The Zen of You & Me: A Review

zen of you & me
I’ve just finished reading Diane Musho Hamilton’s The Zen of You & Me.

The subtitle is “a Guide to Getting Along with Just About Anyone.” Me, I’m not really a fan of self-help literature. So, not exactly a book I’d naturally be attracted to. However, I am glad I read it.

This book offers a simple straight forward analysis of how we exist in this world and offers an invitation into how we can reorient and actually live in the world. It is not precisely a Zen book. But, there’s no way in which it isn’t a Zen book. Which, absolutely, works for me.

Hamilton Sensei brings a host of life into this volume. An attorney she was the first director of the Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution for the Utah Judiciary. And has become a renowned mediator. As a person of the Buddhaway, she started as a student of the Tibetan master Trungpa Rimpoche, and after his death became a Zen practitioner within the White Plum line. She was ordained a priest by Dennis Merzel Genpo Roshi in 2003, and received Denbo transmission in 2006. Diane has also spent some years investigating the work of Ken Wilbur and integrating it into her approaches as mediator and as Zen teacher. She and her husband Michael Mugaku Zimmerman are the resident teachers of Two Arrows Zen in Salt Lake City.

Because of my generic lack of interest in anything that might look like self-help, I likely would not have picked up this book. But, I have witnessed her skill at working with people up front and intimate at a board that had been deadlocked around several issues. I was, frankly, flabbergasted at how beautifully and sympathetically she could engage the people there, hold up what was going on in ways that could actually be heard, and helped us achieve a breakthrough I personally had serious doubts could ever be accomplished.

Me, I’m always impressed and after the first bruise, pleased when I see I am wrong. It can open things, our hearts, our minds, let me be specific my heart, my mind. And in that opening the great project of the spiritual path I’ve committed my life to is revealed.

So, when presented with this book, I was ready to read it. I wanted to understand a little of what informed her open and compassionate approach, beyond her own native intelligence and obvious sympathy with our human condition. Briefly, this book does that.

And so here in this smallish book I was given new angles on old teachings, a dash of Vajrayana Buddhism, a large dollop of Ken Wilbur’s systematic analysis of consciousness, cut through at every word with profound Zen perspectives, all combined into an accessible, inviting, call to a life of presence and engagement. Complete with practical pointers.

The Zen teacher Pat Enkyo O’Hara Roshi, one of my favorites, offers her own appreciation of the Zen of You & Me. “At this time, more than ever, our world needs Hamilton’s insights on difference, and how we can find our way through our judgments, into a more balanced view that recognizes and appreciates both our sameness and our differences. Through intimate personal experiences, and in a warm and encouraging manner, she offers the reader profound insight and compassionate teaching on how to equally navigate our individual and interdependent lives. Like a Zen Master, she encourages and teaches a way to live in the tension of difference and offer our energies to this world we live in today. This is excellent medicine for today’s ills.”

Probably true because Diane is a Zen master, along with everything else. This book is good. It opens windows into the workings of our hearts and minds. And can genuinely help that person who is ready to look.

And, you know, it can’t hurt to try and get along with others.

Solid recommendation!

The Zen of You and Me: A Guide to Getting Along with Just About Anyone
Diane Musho Hamilton, Shambhala Publications, Boulder, 2017.

Available in paperback and as an ebook.

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