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Taking the Path of Zen (Taking the Path of Zen Ppr) Paperback – Oct 1983


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Taking the Path of Zen (Taking the Path of Zen Ppr) + The Eight Gates of Zen: A Program of Zen Training + ZEN Training: Methods and Philosophy (Shambhala Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 1st (first) edition (Oct. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865470804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865470804
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 68,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"I welcome with great pleasure Robert Aitken Roshi's introduction to Zen practice, "Taking the Path of Zen." I feel this will be a valuable source of information and inspiration both for those who have a passing interest in the subject and those who have determined to set out on the path of Zen themselves. As an American who has trained in Zen practice for many years Aitken Roshi has a special understanding of the problems and questions which plague Western students of Zen. His book will thus be a godsend for people who have sought an introduction to Zen in their own language, free of the foreignisms that cultural differences can produce. It is my sincere wish that this work will gain the wide readership it so deserves." --Yamada Koun Roshi

About the Author

Robert Aitken's introduction to Zen came in a Japanese prison camp during World War II, after he was captured as a civilian in Guam. R. H. Blyth, author of "Zen in English Literature," was imprisoned in the same camp, and in this unlikely setting Aitken began the first of several important apprenticeships. After the war Aitken returned often to Japan to study. He became friends with D. T. Suzuki, and studied with Nagakawa Soen Roshi and Yasutani Hakuun Roshi. In 1959 Robert Aitken and his wife, Anne, established a Zen organization, the Diamond Sangha, which has two zos in Hawaii. Aitken was given the title "Roshi" and authorized to teach by Yamada Koun Roshi, his current teacher, in 1974. He continues to teach and study Zen in Hawaii, where he has lived since the age of five.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Aug. 1996
Format: Paperback
Despite (or perhaps because of) a plethora of books on thesubject, many readers continue to see Zen Buddhism as little more than an impenetrable enigma. Robert Aitken cuts through much of this mystery with an elegant guide to the rudiments of contemporary Zen theory and practice. Speaking to much of what is common to all of Buddhism, as well as thinking specific to various schools of Zen, these short essays were originally part of the orientation process at Aitken's Diamond Sangha training centers. He carefully explains both the why and how of basic Zen meditation, appropriate attitudes for Buddhist religious practice, and the ethical implications of this spiritual path - a path which he offers as but one path among many, a path both open to and compatible with other major systems of faith and practice. Chapter by chapter, Taking The Path of Zen demonstrates that which is beyond words by encouraging the reader to directly experience Zen - in Aitken's words, by making it personal.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Aug. 1997
Format: Paperback
After reading many books that attempted to explain
Zen, I stumbled on this work by Robert Aitken. By far, Aitken puts into words what many authors have failed to. His easy-to-understand writing style makes what was once an impossible task; putting Zen into a western context, seem natural.

Aitken helps those of us who do not understand Japanese get a glimpse into the world of Zen and
its philosophies. There are many books on the topic, but few offer as much information to the
beginner.
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Format: Paperback
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com

How should we meditate, if indeed we want to meditate? Many attempt a rigorous focus on their breathing, or on some mantra. Though this isn’t bad, in The Path of Zen Aitken argues it’s problematic. True meditation, he suggests, is not just about focus: that implies there are two things involved, you and the thing you are focusing on. Instead, he believes meditation is about becoming one with something, a feeling of unity with your breathing comparable to reading a great book where you lose all track of time or space. Posture, hand positions, how to count; these are useful tools to achieve meditation, but are not the point.

If this sounds a lot like the modern concept of Flow, I’d agree completely, and actually there’s a lot in this book, one of the classic introductory books on Zen, that are echoed by modern themes. The idea of requiring deliberate practice to get good at something, for example, Aitken lists as one of the three concerns of the Zen student: the other two are that being alive is an important responsibility, and that we have little time to fulfill that responsibility. Even Obama’s self-imposed routine and restriction to only blue or gray suits has a Zen correspondence, as Aitken suggests minimizing the decisions you make in life in order to maximize the energy and self you can put in any given activity.

Zen can often be portrayed as an abstract, gnomic art, filled with riddles. To some extent this is fair; students are often expected to interpret the Koans, brief parables that demonstrate some fundamental principle but often seem enigmatic or trivial at first. At heart, however, Zen focuses on meditation, which it calls Zazen, as a way to focus the mind and achieve self-mastery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kramer on 28 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lovely little book that is a nice read, simple, concise, yet full of information. I've never read anything about 'Zen' before, this was a great way to start.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tasha on 20 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good gift.
Easy read, and also slim enough to take around with you.
This is a good read for people interested in learning how to be 'zen'
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