For the Beginning Zen Student

Welcome to the Zen path of inquiry and transformation! Probably the most difficult part of early practice is simply giving yourself permission to do it. We are all very busy people, with many distractions, responsibilities, and commitments to others around us. However, if we are not grounded in real life, we diminish our ability to provide for ourselves and for others. Our efforts to “help” may cause more damage than good. Without true awareness, we are caught in our self-centered fantasies about ourselves and our relationships, and we miss our real opportunity to intimately experience life exactly as it is—true liberation. This practice is not easy, but it is consistent and it is sane. As Joko says, it has been around for many hundreds of years, and the kinks have been worked out of it. The changes in our lives are not always obvious; but with intelligent practice, day by day we are being transformed at the cellular level. If we are patient with ourselves, we will see the rewards in our everyday lives. Joko Beck calls this an empirical practice: All we can do is try the experiment, and observe the results.