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Ordinary Mind: Exploring the Common Ground Of Zen and Psychoanalysis [Hardcover]

Barry Magid , Charlotte Joko Beck
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 26.50 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

April 1 2002
A groundbreaking work, Ordinary Mind zooms in on potential opportunities and pitfalls and brings the reader to a clearer understanding of the path towards personal realization and fulfillment.

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Review

"If anybody can make sense of Zen, Barry Magid can!" -- Philip A. Ringstrom, Ph.D., Psy.D.,Training and Supervising Analyst at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles

About the Author

Barry Magid is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York City, and the founding teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo, also in New York. He is the author of the Wisdom titles Ordinary Mind and Ending the Pursuit of Happiness. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Zen couch, Zen cushion. April 13 2002
Format:Hardcover
Real meditation practice takes place "out at the edge of the darkness," Barry Magid writes in his not-so-ordinary book, ORDINARY MIND. "That's where we have to work. What is that edge? It's the boundary of where we feel comfortable, where the difficulties start. And that boundary is always clearly marked by anxiety or anger or fear: whatever we don't want to face. That's where we need to sit" (p. 74). Magid is no stranger to the cushion. Not only is he a psychoanalyst who has been practicing Zen meditation for the past twenty-five years (p. 1), he is also the founding teacher of New York City's Ordinary Mind Zendo (p. 4). In his book, Magid demonstrates how therapy and meditation practice can work together "like one foot forwarded and the other behind in walking" (p. 5). "What we do in Zen practice," he writes, "what we do in therapy, is watch how we go about facing--and even more important, avoid facing--our life as it is" (p. 160).
While Magid's observations may not be "groundbreaking" (John Welwood, for instance, has covered the same territory in books such as TOWARD A PSYCHOLOGY OF AWAKENING), they are indeed fascinating. Therapy and meditation practice share some common ground. Both create long-term relationships with a therapist or a teacher, respectively. Both create "a setting for the eliciting and working through of intense fantasies and affects." Both train us "to stay with, tolerate, and explore thoughts and feelings normally felt to be too painful or frightening to endure" (p. 103). "Through both psychoanalysis and Zen practice we strive to come back to ourselves," Magid says, "to re-own what has been split off, and to embrace what we have warded off. Then we are who we are; each moment is what it is" (p. 166).
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Seamless Presentation March 25 2002
Format:Hardcover
What I found most interesting, and also most valuable, about Barry Magid"s work is his ability to bring together the insights of his psychotherapy practice to the clarity of his role as a zen teacher into one seamless presentation. In fact, the major theme of Ordinary Mind, that there is no sharp boundary between psychology and spirituality, is so well made that the reader will surely have to question any prior assumptions about what psychology is and what spiritual practice is. I particularly liked Magid's thoroughness in clarifying the normally fuzzy thinking that occupies the borderland between psychology and religion.
But this is not just an intellectual polemic. Using a combination of honest examples from his own life, the wisdom of the Zen koan, and not least of all, humor, he repeatedly returns to how these issues inform our everyday life as we live it. Time and again he brings us back to the essential point that must be addressd in any approach to living a less self-centered life, whether the approach be that of psychology or spirituality. And that point is that the real satisfaction that all of us are looking for must come from the increasing ability to move away from our false pictures of what life is and what spirituality is, and instead move toward a direct experiencing of our life as it is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly important contribution May 3 2002
Format:Hardcover
Magid uses classical koans, clinical material, and the thinking of cutting-edge psychoanalysts like Stolorow, Eigen, and others to lucidly explore the commonalities and divergences of Zen practice and the psychotherapeutic enterprise.
In particular, I found his thoughtful examination of self at once
evocative and refreshingly straightforward. His examination of the issues of boundaries in both clinical and zen teacher-student relationships is intelligent and realistic. And his comments on transference and its relationship to a Buddhist conception of ego are of particular interest.
In psychoanalytic circles lately there has been a growing interest in Zen and Buddhist psychology. I believe that Zen students and mental health professionals alike will be in Magid's debt for a long time to come.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars ...from an ordinary reader May 5 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Although the title of this text implies that this is a work best suited to professionals, I was delighted to find just the opposite. This is a book clearly presents some of the most basic aspects of Zen meditation written from a personal and inspiring perspective. It makes it possible for even the beginner to understand the rewards and challenges of just sitting meditation.
As a previous reviewer said ..."this is not just an intellectual polemic. Using a combination of honest examples from his own life, the wisdom of the Zen koan, and not least of all, humor, he repeatedly returns to how these issues inform our everyday life as we live it."
In addition this work includes a nicely written index making it possible to revisit those areas that made you think on your first read.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Seamless Presentation March 25 2002
By Ezra Bayda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What I found most interesting, and also most valuable, about Barry Magid"s work is his ability to bring together the insights of his psychotherapy practice to the clarity of his role as a zen teacher into one seamless presentation. In fact, the major theme of Ordinary Mind, that there is no sharp boundary between psychology and spirituality, is so well made that the reader will surely have to question any prior assumptions about what psychology is and what spiritual practice is. I particularly liked Magid's thoroughness in clarifying the normally fuzzy thinking that occupies the borderland between psychology and religion.
But this is not just an intellectual polemic. Using a combination of honest examples from his own life, the wisdom of the Zen koan, and not least of all, humor, he repeatedly returns to how these issues inform our everyday life as we live it. Time and again he brings us back to the essential point that must be addressd in any approach to living a less self-centered life, whether the approach be that of psychology or spirituality. And that point is that the real satisfaction that all of us are looking for must come from the increasing ability to move away from our false pictures of what life is and what spirituality is, and instead move toward a direct experiencing of our life as it is.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly important contribution May 3 2002
By John D. Buksbazen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Magid uses classical koans, clinical material, and the thinking of cutting-edge psychoanalysts like Stolorow, Eigen, and others to lucidly explore the commonalities and divergences of Zen practice and the psychotherapeutic enterprise.
In particular, I found his thoughtful examination of self at once
evocative and refreshingly straightforward. His examination of the issues of boundaries in both clinical and zen teacher-student relationships is intelligent and realistic. And his comments on transference and its relationship to a Buddhist conception of ego are of particular interest.
In psychoanalytic circles lately there has been a growing interest in Zen and Buddhist psychology. I believe that Zen students and mental health professionals alike will be in Magid's debt for a long time to come.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...from an ordinary reader May 5 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Although the title of this text implies that this is a work best suited to professionals, I was delighted to find just the opposite. This is a book clearly presents some of the most basic aspects of Zen meditation written from a personal and inspiring perspective. It makes it possible for even the beginner to understand the rewards and challenges of just sitting meditation.
As a previous reviewer said ..."this is not just an intellectual polemic. Using a combination of honest examples from his own life, the wisdom of the Zen koan, and not least of all, humor, he repeatedly returns to how these issues inform our everyday life as we live it."
In addition this work includes a nicely written index making it possible to revisit those areas that made you think on your first read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have Book of Zen Dec 9 2006
By Deborah J. Defranco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Don't let the title of this book fool you into thinking that this is solely a precise academic discourse on the relationship of Zen and psychotherapy.

This is a solid, discerning book of Zen for everyday life. Barry Magid has a warm, gentle, no BS style like his own teacher, the loved Charlotte Joko Beck. He has the capability to take big wisdom and intelligently share it with his readers in an accessible, heartfelt and encouraging way:

"..this is like looking into a mirror: without any effort, our face naturally appears. Whatever we experience, whatever doubt or difficulty we feel, is simply who and what we are in that moment"

This is one of those books that does not leave the spot next to the bed. I find myself reading this over and over and am softer and kinder for it. This book shines!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, engaging, practical. Oct. 2 2005
By Austin Gallaher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most engaging books on Zen that I have had the good luck to discover. In addition to providing a concise discussion of the relationship between the foundational notions of modern psychoanalysis and the day-to-day work of Zen practice, Magid provides a lively discussion of twelve famous koans. Not only does Magid use his experience as a psychoanalyst to inform his view of Zen practice, he uses his experience of Zen practice to elucidate concepts in psychoanalysis. Best of all, he has written a book that is intelligent, engaging, and practical!
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