Nothing Is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans

Overview

In this inspiring and incisive offering, Barry Magid uses the language of modern psychology and psychotherapy to illuminate one of Buddhism's most powerful and often mysterious technologies: the Zen koan. What's more, Magid also uses the koans to expand upon the insights of psychology (especially self psychology and relational psychotherapy) and open for the reader new perspectives on the functioning of the human mind and heart. Nothing Is Hidden explores many rich themes, including facing impermanence and the ...

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Nothing Is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans

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Overview

In this inspiring and incisive offering, Barry Magid uses the language of modern psychology and psychotherapy to illuminate one of Buddhism's most powerful and often mysterious technologies: the Zen koan. What's more, Magid also uses the koans to expand upon the insights of psychology (especially self psychology and relational psychotherapy) and open for the reader new perspectives on the functioning of the human mind and heart. Nothing Is Hidden explores many rich themes, including facing impermanence and the inevitability of change, working skillfully with desire and attachment, and discovering when "surrender and submission" can be liberating and when they shade into emotional bypassing. With a sophisticated view of the rituals and teachings of traditional Buddhism, Magid helps us see how we sometimes subvert meditation into just another "curative fantasy" or make compassion into a form of masochism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/12/2013
What is your original face? This is just one question—a Zen puzzler known as a “koan”— among many that psychoanalyst and Zen teacher Magid (Ordinary Mind) uses to explore concerns and issues in mindfulness practice. Rather than engaging with the koans only from an intuitive point of view, Magid examines their literary and psychological dimensions. “What is your original face?” becomes an exploration of insecurity, finding wholeness in life, and of denial of the possibility of equanimity. He challenges common wisdom about the ameliorative properties of Zen practice, noting that while it “deliver on the promise of insight,” it fails to integrate such insight into individual character. Magid presents a nuanced, sensitive, and compassionate analysis of how it is all too easy to fall into idealism, escapism, and elitism with meditation, charging his readers to consider their intentions and motivations. Zen by itself, he argues, is highly unlikely to cure a practitioner of his or her mental afflictions, but his book can help point toward more honest introspection that will yield healing and acceptance. (Oct.)
Mark Epstein
"Sparkling and clear."
Jeremy D. Safran
"A distinctive voice in the burgeoning literature fusing Buddhism with Western psychotherapy. Equally at home in both traditions, he speaks with penetrating wisdom that cuts through the various forms of self-delusion that emerge along path of personal growth. This collection of short essays on well known koans has a direct, simple and uncontrived quality to it that points the reader in the right direction with the same elegance as a timeless haiku. There is not a false note here."
Mark Unno
"This is no mere psychologization of koan practice. Rather, Magid seeks to provide a glimpse into the mind of the koan by exposing and addressing the psychological issues that impede our view. Very revealing."
Grace Schireson
"Magid's inspiring book is a warmly human and truly original guide to Zen practice. This book will make your spiritual practice more intimate, more playful and more rewarding."
Susan Moon
"Using old koans as a jumping off point, Magid brings a wonderfully unorthodox (and helpful) perspective to traditional Zen teachings. As both Zen teacher and psychoanalyst, Magid unmasks the psychological naivete that is still all too prevalent in contemporary Zen practice, and shows how it can lead to problems for students, and tangled relationships between teachers and students. In each insightful essay, Magid makes a journey from a short koan into far territories of the heart."
From the Publisher

“A nuanced, sensitive, and compassionate analysis. This book can help point toward more honest introspection that will yield healing and acceptance.”—Publishers Weekly

“Sparkling and clear.”—Mark Epstein MD, author of The Trauma of Everyday Life

“A distinctive voice in the burgeoning literature fusing Buddhism with Western psychotherapy. Equally at home in both traditions, he speaks with penetrating wisdom that cuts through the various forms of self-delusion that emerge along path of personal growth. This collection of short essays on well known koans has a direct, simple and uncontrived quality to it that points the reader in the right direction with the same elegance as a timeless haiku. There is not a false note here.”—Jeremy D. Safran, Ph.D., author of Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Therapies and editor of Psychoanalysis and Buddhism

“This is no mere psychologization of koan practice. Rather, Magid seeks to provide a glimpse into the mind of the koan by exposing and addressing the psychological issues that impede our view. Very revealing.”—Mark Unno, East Asian Buddhism, University of Oregon

“Magid’s inspiring book is a warmly human and truly original guide to Zen practice. This book will make your spiritual practice more intimate, more playful and more rewarding.”—Grace Schireson, author of Zen Women

“Using old koans as a jumping off point, Magid brings a wonderfully unorthodox (and helpful) perspective to traditional Zen teachings. As both Zen teacher and psychoanalyst, Magid unmasks the psychological naiveté that is still all too prevalent in contemporary Zen practice, and shows how it can lead to problems for students, and tangled relationships between teachers and students. In each insightful essay, Magid makes a journey from a short koan into far territories of the heart.”—Susan Moon, author of This Is Getting Old

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781614290827
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications MA
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 498,373
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet 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.

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