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If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

Field Notes from a Zen Life



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About The Book

Using vignettes and anecdotes from his own life - as well as quotations drawn from sources as varied as the Bible, Yiddish aphorisms, and stand-up comedy - Zen teacher and Unitarian Universalist minister James Ishmael Ford shares the gifts won over his lifetime of full-hearted engagement with the Zen path. "I've found myself broken open," Ford says, "and found in that opening my fundamental connection to the whole world."

What's more, If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break breathes new life into the Buddhist ideas of karma and rebirth - as well as the Buddhist precepts of ethical action - and finds for them kinship in other spiritual endeavors. Even the most cynical of hearts will find resonance in Ford's compassionate presentation of basic human truths.

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Product Details

  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (August 28, 2012)
  • Length: 200 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781614290391

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Raves and Reviews

"An example of engaged, moving, eye-opening and contemporary Zen, lived deeply in the world."


"Finally, a book that reveals to every seeker that the religious and spiritual paths can be one and the same! No one who is on a search for wholeness and meaning will be unaffected by these life-changing reflections of James Ishmael Ford."

– Lee Barker, president, Meadville Lombard Theological School


– Publishers Weekly

"Engaging, humorous, deep without being dry. I recommend it to Buddhists and also non-Buddhists."


"Field Notes from a Zen Life is a sparklingly refreshing offering. Ford's mature, playful, multifaceted Zen has been slow-cooking for forty years and is now ready. Read and delight!"

– Dosho Port, author of Keep Me in Your Heart a While

"James Ford's Field Notes covers the spiritual turf from beginner to Zen master with honesty, clarity and beauty. We love seeing our UU minister and Zen master plotting murder while checking out of the supermarket, as much as we love his probing the depths of Zen wisdom. A book that sparkles with the complexities of humanity, ethical wisdom, and love--and also offers clear instructions for beginning a Zen practice."

– Grace Schireson, author of Zen Women

"James Ford shows us how take the initiative and to be ready to be surprised by joy, freedom, and the whole mess. A valuable companion filled with encouragement for beginners and experienced meditators alike."

– Diane Eshin Rizzetto, author of Waking Up to What You Do

"A must-read addition to the growing literature on 'Western Zen'--with an engaging clarity and informed easy-going sophistication."

– Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls

"A wonderful blend of story, advice, perspective, history, and instruction."

– Sumi Loundon, author of Blue Jean Buddha

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