cover image Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird

Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird

Robert Aitken. Wisdom, $19.95 (249p) ISBN 978-1-61429-384-2

In this new edition of his final book, Aitken (The Mind of Clover), who died in 2010, offers teachings through stories (almost parables) of Zen Master Raven and his group of fellow travelers on the path to enlightenment—Porcupine, Black Bear, Owl, Moose, and more. Koan-style stories typically involve exchanges between a teacher and sangha members, culminating in a consideration of phrases or actions that serves as a guide to awakening. Emulating this tradition, Zen Master Raven’s stories are usually only a few sentences long, tracing his growth as a student, his attainment of enlightenment, his teaching at Assembly Oak, and his death. Through these stories, Raven teaches about the nature of Buddha, emptiness, karma, everyday life, and more. Aitken’s book, however, is not merely a formulaic emulation but a welcome creation of a new koan anthology that reflects the distinct flavor of American Zen Buddhist practice. This is a beautiful and worthy final teaching from Aitken. [em](Aug.) [/em]