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Nothing Special

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,336 ratings  ·  124 reviews
WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 3rd 1994 by HarperOne (first published September 3rd 1993)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,336 ratings  ·  124 reviews


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Gabrielle
Charlotte Joko Beck’s books always feel like a breath of fresh air. Just as in “Everyday Zen” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), “Nothing Special” is a collection of her lectures, often followed by some questions from her students. Those lectures are not really for beginners, but they are perfect for students who have been practicing for a certain time, who have seen their practice mature and who are trying to intergrate it into every aspect of their dai ...more
Adil
Oct 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Emma Sea
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
wow, fantastic. Life changing for me.
Eric
Jan 02, 2009 added it
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
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K.
Sep 26, 2007 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.
Beatrice
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 a
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Greta
Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Lindsay
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
I think it's one of the best books I've read so far. She is very kind yet so confronting...no 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.
Jennifer
Aug 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zen, heart

this is my bible - JOKO-BECK is amazing.
Cody
This book was nothing short of a revelation to me, distilling complex practices into clear, functional ideas. I appreciate Joko’s firm but compassionate approach, as it avoids the somewhat saccharine view of mindfulness that’s currently en vogue all-the-while framing Zen in a slightly less harsh light than is often found in traditional teachings. Ultimately, Nothing Special is a necessary guide to stripping away the mental and emotional constructs that cause us so much misunderstanding, anger, and fear ...more
Velvetea
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it
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
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Jen Madsen
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Kasey Jueds
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Ansley Dalbo
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How could I describe how life-altering this book was for me? I guess if I could figure out how many times I've read it, that would be a start! I couldn't recommend this book more.
Steven Deobald
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a surprisingly penetrating book on meditation. I read it immediately following my most intense (and most difficult) 10-day vipassana course and it was precisely what I needed to make sense of my experiences from that retreat.

Beck's writing is very accessible but she drops some not-so-subtle cues to her expectations of meditators who consider themselves "experienced": 15 to 20 years of daily practice. Her understanding of Zazen is more thorough and practical than many other Ze
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Andrew
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
By far the most accessible book on Zen I've ever read.

Usually when I read Zen books (or as I call them, "Zooks"...wait, that almost sounds racist, I think I'm going to stop doing that), I often struggle to grasp what the author is going for and end up more confused than enlightened. Not with Joko Beck.

She wasn't raised in a monastery, but instead lived a regular life and discovered Zen and meditation in her 40s. She was then able to share much of what she learned in simple language. She's cool
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Marie
May 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
A tedious read for me and most likely why it took 8 months to complete. With each new chapter, I was expecting something new and I felt like it was the same information over and over in different words: upset is optional, sitting is hard work and not for everyone, nothing is real except this moment, no matter how long you sit you likely never reach enlightenment and there's probably more that I just couldn't absorb because I felt like I was reading the same chapter over and over again.
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Niccolo Pirata stamboglis
One of the best books you could find on Zen. The author makes Zen approachable to Westener practitioners. The author's approach to zen is very down-to-earth and her insights are applied to everyday life. The author really goes to the root of what Zen is all about. This a book that a zen practitioner might read several times while always finding new insights.
Michael
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice book. Best when read in small chunks. The authors first book, "Everyday Zen", is one of my favorites, so I had to take this one for a spin. Though I enjoyed Everyday Zen a bit more, this was still a nice read to get me back in the swing of meditation practice.
Jeffrey
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It just is

A book about loosing your life and finding Life was always there all along. Zen masters describe what they call “practice”. Joke makes it clear that there is nothing special about enlightenment. Indeed, enlightenment may be the final ego trip. Practice is Life.
She
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I didn't care for this book, despite really wanting to like it. I don't like the style/format that it was written in, which made it difficult to stay interested. I'm sorry to say, but this book was, well, nothing special.
Au
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
Fantastic book. I've read numerous books on Buddhism/Zen. This book takes the approach of providing spiritual lessons through various analogies and Q/A sessions with students. I highly recommend it - it has a lot of heart and the author doesn't have too much time for nonsense!
Connor+Lindy
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gets right to the point.

Joko Beck presents something as close to the truth as possible in this book. Enlightenment is 'Nothing Special'. Well worth a read if you're ready to drop all the seeking...
Tyler
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I
Zach
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is spectacular, down to earth, engaging, and delightfully confrontational. So much deeper than Everyday Zen. All about doing the work.
Bella
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I keep re-reading this from time to time as a reminder of the wisdom shared in this book.
Andre Bergeron
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A hard hitting Zen classic.
Anthony
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, ox-herding
A desert island kind of book.
Katie E. Ryan
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear direction

Joko has a unique view of zen practice. She guides you towards understanding yourself through practice as the road to awakening
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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
“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.” 38 likes
“Joy is being willing for things to be as they are.” 28 likes
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