In this inspiring and incisive offering, Barry Magid uses the language of modern psychology and psychotherapy to illuminate one of Buddhism's most powerful and often mysterious technologies: the Zen koan. What's more, Magid also uses the koans to expand upon the insights of psychology (especially self psychology and relational psychotherapy) and open for the reader new perspectives on the functioning of the human mind and heart. Nothing Is Hidden explores many rich themes, including facing impermanence and the inevitability of change, working skillfully with desire and attachment, and discovering when "surrender and submission" can be liberating and when they shade into emotional bypassing. With a sophisticated view of the rituals and teachings of traditional Buddhism, Magid helps us see how we sometimes subvert meditation into just another "curative fantasy" or make compassion into a form of masochism.
What is your original face? This is just one question a Zen puzzler known as a "koan" among many that psychoanalyst and Zen teacher Magid (Ordinary Mind) uses to explore concerns and issues in mindfulness practice. Rather than engaging with the koans only from an intuitive point of view, Magid examines their literary and psychological dimensions. "What is your original face?" becomes an exploration of insecurity, finding wholeness in life, and of denial of the possibility of equanimity. He challenges common wisdom about the ameliorative properties of Zen practice, noting that while it "deliver on the promise of insight," it fails to integrate such insight into individual character. Magid presents a nuanced, sensitive, and compassionate analysis of how it is all too easy to fall into idealism, escapism, and elitism with meditation, charging his readers to consider their intentions and motivations. Zen by itself, he argues, is highly unlikely to cure a practitioner of his or her mental afflictions, but his book can help point toward more honest introspection that will yield healing and acceptance.