Something Special : Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011

I just found out that the person who gave me a greater perspective on life & the possibility of ending self-imposed suffering & realizing freedom died last month. It’s silly that I feel like crying even though I don’t believe that she is her body. Why am I sad? What do I think I’m losing? Where is the loss? How would a person dying that I have never met change my day-to-day life? Why would it bring me to tears?

I guess it’s just a feeling of deep thanks & love for what she bravely stood for & how her words & work made me feel & the tremendous impact they had on me. Knowing that her death marks the end of her (physical) work brings me to tears & it opens my heart.

The person I am writing about is Charlotte Joko Beck.

Completely by chance(?) I stumbled across one of her books when I was a teenager. The book was Nothing Special. This book was obviously very special to me, for 20 years I saved this book (& I don’t save much!) & brought it out to New York with me after I moved from California. I still have this book & every time I see it or read it – it feels new. I’m not sure why I am teary eyed about not being able to read new work from her when the one & only book I have written by her still feels like a new book after 2 decades. I also don’t know why I think I won’t experience her work now that she is dead when her work is still living in me. My life & my work is a result of her work. So the work continues.

Thank you, Charlotte Joko Beck. You changed my life, better yet, you saved my life. And you simply did this by being you & by sharing your life – thank you.

“Joy is being the circumstances of our life just as they are.”
– Charlotte Joko Beck

“Sitting is essentially a simplified space. Our daily life is in constant movement: lots of things going on, lots of people talking, lots of events taking place. In the middle of that, it’s very difficult to sense that we are in our life. When we simplify the situation, when we take away the externals and remove ourselves from the ringing phone, the television, the people who visit us, the dog who needs a walk, we get a chance–which is absolutely the most valuable thing there is–to face ourselves. Meditation is not about some state, but about the meditator. It’s not about some activity or about fixing something. It’s about ourselves. If we don’t simplify the situation the chance of taking a good look at ourselves is very small–because what we tend to look at isn’t ourselves but everything else. If something goes wrong, what do we look at? We look at what’s going wrong. We’re looking out there all the time, and not at ourselves.”
– Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen



Filed under loss & death

3 responses to “Something Special : Charlotte Joko Beck 1917 – 2011

  1. This evening I googled Joko to see what all has been written about her since she passed. Thanks for what you wrote and posted, your appreciation for beloved Joko. You might be interested . . I found this, too:
    love to you.

  2. Alfredo

    No puedo creer que haya muerto. hace varios años leí su libro “la vida tal como es” y me cambio mi perspectiva de la vida. en ese momento estaba pasando un situación bastante dura y su libro me ha ayudado hasta el día de hoy. hoy 5 de octubre comencé a leer su libro nuevamente y decidí buscar su direccion de correo para agradecerle lo que ha hecho por mí y me encontré este post y leí la mala noticia de que ha muerto. en verdad me duele esta noticia aunque se que debio de aprovechar cada momento de su vida y como ella misma escribio: “no hay vida y muerte y hay vida y muerte”

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