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La Vida Tal Como Es / Nothing Special, Living Zen

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  1,799 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
A Zen Center weekend in a book! The delightfully contemporary teacher and bestselling author of Everyday Zen shows how to make living itself a spiritual practice and how to discover that the extraordinary is really "nothing special."
Paperback, 406 pages
Published May 6th 2006 by Norma S a Editorial (first published September 3rd 1993)
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Emma Sea
Jan 19, 2017 Emma Sea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wow, fantastic. Life changing for me.
Oct 08, 2011 Adil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really changed my view of why I'm meditating and where I'm going with it. I have a completely different visual analogy now, one in which I'm peeling away layers and layers of mental junk I've built over the years. And then nothing special happens. You just peel away as much of it as you can, and the rest takes care of itself. In other words, I'm not trying to achieve any particular outcome, other than the peeling away. There is nothing special at the end of this path, and there is no e ...more
Jan 02, 2009 Eric added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zen
Plain, simple and tough. Very good.

I guess maybe part of the usefulness of reading Zen books (as opposed to say, sitting) is to reinforce your commitment to practice and for me, this was a pretty good book for that. No artificial flavours or preservatives, no mystical bullshit, no made-up words, no exhortations for loving-kindness and compassion, no pseudoscientific justifications or the grating "scientists are starting to discover X; Buddhists have known this for thousands of years", just the
Cecily Flynn
Dec 17, 2014 Cecily Flynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply, this book changed my life. I read it more than fifteen years ago, and keep coming back to it year after year. I recommend this to anyone interested in Zen, but also to anyone dealing with chronic stress or emotional distress. Beautifully simple, easy to comprehend Zen teachings you can apply to all aspects of your life. I just love this book.
Spiritual truth teller.
May 07, 2014 Beatrice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mind-body
I do not carve time to meditate in the Zen tradition of sesshin but I read this book to explore the practice of Zen and its canons.
It did awaken some considerations about my own approach to life and they were a useful addition. I found the Dorothy chapter resonated with something I read in Jon Kabat Zin's book and that is, we are on a constant search for our "path" when in fact, our path is in everything we do on a daily basis. From the mundane tasks to our deepest connections with those around
Aug 05, 2011 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
I think it's one of the best books I've read so far. She is very kind yet so matter how personal you take it at first, you keep on reading the book because you know she's speaking the truth. I can honestly say I didn't had much discipline to keep up with my practice.. maybe because I practiced for the wrong reasons. She made that all clear for me.
Sep 26, 2007 K. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Best book on Zen I have ever read (and I've read maybe a hundred). Clear, direct, accessible, and profound.
Aug 28, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zen, heart

this is my bible - JOKO-BECK is amazing.
Aug 05, 2011 Velvetea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
At first I thought the title, Nothing Special, sounded "mean". It was kind of a depressing thought~ as most of us have a need to feel set aside form others and be unique (special) in some way, or else we feel worthless as humans. We seem to have a desire to feel separate. But after delving into the book, I realized that what Joko talks about is pure life itself and our connection to it, without all the nasty complicated emotions we like to center our thoughts around, which separate us from enjoy ...more
David Buckley
Jan 22, 2010 David Buckley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion

This is a sequel to the enormously successful "Everyday Zen" by the same author. Though it contains the same dogged realism about human desires and motives, it lacks some of the punch of the first volume. Many of the "talks" in this book include student questions and Joko's responses. While interesting, they lack the freshness and immediacy of her earlier "sermons". Sometimes, in "Nothing Special," despite the introductory remarks, one gets the sense that one is intruding on a long-running conve
Jen Madsen
Apr 07, 2009 Jen Madsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first investigation into Zen and I found it to be nothing like I expected--which was better than I could have imagined. I fall for fluff and promises of nirvana and enlightenment like anyone else, but I always come back to people like Charlotte Joko Beck and Brad Warner who have the guts to tell it like it is. Rather than feel disappointed that Zen made no promises, I felt relieved. Nine years later I'm still poking around the issues, drifting in and out of fantasies, but this dedica ...more
Jun 08, 2010 Greta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
Another excellent book which reinforces the importance of meditation practice, paying attention, noticing and labelling thoughts, maintaining a sense of wonder and keeping a "simple mind". Probably worth re-reading when things aren't flowing because the messages contained here would bring you back on track. I liked the author's practical advice and laid-back writing style as well.
Kasey Jueds
Aug 30, 2009 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Charlotte Joko Beck is just amazing: down-to-earth, accessible, and wise. I have loved both her books, and both I've read very very slowly, savoring and pondering. When I finally finished this one, I would have been happy to turn back to page 1 and start all over again. There's so much wisdom in her writing, always so much new to learn.
Felix Ignacio
Nov 13, 2014 Felix Ignacio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pocas veces he visto un título que definiese con tanta perfección su contenido. Joko, la autora, nos presenta, de un modo directo y sin eufemismos, que, para llegar a la 'dicha' en la vida, debemos entender que ésta simplemente 'es'. Gran lectura, clara y tremendamente didáctica.
Tim Nowotny
Mar 22, 2017 Tim Nowotny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, reread
For a meditator with first few years of experience this is the best book I found out there.
It is simple, true and not sugared with the usual mystic stuff. At first I found she focuses too much on suffering but the book gets the curve later on easily.
Mar 20, 2016 Vishnu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Such a great book! I very much enjoyed Everyday Zen, and this in no way disappointed.

On the point of disappointed, Beck is relentless in her insistence that life is full of disappointment, and that until we realize this lesson our practice cannot even begin. I really appreciated her harping on this point, because it truly distinguished her work from many other lay teachers' books which are so, so, so "positive" in their framing of Buddhism. Beck is clear that before we can really develop in our
Oct 28, 2015 Sheehan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compilation of talks and discussions with Zen students, the book discusses the necessity of practicing presence in allowing ourselves to let go of the multitude of mental constructions and emotions. These barriers we create for ourselves, which lock us into rigid perspectives in living our lives and interacting with the world.

The book does a fine job explaining how everyone is persistently distracted by projected emotions created to fend off fears, fulfill (at least in the immediate) wants/des
Ville Halonen
Aug 06, 2013 Ville Halonen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EDIT: Second review, 16 Jan 2017: Three years of Zen practice made quite a difference with this book. Joko Beck's own words describe the change perfectly: "I have noticed in talking with people who are new to practice that often my words simply don't register. Like a cat on a hot tin roof or drops of water in a hot frying pan, the words touch momentarily and then jump off and vanish." When I first read this book, its words on the difficulty of practice and how we don't want to do it felt superfi ...more
Sean Raf
Sep 17, 2014 Sean Raf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much like Beck's previous book 'Everyday Zen' 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/Buddhism 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
Feb 07, 2014 Jacopo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Lo stile di Charlotte Joko Beck è inconfondibile: illustra lo Zen in modo chiaro, lineare ed estremamente orientato all'applicazione pratica. Esattamente come nell'altro suo libro, ‘Everyday Zen’, sono qui raccolti svariati discorsi da lei fatti ai suoi studenti nel corso di varie sesshin; ciò che risulta particolarmente utile è la riproposizione delle domande poste dagli stessi, seguite dalle relative risposte, in quanto funzionali a delucidare molti dubbi del lettore.

È anche questo un libro or
Aug 13, 2015 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The only reason it took me so long to read is due to my tendency to read in bed and fall asleep in minutes.

All of these self-help/spiritual books I've read in the particular order I've read them has been perfect. Would I have gotten as much out of this before reading Tolle? Who knows. This felt like a great step in deepening an understanding of a zen life. She talks a lot about sitting, which is something I don't know if I'll ever do or at least am ready to do, b
Mohammad Ali Abedi
“Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy. (Soren Kierkegaard)”

A Zen approach that feels like it has derived from the author’s Zen classes in her San Diego Center with Student-Teacher questions and answers at the end of most of the chapters. The topics seem to be basic stuff about how to forgive, not be bogged down by worries, and try to enjoy life one day at a time.

For some reason, I imagined the students to be stressed out career women, that use the sessions to chill
Oct 10, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible book - but dark. "Nothing Special" gives invaluable insights into the ego, our goals and ambitions (whatever they may be), and our relationships with other people, but at times Joko Beck seems to me to be too fond of negating, and forgets to affirm. Things such as joy and vitality seem to come as an afterthought to negation. The "sitting" she talks about is surely a helpful tool to keep the ego in check, but it also is a radical renunciation, a suppression of the body, a domination ...more
Paul Kotheimer
Aug 02, 2011 Paul Kotheimer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book has been extremely good for me and i'm not really one to meditate too often. the concepts come back to sitting constantly, but i thought of the ideas really easy to incorporate into my normal state of mind.

the chapter about the 'icy couch' basically summarized Hubert Benoit's philosophy of zen meditation...noticing the contractions in your psyche and stepping into them, feeling your pain. this is good stuff. i am already more than half way through my second reading of this fantastic b
Oct 28, 2012 Shinta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism, mahayana
No one, nothing will save you; this credo may sound quite awful for non practitioners or beginners. This book is not for the faint hearted, no balm for your wounds will be offered. It gives you instead a glimpse of no nonsense daily life practice as a (Zen) meditator.

Joko Beck may seem to emphasize the difficulties of practice. Yet, she hits the core when she says that this path is not going to be easy nor painless. Transformation requires hard work and patience, but the results are real and ta
Cher Johnson
It wouldn't be fair for me to rate this since I didn't finish it. I regret that I never saw Joko Beck in person; many of my friends were her students for years. They often speak of the power of her presence. Why didn't I finish? I have done so much spiritual reading that this seemed redundant, like revisiting a milepost on my journey that I passed years ago. Another thing is that through my practice, everything has become special. So the sort of dark nature of these teachings (alluded to in some ...more
Aug 12, 2007 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddhism
Unfortunately, I have to return this book to the library before it's finished. It's not the type of thing you can hurry through. I especially like the dialogue excerpts between Joko and her students. As with the other Buddhist texts I've read, I feel at once inspired and discouraged. It seems an impossible pursuit of perfection, a loosening of everything we know, or think we know. Still resistant to "sitting," when I can be soaking in all these and other ideas. Can reading be my meditation?

Feb 18, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
There's so much simple wisdom here. I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking for meditation techniques, look elsewhere, but if you want one woman's honest observations on how to live life awake, stripping away the veneer of our perceptions, then look here. Of course, Beck is not saying that it's easy--she says that it takes a lifetime, and virtually no one will ever completely erase the gap between the internal and the external. But that's no reason to give up trying.
Autumn Shuler
Apr 07, 2013 Autumn Shuler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Once again, Joko challenged me to think about aspects of my life that I would rather not focus on, and I can do nothing but thank her for it. Nothing Special has a lot of the same themes as Everyday Zen, but I liked the organization of this one better. It's arranged in short "chapters" that read like individual essays, each with a theme.

I would recommend it to anyone curious about Zen.
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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
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“Most of our difficulties, our hopes, and our worries are empty fantasies. Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That's all there is. That's all we are. Yet most human beings spend 50 to 90 percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy. We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it's all a shame, and on and on; it's all fantasy, all imagination. Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.” 29 likes
“It's of no use to look back and say, "I should have been different." At any given moment, we are the way we are, and we see what we're able to see. For that reason, guilt is always inappropriate.” 21 likes
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