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Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts Paperback – September, 2000

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Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts + The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics + Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American Buddhism is a unique expression of the ancient Eastern spiritual path, yet within its natural cultural transformations, practitioners are still sustained by the potentially exquisite lineage of teacher to student; the reliance on time-tested principles to guide the human light; and the manifest glory of every day realized. Anderson (Warm Smiles from Cold Mountains) captures these traditional strengths and renders them very skillfully for the here and now. Anderson is a key spiritual heir to the legendary Shunryu Suzuki, who founded San Francisco Zen Center and authored the enduring classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Here, Anderson discusses receiving the 16 great Bodhisattva precepts; taking refuge in the Triple Treasure of Buddha, dharma (teachings) and sangha (community); and embracing and sustaining forms, ceremonies and good actions. He also addresses abstaining from killing, stealing, misusing sexuality, lying, intoxication, criticizing others, mean-spirited self-praise, possessiveness, harboring ill will and disparaging the Triple Treasure. In the best sense, Anderson's fresh treatment of these topics is well suited for his American audience, but is also useful beyond our borders. In readable style, Anderson conveys his message didactically, in story and in precious glimpses of the seminal American Zen master Suzuki. Although definitely written for practitioners, Anderson's emphasis on Buddhism's grounded practicality shines clearly for any open-minded seeker.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Being Upright is a much-needed book that provides a solid basis for upright practice. Its very language is upright." - David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.

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Product Details

  • Series: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodmell Press; First Edition (US) First Printing edition (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930485018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930485013
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By matthew smolinsky on January 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"being upright" points directly to our daily lives and gives inspiration for practicing the all-important buddhist precepts. by expanding on each precept, anderson-roshi shows how they are not black-and-white rules, but not to be ignored either. he shows how our lives can truly be transformed to happiness if we keep mindfulness in our practice and our lives. anderson-roshi brings what many foreign masters of zen can't - an american upbringing. his stories touch home and his words rings true. i highly recommend this book for any student of life, and i thank anderson -roshi for his teaching.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on July 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tenshin Reb Anderson is one of the original exponents of American Zen. The Midwestern Anderson became a student of Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki in 1967, staying with him until Suzuki's death in 1971.

Having briefly met and received teisho from the dignified Anderson, a model of equanimity and rectitude, at a sesshin he conducted in 2007, BEING UPRIGHT took on a very direct and personal tone for me as I read through it. Although Anderson's personality imbues this book with a kind of "warm reserve," making it perhaps a bit less penetrable than Aitken Roshi's THE MIND OF CLOVER, which discusses the Bodhisattva Precepts as well, the differences in tone are only those as arise between different teachers. The lessons are equally as valid.

Reb Anderson's thesis is that the Bodhisattva Precepts are central, as central as, and perhaps even a shade more so, than zazen. Although zazen is considered by many to be the heart-mind ('shin') of Zen, the Precepts are the thoughts and feelings that imbue that heart-mind, an infinitely complex and organic set of principles that underlie each aware moment.

In their externals rather like the Ten Commandments, the Precepts arise from, and at the same time are, and also create, the way of right living. A self-perpetuating, closed, and yet infinitely open manner of addressing the world, to be a Bodhisattva, an awakened one who remains in the world but not of it pending the enlightenment of all beings, is to be totally, joyfully, human.

Reb Anderson uses traditional teachings, examples from his own tenure as a teacher and as a student, and examples from the life of Suzuki, to underscore the nature of the Precepts and their practical application to American life.

An important book for the Zen practitioner, BEING UPRIGHT asks us to be all that we are.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. D. White on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are one who intends to "receive the precepts" by whatever ceremony or process your sangha follows, then this is definitely the book for you.

It does not presume to dictate precept practice to anyone. As the book makes clear: Practice arises out of one's realization while practice simultaneously fosters realization.

The author does discuss targets to aim for. However hard those targets may seem at this point in your life, shooting at a target with no bullseye won't improve anyone's aim. Ultimately, of course, we each set our own targets.

One caution: "Being Upright" says it is written for people already in Zen practice. It is for those who are considering making a public, formal statement of their personal dedicated intent to follow specific Buddhist precepts. As the author says, his title refers to "the integration of precept practice and meditation." He makes it clear that it is the Zen meditator who decides whether or when to make the vows to practice the precepts. He also says that while some, in his experience, might make their avowal after six months of meditation practice, most should have sat for three years or more (many, many more in his own case). Don't buy this book if you are looking for an introduction to Zen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gerald K. Yancey on September 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Being Upright" explains everything you wanted to know about Zen Meditation. It breaks it down into sections and explains everything in detail. This is a good book to read and to have as a reference.
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There are concepts of Buddhism and Zen that have diffused into American culture since the 1950s, but there is a vast realm of tradition and more "technical" aspects that have developed within Buddhism since the time of Buddha. Those aspects are not as familiar to Americans. This book addresses the Bodhisattva Precepts, which are part of the spiritual path of Buddhism.

This book does a wonderful job of connecting the personal to the traditional. It also does a great job of taking traditional precepts and making them meaningful in contemporary American culture. The most important thing is that, like any great work of religion or ethics, it inspires the reader to be a better person. The only, minor, detraction is that at some points it feels like Anderson is trying too hard to explain certain actions he took in the past in more of a defensive manner than an educational manner. Even so, the discussion is relevant to the ethical lessons in the book.

Overall, this book illuminates the precepts, makes them relevant to contemporary American life, and inspires the reader to incorporate and apply them. It makes you want to be a better person, which is the main thing a book like this is capable of achieving.
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22 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have to disagree with "turned me off Zen completely." This reader from California is exactly the kind of rookie amatuer that make my days so full of frustration! Which is exactly why, Being Upright by Reb Anderson, was such a welcome distraction in my everyday routine. The book offers up a comprehensive picture of the fundamental teachings of Zen Buddhism. The author turns a complex and perplexing subject into a relaxing, simple journey through the world of Zen. The author and publisher have given us a gem.
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