Everyday Zen

Charlotte Joko Beck

For the last two years, I have been reading this book and rereading chapters at random. She talks about the things that I think about anyway on my own. But she's thought about them longer and better, and she's more articulate. She writes about understanding your emotions, understanding anger; understanding and overcoming disappointment; and about being self-conscious and honest with yourself.

Everyday Zen is available from Amazon.com

pp. 26-27 "So what should we do when the thoughts come up? We should label the thoughts... Until we have labeled for four or five years, we don't know ourselves very well. When we label our thoughts precisely and carefully, what happens to them? They begin to quiet down... I can't emphasize enough that we don't just do this three times, we do it ten thousand times; and as we do it, our life transforms. That's a theoretical description of sitting [meditation]. It's very simple; there's nothing complicated about it."

p. 42 "As we make this effort over time, more and more we come to value the jewel that our life is. But if we continue to stew and fuss with our life as if it were a problem, ... the jewel will always remain hidden."

pp. 44-45 "We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are; not in fulfilling personal wants, but in fulfilling the needs of life; not in avoiding pain, but in being pain when it is necessary to do so. Too large an order? Too hard? On the contrary, it is the easy way."

p. 64 "False fear exists because we misuse our minds... this almost ceaseless mental activity entails a constant, uneasy evaluation of ourselves and others."

p. 79 "Practice is to be with... unease, distress. And this is the turning around."

p. 100 "We can be aware of irritability, annoyance, impatience. And such thoughts we can label. We can patiently do that, we can experience the tension the thoughts generate."

p. 107 "Day by day we all meet events that seem to be most unfair, and we feel that the only way to handle an attack is to fight back; and the way we fight is with our minds. We arm ourselves with our anger and our opinions, our self-righteousness... And we think this is the way to live our life. All that we accomplish is to increase the separation, to escalate the anger, and to make ourselves and everyone else miserable."

p. 108 "Finally we become willing to experience our suffering instead of fighting it."

p. 110 "So please be very clear with yourself about what must be done to end suffering;... We never do it by our complaints, our bitterness and anger; and I don't mean to suppress them. If they come up, notice them; you don't have to suppress them. Then immediately go back ..."

p. 112 "Even on the calmest, most uneventful day we get many opportunities to see the clash between what we want and the way it really is."

p. 117 "One way to evaluate our practice is to see whether life is more and more OK with us."

p. 126 "The aim of practice is to increase that impersonal space. Although it sounds cold — and as a practice it is cold — it doesn't produce cold people... it just means that when I look at another person, I look at them; I don't add on ten thousand thoughts to what I am seeing."

p. 131 "we're always thinking about how our lives might be (or how they once were)... The first stage of practice is to realize that we are rarely present: we're not experiencing life, we're thinking about it..."

pp. 137-138 "The biggest error we make in our life ... is to think that ... our life just as it is, with all of its problems, ... — has something wrong with it. And because we think that, we get busy... Our life is always all right. ... But since we refuse to accept life as it is, because of our preference for things that are pleasurable, we pick and choose from life."

pp. 146-147 "Instead of saying, 'I should not be impatient.' we observe ourselves being impatient. We stand back and watch. ... When we start working like this — which means to really observe our minds — we should see that we are constantly spinning dreams of how we should or shouldn't be or how someone else should or shouldn't be; ... of how we can arrange matters to get what we desire."

p. 157 "First, we need to know we're upset... If we're upset we have to experience being upset... And such experiencing is physical; it has nothing to do with the thoughts going on about the upset... If I feel that I've been hurt by you, I want to stay with my thoughts about the hurt. I want to increase my separation; it feels good to be consumed by those fiery, self-righteous thoughts. By thinking, I try to avoid feeling the pain."

pp. 158-159 "... develop through practice an acute awareness of when we are separating ourselves from our life."

p. 168 "In times of confusion and depression the worst thing we can do is to try to be some other way."



back to ... Good Reads Allen Cypher