Classic and Contemporary Buddhist Works

Waking Up Together - Praise

Intimate Partnership on the Spiritual Path

“This book, like its authors, is both enlightening and delightful. Couples everywhere will find it a treasure.”—Father Robert Kennedy, author of Zen Gifts to Christians

Waking Up Together is a tribute to splendid marriage. First there’s the authors’ marriage of 37 years. Then, there’s the marriage of Zen and good ol’ American common sense. Finally, there’s the marriage of the individual and the One. Reading about all this in the Birx’s gentle, loving style is like curling up with a cup of tea by a warm fire, accompanied on your inner journey by wise and spirited Guides.”—Raphael Cushnir, author of Setting Your Heart on FireUnconditional Bliss, and How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment

“In this disarmingly seemingly simple book, there is a wealth of rich material. It is truly refreshing to listen to Zen teachers celebrate the value of relationship in spiritual practice. Charles and Ellen Birx teach both the value of meditation in living a committed relationship and the value of a lived relationship in deepening spiritual practice. They understand both relationship as practice and practice as relationship, while honoring and celebrating the individual differences of the partners. The genius of this book is their use of Zen stories and koans to illuminate the practice of relating to one’s life partner. Seldom has Zen appeared so practical as in their illustrations. They offer wise suggestions that would be of value to any couple wishing to maintain a vibrant and healthy marriage, whether or not they are involved in meditation practice.”—Stefano and Margaret Barrgato, teachers, Treetop Zen Center, Maine

“I found it so totally right on that I feel it can do nothing but good. To my mind, this is what people simply need to hear— pure principle applied in everyday life. The book is a beautiful picture of what love is really about, something that goes to the very heart of love—service, compassion, self-surrender, seeing everything in the bigger picture, all coming from the deepest core of what we are. Nothing glamorous or ‘cool’—just things as they are (or should be, at least!) It is a tremendous service to have brought out a book of this honesty and caliber. I have to tell you that it threw floods of light on my own life... I hope it continues to sell well. That would bode very well for the families of America.”—Sister Gayatriprana of the Vedanta Society, of Southern Californa, author of Swami Vivekananda on the Vedas and Upanishads.

“This wise and gentle book, grounded in 37 years of happy marriage, presents an inspiring perspective on what a spiritually and psychologically healthy relationship can be. The authors, both accomplished Zen teachers, offer a spacious and workable alternative to the self-centered suffering evident in so many couples’ lives today. Waking Up Together is a real gift to clinicians as well as to the couples they serve.”—John Daishin Buksbazen, Psy.D., MFT, Zen Center of Los Angeles

Waking Up Together is crucial in expanding our understanding of the meaning of enlightenment here in the West. Buddhism has long focused on the enlightenment of the individual. Ellen and Charles Birx, using insights from their own long and rich life as partners and Zen teachers, point to the vitality, depth, commitment, and beauty of a couple practicing and awakening together. They are casting a clear, shining beam on a path that more and more couples and partners will follow, one that combines meditation practice and committed relationship, clarifying and enriching both.”—Roshi Bernie Glassman, Founder, Zen Peacemaker Family, and author of Infinite Circle

“If we want to develop compassion, wisdom, and wakefulness, Ellen and Charles Birx tell us, we need look no further than across the dinner table. Using Zen principles and practices, this kindhearted new book explains how to create an intimate relationship that is a continual unfolding for each, something that is completely fresh and deeply rooted. “—Susan Piver, Author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say “I Do”

“Ellen and Charles Brix, the first couple to be acknowledged as Zen teachers together, bring grace, humor and insight to a consideration of our human condition. They show us how ordinary life together may be the foundation of our spiritual practice. Waking Up Together reveals our greatest intimacy— with ourselves, our partners, the earth, and all beings. This is a wonderful book.”—James Ford and Jan Seymour-Ford, Boundless Way Zen

“A home run with bases loaded: an easy read, a page-turner to the end and you regret the conclusion has to come. The book provides solid instruction in a multicultural style, useful anecdotes that apply to a broad range of readers, and a pleasing selection of poetry, essay and drama. The authors, Ellen and Charles walk the talk and talk the walk with humor, inspiration and joy.”—Janet Richardson, Spiritual Director of Zen Community of Baltimore

“A wise and wonderful book. Hand-in-hand, Charles and Ellen Birx have stepped courageously and wisely into the frontier of relationships and deep spiritual practice. They give a much needed voice to how spirituality can be lived beyond the monastic walls in the radiant crucible of intimate relationships. Their insight and skillful practice of fundamental Zen truths sparkle with the joyous affirmation of the unlimited possibilities of intimate partnership.”—Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles

“Ellen and Charles Birx have written a wise and lovely book about the fundamental aspects of living a spiritual life together. Waking Up Together clearly shows that deep committed relationship and deep committed spiritual practice mutually support each other, like two vines growing intertwined. We wish we had such a spiritually based, compassionate, and broad view to support the beginnings of our relationship over two decades ago. We welcome this charming book. It is certain to be very helpful for couples of all faiths.”—Chozen & Hogen Bays, Co-abbots Great Vow Zen Monastery, Clatskanie, Oregon

“There is tremendous vitality and commitment among lay practitioners in the west. It follows that we need teachings and practices that remain true to the Dharma while at the same time being appropriate to the unique challenges and conditions of our modern life. The Birx’s have made an invaluable contribution to a small but growing body of teachings for those of us who love to practice but wish to live as lay people. Their masterful application of Buddhadharma to “the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows” of family life ,shows us how relationship when taken up wholeheartedly, can be a genuine liberating meditation practice.”—Larry Rosenberg, Senior teacher, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society, and author of Breath by Breath and Living in the Light of Death

This book makes real what has, up to now, been simply given lip service: the non-duality of practice life and relationship life. The psychologically sound recommendations made by the authors can apply to all couples, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. It is a rich resource for couples on the path.”—Angela Stewart, PhD, Clinical Psychologist

“‘How can Zen meditation help couples be partners in both life and wisdom?’ ask Ellen and Charles Birx, a husband-and-wife writing team and co-founders of New River Zen Community in Virginia. They set about exploring that question by drawing extensively on their own Zen practice and by sharing stories from 37 years of marriage. In brief chapters, they address a variety of topics of interest to readers in committed, long-term relationships. The Birxes’ frequent anecdotes helpfully illustrate a point. An easygoing book.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is no ordinary book on relationships. The wealth of insight Ellen and Charles share is not only grounded in the rich soil of their own long partnership with each other, but illumined from within by deep experience in a spiritual tradition that leads us to the source of all intimacy.”—Roshi Bodhin Kjolhede, Abbot, Rochester Zen Center