Waking Up to What You Do Essay - Critical Essays

Waking Up to What You Do

Diane Eshin Rizzetto is the Abbess and Guiding Teacher of the Bay Zen Center in Oakland, California. Her experience teaching both beginning and advanced Zen students is extensive and worldwide. The fruits of her long-term commitment to Buddhism are evident in this clear, lovely book that gently urges readers to wake up to their lives.

Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion comprises two major sections and an appendix. Part One defines common Buddhist ideas and terms as well as delineating the process for approaching the precepts. (Rizzetto suggests that readers who have not practiced mindfulness mediation previously first read the appendix for instruction before beginning work on the precepts.) In eight similarly structured chapters, Part Two addresses these precepts: Speaking Truthfully; Speaking of Others with Openness and Possibility; Meeting Others on Equal Ground; Cultivating a Clear Mind; Taking Only What is Freely Given and Giving Freely of All That I Can; Engaging in Sexual Intimacy Respectfully and with an Open Heart; Letting Go of Anger; and Supporting Life. In each chapter, Rizzetto offers a full discussion of an individual precept followed by instruction for practicing the precept. The last section of each chapter includes a question/answer session between Rizzetto and her students.

Rizzetto's welcoming manner invites both beginners and advanced students to practice at their own levels. Her book is deceptively simple in both language and approach; while rendering complicated ideas in an accessible fashion, it also provides material for years of practice and study.