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Zen Student: Remember, Live Right Now!    by Raymond Reed Hardy order for
Zen Student
by Raymond Reed Hardy
Order:  USA  Can
Wheatmark, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Raymond Reed Hardy, a psychology professor at a college in Wisconsin, previously wrote Zen Master: Practical Zen by an American for Americans. He tells us that his objectives were 'first, to convince the reader that the practice of zazen can be a very, very useful tool for promoting personal development, and second, to describe the actual practice ... to allow the reader to begin her/his own practice even when there was no "teacher" to be found.' He intends this sequel, Zen Student, to build on such a foundation of practice.

In his Introduction, Hardy speaks of the enemies shared by every human being - 'our own ignorance, greed, fears, hatreds, and delusions' - and of the application of zazen to develop 'our innate capacity for self-directed compassion'. He speaks of a compelling Viet Nam experience that ignited his own interest in meditation, and in communicating the experience to the 'American man/woman in the street.' He makes a nice analogy between the waypoints that guide a sailor's passage and the koans (Zen teachings) that can be landmarks for a Zen student, describes the relationship between zazen and psychotherapy, and goes into common Western misconceptions of Buddha, reincarnation, Nirvana, and the Dharma (for example about the meaning of non-attachment).

Hardy summarizes the elements of The Eightfold Path - Right Effort, Right Action, Right Speech, Right Thought, Right Attitude, Right Understanding, Right Attention and Right Livelihood - and introduces the Vedas and the Sutras. He offers a series of stories relating to Mindfulness, and explains (with photos) the three Qigong Stances for standing meditation, and the transitions between them. This is followed by typical Zen student questions and Hardy's answers to them, and by a description and diary of his first Zen Sesshin (Retreat) experience. Finally, the author talks about Zen and the Art of Haiku and presents thirteen of his own Haikus.

Dr. Hardy offers a scattering of Zen concepts, and guidance from his own practice, in Zen Student, a useful volume for someone who already practices meditation but seeks to deepen their understanding of it.

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