Ordinary Mind - Praise

Exploring the Common Ground of Zen and Psychoanalysis


224 pages, 6 x 9 inches


ISBN 9780861714957

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eBook Bundle (PDF, epub, mobi)


ISBN 9780861717408

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“A fascinating thesis [in an] engaging storytelling style. [This] thoughtful book can inspire us to look at our own lives and our own paths.”—Psychiatric Services, A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association

Ordinary Mind is the chronicle of a psychoanalyst, trained in self psychology, who has also been for several decades a Zen practitioner. He has been living in, practicing, and thinking about the intersection of Buddhism and psychoanalysis for over two decades. His book has a broad appeal; many people will find something useful here. Ordinary Mind demonstrates the unique contribution of psychoanalytic therapy and Zen meditation as they work together to foster wholehearted, compassionate functioning in the world. Magid finds that both Zen and psychoanalysis, in practice, are ‘structured disciplines of attention’ that lead over time to profound changes in personality structure. [. . . ] A valuable step forward in making two radically different healing techniques available to each other in both thought and practice. With the help of this book, teachers and students in both camps reflect fruitfully on the benefits of the other.”—Psychologist-Psychoanalyst

“Magid has created an elegant and simple book examining the relationship of psychotherapy and Zen. As a practitioner of both for 25 years, he offers a unique perspective on how one faces resistance in being and avoids seeing things as they are. True to his Zen spirit, Magid points out the importance of cultivating awareness and not falling into preconceived notions of ‘enlightenment’ or blissful states. He looks squarely at pitfalls in psychoanalysis and Zen meditation with a profound yet fundamental clarity. Well-balances, unassuming, and informative, Magid’s work is an excellent companion to Jack Kornfield’s books and is highly recommended for collections on psychotherapy and spiritual practice. Includes notes, a brief glossary, and references. Readers at any level.”—Choice

“Those who meditate or who are in therapy will enjoy Magid’s detailed discussions of general Buddhist principles and the mechanics of the healing that comes from meditation. The book also contains many helpful stories and reflections from Magid’s own practice and life. Professionals are likely to read this book, but it should also enjoy a wider audience.”—Inquiring Mind

“Magid is one of the first of a new breed of authors who are equally at home in the worlds of Zen and psychoanalysis. His intimate familiarity with both traditions allows him to traverse familiar territory in a fresh, new way that transforms and deepens our understanding of what each of them has to offer and of how they can operate in harmony with one another. The result is a wise and thought provoking book that will have a significant impact on the way people think about the relationship between Zen and Western psychotherapy in the future.”—Jeremy D. Safran, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, New School for Social Research

Ordinary Mind is a wise and insightful guide to living a saner life.”—Charlotte Joko Beck, bestselling author of Everyday Zen

“An exciting and hope-inspiring work. The very reading of this book is in itself therapeutic. It was as if I was carried along, abandoning for the moment who I thought I was and becoming empty so that I was able to become all the more available for a whole new way of thinking.”—James S. Grotstein, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine and author of Who Is The Dreamer Who Dreams the Dream?: The Study of Psychic Presences

“Magid’s book throws new light on two esoteric disciplines and their respective power—to liberate us to live in the present with our ordinary mind. [An] extraordinarily learned book.”—Father John McNeill, lay analyst and author of Taking a Chance on God

“This is a groundbreaking book, insofar as the level of Magid’s treatment of the subject is—at long last—neither superficial nor based in long-obsolete theoretical formulations, but makes careful use of truly contemporary psychoanalytic thought. And the ways in which he relates Zen practice to clinical issues is masterful. Zen students and mental health professionals alike will be in his debt for a long time to come.”—John Daishin Buksbazen, Faculty, Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Training Program, Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute

“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

Ordinary Mind—like Zen itself—is provocative, maddening, paradoxical, and always interesting.”—George Atwood

Ordinary Mind is no ordinary book. It takes its place alongside books like Psychotherapy East and West by Alan Watts, which have established a noble tradition of attempts to construct a bridge that we can use to travel back and forth between mutually mysterious worlds.”—Ken Rose, Co-author, “A Brief History of Qi”

“Readily accessible to a lay person, yet replete with penetrating analysis and insight that make it of worthy serious attention by the scholar, this is a profound book. With its subtle criticisms and erudite prescriptions, Ordinary Mind shows us the limits and possibilities of Zen and psychoanalysis—both as fully human endeavors. Dr. Magid has offered us a remarkable work.”—David Ross Fryer, Ph.D.

“Deeply human and broadly informed, Ordinary Mind is a gracefully written, persistently modest account of the way Magid has combined his analytic and meditative practices.”—Susan Oyama, author of The Ontogeny of Information and Evolution’s Eye

“Magid teaches a Zen of everyday, ordinary experience, as opposed to a Zen of Satori, or enlightenment. He believes that the search for enlightenment encourages a narcissistic preoccupation with a search for what is special, and can often spoil what it means to develop. Indeed, he implies that the search for what is special is the very pivot point of Buddhist transformation— when we start we are seeking ‘it’ outside of ourselves, through desire, and have no means to find it in the life we are always already living. He offers instead the more humble path of simply sitting meditation with no expectations, just a commitment to the process and its disciplining effect. His book serves well to introduce Zen concepts to the analytically trained reader. Ordinary Mind suggests a radical inversion of the Freudian image of the human condition. By privileging existential and intersubjective human processes over scientific, material causality, he describes the upper reaches of human development as the embodiment of a great wisdom, the practice of everydayness as a personal harmony with the order of that which is.”—Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, the newsletter of the Division of Psychoanalysis

“Of great importance and interest to practitioners especially those concerned with psychotherapy and engaging Buddhist practice with the problems of the world. Books on the interface between these traditions now abound, and they often frustrate. They tend to be reductionist either about Buddhism or psychotherapy. At last however here is a book that sensibly attempts to interweave the commonality (and differences) of Buddhist and psychotherapy thinking from within a Western perspective on both. Magid’s teacher Joko Beck is a clear influence in some of the writing, with the psychotherapeutic influence being that of Kohut and self psychology. [. . . ] Magid offers from the Western psychology perspective one of the best descriptions of the experience of sitting meditation. He covers themes of relationship, authenticity, authority and empathy with great simplicity and profound common sense and this is colored by stories from his practice as a teacher and therapist. No great knowledge of psychology or psychotherapy is required; I recommend a reading of this to all Zen practitioners.”—New Chan Forum (UK)