Diane Eshin Rizzetto is the Abbess and Guiding Teacher of the Bay Zen Center in Oakland, California. A dharma heir of Charlotte Joko Beck, she is a founding member of the Ordinary Mind Zen School. Her previous book is Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion.
The subtitle of this richly human book reveals that it is deeply relevant to our times. It is filled with top-drawer practices that are in sync with the author's wonderful readings and interpretations of the Buddhist paramitas. A poignant quotation by Mother Teresa sets the stage for what follows: "The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small. "
Rizzetto does justice to the grand themes of the paramitas or "perfections":
- Giving and Receiving
- Taking Skillful Action
- Practicing Patience
- Engaging Effort
- Seeing Clearly
Throughout our careers and especially while living amidst the pressure of New York City, we found it very hard to practice patience. Here's how Rizzetto frames this challenge:
"Sometimes it seems that this paramita if one of the hardest paramitas to practice, for it asks us to persevere in the midst of great difficulty. But Practicing Patience is more than simply enduring or getting through difficult times. It asks us to take refuge in just continually knowing that no matter how things turn out, we will engage fully in life's circumstances."
Each chapter includes practices for engaging that paramita. For patience, these include becoming familiar with your body's ways of expressing impatience, expanding your view to see what you are leaving out of the situation, and accepting where you are ("being just this moment is the way of compassion").
See the excerpt for practices about giving and receiving.