Oh, Joko!


I’ll admit to being a big fan of Charlotte Joko Beck’s 1993 book Nothing Special. Her first book is good too, but the second really hits the spot for me. It’s about Zen living, but is very light on the ‘Zen’ and very heavy on the ‘living’. What I like is her approach to practice, because I think it relates to Tai Chi practice.

There are so many similarities between the two. Aside from the fact that they’re both meditative in nature, if you want to get anywhere in Tai Chi you need to practice pretty much every day, even when you don’t feel like it, in much the same was as you have to sit and meditate every day to get anywhere in Zen, even when you don’t feel like it. Not that there is anywhere to get in Zen, since you are already right here. In fact, from a Zen point of view it would be better to say that you have to meditate every day just to get back to where you are already, and nowhere else.

Some of my favourite quotes from her work (which I’m not getting just right, but hey, they are close enough):

“When nothing is special, then everything can be.”

“On the withered tree the flower blooms.”

“Stop thinking, stop dreaming and there is nothing that you cannot know”.

Anyway, I’d recommend Nothing Special, the book, and watching the following YouTube documentary about her work.

Charlotte Joko Beck – Ordinary Living-documentary: