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Zen Master Raven: Sayings and Doings of a Wise Bird

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In Zen Master Raven, Robert Aitken, one of America's best-known and most-respected Zen masters, presents an introduction to Zen Buddhist teaching through over 100 lessons told through the stories and voices of animals.
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 15th 2002 by Tuttle Publishing (first published October 2002)
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Jon Nakapalau
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Think of Winnie the Pooh and friends practicing zazen and you will get a good picture of this book of modern koans. Original and enjoyable - (my guess is that Eeyore would rōshi of the group).
Denpa Amrani
Dec 17, 2012 marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
just read it you'll see or not..
Sophia Dunn
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rinzai-zen
This is simply delightful. To read it is to love it.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zen
Oohps! I accidentally read it again.

Great book. I have read this several times and always find more in it.

I think it is unique in both Zen literature, and in the western literary tradition. It’s a hybrid of Native American animal stories, and the Chan/Zen koan tradition. Written in very short episodes it tells the story of Raven Roshi, his training, and his life as a Zen teacher with a community of friends that live in the forest. It is a story of Zen practice, and that of a community of
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buddhism, fiction, zen
This book of original fables, about a raven who leads a zen sangha comprised of other talking animals, ought to be considered one of the late Robert Aitken's most outstanding contributions. It is one of my favorite books about zen without limiting itself to a specialized audience: the wisdom that comes through these characters is perennial, concise, and often very witty.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it did not like it
A very confusing book, I don't think I understood any of it. It is quite long and sounds like it's trying to be meaningful but I did not get anything out of reading it. I found it in the humour section but didn't find it funny either. Really not sure what the point is.
Lenora Good
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I received this book, and saw all the white space on the pages, I thought: Wow! It won't take long to read! Uh, wrong. It took several days to read, and I will go back and take even longer the second, third, fourth, etc. time through.

These little koans each deserve at least a day of cogitating. Some, I'm sure, will require longer.

This is a delightful book, and when you're doubled up with laughter at some of the sayings, it will dawn on you how utterly true they are, and how utterly true
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, and one of the most effective expressions of Zen from a more Western perspective -- like Winnie The Pooh for adults. (Come to think of it, Winnie the Pooh is the Tao Te Ching for children.) Wise, funny, tough, and even moving. Great stories that present classic Zen koans in a sort of Aesop's Fables style, strung together in a casual narrative. Bonus: Wonderful illustrations. A Zen book for everyone.
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
wonderful way of describing the Tao, like similar books, this should be read in a slow pace, allowing for the message to sink in. i'm sooooo loving it....
Alisa Žarkova
– Kaip galėčiau atsikratyti savojo troškimų?
– Kas būtume be savo troškimų? – pasidomėjo Rudasis Lokys.
– Galbūt reikėtų tai perfrazuoti. Kaip galėčiau atsikratyti savųjų prisirišimų? – paklausė Barsukas.
– Kas būtume be savo prisirišimų? – tarė Rudasis Lokys.
– Negi neprisirišimas nėra vienas iš mūsų idealų? – paklausė Barsukas.
– Kur radai, kad taip mokoma? – perklausė Rudasis Lokys.
– Argi tokia nėra pagrindinė Budos Aštuonialypio Kelio koncepcijos idėja? – nustebo Barsukas.
– Tvirtai įsikibk šio
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Raven Roshi dispenses small bites of wisdom, that more than fill the mind. Some of these koan-like segments are humorous, some are insightful reminders:

"One evening Porcupine asked, 'What is the place of honor in the practice?' Raven said, "To be truly Porcupine takes practice.' Porcupine asked, 'Come on, Roshi, you don't mean just to be true to myself!' Raven said, 'To everybody else.'"
Jacqueline Carthew
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I loved the use of animals all setting out in zazen practice and trying to uncover zen thought. I brought to mind quite a quaint image of them all gathering and conversing each day that is magical in itself.

In fairness I think I would have liked this book more if I understood more of the stories zen meanings, but that said, the ones I did understand were very clever and insightful.

I bought the book as a distraction, as the short poignant stories work well to be picked up and put down, as and
Kevin Orth
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What is fun and perplexing about Zen koan's is they don't provide an obvious arc or conclusion. this is both interesting, perplexing and somewhat frustrating. Which is part of the point of a koan.
Brian Wilcox
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A delightful compilation of original koans, playing hide-and-seek with the mind. The most enjoyable book I've read in a long time. Seriously playful, playfully serious.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
read it fast and really like it. Don't mess with me. Also, Don't accuse me of coping! Anndd....I don't want to be saved.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Koan told by a raven and the teachings of Buddha explained, even if it's not possible to explain koan, by animals. An old way to teach Buddhism revisited. I'm not the best person to review this stuff but I have to say that I liked to read them a lot.

Koan raccontati da un corvo e gli insegnamenti di Buddha spiegati, anche se spiegati é decisamente una parola grossa, da animali. Un vecchio metodo per insegnare la via del maestro, peccato che io non sono la persona giusta per scrivere una recesione
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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