Critically acclaimed author and nationally recognized psychologist Dr.
Brenda Shoshanna (Zen and the Art of Falling in Love, Zen Miracles) offers a
new book discussing the practices of Judaism and Zen.
ACCOLADES: Named One of the Best Spiritual Books of the Year
--Spirituality and Health Magazine
FOR JEWISH DHARMA “The living encounter between Jewish and Buddhist practice has been unfolding over the past three decades, in the lives of many individuals, as Buddhism comes to the West. While Brenda Shoshanna’s book appears at first to be a practical manual seeking to compare and integrate two very different traditions, Zen Buddhism and Judaism, at another level it tells the story of a woman’s coming to terms with the deepest part of each tradition, with a full awareness of the opportunities and contradictions involved. Her personal anecdotes of a childhood in an Orthodox enclave in Brooklyn and of her encounters with Japanese Zen teachers are captivating. They ground this book in the life of an admirable and honest narrator, one who has worked her way through seeming contradictions to peace. Brenda Shoshanna has found a constructive way to integrate both traditions, for instance by using meditative practices to prepare for Jewish observances. She is creating a unique path. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a foot in more than one world.”
—Roger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night’s Dream
“Dr. Brenda Shoshanna flies on two wings: A deep love of orthodox Jewish faith and her Zen practice of 36 years. Her vision embraces both traditions with fidelity and beauty.”
—Robert Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, author of Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit and Zen Gifts to Christians
“Like so many Jewish Buddhists from Brooklyn, including myself, Brenda Shoshanna strives to be both a mensch and a Bodhisattva. Her Torah as well as her Dharma, her good heart and wisdom mind, shine through in this delightful, interesting, psychologically astute, and practical book. Anyone interested in finding deeper understanding and meaningful purpose in life will be rewarded by reading any one of Jewish Dharma’s pages.”
—Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within and other books, and founder of Dzogchen Meditation Centers
“I couldn’t put Jewish Dharma down. With wisdom, humor, depth and dedication, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna guides us into the heart of Jewish and Zen practice, which enrich one another in ways that will enhance your practice of both, or either. A must read for anyone who wishes to explore Zen meditation and Jewish life.”
—Rabbi Marcia Prager, author of The Path of Blessing
“This rewarding book is a must-read for Jews who want to enrich their spiritual practice through Zen meditation. Dr. Shoshanna highlights the similarities and complementary differences in approaches of these two great spiritual traditions in a way that is clear and easy to put into practice in daily life.”
—Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron, Buddhist teacher and author of Buddhism for Beginners and Working with Anger
“Jewish Dharma uniquely captures the dynamic complementarities that exist between the Buddhist and Jewish worlds. Dr. Shoshanna’s adamant refusal to give up the riches of one tradition in order to embrace the treasures of another serves to deepen the power of both Jewish and Buddhist practice. She keeps her Jewish passion while opening to the spaciousness of Zen.”
—Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
“A magnificent exploration of the heart of both Judaism and Zen. Beautifully written, Jewish Dharma brings two worlds together in a way that shines light on both and will bring wisdom and unity to people of all religions and paths. I cannot recommend the book highly enough.”
— Rabbi Joseph Gelberman, PhD, pioneer of the interfaith movement in the United States and founder of All-Faiths Seminary International
“Dr. Brenda Shoshanna gently and clearly teaches the core messages of both Judaism and Zen Buddhism and shows how compatible and complementary these practices are. Jewish Dharma is an important book because it focuses on the truths of these two major streams of spiritual and ethical living. It is a must read for all of us who are following a spiritual path.”
—Rabbi Roger Ross, executive director, Rabbinical Seminary International
“This is a profound work of great importance to both the merely curious as well as the serious spiritual seeker—a wonderful bridge, merging and magnifying the best of Judaism and Zen.”
—Lewis Harrison, Author of The Mystic Teachings of the Taoist Masters, Director, the Harrison Center for Self Actualization
"MANY CONVERTS to Buddhism feel a lingering attachment to their original faiths even as they pursue the path to enlightenment. For those who try to make room in their lives for both menorahs and mu, Brenda Shoshanna's Jewish Dharma: A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen (Da Capo Press, 2008, $25.00 cloth, 320 pp.) offers insights on how the two practices can coexist and even inform one another. In chatty, often personal writing, Shoshanna, a psychologist and Zen practitioner, compares Jewish and Zen takes on self-discovery, charity and mindfulness, finding common ground between traditions like Sabbath and zazen (sitting meditation), right speech and loshon hora (guarding your words)." --Tricycle Magazine, Books in Brief By Sarah Todd
"Brenda Shoshana is a practicing psychologist with more than 25 years of experience. She is the author of several books including Zen and the Art of Falling in Love. Raised in an orthodox Jewish family, she is now a long-term student and practitioner of both Judaism and Zen Buddhism. As an interfaith counselor, she has written an extraordinary book that vividly demonstrates the rich cross-fertilization that can take place when your spiritual practice stems from two traditions. Of an estimated three million practicing Buddhists in the United States today, nearly one third also identify themselves as Jewish. Shoshanna addresses them and all others who are open to the adventure of interspirituality.
The material covered in this book conveys the wisdom and ethical sweep of both Judaism and Zen. The chapter titles preview her broad perspective:
• Jewish Prayer and the Practice of Zazen • Seeking Understanding: Torah Study and Koan Practice • Disciplining Yourself: Mitzvot and Mindfulness • Calming the Restless Mind: Sabbath and Nondoing • Giving Up Defensiveness: Charity and Open Hands • Guarding Your Words: Lashon Hara and the Zen Practice of Silence • Finding True Support: Dissolving False Attachments and Letting Go • Discovering Yourself: Jewish Identity and Selflessness and more. • Building Relationships: Marriage and Courtship; Monks and Nuns • Making Peace in the Family and the World: Forgiveness and Renunciation • Healing Sorrow: Tikkun Olam and Total Acceptance • Understanding Life Purpose: Caring for One Another and Bodhisattva Activity
Shoshana uses many colorful anecdotes from Judaism and Zen but the major emphasis is on the practices which animate these two sturdy traditions. She points out that in the Zen tradition if you want to see the beauty of a room, you take everything out so that you can get a glimpse of its original nature: "In Zen practice you do the same. You take everything out of your life that causes clutter, static, confusion, and greed. . . . As you do this, you naturally find your own inner balance and strength."
Both Zen and Judaism require persistence — the ability to absorb disappointment and disillusionment. Each calls us to live in the present moment, to eschew distractions, to abandon pride, and to practice love and kindness. Both traditions present a new way of life: Zen as the middle way and Torah as a life of balance.
The discipline and structure of spiritual practice in both Judaism and Zen offer an alternative to the compulsive behavior and addiction that is so rampant in our culture. Observing the Sabbath in Judaism and the practice of nondoing in Zen are antidotes to restlessness, greed, and consumerism.
In closing, we present just two examples of the kind of practices that make this such a rich and practical book, one that you will turn to again and again. From Judaism, here is a practice of charity. And from Zen, a practice of hospitality.
"Open your hand and give many times. It is a mitzvah to give charity (tzedukah) to the poor. You are more obligated to do this mitzvah than any other. It says that whoever sees a poor person and turns his eyes away, transgresses. You should not think that by giving charity you are losing money; just the opposite, you will be blessed. There are many forms of charity — money, time, attention, work, giving someone else the benefit of the doubt. Give with an open hand and heart, and your life will be fruitful. The highest way of giving is simply to give, wanting nothing in return."
For Jews, Zen students, “JuBus,” and other open-minded seekers—a guide to authentic Jewish and Zen practice and how they illuminate, challenge, and enrich each other
Books like The Jew in the Lotus have helped to define the intersection of Jewish and Zen experience and practice. Now, in the first guide to the practice of both Judaism and Zen, Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, a long-time practitioner and student of both, presents her gained wisdom for the more than one million who identify as “JuBus,” as well as Jews, Zen students, non-Jews, and everyone in the interfaith community who seeks understanding, meaning, and how to live a life grounded in these authentic faiths.
Each chapter of Jewish Dharma focuses on common issues that introduce disorder to our lives through personal narrative, parables, quotations from both Jewish and Zen scriptures, anecdotes, and exercises. Specific guidelines and exercises help readers integrate both practices into their everyday lives—and thereby gain deeper understanding and happiness.
Shoshanna's words are wonderful!" --Marianne
"This is relationship, samurai style, as we are systematically
led along the path from "becoming available" to "meeting
the beloved."...Shoshanna studied with the zen masters Soen
Nakagawa Roshi and Eido Shimano Roshi; the rigor of traditional monastic
training shines through the spare language and format.Aspects of Zen training that can be controversial or confounding
are presented matter-of-factly....The reader can just follow the
"Steppingstones to Love" in each chapter--small actions that,
like consistent meditation practice, lead incrementally to awareness.For those with love issues--isn't that most of us, at one time or
another?--Shoshanna holds out the redemptive possibilities of
(on Zen and the Art of Falling in Love)
searching for broader meaning will revel in her ability to weave
together the basic tenets of relationship psychology with the
self-realization techniques of Zen practice. Nor is Shoshanna's advice
limited to affairs of the heart; much of her counsel-to be open, loving
and full of faith-feels relevant to all aspects of life." --Publishers
some good, solid advice here that just might help the lovelorn break
some of their destructive patterns and connect the dots as to why true
love is always passing them by."
--St. Petersburg Times
"Falling in love doesn't mean being blind or entering into
fantasy," says Brenda Shoshanna, author of Zen and the Art of
Falling in Love. "It means waking up out of darkened dreams to
finally see the beauty that surrounds us." Sounds good."
--Chicago Sun Times
"Shoshanna extends an
empty and richly filled hand, offering both the sublime and the
practical, which are one and the same in the Zen world. This is a highly
recommended volume for beginners and new practitioners who are coming to
the truth that "to find the answers to your life questions, you
must look within. Nothing less will do. Nothing more is needed."' --Publishers
Weekly [for Zen Miracles]
Shoshanna challenges us to let go of fantasies, expectations, fears and
anticipation so we can be fully present to life. Her wisdom is genuine
and deeply considered. Her book is well worth reading.”
--Spiritual Parenting [for
you are looking for a way to have happiness and still live in this
world, you have come to the right book. Rarely do eloquent prose, gems
of quotes, simple wisdom, and practical exercises come in one book: Zen
Miracles offers all of these and more. Whatever your spiritual
orientation, this is a book you will refer to for years to come."
--Lee Jampolsky, Ph.D. author of Healing Together, Healing the Addictive Mind, and The Art
wonderful book brings East and West – and ancient and modern worlds
– together and provides profound wisdom and guidance for anyone
struggling with stress, anxiety, anger, fear or loneliness. Beautifully
written, funny, warm and filled with unusual, wonderful exercises. A
--Rabbi Gary Moskowitz Director of the Institute for Violence Prevention
healing journey into the inner conflicts and contradictions that
separate spirit from self."
--Armand DiMele, the DiMele Center for Psychotherapy
Brenda Shoshanna is a versatile, creative, warm and truly excellent
--Rabbi Joseph Gelberman founder of the Interfaith Seminary and Director of the All Faith
Miracles is a book that is invaluable for anyone seeking to bring a
profound, yet genuinely joyous experience to life. Brenda Shoshanna
explores the spiritual and therapeutic aspects of Zen practice in a way
that is acceptable to anyone no matter what their faith, philosophy or
religious beliefs. With her warm and compassionate style she exhibits
the unique ability to explain even the most difficult ideas in
understandable terms. Her approach is readily accessible and applicable
to even the most mundane of activities. This book is a must for anyone
seeking the secrets for attaining a balanced life and true peace of
--Lewis Harrison Director of the Academy of Natural Healing
Miracles is an inviting and inspiring message for those looking for a
more simple and powerful way to enhance their lives and for those who
want to integrate a practical way of peace in today's distorted and
increasingly violent world."
--Bob Goff New
books all offer psychological and spiritual guidance, combining
spiritual wisdom with psychological insight and practical advice. She
has received widespread critical-acclaim for all of her books, with
excellent reviews from publications such as Tricycle, Publishers Weekly,
Body & Soul and others, and she has won the NABE Award for the Best
Book of the Year in the Category of Health. Her books have been
translated into 18 languages, and she appears frequently on national
television, in national print, and in major venues online (she is the
Relationship Expert on iVillage.com). She has spoken and taught at many
universities and has offered over 500 talks and workshops nationally on
all aspects of psychology, spirituality and fulfilling one's potential.
She also hosted her own radio show on the Gary Null network, which
offered her a weekly platform to address a wide range of issues dealing
with spirituality and self-help.