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The ZEN Path Through Depression


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Philip Martin has practiced Buddhism for more than thirty years. He has worked as a social worker and case manager for twenty-five years, and is also a workshop leader. He lives in Red Wing, Minnesota.


At age 37, Buddhist scholar and psychiatric social worker Martin found himself in the grips of a depression that initially eluded his reliance on Buddhist practice to stay balanced. However, like Jonathan Zuess, M.D., the author of last year's The Wisdom of Depression, Martin eventually found in depression an unexpected opportunity for spiritual exploration. He has distilled the lessons he learned into 43 brief essays on topics such as pain, impermanence, death, faith and selflessness, each of which aim to encourage the patient to accept and examine depression rather than attempt to escape or heal it. In contrast to popular conceptions of Buddhism as "a dry, joyless, intellectual exercise," Martin asserts that "the path Buddha offered is one of turning toward and moving into joy." His meditative exercises will have a familiar ring to readers already versed in the subject. Among the more innovative ones are those dealing with thoughts of suicide and death, in which he recommends writing one's prospective obituary or imagining in detail the genuine effect of one's suicide on others, including those who discover the body. Agent, Scott Edelstein. (Apr.)

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