Zen Master Raven

The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird

Foreword by Nelson Foster / Illustrated by Jennifer Rain Crosby
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About The Book

A uniquely playful and incisive collection of Zen teaching stories from a beloved American master.

A modern classic, now in a new expanded edition. In the tradition of the great koan collections and the records of ancient masters, Robert Aitken distills a lifetime of teaching down to its essence. Intriguing and deceptively simple, Zen Master Raven is a brilliant encapsulation of Zen in over a hundred koan-like encounters alongside many charming illustrations. Featuring curious beginners like Mallard and Mole and profound teachers like Brown Bear, Moose Roshi, and Zen Master Raven himself, this classic of contemporary Zen and will inspire seekers for generations to come.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (August 22, 2017)
  • Length: 248 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781614293842

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Raves and Reviews

”A new koan anthology that reflects the distinct flavor of American Zen Buddhist practice. This is a beautiful and worthy final teaching from Aitken.”

– Publishers Weekly

“These verses are a brilliant contribution to American Zen. They honor the wit and wisdom of so many Chan and Zen masters before while staying accessible and relevant for us right now. Sublime, funny, simple, profound.”

– Jaimal Yogis, author of Saltwater Buddha

“A Western Zen classic. These stories will be repeated for as long as there is a Western Zen.”

– James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break

“In the transmission of Zen to the West, Aitken Roshi's writings and teachings hold a unique place. This book is one of the clearest demonstrations of his capacity for integrating an authentic Zen spirit with American myths and dreams. The depth of his Zen heart and the lightness of his wit are equally revealed here, and will inspire generations of Zen practitioners well into the future.”

– Melissa Myozen Blacker, coediter of The Book of Mu

“Reading Aitken's Zen Master Raven is a bombardment of dazzling bursts of light—like sitting watching stars born in the night sky, one after another. A treasure.”

– Kathleen Dowling Singh, author of The Grace in Aging and The Grace in Living

“How wonderful that such a gem of a book is being brought back to print in this new edition—Zen students everywhere should rejoice!” 

– Robert Rosenbaum, author of Walking the Way

“Wonderful and profound.” 

– Deborah Schoberlein David, author of Living Mindfully

“Marvelous.” 

– Gerry Shishin Wick, author of The Book of Equanimity

“Masterful.” 

– Barbara Bonner, author of Inspiring Generosity and Inspiring Courage

“Amusing, delightful, terrifically readable—and filled with deceptive simplicities. Zen Master Raven is American Zen at its best. It will gently draw in the Zen beginner while at the same time taking the old hand for unexpected leaps. This book has fully earned its place in all Zen libraries.” 

– Dick Allen, author of Zen Master Poems

“Forget the heavier tomes, here is a playful shortcut to the awakened heart of the Buddha!”

– Kerry Lee MacLean, author of Moody Cow Meditates

“With this new Wisdom edition of Zen Master Raven, Robert Aitken Roshi comes back to life in these witty exchanges between sentient beings of various shapes, sizes and colors. As you flip through the pages, you can almost see the Wise Old Bird in your mind’s eye with a half-smile, playfully winking at you.” 

– Ruben L.F. Habito, author of Living Zen, Loving God

“May the caw of this raven resonate far and wide!” 

– David Loy, author of A New Buddhist Path

“These stories are marked by both charm and depth of insight.” 

– Jack Turner, author of The Abstract Wild

“Totally unconventional and remarkably successful. Many of these stories will certainly be incorporated into anthologies of home-grown American koans.” 

– Hee-jin Kim, author of Eihei Dogen: Mystical Realist

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