The approach for this book reminds me of the old "compare and contrast" essay assignments from college. But Brazier accomplishes more than highlighting the differences between these two views of our exterior and interior landscapes. You don't have to know the zen concepts, all is well explained, and ample references provide the basis for Brazier's framework. There is a blending going on that is synergistic, that creates a way of thinking and feeling that is more than western and more than eastern. It is indeed transcending the limits of both approaches. It's been a long time since a book compelled me to write in the margins and underline key points as this book does. There is a zen balance here; where traditional psychotherapy falls short, Buddha psychology fills in, and where the Buddha doesn't fit, western thought provides what is needed. We do live in a western culture and must strive for wholeness consistent with that. It's a how-to and patiently lays the groundwork for why this process will create a centered psychotherapist. The book manages to stand alone. For anyone with psychic ulcers, caused by a poor diet of ideas or by straining too hard, this book is the antacid. I am already giving it to friends.
If you belong to a westernised culture, steeped in theistic religion and didactic reasoning, AND know somthing of Zen already, this may be the book that finally reassures your reasonable self that your purely spiritual one is on the right track. Brazier provides a revealing and insightful interpretation of Zen practice through the mind of a psychologist who obviously cares a lot about the people he treats. If you are new to Zen or Bhuddist thought, here you will find the essence of those somtimes arcane ideas presented with new clarity, within the framework of commonsense psychologese we in the west are at ease with. "Yes, of course!" I kept hearing myself say, as another pearl fell into place. Still, as we who meditate know, these are all merely words.