Spitting Out the Bones, A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey

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Spitting Out the Bones, A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey

Spitting Out the Bones, A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey

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Spitting Out the Bones, A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey

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Paperback and eBook editions now available. 

‘You have to swallow the whole fish,’ Zen Master Taizan Maezumi told his students, ‘and then spit out the bones.’  First absorb the tradition, endure the hardships of Zen training, then you can spend the rest of your life separating the real treasure from the culture it came in, learning what you can let go of and what is truly yours.

Spitting Out the Bones is Genpo Roshi’s story of his uplifting and exhilarating and humbling journey, including the years rising from the ashes of his very public fall from grace, and a candid exploration of the challenge of bringing the essence of the great tradition he inherited to life in the West.

♦   ♦   ♦

**  Praise from Advance Readers **

Jack Kornfield, author of Bringing Home the Dharma
“This book offers much hard-earned and valuable wisdom. His love of Zen and his maturity has transformed Zen into a practice of the heart.”

Jack Canfield, coauthor of The Success Principles, and transformational trainer:
“A vivid and inspiring reminder that growth and transformation on a large-scale or global level are inseparable from honest and sometimes painful reckoning of our flaws and failings on a personal level.”

Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality:
“A terrific book!  I can’t think of a more important challenge the world faces right now than how to bring the wisdom of the great spiritual traditions into the modern and post-modern world.  It’s one of the most urgent and far-reaching things we have to do, and this is a major step in that direction.”

Zen Master Nicolee Jikyo McMahon, Marriage and Family Therapist:
“A very important contribution to the convergence of deep spiritual practice and contemporary Western psychology, and a deeply honest, self-revealing account of a Western Zen teacher’s journey.  As both a therapist and a Zen teacher, I highly recommend this book to anyone on the spiritual path, to therapists, and to all those interested in expanding their understanding of themselves and their lives.”

Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within:
“There’s a lot of meat and marrow here, as well as things which might stick in one’s throat.  Ruination can be a true friend with benefits, as this candid story reveals. We who are imperfect can certainly sympathize and even identify with Genpo Roshi’s story and inner journey. If you want a deep slice of American Zen life, from a teacher’s point of view, with all its ups and downs, twists and turns — beyond over-idealized images — read this book.”

Martha Ekyo Maezumi:
“Like that lotus rising out of muddy water, the development of a Zen teacher is not an easy task, and as Genpo Roshi’s book shows, the times of descending the mountain can be those of greatest self-discovery. We can be grateful that he has persevered and written this deeply honest and generous account of his journey.  I think it conveys the true spirit not only of his journey, but of his teacher’s, my husband Maezumi Roshi, and of the Path we are all traveling in our own ways.”

Zen Master Jan Chozen Bays, MD, author of The Vow-Powered Life

“This book reads like a series of intimate fireside chats with a Zen teacher who is recounting what he has learned over 45 years of dedicated Zen practice. It skillfully weaves element of that process as well as traditional Zen koans. Unfolding a broad range of topics, including the complexities of the student-teacher, Big Mind and Abhidharma, and the future spiritual evolution of the human species.”

Hal & Sidra Stone, Creators of Voice Dialogue (from the Foreword):
“Absolutely riveting!  Genpo Roshi is a master storyteller and a master teacher and this book is alive with his vitality.  Its message, and his journey, are both timely and universal.  Traditional religions, and their leaders, must now learn to help people go through their own personal transformational processes.  Many new paths are opening — many different journeys are becoming possible.  Dennis Genpo Roshi has shown us his journey.  Those who read this book can use his story to help them find their own paths.”

Maurice Shonen Knegtel, Sensei , author of The Last Word of Zen
“Most of what has been written in the West about Zen Buddhism focuses on climbing the path to enlightenment and standing on top of the mountain.  However, what distinguishes Mahayana Buddhism from other spiritual traditions is that it stresses losing it all, coming down empty-handed from the peak of enlightenment back to the smelly swamps of everyday human life, as a crucial part of the spiritual process.  This  inspiring personal account of ascending and descending the mountain is one of the best books I have ever read about the struggle to become what Mahayana Buddhism calls a bodhisattva, a true human being.”

10 thoughts on “Spitting Out the Bones, A Zen Master’s 45 Year Journey”

  1. Hi
    I sponsored your first book publishing and am glad to see that another one has been written.
    Congratulations dear sir.

  2. The first zen teacher I met was Maezumi Roshi in the fall of 1980, here in Tucson AZ. at the Tucson Blind Association where he gave talk and I began my formal practice in Zen in my 38th year. After my 22nd birthday, June 6th 1963, my separate sense of self, ego, dropped off. I felt I was nothing in myself and one with everyone and everything: radical Self-Acceptance, but the Self I accepted was everyone and everything; I was and am empty of a separate self or ego. I first practiced with Joko Beck and Maezumi Roshi and then Aitken Roshi. At the end of a 7 day Session at ZCLA at the end of Dec. 1981, I was briefly introduced to you by Maezumi Roshi, and appreciate the Big Mind process with the shadow work, etc. I read all your books so far and your dvd’s and very much look forward to your new book. Thanks very much, in Gassho Paul

  3. I just finished reading Spitting Out the Bones and want to let you know how much I liked it. It is very easy to read, friendly and honest. It makes a strong case for why we students should not get distracted in thinking, conceptualizing, about where we are on the Way, given our infinite capacity for delusion and self deception. I also like the emphasis on THIS life and the need to watch it, and not only while on the cushion. Another key issue to me, is that methods are shown as just methods, they change, and will probably continue changing as Zen is assimilated by the West. They are eventually disposable.
    Please receive my best regards,

  4. Hello Genpo,
    I am happy that you are recovering well and are back in the track of sharing the way of walking the way. I want to thank you for the great book you wrote. It has opened my eyes, my heart, and my ears like never before on my path; at last a master talking clearly about the way and how to live it fully; not half of it. It brings me a lot of understanding of the experiences I have been going through these past 30 years. Thank you! Your writing is precise, full of knowledge, and straight to the heart. It is nice to be able to read such a book in the time we are living.
    Thank you! I wish you a nice and shiny day, full of peace, love and lots of smiles.

  5. As a student of the Big Mind process, I am deeply grateful to Roshi for his honesty when relating personal experiences and for sharing his teachings in this book, which to me is of incalculable value.
    “Spitting out the Bones” offers the reader – whether Buddhist or layman – a deep insight into both the Zen tradition and Western culture and offers us a vision which encompasses both. Drawing on personal experience and a belief that each tradition can make a valuable contribution to the other, Roshi’s visioón of integrated East/West wisdom opens a way for the merging of the ancient Zen philosophy with the knowledge developed in western Psychotherapy so that each can benefit from the other and, perhaps, supplant some of the lacks that each tradition has on its own.
    In this way, this marriage of the two traditions proposed by Roshi encompasses both the aspiration to ascend the Self through meditation and the ethos of discipline AND the contemplation of the individual, the integration of the Self and the recognition of human vulnerability present in western psychotherapy. The result is, to my mind, fascinating. From his personal path of learning (and indeed suffering) emerges an integrated spiritual practice suited to the western world. Forever grateful to you, Roshi.

  6. I am reading “Spitting out the Bones” and have gifted the book and some DVD’s. Good to see your book in print. Very honest and insightful. Helpful for us all. All of our experiences when deeply and humbly reflected upon can work for immense good. The Big Mind Big Heart video was such an amazing breakthrough. Your gentle humor is sincere and reflects great patience. So happy your are doing workshops again, also glad you have placed even more emphasis on Big Heart!

    Sincerely, Mary Pat

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