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"The Everything Zen Book"

I've decided to keep a log here of the books I read in 2006. In most cases, I won't review the books, but I'll at least include an excerpt from each, and in some cases a bit of commentary.

The first book I read this year was The Everything Zen Book: Achieve Inner Calm and Peace of Mind Through Meditation, Simple Living, and Harmony.

From the book:

Many of the great religions and spiritual practices tell us the same thing: True happiness lies in getting outside of ourselves and helping others. To be locked inside oneself, obsessed with one's own thoughts and needs, is to truly suffer. It is to suffer the bondage of self. Real freedom exists when you cease thinking of yourself all day long...

We live in a time in which we are often coddled and told, "Take care of yourself." We are admonished to take time for ourselves and pamper ourselves. We deserve time off, long baths, new clothes, and a dinner out. We overindulge, overspend, and overeat. And we are not happy! Clearly, the way to a peaceful life is not through spending more money, eating more food, and paying more attention to your own needs.

To be honest, I bought this book because I was looking for a basic introductory book on Zen, but I didn't want something with "...for Dummies" or "The Idiot's Guide to..." in the title. It was pretty much what I expected it to be: straightforward, easy to read, and written for absolute beginners. Reading it convinced me to give Zen a try -- there's a beginner's session at my local zendo tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

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