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The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective Paperback – June 1, 1997
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From 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 (Farrar, 1982), a fine introduction to the subject, as well as a translation of The Mumonkan (LJ 1/91), 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 ten 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. A fine complement to Aitken's other works, it is highly recommended for collections with an interest in Zen.
Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 (1984), 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. Glossary and extensive notes follow the text. Penny Spokes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Unfortunately, I came away from the book feeling like it had overlooked its focus at times. Many of the most cogent points were hidden among side-tracks, personal anecdotes, and bewildering kōans. And while I hope to be able to thoroughly understand each of the kōans he referred to, often they were counter productive.
Chalk it up to a lack of Prajñā or Jñāna, but I felt I missed out on a fair amount of the Upāya.
Roshi Aitken just happened to be in the bookstore in Albuquerque when I went in. He was signing copies of this book and I bought one then and one later.
I've read several of Roshi's books, but this one impressed me the most. Maybe it's more about imperfection than perfection, and the title may scare people who think there is no way they will ever be perfect at anything.
This isn't what the book is about. It's about sincerity, integrity, effort, and a loving nature. Everybody should read this book, but for Zen students, it's a must!
I just bought the Kindle version of The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective. I will review it after I read it a time or two.
WHY DOES AN EBOOK COST $19???? Amazon states this price is set by the publisher. Greed-head slime bags! $6-7, sure, I can see that. Maybe. Because Aitken has passed on, who gets the royalties?
$19 for bits? Zero cost to manufacture & ship? OUTRAGEOUS!