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Meditation Now or Never by Steve Hagen

Meditation Now or Never

by Steve Hagen

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This book has 36 short chapters. I read perhaps a chapter a week. Each chapter is easy to read - ten or fifteen minutes is surely enough. I often took this book along to the video store to read it while my sweetheart looked for something to watch. It was not difficult to read even with all those distractions.

Reading a chapter and then waiting a week to read the next, that is probably a good way to read this book. This kind of teaching is deceptively simple. I imagine one could read the whole book in a single sitting - but get very little out of it. By allowing time to absorb each chapter, each next chapter just keeps the thread flowing, connecting through one's life. This is meditation instruction, meant to be practiced, to permeate one's whole experience.

This book is essentially focussed on shikantaza, cultivating awareness with as little formal structure as possible. It's a very curious puzzle, whether this practice is effective, or how often is it effective, under what circumstance. Hagen defends it, arguing that formal structure introduces distractions. That is surely true, I will respond, but sometimes a distraction can actually enhance awareness. With a practice of simply letting go, there can be an opportunity to quietly slip little knots of confusion under the carpet. Really letting go entirely just might require first picking up the carpet and shaking it.

Another metaphor is that of soap. To let go of dirt, it can be more effective to add extra material first, it that extra material not only rinses easily, but dissolves dirt too and allows the dirt to be rinsed away more easily.

The kind of very straight clear sitting that Hagen teaches here is an exquisite jewel and surely plays an essential role on the path to liberation. Hagen provides a wonderfully clear explanation and inspiration. This book reminds me a lot of Sunryu Suzuki's classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Hagen's book I think is a little simpler, a little easier, and therefore perhaps has a little more temptation to letting one think one has grasped something - it's a bit less elusive. The argument against structure, paradoxically enough, is just part of that simplifying structure that makes the presentation graspable, surely a sword with two edges.

Anyway, this is a great book, well worth reading for any practitioner. Read it, experience it, and then just let it go, too! ( )
  kukulaj | Dec 4, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061143294, Paperback)

National bestselling author and teacher Steve Hagen strips away the cultural and religious jargon surrounding meditation and provides an accessible and thorough manual for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. Inside you will find:

Simple practices to avoid needlessly complicating meditation Where most of us get stuck in meditation—and how to get unstuck A unique focus on meditation not simply as a spiritual technique, but as a way of living

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:16 -0400)

From the bestselling author of "Buddhism Plain and Simple" comes the definitive guide for anyone interested in meditation - from newcomers to long time meditators. In practicing meditation, we go nowhere other than right here where we now stand, where we now sit, where we now live and breathe. In meditation we return to where we already are - this shifting, changing ever-present now.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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