The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective

The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective

by Robert Aitken
     
 

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Robert Aiken, author of Encouraging Words and Taking the Path of Zen, is America’s most senior Zen Roshi. In this new book he presents the Ten Pãramitãs, of Transcendental Perfections—namely, giving, mortality, forbearance, zeal, focused meditation, wisdom, compassionate means, aspiration, spiritual power, and knowledge&mdash

Overview

Robert Aiken, author of Encouraging Words and Taking the Path of Zen, is America’s most senior Zen Roshi. In this new book he presents the Ten Pãramitãs, of Transcendental Perfections—namely, giving, mortality, forbearance, zeal, focused meditation, wisdom, compassionate means, aspiration, spiritual power, and knowledge—two-thousand-year-old ideals that can serve us as both methods and goals. The Pãramitãs are the “skillful means” a person may employ to nurture and develop his or her spiritual and moral life.
 
In religious instruction we are often met be restrictions, and are told what not to do. The Pãramitãs, explained from a Zen perspective, offer the seeker ten positive means of action, ten ways to live a life of clarity and grace in a modern world where neither seems easy or even possible. The transcendental perfections can lead us toward a life that is both spiritually invigorated and socially engaged.
 
Aitken Roshi’s way of teaching—anecdotal, careful, insightful, and easily accessible—leads us further along the path of harmony and balance. Each of the inspiring and instructional essays in this book is followed by a section in which Aitken answers questions most often asked by his own students in their course of study. The Practice of Perfection will be useful to seekers of all cultures and faiths.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Aitken, one of the foremost teachers of Zen in the West, has written several notable books on its practice, including Taking the Path of Zen, a fine introduction to the subject, as well as a translation of The Mumonkan, one of Zen's central collections of koans. Here he does an admirable job of exploring the meaning of the Paramitas, or perfections. The Paramitas, a part of all Buddhist traditions, are somewhat in the nature of guidelines or ideals, attention to which can deepen one's understanding and Buddhist practice. Aitken devotes one chapter to each of the 10 perfections, giving for each several pages of background and explanation followed by a question-and-answer section transcribed from dialogs with students. This is an excellent book, geared primarily toward those with some knowledge and experience of Zen practice. -- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira College Library, New York
Penny Spokes
Based in Honolulu, Aitken is the most senior American Zen master and an author and translator of books on Zen, especially the practice of lay Buddhism in the West. Here he explicates the 10 "Paramitas" ("perfections," or guides to conduct) of Mahayana Buddhism. Each discussion is followed by responses to his students' most-asked questions, addressing not only the topic at hand, but also the role of the teacher, the transformation of the self through sitting meditation ("zazen"), koan study, and the Mahayana tradition of responsibility for the welfare of others. Though known as a rigorous and traditional Zen master of both Rinzai and Soto lineages, Aitken calls the "Paramitas" "inspirations, not fixed rules" and eschews perfectionism. This will be a good companion to The Mind of Clover, Aitken's beautifully written exploration of Zen's Ten Grave Precepts (the uniquely Buddhist commandments). Both will appeal to those interested in Buddhist practice and ethics and, more broadly, to those who look to books for help with that perennial question: how to live.
Larry Smith
[A book] about practice, about clothing yourself and being at home...His tone is conversational and direct, his style mindful, reflective, often poetic....His goal is to connect with the long history of practicing the Zen way by personalizing the teachings and tying them to social action. -- Parabola

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307817471
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/23/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Robert Aitken lives in Honolulu, Hawaii. He teaches there at the Diamond Sangha, which he and his wife, Anne Aitken, founded in 1959. This is his seventh book.

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