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Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion Paperback – June 13, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rizzetto, abbess of the Bay Zen Center in Oakland, Calif., offers a compelling and highly accessible set of teachings on the Buddhist precepts, "guidelines" to everyday thoughts and behaviors that "prod us to wake up and see clearly the reality of... every situation." The first part of the book presents a clear overview of how to actually work with the precepts, as well as some fundamental Buddhist teachings on the illusion of the self and the advantages of resting in the "full experience" of life "just as it is." The bulk of the book is then given to discussions of the precepts themselves, which Rizzetto presents as aspirations rather than prohibitions: "I take up the way of speaking truthfully" instead of the traditional "not lying," for example. Other precepts include cultivating a clear mind and letting go of anger. Rizzetto's discussions are intelligent and compassionate, practical and engaging: while giving pragmatic suggestions, she persistently affirms that the precepts are not about following "some outward moral authority," but rather about engaging "the power of awareness so that we can see more clearly what deeply held beliefs are behind our actions"—a liberating invitation for anyone wanting to break open their usual "reactive thinking" and instead "find real freedom to engage life." (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Rizzetto's discussions are intelligent and compassionate, practical and engaging: while giving pragmatic suggestions, she persistently affirms that the precepts are not about following 'some outward moral authority,' but rather about engaging 'the power of awareness so that we can see more clearly what deeply held beliefs are behind our actions'—a liberating invitation for anyone wanting to break open their usual 'reactive thinking' and instead 'find real freedom to engage life.'"—Publishers Weekly starred review

"The distinctive charm of Rizzetto's book is that she not so much explains Buddhism as applies its precepts to an active, committed, and contemporary life."—Library Journal

"A thought-provoking book that invites the reader to sharpen mindfulness in the presence of the most ordinary, everyday moments."—Ascent Magazine

"Rizzetto's book is an inspiring as well as practical guide. How refreshing! Please read this good book and then pass it on to a friend so that the circle of investigation and engaged practice widens."—Inquiring Mind


"A gem of a book; relevant for all schools of buddhadharma. This work goes well beyond listing and explaining rules to live by. We are given tools of discernment that bring these guidelines to life and make the precepts a far more interesting and creative dharma practice."—Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath and Living in the Light of Death

"Diane Rizzetto has written a thoughtful, sensitive examination of how to be a genuinely good person in this world. Steering a wise course between recklessness and self-righteousness has never been an easy task in life, and she does a beautiful job guiding that journey."—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Faith

"A wonderfully honest, wise, and useful book, and an important one, as we find a way to express a spirituality of compassion in our troubled world."—Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico

"Waking Up to What You Do, besides being an inviting title, is also an excellent description of what Buddhist practice is fundamentally about. Diane Rizzetto knows this terrain extremely well. She has lived and practiced it her whole life; her methods, insights, and anecdotes invite readers to do the same. This book is about more than just Buddhist precepts. It is a roadmap toward a more awakened and illumined life."—Lewis Richmond, author of Work as a Spiritual Practice

"No aspect of Zen practice is more crucial today than precepts, the bodhisattva mode of expressing compassion and insight in our troubled world. Diane Rizzetto's book provides a good introduction to actual practical engagement in the life of precepts. Her detailed examples from everyday situations clearly demonstrate how to find our own helpful deep awareness."—Taigen Dan Leighton, author of Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590303423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590303429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What I like most about Diane Rizzetto's book is not just that the words are clear, which they certainly are, but that they are immediate and alive. There is none of the moral judgment that usually accompanies writing on the Buddhist precepts; rather, the precepts actually come to life, as guideposts on how to live in the midst of the moral confusion that marks our everyday living. Diane uses many real life examples, both from her own life and the lives of others: some help clarify the meaning of the precept; some illustrate how the precept can be lived in real lfe situations; and some are deeply inspirational - pointing us in the direction that we all wish to go. I recommend this book to anyone, Buddhist or not, meditator or not, who would like to live in a more genuine and open hearted way.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful and insightful book. It really brought the precepts alive for me in a thoughtful and practical way. I have read through it twice and am amazed at how much more I picked up from second reading. It has been absolutely helpful, a real gem, and a very good read to boot!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never been a Zen practitioner, per se. But years ago I was inspired by Joko Beck's straightforward approach to life as practice. I started rereading her recently, and somehow came upon Diane Eshin Rizetto. Actually, I came upon a reference to this book before I knew exactly who she was. In any case, I somehow felt compelled to check the book out, and the leap was such a profoundly good one.

Every word felt like rain on parched earth. I was in a space where I so needed to be touched by unadorned, but kindly, Truth. That's just what I got. If I lived in the Bay area, I would go and put my head in this woman's lap (at her feet might be more traditional, but the urge is to be held by the warmth and clarity of her understanding).

These teachings are pure and tender and no-nonsense. If you can't see yourself in this book on the precepts as foundation for living, I have to believe you're not looking that carefully.
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book. Full of very down-to-earth wisdom on living compassionately, honestly, and courageously. Many real-life stories from Rizzetto's work as a Zen teacher as well as practical advice and exercises for applying the book's teaching to your own life. Highly recommended.
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By Paul Schatz on November 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We are using this book in a Zen group I belong to. I really like the way it is set up. She writes about the precept. Then gives us an activity centered on the precept. After this, there is a transcription of a discussion with one or more of her students. VEry approachable guide to Buddhist precepts.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Before buying I read the Anger chapter published in the Shambala published anger ebook sample. The Rizzetto chapter was good so I bought the book. I've read chapters 1-3 and I'm disappointed. Perhaps I've read too many Buddhist introduction books, perhaps I thought the book would focus on anger, in any case I've lost interest. I'll probably jump to the anger chapter and not finish reading the entire book. By the way, this is happening all the time with ebooks. The sample chapter is good hooking me to buy the book but I lose interest after buying. Perhaps I'm old fashion, but I expect a sample to be the same quality as the rest of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at the library and I had no idea why I chose it, the title was interesting and I was intrigued. I had no idea what the Buddhist precepts were. Yet reading the book I was fascianted by the insight. I found it went along with Stephen Covey's 7 Habits and the 8th Habit, as a way to change your life by working between the stimulus and the response. I liked the book so much I will buy it so I can re-read it when I need to. When the student is ready a teacher will be found applied here. I did not know I was looking for this insight but I am glad I was lead to find this book.
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By J.R. on April 27, 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a treasure of wisdom on precepts practice. I have worked with many books on the precepts (Mind of Clover, Being Upright, For a Future to be Possible and some others) and I am really enjoying this one. Diane makes an emphasis on the aspirational aspect of each precept and simplifies the ten down to eight. I was hesitant with how different it was at first, but practicing it in my precepts discussion group and outside I can see why she did this. A very good book to be read and lived.
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