Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Taking the Path of Zen” as Want to Read:
Taking the Path of Zen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Taking the Path of Zen

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  676 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
There is a fine art to presenting complex ideas with simplicity and insight, in a manner that both guides and inspires. In Taking the Path of Zen Robert Aitken presents the practice, lifestyle, rationale, and ideology of Zen Buddhism with remarkable clarity. The foundation of Zen is the practice of zazen, or mediation, and Aitken Roshi insists that everything flows from th ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by North Point Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Taking the Path of Zen, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Taking the Path of Zen

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Oct 06, 2010 Leon rated it it was amazing
I had the good fortune to meet Robert once and I have met his students. We share lineage. Both of us trained in the Soto school and I also trained in the Rinzai school. I read his book many years ago before starting a ten day meditation period at Zen Mountain Center. I loaned the book to a young woman who had been with us for the ten days. Many years later the book came back to me in the mail and I read it again. Amazing insight. Clear practical help for your practice. Now to pass it on.
Jun 19, 2009 Michãel rated it it was ok
Fairly good description of the basics of meditation. Didn't realize there'd be so many different ways to focus on the breath. Explanations for the philosophy and precepts, not so good. And these sentences pushed my buttons: "He [the Buddha:] did not live in a time like ours, when dangerous competition between nations threatens to blow up the world. He was not faced with the probability of biological holocaust. He did not encounter the righteous imperatives of a feminist movement." What the hell? ...more
D. Pow
May 14, 2009 D. Pow rated it it was amazing
My single favorite Buddhist Teacher died yesterday, a man whose writing saved my life in some respects. For anyone interested in Zen please try this wonderful man's lucid, wise and socially awre books.
Robin Scanlon
Jan 25, 2009 Robin Scanlon rated it it was amazing
Robert Aitken is my teacher's teacher. This is the first in a long list of books he wrote.
Jul 23, 2012 Audra rated it really liked it
Shelves: zen
Great introduction to the practice of zazen, working with a teacher, and participating in a spiritual community. Highly recommend to anyone new (or old!) to the practice.
Dec 21, 2015 Iain rated it it was amazing
Clear, insightful and practical guide to this most demanding of Buddhist disciplines.
Mar 25, 2017 Brad rated it really liked it
If you're seriously considering practicing Zen, I strongly suggest you read this.
May 09, 2014 Charmin rated it liked it
Shelves: spiritual
1. being alive is an important responsibility
2. we have little time to fulfill
3. rigorous practice is necessary
4. Zen breathing: 1-10. When you lose count, come back to “one.” Breathe in “1” breath out “2”
5. Noticing and acknowledging your feelings is a step toward taking responsibility for them, and reflecting.
6. Rest is the essence of patience. Cultivate rest.
7. If we feed our problems by paying attention to them, they will grow and flourish.
8. Deepest experience is complete unity w
Rick Gardner
Dec 19, 2013 Rick Gardner rated it it was ok
Shelves: zen
The problem with some books on Zen is that they focus too much on the dogmatic; when to sit, how to sit, what hand position to make, what gatha to say for what meal. Perhaps if you're planning to live in a Zen monastery all that might be useful, but for the rest of us - well, me anyway - it isn't.

The book was recommended to me 20 years ago when I started on this path, and it, along with a few others, was the reason I spent the first two years completely lost. Thinking I needed to wear robes, an
Sylvia Kuras
Apr 05, 2014 Sylvia Kuras rated it it was amazing
With little knowledge of Zen Buddhism, this introduction makes me want to know, understand, and study more. Aside from that, Robert Aitken had an unusual beginning with Zen and spent his life learning, practicing, and studying with much devotion and sacrifice. Clearly written with honesty for the western mind.
May 16, 2014 Cody rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism
A no frills, nuts-and-bolts kind of book, which I found quiet useful and refreshing in its simplicity and clarity. It's a how-to manual for mindful living, whether one is seeking some kind of Buddhist framework or merely trying to thrive a bit more in the present moment.
Alan Cantor
Mar 27, 2011 Alan Cantor rated it liked it
This is a good book for the Zen student. I believe it was a series of talks which were probably heard better than they are read. Still, lots of very good information and guidance in a progression of sitting approaches. Very thorough. Recommended, but probably not as one's first Zen book.
Jan 10, 2008 Christina rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book for those who are practitioners of Zen Buddhism or for those who simply want to know more about this philosophy/religion. I have found this book to be very insightful and overall it has been a good read.
Stephen Shelton
Dec 23, 2014 Stephen Shelton rated it really liked it
4/4/15. I had put this aside with the excuse of being too busy. Actually, I have spent most of my time following what Aitken calls my "egocentric whims." Time to get back to a serious study of this work.

This looks like a "never finish" book. I am done. I have taken notes. But it is the basic text for my practice. I am creating a shelf called "never finish"
Rusty N
Jul 23, 2014 Rusty N rated it really liked it
Great intro to Zen. It is laid out as an instruction manual for someone new to Zen practice. I found it informative and easy to read. Nothing special beyond that. It doesn't include much history, but that is not a problem and is not essential to the material.
May 14, 2014 Doug rated it liked it
This is a good brief primer of Zen Buddhism philosophy and practice. The meditation instruction is brief and simple. This book also has some historical info: how Aiken came to Zen (as a prisoner of war of the Japanese), how he established his zendo, etc.
niko bates
Oct 25, 2010 niko bates rated it really liked it
Shelves: long-term-read
So far so good. I've recently made my first steps into the practice of zen, and Aiken seems a worthy guide so far.
Dec 17, 2016 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A good 200-level overview of deliberate zen practice. Some good insights on familiar concepts for the adept.
May 26, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it
This is a great book everyone read it i recommend it
Sunny Az
Aug 13, 2016 Sunny Az rated it really liked it
For an introduction to Zen, this is solid. My Roshi recommended it, as he learned directly from Robert Aitken Roshi.
Mar 29, 2013 Douglas rated it really liked it
i learned a remarkable amount from this very accessible book
Mar 16, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Clear, clean and beckoning.
Alicia Williams
Sep 26, 2013 Alicia Williams rated it liked it
Jeff Song
Jul 05, 2010 Jeff Song rated it really liked it
A really good introductory book on Zen. It is among my "top 5" books on Buddhism that I recommend to people interested in Buddhism and Zen.
Jul 14, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
One of the best introductions to Zen practice that I have ever read...
May 24, 2015 Loui rated it it was amazing
Great intro to Zen.
Dec 29, 2012 Wendie rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to Zen practice and meditation in general.
Juan rated it it was amazing
Jan 19, 2013
James rated it liked it
Oct 29, 2016
Kiona rated it it was amazing
Feb 21, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Moon In a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen
  • Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
  • The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-Neng
  • The Three Pillars of Zen
  • The Zen Path Through Depression
  • Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy
  • You Have to Say Something
  • Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza
  • Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals, 1969-1982
  • The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma
  • The Heart Sutra
  • Manual of Zen Buddhism
  • Everyday Zen: Love and Work
  • Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice
  • A Buddhist Bible
  • Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion
  • Essential Zen
Robert Aitken is a retired master of the Diamond Sangha, a Zen Buddhist society he founded in Honolulu in 1959 with his late wife Anne Hopkins Aitken.

A lifetime resident of Hawai‘i, Aitken Rōshi is a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i with a BA degree in English literature and an MA degree in Japanese studies. In 1941, he was captured on Guam by invading Japanese forces, and interned in Japan
More about Robert Aitken...

Share This Book