Barry Magid is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in New York City, and the founding teacher of the Ordinary Mind Zendo, also in New York. He is the author of the Wisdom titles Ordinary Mind, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness, and Nothing Is Hidden.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
Is meditation an escape from—or a solution to—our psychological problems? Is the use of antidepressants counter to spiritual practice? Does a psychological approach to meditation reduce spirituality to “self-help”? What can Zen and psychoanalysis teach us about the problems of the mind and suffering?
Psychiatrist and Zen teacher Barry Magid is uniquely qualified to answer questions like these. Written in an engaging and witty style, Ordinary Mind helps us understand challenging ideas—like Zen Buddhism’s concepts of oneness, emptiness, and enlightenment—and how they make sense, not only within psychoanalytic conceptions of mind, but in the realities of our lives and relationships.
This new paper edition of Magid’s much-praised book contains additional case study vignettes.
Ending the Pursuit of Happiness
As seen in Newsweek.
We all have a right to the pursuit of happiness—but could we actually be happier if we gave that whole thing up?
This surprising new book from Zen teacher, psychoanalyst, and critical favorite Barry Magid inspires us—in gentle and winking prose—to move on and make peace with the perfection of the way things actually are, including ourselves.
Magid invites us to consider that our “pursuit of happiness” may actually be a source of our suffering. He takes an unusual look at our “secret practices”—what we’re really doing when we say we’re meditating-like trying to feel calmer, or more compassionate, or even “enlightened” (whatever we imagine that means!). He also uncovers our “curative fantasies” about spiritual practice—those ideas that we can somehow fix all the messy human things about ourselves that we imagine are bad or wrong or unacceptable. In doing so, he helps us look squarely at-and avoid-such pitfalls. Along the way, Magid lays out a rich roadmap of the new “psychological-minded Zen”—a Zen that includes our entire life, our entire personality—as pioneered by his teacher, bestselling author Charlotte Joko Beck.
Nothing Is Hidden
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’s Wrong with Mindfulness (And What Isn’t)
Mindfulness is in fashion. Oprah loves it, Google teaches it to employees—it has become widespread as a cure-all for stress, health problems and psychological difficulties, interpersonal trouble, and existential anxiety. But when mindfulness is separated from the Buddhist tradition, is something lost?
The Zen teachers gathered here each offer a unique perspective on what “mindfulness” means, its strengths, and the potential pitfalls.
- Gil Fronsdal and Max Erdstein thoughtfully explore the rich Pali roots of mindfulness.
- Barry Magid and Marc Poirier examine the unintended side effects of exposing a spiritual tradition to the demands of capitalism.
- Norman Fischer demonstrates how mindfulness informs his creative process.
- Grace Schireson shows how mindfulness allows her to engage fully with the world as a feminist.
- And more, including essays on mindfulness and environmentalism, science, and psychology.
Each chapter offers insights to ground mindfulness in a deeper understanding of both where it comes from, and where it might be headed.