The Practice of Perfection

The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective

Publisher: Pantheon

Robert Aiken, author of Encouraging Words and Taking the Path of Zen, is America’s most senior Zen Roshi. In this new book he presents the Ten Pãramitãs, of Transcendental Perfections—namely, giving, mortality, forbearance, zeal, focused meditation, wisdom, compassionate means, aspiration, spiritual power, and knowledge—two-thousand-year-old ideals that can serve us as both methods and goals. The Pãramitãs are the “skillful means” a person may employ to nurture and develop his or her spiritual and moral life.
In religious instruction we are often met be restrictions, and are told what not to do. The Pãramitãs, explained from a Zen perspective, offer the seeker ten positive means of action, ten ways to live a life of clarity and grace in a modern world where neither seems easy or even possible. The transcendental perfections can lead us toward a life that is both spiritually invigorated and socially engaged.
Aitken Roshi’s way of teaching—anecdotal, careful, insightful, and easily accessible—leads us further along the path of harmony and balance. Each of the inspiring and instructional essays in this book is followed by a section in which Aitken answers questions most often asked by his own students in their course of study. The Practice of Perfection will be useful to seekers of all cultures and faiths.


Praise for Robert Aitken
Taking the Path of Zen
“This is the most precise instruction I have ever read on the principles and practice of Zen. What is remarkable about it is that very little in it is not applicable to other disciples. This beautiful book should be read by all pilgrims whether or not they are taking the path of Zen.”
—Toinette Lippe, Parabola
The Dragon Who Never Sleeps
“One can imagine this becoming a classic text that is discovered with delight by students of Buddhism not only in the present moment but two hundred years from now.”
Turning Wheel
The Gateless Barrier
“Aitken Roshi poses these koans in a manner accessible to Westerners through his depiction of his personal struggles with them (as a student) and his approach to them as a teacher. His commentary allows the transformative power of this traditional loan collection to come alive for modern students.”
—Joko Beck, Everyday Zen