"Each time you sit down to meditate, you are reenacting the Buddha's enlightenment experience," writes Jean Smith, author of four collections of Buddhist teachings including 365 Zen: Daily Readings. Although there are a growing number of introductions to meditation available, this handy paperback stands out with its succinct survey of Zen. Smith presents an overview of basic Buddhist major texts, a history of Zen, answers to frequently asked questions, a listing of American Zen centers and resources, and a glossary of terms. She even provides a user-friendly guide to what a person will find on a first visit to a zendo, a hall where zazen is formally practiced. I especially appreciated Smith's imaginative description of the relationship between a teacher and a student.

The author believes that Zen offers people an opportunity to become better acquainted with themselves. It also gives us a realistic sense of the best and the worst that is in us. Or as Zen scholar Albert Law has observed: "The good news is that we are Buddha; the bad news is that all beings are Buddha. The sickness of being human is the sickness of wanting to be unique."

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