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The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics Paperback – 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; 4th Printing edition (1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865471584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865471580
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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."--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 fris 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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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This is an excellent book that I have read numerous times over the years.
Joe
One can understand Aitken's frustration with spiritual dilettantism, but does he lose his own way as a result?
W. Burgess
Robert Aitken Roshi is one of the true elder statesmen of Zen in the West.
Ted Biringer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Konrei on March 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Zen practitioner preparing for Jukai I found Aitken-roshi's THE MIND OF CLOVER to be possibly the best book I have read to date on the Ten Grave Precepts.

These Precepts (not to kill, lie, steal, self-aggrandize, defame others, misuse sex, misuse intoxicants, become wrongfully angered, to be generous, and to honor awareness, learning and community) are very similar to the Judeo-Christian Commandments in form. Aitken-roshi shows the reader however that the precepts are not simply ordinances imposed from outside but the very building blocks of personality and social interaction. He illustrates well how the precepts can and must be interpreted not blindly but with full cognizance of circumstance and consequence, both on a personal level and on a global level.

THE MIND OF CLOVER takes what could be a very fuzzy and indeterminate subject and presents it with elegant simplicity. The book has been described quite correctly as a sonata, with each successive chapter building on the ones before it to reach a grand conclusion.

One may disagree with certain of Aitken-roshi's personal observations---at times, his social politics seem reflexively trapped in 1960s amber---but there is no question that THE MIND OF CLOVER transmutes the practice of Zen from "simply sitting" in zazen to an active philosophy of life, allowing the adherent to take the calm, the awareness, and the wisdom found on the zafu and translate it into a way of daily living based on compassion and intimacy with all things.

This book is excellently read in conjunction with Tenshin Reb Anderson's BEING UPRIGHT, a rather more remotely philosophical treatment of the Precepts on a less mundane, more spiritual level.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julie H. Rose on December 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
It seems many people don't "connect" with this book. For myself, I find it more than inspiring. I have gone through many copies. I give it away regularly. I've lost one in a stream. Whenever I am feeling out of touch with my practice or my life, I read it. Or I read it when I'm feeling strong. Yes, I read it often.

Aitken Roshi's teachings resonate deeply for me. Who knows why?

This is the first book I read about Zen ethics and for me, it is the best. I find Aitken's writing to be clear, concise and beautiful. He was humble about areas in which he had doubt or un-knowing.

I think is important to correct the mistaken notion that Zen is without an ethical base. Our culture has absorbed this idea with silly expressions like "that's so Zen" or mistaking Zen for nihilism (or vice versa).

Please give this book a try.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ted Biringer on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Robert Aitken Roshi is one of the true elder statesmen of Zen in the West.

In this straightforward examination, Aitken demonstrates the vital role of ethical conduct that has always been (despite the opinions of many) a part of the Zen Buddhist path of practice and enlightenment.

He walks students through an in-depth examination of the "Ten Grave Precepts" explaining the history, meaning, and various levels of understanding them for the true practice of Zen. He then outlines the deep, liberating message on the inherent nature of enlightenment, wisdom, and compassion that is the nature of the awakened mind in a series of essays.

His essays, like all of Aitken Roshi's teachings, are layered with the wisdom of the enlightenend mind. This book is a true gift from one of the modern giants of Zen Buddhism.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Smith on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Not everything about this book is equally good but, that said, it is a great book about the precepts. Aitken Roshi has a non-nonsense approach to Zen and the activity of living an awakened life, and it cuts two ways. On the one hand, he has no patience for tom-foolery, puffery or the notion that there is something special and elevated about "Zenism" in and of itself. On the other hand, he is tremendously strict and won't cut you even 1/1000th of a millimeter of slack. The man lives the teaching and teaches directly out of the experience of his rich and unusual life. This in itself is the unsurpassable activity of all the Buddhas and Ancestors.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robin Datta on October 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author takes the Eightfold Path of Buddhism. It is discussed itme by item, in sufficient detail to show how the sense of self that goes with one's individual personality can be shed.
The idea is to continue to act completely natural and to do all those things expected of a human being in one's particular status, position, etc. just as clover grows and behaves exactly as it should in its perticular sstatus and position.
Clover has no mind or the functions associataed with the mind; the human being then acts just aa normally as the clover with the additional feature of a mind, but without any more cognitive identity of self than the clover.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather than a definitive instructive work on the 'Ten Grave Precepts', these are notes written from the author's viewpoint. A good starting place for those unfamiliar with the subject matter; good also for students of Buddhism trying to gather their own thoughts on the matters at hand. But should be read along with other authors (Tich Nhat Hanh, for example), in order to get other perspectives. As Aitken himself states, the precepts are "not commandments etched in stone, but expressions of inspiration written in something more fluid than water..."
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