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Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity download epub

by David Fontana

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Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity (2001). Psychology, Religion and Spirituality (2003). Learn to Dream: Interpret Dream Symbolism, Enhance Inner Life, Remember Your Dreams (2004).

The latest title in our highly successful mind, body and spirit series, Discover Zen is a beautifully illustrated and inspiring guide to this ancient Asian philosophy

The latest title in our highly successful mind, body and spirit series, Discover Zen is a beautifully illustrated and inspiring guide to this ancient Asian philosophy.

Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity Mar 01, 2001.

Authors: Fontana, David. Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity Additional Product Features. Place of Publication. Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity. We hope you enjoy your book and that it arrives quickly and is as expected. Condition: Used; Good. Additional Product Features.

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Readers will discover remarkable stories of endurance, life lessons, and means to achieve personal triumph. Haven't read it completely, just the forward and heard the story behind this book on Public Radio. This author, John Borling, spend years as a POW in Vietnam.

The latest title in our highly successful mind, body and spirit series, Discover Zen is a beautifully illustrated and inspiring guide to this ancient Asian philosophy. The straightforward text and over 30 step-by-step exercises guide the reader thorough classic Zen practices, such as meditation and understanding koans (puzzling parables) as well as sensuous rituals like creating a Zen rock garden, writing haiku poetry, or performing a tea ceremony. Delicate illustrations and quotations from the great Zen masters encourage contemplation. Although it is a movement of Buddhism, Zen principles are complementary to any system of belief. Zen techniques offer a respite from the stress of daily life, provide a healthy outlet for emotions, and promote spiritual growth and understanding. By teaching us to live in the moment, Zen infuses serenity into every aspect of life.

Comments: (6)

This is the 5th copy of this book that I've owned. The rest have either been lost or given away. It is an excellent guide for getting oneself to chill out, slow down, and relax in these lives we are trying to live at warp speed. It is not a religious text, although the author draws a lot of the material from Buddhist philosophy and ideas. In my humble opinion, that is a good thing. I think we could ALL use at least a little bit of Buddhism in our lives... And by the way, I'm an Atheist.
I've really enjoyed this book. Too bad it's out of print - it's a great introduction to Zen concepts and meditations without all the complication of going into Buddhism. Just clear concise explanations and exercises. Nicely printed on great paper too.
Although a gifted book very good
Mustard Forgotten
This is the first book I read entirely on Zen; spareness and simple presentation of profound complexity characterize such introductions. The book at first glance looks too brief, but Nelly Dimitranova's illustrations enhance this entry in the Chronicle Books series geared, admittedly, at a New Age or spirituality-centered readership. David Fontana, however, transcends the limitations of 160 pages with abundant pictures and short text to give a solid, thoughtful, and encouraging overview of this often misunderstood concept, in definition and practice.

Previous Amazon reviewers have been kind but often generalized in their responses. (See my comments appended to the leading review by "a customer" to correct the reviewer's interpretation of how Fontana regards "progress" and the story of the Bodhidharma staring at the wall for nine years.) So, a fuller review's necessary.

Chapter One gives "the Nature of Zen." The immediacy of experience through exercises (29 appear) throughout the text gradually emerges as one progresses. I was a skeptic, but after about six weeks spent slowly trying out many of these, and reading a few pages at a time, often over and over spread out over a few days, the points sink in subtly when put to use. A psychologist, Dr. Fontana tells that "we develop a sense of recognition, of familiarity, as if we are being reminded of something we have always known, but have long forgotten." As with "a wise and compassionate friend," Zen brings us to meet "none other than our own true nature" as that friend. (13) This may terrify or confuse or dishearten us at first.

Therefore, the exercises and commentaries draw us away from our ego to move beyond what might be caricatured as navel-gazing. Chapter Two gets one looking at the "Zen Vision" in nature and actions before Chapter Three, which by "Entering the Path" starts to illustrate formal meditation by "Entering the Path." Mindfulness, and meeting one's own mind, begin to be explained. While the posture information remained rather unclear in specifics, such guidance can be easily found elsewhere.

"Walking On," as Chapter Four, delves into "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," and how monks employ paradox and the koan. Although this book may be more from the Soto tradition in its "zazen" sitting emphasis, plenty of Rinzai-influenced koans can be found here and in Chapter Five, "Completing the Circle," to keep one thinking or not-thinking for plenty of lifetimes. The ten drawings from twelfth-century Chinese master Kakuan, on ox-herding, complete the book with a handsome pairing of text and illustrations that dramatize the journey to find one's purpose in life.

Fontana throughout, as with the best Zen teachers, keeps a calm, slightly wry or insistent, tone that stays free of jargon; the few terms can be found in the glossary along with a short reading list. "Remember that Zen is 'your ordinary, everyday life' lived reflectively: there are no schedules or timetables, and the way forward is simply to look around you, see where you are, and move on." (97) This remains a serene, but not naive or simple-minded, introduction.

Anybody, Fontana shows, can benefit from this non-theistic discipline. It's not based on salvation, but liberation "from our misguided way of seeing the world," so by accepting impermanence we can understand how "our natural state is free from suffering." He cautions: "This is not a wooly claim that everything will be fine if only we can convince ourselves so; it is an invitation to look and decide for ourselves." (130) Both the Buddha's invitation to test the message he preached before accepting it, and Christ's "the truth shall make you free" cited by Fontana apply well here to the quest of learning to listen to one's informed and composed self in seeking peace and sharing wisdom. This is a long process, not a quick fix.

Fontana, in such lessons, widens the appeal for this book to Christians and those who may hesitate to take on its philosophy. He sums it up as resolving our greatest "koan": that of the meaning of our own life. "Life itself is the ultimate koan." (130) We might not reach enlightenment in this life, but this "is less important than the fact the human mind is not only capable of attaining it, but also able to recognize this state as its natural way of being." (153)

In the end, practice makes perhaps not rapid perfection, but a realization that we can help others get calmer only after starting to calm ourselves. So, by sitting steadily and practicing diligently, "we can come closer to what life, in its fullness and completeness, its difficulties and obstacles, is trying to tell us." (134) And we hear this clearest in daily silence.
Trying to learn Zen from books can be ABSOLUTELY maddening. Some are clearly for people who already know something or know a lot and, to the beginner, these books often don't make sense. Then there are the "cutesy" books that talk down to the readers as if they have been lobotomized. I have to admit that I have been absolutely confused (or frustrated) about most of the many I have read....until now:
David Fontana has written a book that is not only a JOY to read and think about -- but a sublime pleasure to look at.
The only way to explain this book to you is this way: it is not a long, pondereous book. Yet, it is crammed with info, inspiration and wonderful art.
Chapters are generally short (a few pages). At the end of each highly readable and enjoyable chapter there is an exercise which (if you try it) is not only fun but greatly increases your understanding of what Zen is all about.
And there's more: I have SELDOM had a book that is so tastefully and beautifully illustrated. It's like holding a little treasure -- a tiny art gallery in your hand. The illustrations are so simple, yet so inspiring (one exercise even has you interpret one).
How much do I love this book? I am going to re-read it. I may eventually gift this to someone who is interested in Zen. And I am going to hunt for Fontana's other books.
This is a book I want to re-read, carry with me on trips and take off the book shelf often -- to gaze on the little art gallery within its covers. GREAT TO OWN OR GIFT!!!!!
The illustrations in this volume add a significant amount of content to the message that Fontana is making. I really enjoyed his exercise-based approach to Zen. He holds your hand for the first couple of steps and then really lets the reader understand and explore various zen koan throughout the book. This was only my second book on Zen Buddhism that I have read (the first being Suzuki's Introduction to Zen Buddhism), but I find myself with a much better understanding than when I started.
Discover Zen: A Practical Guide to Personal Serenity download epub
Author: David Fontana
ISBN: 0811831965
Category: Religion & Spirituality
Subcategory: Buddhism
Language: English
Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Printing edition (March 1, 2001)
Pages: 160 pages