Through companionable wisdom and focused practice, Zen in the Age of Anxiety is a guidebook for applying Zen principles to our troubled and harried lives.
The book explores the paradox of the centered peace of Zen beliefs in the chaos of modernity. As both a psychologist and a Zen Buddhist priest, Tim Burkett’s vocations pair a broad knowledge of human behavior with the compassion, humor, and openness of Zen.
A student during the 1960s, Burkett is one of a generation of rebels and idealists who have now become mentors and sages. His tone is warm and wise as he recalls personal experiences and freely admits his own shortcomings, contrasting them with Zen teachings and legend.
The book is divided into two primary sections: “Wounding and Splintering” and “Suturing and Healing.” Through regular meditation, true self-love, and love for others, there is hope for healing what is damaged, stressed, addicted, or addled.
Taking Zen meditation and fluidity to a neurological level, the book details how minds that are refreshed and broadened through meditation are less likely to atrophy or experience the effects of aging. Unhealthy and ego-driven behavioral triggers can be reprogrammed, with psychologically and physically positive results.
Each chapter concludes with a “Doing the Work” series of exercises to apply the concepts to everyday life. Topics include love and sexuality, the environment, attitudes toward money, fear of failure, and acceptance of life as well as death. The book has a general flowing tone of learning without the heaviness of lessons, and of imparting guidance without rigid directives.
Ultimately, Zen and the Age of Anxiety shows that power resides in an individual’s willingness to change and to seek a more expansive and communal consciousness.
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