il peso gravoso ritorna tutto in una sola volta. Per questo è bene sottolineare che, nonostante possa essere una lettura interessante per chiunque, è una raccolta di discorsi elaborati dall'autrice durante le sesshin da lei tenute, quindi le sue parole sono rivolte a chi pratica meditazione (zazen, nel caso sp ...more
Andrew Frueh
Just an incredible book. I practiced for several years with Charlotte Joko Beck's dharma heir, Elihu Genmyo Smith, at the Prairie Zen Center. So I had heard about her, but was never completely aware of her work. I have to thank GoodReads for leading me to this book. It was ranked highly on the listopia "Buddhist Reading List" so I decided to make it part of my practice. After sitting, I would read a section of the book, much like I did previously with Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace Is Every Step: The P ...more
May 12, 2009 Eric added it
Shelves: zen
I thought I'd note down (hah) some quotes I liked in this book:
[T:]o substitute one conditioning for another is to miss the point of practice. The point is not that a positive emotion is better than a negative one, but that all thoughts and emotions are impermanent, changing, or (in Buddhist terms) empty

Joko Beck is not the first person I've heard say (in effect) impermanence == emptiness, but I think reading it here is the first time it's stuck.

Another thing I liked in this book is the "New Jer
"It was ok" is about all I can say about this book. Some of her points were well-taken, and she does a good job of hitting all the main zen and meditation points, but the delivery just didn't endear the book to me. Part of it might be that it was a transcription of actual talks that the author has given, so it's not really laid out like a usual book. Also, it irked me how her main point came down to "meditate, know yourself, and you will Just Know what to do". It seemed a bit of a cop-out to avo ...more
Christian Northe
If you ever feel reading about selfeducation and mindfulness you should give Charlotte Beck a chance. This book has accompanied me on my search for understanding on meditation, awareness and orientation in life for well over 15 years by now. I have always been fascinated by Jokos Becks words but had and still have a hard time to accept all the implications and deeper meanings. She is a very, very strict person and yet ever so understanding and caring. By and by I manage to accept what she says i ...more
Absolutely terrible. It can be summed up with, "Don't get mad. Be aware. The present is what is really important." But instead of just saying that, she has to wrap it up in all kinds of devotional nonsense. Horrible stories like one about this jerk who is waiting for the karma train or dharma train or something... so here he is sitting around like a jackass and people start dumping their kids on him and he ends up having a lot of work to do. So he works the rest of his life babysitting and when ...more
A very concise and earthy explanation of meditation and Zen Buddhism. As someone who has been studying meditation in a different tradition I found her practical guide to meditating spot on, illuminating things I'd been struggling with for years.

I'm not sure this would be a great introductory book. I think there are basic concepts not explained as exhaustively as someone new to Buddhism and meditation would want. But if you've been around a bit (in any spiritual or contemplative path) I think thi
A couple dozen talks transcribed, lightly edited, and presented here, each offering an informal, unpretentious exploration of the Dharma generally, and of zazen (sitting meditation) particularly. Each talk had a memorable line or two, but the essays themselves weren't ones I'll be coming back to.

A few passages worth remembering:

"Someone said to me a few days ago, "you know, you never talk about enlightenment. Could you say something about it?" The problem with talking about enlightenment is th
I keep this book on my bedside, along with the other Beck book. These are, to me, the best books I have on insight meditation. They are practical, no-nonsense pieces taken from her work with students and include questions from students. I find both books grounding and helpful without all of the difficult to penetrate mumbo jumbo (my phrase) that books like this sometimes offer. I highly recommend this book and "Nothing Special." Mine are so worn, it's time for new copies.
Wes Packer
This is the closest book I have to a "bible". Wonderfully clear, simple advice and instruction. Perfect for Western practitioners, in my opinion.

Stands up extremely well to repeated reading - in fact, I recommend revisiting it at least once a year!

I take it everywhere with me.
Dean P
I feel this book would be useful as a companion for those undertaking retreats and Zen sitting sessions. The book was compiled from 'dharma talks' that took place after extensive sittings, and the talks are mainly focused on the issues that students may be confronting during their training (psychological issues, etc.). The book is not practical in the sense of talking much about what Zen practice actually is, or how to proceed, but rather as a supplement for the above. Overall, there are some re ...more
Great introduction to Zen

This book is great for beginners of zen. This book is good at introducing zen in a way that westerners can easily understand. If you are at all interested in Zen I cannot recommend this book enough. I knew close to nothing about zen when I started reading this book. Now I think I will look more into practicing and meditating. Zen is really different than what I have been taught growing up a Christian. Getting to know different schools of thought and getting into eastern
My first Zen book, when there were only a couple available on bookstore shelves. What a refreshing view of life.
great book, wish I owned it.
When I started this book I really like how the author related Zen practice to modern everyday life. Chop wood, carry water became more like wash dishes, drop the kids off at school. And then I got stuck. I suppose it was difficult for me to fully enter into the idea of exercising presence in mundane everyday tasks as a path to something like enlightenment, even if I already accepted the idea in theory. Concepts of living in the now and non-attachment while cultivating compassion are also difficu ...more
Arne Krueger
Absolut grossartiges Buch, ich brauchte vier Wochen und vier Tage, weil ich richtig damit gearbeitet habe. Immer nur ein Kapitel auf einmal, dann sacken lassen. Habe viel mitgeschrieben, es sind bestimmt vier meiner Blogposts in der Zeit davon dominiert worden. Das richtige Buch zur richtigen Zeit für mich. Danke Tony! Danke Julia! Für dieses wunderbare Geburtstagsgeschenk.

Ich weiss nicht, wie das Buch auf Meditationsanfänger wirkt, aber wenn man etwas Vorkenntnisse in Zen oder Buddhismus hat, w
I'm overdue for writing a review for this book since I finished it a little while ago. First I'll say, I loved it, and get that out of the way. This book will quickly be added to my favorites list. I've read this book twice, and while I did like it after the first read, I don't think that I really understood what I was reading. The first time that I read it was over ten years ago. Now that I'm further along in my practice, this book really hits home in a number of areas. While the first few chap ...more
Apr 02, 2010 AJ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: soul, mind, body
Several aspects of this book were very helpful on a practical level for me. Concepts surrounding non-attachment, enlightenment, duration of practice, and Buddha were made lucid. Using paradoxes to understand is a form of knowing largely outside my tradition; it was fun and enjoyable to stretch my mind when she incorporated them. One aspect which I did not find helpful were the occasional dialogues between Student and Joko – the ebb and flow of each chapter felt interrupted with their addition. T ...more
Mika. Mika.
This is nice book by Charlotte Joko Beck on Zen and I picked up a few tips from this book like:

• Zen is down to earth and very practical: it is our daily life;
• Zen is about an active/involved life, life of action not passivly doing nothing, but our actions should be based on reality not on our dreams;
• Zen is a life-long study, it is not sitting on the cusion for 30 minutes a day, our whole life becomes a practice for 24 hours 7 days;
• It takes courage to sit well: Zen is not a discipline for
Matthew Spindler
The best introduction to American Zen Buddhism I've encountered.

“If we cease looking, searching, what are we left with? We’re left with what’s been right there at the center all the time. Underneath all that searching there is distress. There is unease. The minute that we realize that, we see that the point isn’t the search, but rather the distress and unease which motivate the search. That’s the magic moment—when we realize that searching outside of ourselves is not the way.”
This book discusses the "practice" and "sitting" of Zen - which always seemed fascinating and so peaceful to me. However, much of the book seemed like useless dribble. Is it tougher to master the art of Zen or to read about it? But the author does make some interesting and enlightening points. Here's a few.

* We never grow by dreaming about a future wonderful state or remembering past feats. We grow by being where we are and experiencing what life is right now ... When we escape from what is give
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Charlotte Joko Beck was an American Zen teacher. Born in New Jersey, she studied music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and worked for some time as a pianist and piano teacher. She married and raised a family of four children, then separated from her husband and worked as a teacher, secretary, and assistant in a university department. She began Zen practice in her 40s with Hakuyu Taizan Maezum ...more
More about Charlotte Joko Beck...
Nothing Special Living Everyday Zen Now Zen Zen día a día. El comienzo, la práctica y la vida diaria Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion

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“We have a fictional “I” that we try to love and protect. We spend most of our life playing this futile game. “What will happen? How will it go? Will I get something out of it?” I, I, I—it’s a mind game of illusion, and we are lost in it.” 4 likes
“My dog doesn’t worry about the meaning of life.” 3 likes
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