Waking Up Together is written for those who want to journey to new depths of intimacy, both spiritually and in their love relationship. The book shows how a committed, long-term relationship can enhance spiritual development and how relationships can be transformed by spiritual practice. Written by two Zen teachers married for thirty-seven years, it shows that relationships and all that arise from them can be a help--not a hindrance!--as we seek greater freedom and joy. It is possible to wake up together!
Going far beyond merely recommending skills and strategies to improve relationships, Waking Up Together serves as a guide in our ongoing process of spiritual discovery and intimacy. Throughout the book the authors intermingle stories and poems along with anecdotes from their married life, empowering couples to awaken to an ever-expanding experience of relationship that is full of spontaneity, mystery, awe, love, and unlimited possibility. Waking Up Together will be useful for couples of all persuasions. It affirms and encourages couples to cultivate the richness of their own relationship, and open to the unbounded potential of love.
Ellen Birx has a PhD in psychiatric nursing and for the past twenty-seven years has been a professor at Radford University. She is a Zen teacher and cofounder of New River Zen Community and a member of the White Plum Asanga and the American Zen Teachers Association. She is the author of Healing Zen and the coauthor, along with her husband, of Waking Up Together. She lives in Radford, VA.
Charles Birx, also a Zen teacher, has an Ed.D. and has worked for many years as a reading specialist and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University. The Birxes are cofounders of New River Zen Community. They have been married for thirty-seven years and live together in Radford, Virginia.
"This book, like its authors, is both enlightening and delightful. Couples everywhere will find it a treasure."
– Father Robert Kennedy, author of Zen Gifts to Christians
"Waking Up Together is a tribute to splendid marriage. First there's the authors' marriage of 37 years. Then, there's the marriage of Zen and good ol' American common sense. Finally, there's the marriage of the individual and the One. Reading about all this in the Birx's gentle, loving style is like curling up with a cup of tea by a warm fire, accompanied on your inner journey by wise and spirited Guides."
– Raphael Cushnir, author of Setting Your Heart on Fire, Unconditional Bliss, and How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment
"This wise and gentle book, grounded in 37 years of happy marriage, presents an inspiring perspective on what a spiritually and psychologically healthy relationship can be. The authors, both accomplished Zen teachers, offer a spacious and workable alternative to the self-centered suffering evident in so many couples' lives today. Waking Up Together is a real gift to clinicians as well as to the couples they serve."
– John Daishin Buksbazen, Psy.D., MFT, Zen Center of Los Angeles
"Waking Up Together is crucial in expanding our understanding of the meaning of enlightenment here in the West. Buddhism has long focused on the enlightenment of the individual. Ellen and Charles Birx, using insights from their own long and rich life as partners and Zen teachers, point to the vitality, depth, commitment, and beauty of a couple practicing and awakening together. They are casting a clear, shining beam on a path that more and more couples and partners will follow, one that combines meditation practice and committed relationship, clarifying and enriching both."
– Roshi Bernie Glassman, coauthor of The Dude and the Zen Master
"If we want to develop compassion, wisdom, and wakefulness, Ellen and Charles Birx tell us, we need look no further than across the dinner table. Using Zen principles and practices, this kindhearted new book explains how to create an intimate relationship that is a continual unfolding for each, something that is completely fresh and deeply rooted. "
– Susan Piver, Author of The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say "I Do"
"Ellen and Charles Brix, the first couple to be acknowledged as Zen teachers together, bring grace, humor and insight to a consideration of our human condition. They show us how ordinary life together may be the foundation of our spiritual practice. Waking Up Together reveals our greatest intimacy-- with ourselves, our partners, the earth, and all beings. This is a wonderful book."
– James Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break
"A wise and wonderful book. Hand-in-hand, Charles and Ellen Birx have stepped courageously and wisely into the frontier of relationships and deep spiritual practice. They give a much needed voice to how spirituality can be lived beyond the monastic walls in the radiant crucible of intimate relationships. Their insight and skillful practice of fundamental Zen truths sparkle with the joyous affirmation of the unlimited possibilities of intimate partnership."
– Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles
"Ellen and Charles Birx have written a wise and lovely book about the fundamental aspects of living a spiritual life together. Waking Up Together clearly shows that deep committed relationship and deep committed spiritual practice mutually support each other, like two vines growing intertwined. We wish we had such a spiritually based, compassionate, and broad view to support the beginnings of our relationship over two decades ago. We welcome this charming book. It is certain to be very helpful for couples of all faiths."
– Chozen & Hogen Bays, Co-abbots Great Vow Zen Monastery, Clatskanie, Oregon
"There is tremendous vitality and commitment among lay practitioners in the west. It follows that we need teachings and practices that remain true to the Dharma while at the same time being appropriate to the unique challenges and conditions of our modern life. The Birx's have made an invaluable contribution to a small but growing body of teachings for those of us who love to practice but wish to live as lay people. Their masterful application of Buddhadharma to "the ten thousand joys and the ten thousand sorrows" of family life ,shows us how relationship when taken up wholeheartedly, can be a genuine liberating meditation practice."
– Larry Rosenberg, Senior teacher, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society, and author of Breath by Breath and Living in the Light of Death
"'How can Zen meditation help couples be partners in both life and wisdom?' ask Ellen and Charles Birx, a husband-and-wife writing team and co-founders of New River Zen Community in Virginia. They set about exploring that question by drawing extensively on their own Zen practice and by sharing stories from 37 years of marriage. In brief chapters, they address a variety of topics of interest to readers in committed, long-term relationships. The Birxes' frequent anecdotes helpfully illustrate a point. An easygoing book."