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Living by Vow
A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts
by Shohaku Okumura
edited by Dave Ellison
This immensely useful book explores Zen's rich tradition of chanted liturgy and the powerful ways that such chants support meditation, expressing and helping us truly uphold our heartfelt vows to live a life of freedom and compassion. Exploring eight of Zen's most essential and universal liturgical texts, Living by Vow is a handbook to walking the Zen path, and Shohaku Okumura guides us like an old friend, speaking clearly and directly of the personal meaning and implications of these chants, generously using his experiences to illustrate their practical significance. A scholar of Buddhist literature, he masterfully uncovers the subtle, intricate web of culture and history that permeate these great texts. Esoteric or challenging terms take on vivid, personal meaning, and old familiar phrases gain new poetic resonance.
"Living by Vow is a unique and wonderful combination of skillful, fresh translations and Dharma discourses by a Zen priest who is a scholar, a long-term practitioner, and a Zen master. Shohaku Okamura reveals his own life vow as he helps us dive deeply into the many chants that are recited daily in Buddhist temples around the world, rendering them accessible and beautifully relevant to our lives. This is a book to read and re-read, to consult and cite." - Jan Chozen Bays, author of How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness
"An important and much-needed book. Shohaku Okumura's elucidations of these fundamental teachings--so familiar to many, yet so often poorly understood--make plain how profound they truly are." - Steve Hagen, author of Buddhism Plain and Simple
"Shohaku's discussion of Soto Zen's key liturgical texts will be required reading for all students of that tradition--and will be of great benefit to anyone who wants to appreciate the nature and scope of religious life. I am inspired and delighted by this book and will be using it for a long time to come." - Zoketsu Norman Fischer, author of Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong