A True Person of No Rank
A True Person of No Rank: Awakening the Buddha's Dream to Save the World, by Joseph Bobrow
ISBN 978-1-896559-85-8. 122 pages, pbk.
In A True Person of No Rank, Joseph Bobrow takes a fresh look at Buddha’s vision for an awakened person and her awakened activity. He examines the true self (also referred to as no-self) that is at its heart, and unpacks some misunderstandings that can hinder us on the path and impede the distinctive, empowered expression of our realization. He explores a true person of no rank, a Zen expression of no-self, and the notion of an agent of compassion. It takes an insubstantial person of substance, (not fixed or permanent but grounded) not only to survive these dire times but to actively participate in saving the planet and healing the world. It takes a differentiated person, an agent of compassion, to bring to bear the insights of oneness and radical interconnection at the heart of Buddha’s dream.
About the author
Joseph Bobrow is a Zen master, a psychoanalyst and a community activist. He has been practicing Zen for fifty years and is Roshi of Deep Streams Zen Institute in Los Angeles. Joseph has long been integrating Western psychology with Buddhist practice to create communities for transforming individual and collective anguish.
Joseph tells the story of his integrative work and its applications to building peace in Waking Up from War: A Better Way Home for Veterans and Nations, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama. Joseph’s first book was Zen And Psychotherapy: Partners in Liberation, with comments by Thich Nhat Hanh and foreword by Norman Fischer. After Midnight: Poems of Love and War, is his first collection of poems.
His podcast, “Lotus in the Fire,” brings seasoned teachers and activists into dialogue on Engaged Buddhism. He practices psychotherapy in Los Angeles and teaches widely.
Praise for A True Person of No Rank
What does spiritual practice have to do with social engagement? A lot, as Joe Bobrow discusses in this perceptive reflection on their interaction. How does a “person of no rank” help to transform traumatic suffering? Drawing on his own experience as both a Zen teacher and a psychotherapist, Joe explores the connection between realization and personalization, insight and embodiment. Given the social and ecological challenges that face us today, it is essential for us to understand their relationship. — David Loy, author of Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis; Nonduality; Lack and Transcendence.
This book is a wake-up call, and more. It has so much in it that actually wakes you up. You can feel inner seas part, old skin shed, and a brightness that your being is hungry for. Aspects of Buddhism and mental-health disciplines co-nourish and activate each other. I felt my spine tingle from the first words and a sense of life kept opening. And more – this work is not just an appeal to the individual to save himself but for a joint effort to save the world and each other. We are in this together and the life that informs us can give us more than we imagine. — Michael Eigen, author of The Psychoanalytic Mystic; The Challenge of Being Human; The Sensitive Self; Flames from the Unconscious.
For many decades, and through several books, Joe Bobrow has been developing a “multilingual” approach to Zen practice, one that combines the essence of the Zen tradition as he received it from his teachers, with insights and experiences from the psychoanalysis he has trained in and practiced. In A True Person of No Rank he adds to this crucially important ongoing project the element of compassionate social action, “saving the world,” telling stories about the healing work he has done with war veterans and others. In the troubled world we live in now, he writes, we must all become true persons, sufficiently wise and healed within to be really able to help. This is a thoughtful and inspiring book. — Norman Fischer, poet, author, and Soto Zen Buddhist priest. Author of When You Greet Me I Bow: Notes and Reflections from A Life In Zen; and Selected Poems 1980-2013.
Joseph Borrow brings alive the Buddhist roots of engaged spirituality – becoming an agent of compassion – with originality and inspiration. — Tara Brach, author of Trusting the Gold and Radical Acceptance.
Joseph's voice is a call to action for personal, social, and planetary healing. Everything matters. Dive in and be inspired! — Koshin Paley Ellison, author of Untangled: Walking the Eightfold Path to Clarity, Courage and Compassion.
Bobrow’s thoughtful synthesis of a life-time of spiritual, professional, and communal explorations challenges you to examine the narratives that can waylay a spiritual path. In particular, this book holds up a mirror for Zen teachers and long-time Zen practitioners to consider anew how they align with the Buddha’s dream. — Wendy Egyoku Roshi, co-author of The Book of Householder Koans: Waking Up in the Land of Attachments.
Joe Bobrow brings his lifelong experience as a Zen teacher, psychoanalyst and social activist to clear up eons of psychological and spiritual confusion! Perennial questions about unity and differentiation, self and no-self, the role of the unconscious, individual vs. societal awakening – he takes them on fearlessly in this warm and knowledgeable book, filled with moving stories of transformation and love. I really enjoyed this book. — Trudy Goodman, Founding Teacher, InsightLA
Joseph Bobrow’s new book is a refreshing deep dive into the nature of “true self,” reworking sometimes incomplete Western perspectives on anatta (no self) with a view that is both true to the original Buddhist teachings but also attuned to the fact that “The world is burning. People are destroying it.” Roshi/psychoanalyst Bobrow describes a person of no rank who is able to embrace (not discard) a specific version of personhood and compassion in order to ease the suffering of others and defend our embattled world. Deep and suitably irreverent, existential and yet personal, this book is recommended to those wishing to look more deeply into the nature of consciousness and the implications of the dharma for a world on the precipice of very frightening things. — John Briere, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Southern California School of Medicine, co-editor of Mindfulness-oriented interventions for trauma: Integrating contemplative practices (Guilford).
In A True Person of No Rank, Joseph Bobrow explores the power of embodiment – building our capacity for love and sharing our compassion with the world. This book is a reminder of the sacredness of being alive and the importance of fully living the awakenings we experience. — Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Change.
Praise for Joseph Bobrow’s earlier work
I congratulate Joseph and his team for their altruism and dedication and wish them success. — With prayers, Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama
Joseph Bobrow is a true meditation teacher who walks his talk and enjoys his practice. — Thich Nhat Hanh
I’ve known Joe Bobrow for a long time. He is, as you will soon sense from the pages you are about to read, an intensely questioning person whose feeling for life and for others runs deep. — Norman Fischer