Love

Zen and the Art of Falling in Love

Zen and the Art of Falling in Love

Book review and summary of “Zen and the Art of Falling in Love”: We are naturally in love, but this state is masked by suffering, which prevents us from living in the present moment; through the teaching of Zen, this book teaches us to find the path of love within us and thus improve our daily relationships.

By Brenda Shoshanna, 2004, 253 pages.

Note: This review is a guest review written by Marina from the blog, Heureuse en amour, a blog to finding love…and keeping it!

Summary and book review of “Zen and the Art of Falling in Love”

FIRST PART OF ZEN AND THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE: GETTING STARTED

Chapter 1. Taking off your shoes: becoming available

The first thing you ask of the student entering the zendo (Zen teaching center) is to remove his shoes while paying attention to this gesture. Then, he has to walk barefoot while being attentive to his feet in contact with the ground. Removing his shoes allows him to enter the zendo by abandoning his boundaries of the outside world.

The feet are important because they symbolize the balance with which we walk and by extension the way we move forward with our romantic lives. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to one’s step: is it confident or hesitant, are we in a hurry, or are we struggling to move forward?

Putting chapter 1 into practice:

1. Take off your shoes

Establish a relationship with your shoes:

  • Remove them while being aware of your actions.
  • Arrange them neatly, take care of them.
  • Be attentive to your feet when you put back on the shoes.

2. Take the time to notice

  • Be aware of what is needed at home or around you. (pay bills, tidy up, etc.)
  • Observe the attitude you have about these things to do.

3. Examine your past relationships

  • Examine your past relationships objectively, without blaming someone.
  • Keep a written record of these relationships.
  • Observe where or how your dating history may influence your present life.

4. Whoever is next to you right now

  • Observe the person next to you right now.
  • Make a note of your attitude towards this person, if you reject them, stop doing so.
  • Accept this person as they are.
  • Enjoy the present moment with this person.
  • Repeat this exercise with another person the next day.

Chapter 2. Sitting on the cushion: meeting yourself

One of the most important practices of Zen teaching is meditation: sitting in the lotus position on a cushion without moving. During this time, we pay attention to our breathing but also to everything that happens within us and around us. It helps us to free ourselves from our attachments and to be satisfied with what we are in the moment. We are focused on ourselves and we value the being we are. Since we can no longer escape ourselves, it’s during this activity that we finally become aware of our thoughts and of our inner dialogue. And that allows us to get to know ourselves.

lotus pose

Meditation is useful for our love life, because when we are able to meet ourselves, we are better able to meet and listen to others.  In addition, we know each other better, so we reveal ourselves to others as we are, without playing roles.

Putting chapter 2 into practice:

1. Sit down

  • Put a cushion on the floor and sit back straight with your legs crossed.
  • Track your breathing while counting to 10.
  • Continue this exercise as long as you want.
  • Repeat this exercise every day, once in the day and once in the evening if you can.

2. Recurring patterns

  • Become aware of patterns that are repeated in your life (relationships, events).
  • Observe your reaction (without judging yourself) that is always the same in response to these events.
  • Observe a friend caught in the same trap as you: how do you feel about him/her?

3. Recurring relationships

  • Notice the recurring relationships you are in.
  • Observe your usual behavior and decide this time to react differently.

4. Who is sitting there?

  • Stop a few times in the day to see who you are: your essence.
  • Become aware of the roles you play in your relationships.
  • Be aware of the difference between the roles you play and who you truly are.
  • Become aware of the roles you expect others to play in your relationships.
  • Do you like others for the role they play or for whom they truly are?

5. Welcome our efforts

  • Acknowledge the efforts you have made today, even if they are minimal.
  • Acknowledge the efforts made by others.
  • This is how you will recognize your true nature and that of others.

Chapter 3. Doing nothing: releasing control

While meditating, we also learn not to be overwhelmed by our waves of emotions and not to move, no matter what happens. We recognize what is happening within us, but we decide to let go of it.

Doing nothing, however, is something we don’t apply enough in our romantic lives. As soon as a problem appears, we are likely to take action in order to fix things and keep control over the other person. But sometimes, it can be helpful to force nothing in order to let things resolve themselves. In some cases, taking action only makes the situation worse. Meditation allows us to give ourselves the time needed to control our emotions and react more appropriately to the situation.

Putting chapter 3 into practice:

1. Whom do you control?

  • Observe each day what things you need to control or change.
  • What would happen if you let people (especially those who are dear to you) be as they are, without trying to change them as you please?
  • Observe the changes that happen to you with this new attitude.
  • Thus, realize that no one belongs to you.

2. Stop moving

  • Observe situations or relationships in which you cannot help but get busy to make things better.
  • How about for once you choose to do nothing and let things play out themselves?

3. Abandon power relations

  • Are there any power struggles in your relationships?
  • Be aware that they draw on your precious energy.
  • Decide to get rid of your power struggles with respect to others.
  • Decide not to let yourself be dominated by anyone else.

4. Who is the person responsible?

  • When you experience love or joy, ask yourself the question “who is the person responsible”?
  • You don’t have to find an answer to this question at all costs, the most important thing is to ask yourself it.

5. Walk in the mud

  • What is the mud (obstacles) you have to go through in your life?
  • Be aware of the ploys you use to escape or get around this mud.
  • Make the decision to go through the mud this time, knowing that this passage is only temporary.

6. Let them come and go

  • When someone enters your life, let them come as they are.
  • When someone leaves your life, let them go as they came without taking offense to it: it was time for them to leave.
  • Do likewise for yourself: let yourself come and leave freely and without pointless attachments.

PART TWO OF ZEN AND THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE: ZEN IN ACTION

Chapter 4. Kinhin – walking meditation: taking new steps

After a meditation sitting in the zendo, when the bell rings it’s time to move on to another activity: Kinhin. Kinhin consists of walking while meditating, that is, concentrating on one’s steps and breathing. It can be difficult for some students to move from still meditation to dynamic meditation. But they have no choice: they must agree to move on.

Kinhin

It’s the same in our relationships: there is a time for everything, and we must accept it.  Sometimes it’s time to evolve our relationship and move on to the next step (living together, having children), other times it’s time to say goodbye to a relationship that no longer satisfies us. Moving from one activity to another in the zendo teaches us to live in the present moment without clinging to the past.

Putting chapter 4 into practice:

1. One step at a time

  • Be present and attentive to each of your steps.
  • Keep paying attention to your steps even when you are restless.
  • Ask yourself from time to time the following questions “Where am I? Where am I going?”

2. The center of the circle

  • Take notice of the moments when you feel like you are going around in circles in your activities or relationships.
  • What is the force that makes you go around in circles? Look at it, it’s often within you.
  • Do this meditation exercise: imagine this time that it’s not you who are going around in circles but it’s what’s around you; you are the center of the wheel and the wheel revolves around you.

3. Lose yourself and find yourself

  • Examine the areas of your life in which you feel you are lost.
  • Accept the fact of being lost. This is part of life and recognizing it is the best way to find your way.
  • When you feel lost, observe every step you take on the path one by one rather than trying to anticipate or decide in the long run.

4. Include all parts of yourself

  • What’s stopping you from moving forward?
  • What or whom do you hang on to? (person, idea, belief, fear)
  • Decide to let go of that and move on to the next step.

5. Go back to the root

  • What are the roots of your life (what connects you to yourself and to life)?
  • What do you trust in life?
  • Do the roots of your life connect you to things that benefit you? If not, gradually replace these roots with roots that will connect you to love.

6. Take a new step

  • What are the areas of your life where you need to move forward?
  • Decide to take a single step today in an area.
  • Take another step tomorrow for something else and get used to taking a small step each day.

Chapter 5. Cleaning house: emptying yourself

The zendo is an empty and clean place in which only what we use in the present moment appears. Each student has the obligation to perform a household chore such as cleaning the floor by hand or cleaning the toilets. Cleaning is not seen as a thankless task because we are fully dedicated to this action necessary in the present moment and we no longer give importance to the past. We then find the spirit of a child: a mind filled with wonder and open to love.

In our home, we often accumulate useless objects that tie us to the past and prevent us from moving forward. It is therefore important to unclutter your interior and keep only the bare minimum to make room for new things in your life. In our mind, we must learn to rid ourselves of our past sufferings and the fear of suffering in order to open ourselves up to new people and to love.

Putting chapter 5 into practice:

1. Clinging

  • What seems indispensable to you in life? (person, object, project)
  • What are the negative effects it brings to your life?

2. Clinging to relationships

  • What do you think you absolutely need in your relationships?
  • Be aware that these needs take you away from others and make you live in anxiety.
  • Give up one need for a day. How do you feel? Try it again the next day.
  • Then, give up something else as you go along, it will allow you to bring novelty into your life.

3. Cleaning the house

  • Observe your house.
  • Are there cluttered or dirty places?
  • What are the things you really need in your house that you use?
  • Arrange or thoroughly clean something during the day (a drawer, a saucepan, etc) while being fully aware of it.
  • The next day, continue on with a new chore.
  • By doing one household chore a day, you will feel better about yourself.

4. A simple stain

  • What stain in your life is waiting to be cleaned?
  • What consequences does this stain have on your life?
  • Observe this stain and scrub it a little today and a little bit each day.

5. An open space

  • How are you attached to objects or people in your life?
  • Do you feel secure about yourself or does your security depend on others?
  • Realize that your relationship with others does not determine your value.
  • Be aware that you do not necessarily need others to be happy.

Chapter 6. Being the doorman: being there for others

Students take turns being the doorman. The doorman is just there to welcome new students at the zendo’s entrance. The rest of the time, he remains silent and motionless. The doorman doesn’t expect any sign of affection from people coming from the outside, he just welcomes them as they are.

In our romantic lives, being the doorman is knowing how to welcome others without always seeking their approval or their recognition. We don’t seek anything through them, we just want to share moments with them. Learning to spend this moment alone with oneself also teaches oneself to be free from the feeling of losing others or giving up on others. We understand that bending over backwards to satisfy others, or always making time for them, is not acting according to our nature and is not love.

The beginning of a relationship is very significant, it says a lot about how it will unfold subsequently. Are we welcomed by the other person? Do they accept us as we are? What is their nature? Are we interested in the other person for what they are or for the image they reflect about ourselves? These are the questions we should ask ourselves.

Putting chapter 6 into practice:

1. The most important moments

  • What are the most important moments in your relationships? What do you crave?
  • Asking yourself these questions helps you get closer to your true nature.

2. The requests of others

  • What do you demand or don’t accept from others?
  • On what grounds would you outright end a relationship?
  • Are you too demanding of others? If so, can you ease up on certain demands?

3. Giving gifts

  • What gifts do you give to the other person during your relationships?
  • Do they truly need these gifts?
  • Why do you give them? For the sake of giving or because you hope to receive something in return?
  • Realize what you have to offer of yourself is enough, no need to do too much.

4. Being there

  • Are you like the doorman, ready to welcome others as they are?
  • Also, let yourself be seen by others as you truly are.
  • Observe the reactions of others to this new behavior.

5. Being isolated and being alone

  • When do you feel alone?
  • How do you resolve this feeling of loneliness?
  • Experience this loneliness in the present moment: you will become a friend for yourself.

Chapter 7. Cooking: nourishing others and oneself

The cook (tenzo) is indispensable to the zendo, he takes care of the cooking for all the students. He is sometimes assisted by other students. Meals must be ready at a specific time to feed hungry people after sitting meditation sessions. Meals are served and we eat sitting in silence. Nourishing others is to develop one’s parental spirit: knowing how to give easily and naturally and to nourish oneself through the act of nourishing others.

zendo

In our romantic lives, learning to nourish others is learning the art of giving and receiving.  It’s giving with a willing heart, without counting what one gives, without waiting for something in return. It’s learning to be thankful for what we are given, rather than always wanting more. Some people always give more, hoping to receive, and that depletes them. What if we stopped giving as much, and we asked ourselves the question: why do I give?

Putting chapter 7 into practice:

1. Favorite food

  • What do you feed off in your relationships?
  • Ask yourself if you can get this food by yourself or in other ways.

2. Emotional digestion

  • What can you not digest in your relationships?
  • What are the reasons that cause you to eat it anyway?
  • Could you replace this food with another?

3. Cooking for others

  • Whom are you used to cooking for?
  • What food do you make them?
  • Who are the people for whom you don’t cook and why?
  • Does anyone else nourish them for you?

4. Offering

  • What do you offer to life and do you do it with a willing heart? If not, it’s not a real gift.
  • Try to find something that could satisfy others as much as it satisfies yourself.

5. Giving gifts

  • Give someone something each day (it can be a smile, a gesture, a small act, a small object, etc.).
  • Ask yourself each day, “What gift would I like to receive today?” and give yourself it. (It can be an object, a walk, a treatment, an activity, etc.)
  • The most important thing when you give is not to want anything in return.

Chapter 8. Receiving the stick: dealing with blows

When the students are sitting in silence, a supervisor sometimes walks around with a wooden stick, striking some students on both shoulders. Receiving the stick has several functions: it dulls pain, revives the students’ attention. But most of all, it teaches them to take blows when they least expect it.

When we are in love, we must be ready to “receive the stick”: problems, sadness, anger, disappointment, jealousy can appear at any moment in the relationship. We must learn to face these obstacles and recognize that they are only temporary, just like a storm that always ends up passing. We don’t have to end a relationship at the slightest difficulty, as it’s part of life. However, knowing how “to receive the stick” is not accepting the suffering that someone unduly causes us. When we feel like we’re in a destructive relationship, the best solution is to leave.

Putting chapter 8 into practice:

1. Where do the blows come from?

  • Ask yourself, “What are the blows in my life?”. In short, what is hurting you?
  • Notice every day how you react to these blows.

2. Don’t blame

  • List the people or situations that you think are responsible for your troubles.
  • Add to this list the blame that you lay on yourself.
  • Be aware that the blame you lay on others or on yourself keep you from being objective.
  • Read the list and choose to no longer blame situations, people or yourself.
  • Breathe deeply and want the best for everyone on this list, including yourself.

3. Refusing to refuse

  • What experience of life do you refuse to have?
  • What would happen if you agreed to experience it?
  • Be aware of how you do everything in your power for it to not happen.
  • Be aware that you’re exaggerating this experience.
  • When you feel ready, try it.
  • Now, how do you feel? How does this change the image you’ve made of yourself?

4. Healing a wounded relationship

  • Is there a relationship that needs to be healed in your life?
  • Visualize what has lacked in this relationship.
  • Whom do you need to ask for forgiveness? Or whom do you need to forgive? Start doing it now by calling them or writing them a letter (you can write to them even if they have passed away).
  • What do you need to give or receive from this person?
  • Give what you need to give and see if you can get what you need.

5. Saying yes

  • What is the thing you say or would you like to say yes to in life? It can be a person, an animal, an object, a plant.
  • Mentally, open your arms and your heart and say yes.
  • The next day, say yes to someone else or something else.
  • Once you’re used to it, you can do it with anyone, even those who are causing you harm.
  • Thus, you will be able to say yes to life in its entirety.

THIRD PART OF ZEN AND THE ART OF FALLING IN LOVE : ADVANCED TRAINING

Chapter 9. Sesshin- intensive training period: developing endurance

Sesshin is a period of intense training during which one meditates for several hours, days, weeks or months (up to three months). During this period, we are forbidden to speak, and the activities follow a certain routine: meditation-walk-meal-clean-meal… We can’t escape. We must accept the situation and do what needs to be done while remaining focused on ourselves. Sesshin teaches us to develop patience, and not to give in to our emotions or negative impulses.

In our love life, sesshin represents our ability to handle the routine in the couple. Some would like to leave once the magic at the beginning has faded, but to do so is to lose sight of the fact that there may be magical moments in everyday life. Other people would like to change their partner or react badly to their behavior. However, the greatest gift you can give someone is to accept them as they are and not to identify with their emotions or attitude. We can choose to change our reaction to someone instead of wanting to change them. Furthermore, it is this very act that transforms one’s attitude.

Putting chapter 9 into practice:

1. Perseverance

  • Do you show perseverance in your life, in your relationships?
  • Examine the relationships where you have shown perseverance and where you have not.
  • What differentiates these two relationships and what made you want to persevere?
  • Take a relationship in ruins and decide to persevere, to leave an open door.
  • What happens to you, and to the other person?

2. Livening up relationships

  • What are you doing to make a relationship more joyful?
  • What are the effects of these efforts? Does it prevent you from showing your true nature?
  • Choose not to embellish a relationship and observe the effects of that decision.
  • Do likewise with another relationship.

3. Ending the war

  • What is the conflict that keeps appearing in your relationship?
  • What are you seeking from this conflict: control, power, domination?
  • Once you have succeeded, are you that much more relieved?
  • How does the person opposite you feel in such a situation?
  • Decide now to end the war.

4. Escaping

  • Do you often escape from your relationship?
  • How do you do it?
  • What are you looking to escape from in the relationship?
  • If you had a little time together, how would you react?
  • Experience a moment with this person by focusing all your attention on them.
  • Accept the person as they are and reveal yourself as you are in the present.

5. Don’t give up on someone, don’t give up on yourself

  • In Tibetan Buddhism, giving up on a person is like giving up on oneself.
  • It means that even when a relationship ends, we must not reject someone from our heart.
  • On whom did you give up and how did you do it?
  • Stop giving up on this person and decide to see only the best in them.

Chapter 10. Struggling with your koan: working on problems

The koan is an “irrational” riddle the Zen master gives to a student. The student must solve this riddle, not mentally but by the way of awakening, by meditation. The answer appears in the mind as self-evident. Some examples of koans:

“When there is nothing left to do, what do you do?”

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Koans can seem nonsensical, but they aim to connect us to the wisdom within us to find the answers.

In our love life, solving a koan means not thinking too much about a problem or a doubt. By thinking too much, we are no longer focused on the present moment and we are therefore closed off to love. Moreover, it ends up becoming an obsession and making us suffer. Faced with such a situation, it is much more useful to focus on ourselves and allow the answers to come to us when needed.

Putting chapter 10 into practice:

1. Your koan

  • What is the koan that appears daily in your life? You may have many and for a long time.
  • Stop trying to understand this or these koan(s).

2. Working on the koan

  • How do you usually work on your koans?
  • Record your thoughts and daily reactions.
  • Examine those that are repeated.
  • Observe the results of these thoughts and actions in your life.
  • Choose to change the way you work on koans, not to put as much effort into solving them…

3. Welcoming your koan

  • Welcome your koan in your life without trying to solve it at all costs.
  • Accept the koan’s company.
  • Spend time with this koan, without looking for a solution.

4. Letting your koan speak

  • Listen to your koan.
  • Sit down and listen to the message that the koan is passing along to you, until it’s clear.

5. Giving an answer

  • Once you’ve understood your koan, answer it quickly with an action or decision.

Chapter 11. Dokusan – meeting with the master: moments of crucial choice

The Dokusan is the meeting of students by turn with the Zen master. This meeting is not obligatory, only the students who want it can go to see him. However, as the master’s availability is very limited, the students must hurry to be one of the first ones if they want to have the chance to speak to him. Therefore, it’s a time when we must not think but act quickly and seize the opportunity that presents itself. The master welcomes students as they are in the present moment and guides them. But the most important thing is the way in which students introduce themselves to the master. Some are able to be naked, that is to say, as they really are, while others appear with masks that prevent them from seeing the truth.

Dokusan

In a love relationship, it’s necessary to no longer play a role and to remove our mask in order to show the other person who we truly are. This is the only way to achieve true love. Of course, it can be difficult to show our true nature because in doing so we feel more vulnerable, but in seeking to protect ourselves from others we cannot be open to love.

Putting chapter 11 into practice:

1. The urgency of the moment

  • What is the most urgent thing in your life?
  • In what relationship are you willing to do all that is necessary?
  • What differentiates this relationship from other ones?

2. Failure and success

  • Write down where you are succeeding and where you are failing in your relationships.
  • Write down where you think the other person is succeeding and failing.
  • Stop seeing success or failure in your relationships and consider them now perfect even when they don’t quite live up to your expectations.
  • Consider all aspects of your past relationships as perfect, consider yourself and your past partners as perfect.
  • Then, realize that your vision of a relationship is entirely up to you.

3. Removing your mask

  • What are the masks or games that you use in your relationships? What role do you play?
  • Are you satisfied with these relationships where each person wears a mask?
  • Next time you’re in the company of someone you appreciate, remove the mask, and then the costume.
  • Become yourself and wait for the other person to be themselves.

4. Genuine encounters

  • Having a genuine encounter is to prepare before meeting the person.
  • Each person prepares differently: one can meditate, walk around, draw, sing, etc.
  • We prepare ourselves by forgetting about the old and being determined to make room for the new.
  • We prepare ourselves by refusing to indulge in negative emotions and to judge others.

Chapter 12. One breath: no separation

When we sit in the zendo next to others, although we’re all breathing, it’s our own breath on which we must focus. And it is this breathing that makes us, even if we are separated from the others, feel united. It is this act of breathing together that forms one breath.

Falling in love can be compared to the act of breathing. To practice one breath is to stop looking for love through others but to search for it in ourselves in order to share it with them. We can see that, although we are separated from others, love unites us. And we can stop being dependent on a person for we no longer perceive them as the sole source of love. Also we don’t close ourselves off to the outside world when we are in love because we realize that isolating ourselves from the outside world is to close ourselves off to love and to reject others. We don’t renounce what we truly are to please the other person. 

We know that true love is not clinging to someone, it’s the ability to be separated from them. And even when separated, we can remain united to each other. We are not interested in someone because of what they can bring us, but because of the love we can share with them.

Putting chapter 12 into practice:

1. Keeping love at a distance

  • What are the barriers that keep you distant from love? Make a list of them.
  • What are the barriers that keep you distant from others despite yourself? Make a list of them.

2. Unity

  • When do you feel in unity? When alone or accompanied? Is it when engaging in a particular activity?
  • Spend some time every day doing the thing that gives you a feeling of unity.
  • Increase the time of the activity as you go along.
  • This will allow you to prolong this feeling of unity every day.

3. Unity with others

  • Choose a person with whom you feel able to be in unity.
  • Be aware of the time you are sharing with this person and be calm in their presence.
  • Be present in the moment with them; listen to them when they speak to you. Make yourself available to them.
  • Observe your thoughts and emotions when you are with them.
  • Do this exercise as many times as you can and with other people.

4. Unity with the whole world

  • What makes you feel separated or divided in your life, or in the world? When do you feel rejected?
  • Be aware that this separation is part of life, just as exhaling is part of breathing.
  • Choose not to back down, appreciate the aspects of what you rejected.

5. Serving with an open mind

  • Give yourself each day to someone you love and to someone you don’t love.
  • Don’t seek to receive something in return.
  • Give while forgetting that you are giving.
  • You will receive gifts in return.
  • Accept these gifts with gratitude.

Chapter 13. Finding the ox: meeting the beloved

In the teaching of Zen, finding the ox means finding the true nature in the center of ourselves: joy, truth, love. To find the ox, the groundwork is laid through meditative practices.

In love, finding the ox means finding a soulmate. And for that, we must also lay the groundwork. You have to start by finding love in yourself so you can find it outside yourself. Then, we must realize that thanks to the love that is within us we are already complete, so we don’t seek the beloved to complete us but to share love with them. We must also accept the difficult experiences in the past and face the fear of suffering in the future. Thus, we let go, we accept ourselves and we reveal ourselves as we are in the present moment, and that’s the best way to experience love.

Finally, you must realize that any person can potentially become the soulmate if we look at them with the right eyes. Looking at someone with the right eyes is the ability to appreciate them while being aware of their qualities as well as their flaws. It’s also the ability to recognize that the other person’s flaws that bother us are often flaws that we carry within ourselves, and therefore, the ability to accept the other person: and it’s in this acceptance that lies love.

Putting chapter 13 into practice:

1. Search for the ox

  • What ox are you looking for in your life?
  • Where are you looking for the ox and where can you find it?
  • Have you found it? Have you lost it?

2. The eyes of good and evil

  • What do you see with suspicion in love?
  • Choose to see it with the eyes of love.
  • What does it change in you?

3. The snake’s voice

  • What does the snake’s deceptive voice tell you about yourself, about love and relationships?
  • Learn to listen to the lies, fears, beliefs of your mind.
  • Then decide not to believe them anymore; they will eventually disappear.

4. The direct voice to love

  • Choose not to judge or criticize the people you meet.
  • Replace the unhealthy thoughts about these people with thoughts of love.
  • See the positive side of these people.
  • Look at yourself as a person who loves you would look at you.
  • Look at others this way, through the eyes of love all day long.

5. The perfect person

  • Today, open your heart to all those who will cross your path.
  • See perfection in every person.
  • You will then end up seeing perfection within yourself.

6. Finding the ox

  • Where is your ox (the beloved)?
  • Have you ever lost hope of one day finding them?
  • Fully welcome them into your life.

Book critique of “Zen and the Art of Falling in Love”

Zen and the Art of Falling in Love completely turned my vision of love upside down. Before reading it two years ago, I didn’t see how a romantic relationship could be possible without being dependent on the other person. I tended to blame others for their flaws or behavior, but when it came to questioning my own attitude, I simply wasn’t able to. I looked for love in others and I found myself inevitably frustrated, in need or disappointed because they didn’t offer me all that I needed.

The book Zen and the Art of Falling in Love helped me take stock of my past relationships and helped me realize that I was partially responsible for what had happened to me. However, it also gave me hope because I realized that nothing is a forgone conclusion and that past experiences in no way determine the present, nor the future. It’s up to us to change things in ourselves in order to change them around us.

Strong points of the book Zen and the Art of Falling in Love:

  • Brenda Shoshanna teaches us to rethink how we function in our relationships, to question our preconceived notions and to discover love through Zen.
  • The parallel between Zen teaching and romantic relationships is quite original and inspiring: the author shows us the way to become zen as a couple.
  • There are real-life stories in Zen and the Art of Falling in Love that speak of the difficulties that each of us may encounter in our love life. And Brenda Shoshanna shows us how these difficulties were resolved through the practice of Zen.
  • After each chapter, we find some very useful exercises to put what has been taught into practice.

Weak points the book Zen and the Art of Falling in Love:

  • I had to reread a few sentences several times before I could fully take them in. The language of Zen teaching is not exactly accessible to everyone.
  • I had never done any meditation when I first read Zen and the Art of Falling in Love and found it difficult to imagine practicing Zen because I had not experienced it myself (life at the zendo, meditation, etc).
  • Zen and the Art of Falling in Love could have been even more beneficial if it had been a little less theoretical and more practical. For example, if an audio CD meditation program had been included.

My rating : relationship in Love relationship in Love relationship in Loverelationship in Loverelationship in Loverelationship in Loverelationship in Loverelationship in Loverelationship in Love

Have you read “Zen and the Art of Falling in Love”? How do you rate it?

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