Life is rising up to meet us at every moment. The question is: Are we there to meet it or not? Diane Rizzetto presents a simple but supremely effective practice for meeting every moment of our lives with mindfulness, using the Zen precepts as tools to develop a keen awareness of the motivations behind every aspect of our behavior—to "wake up to what we do"—from moment to moment. As we train in mindfulness of our actions, every situation of our lives becomes our teacher, offering priceless insight into what it really means to be happy. It's a simple practice with transformative potential, enabling us to break through our habitual reactions and to see clearly how our own happiness and well-being are intimately, inevitably connected to the happiness and well-being of everyone around us.
Rizzetto, abbess of the Bay Zen Center in Oakland, Calif., offers a compelling and highly accessible set of teachings on the Buddhist precepts, "guidelines" to everyday thoughts and behaviors that "prod us to wake up and see clearly the reality of... every situation." The first part of the book presents a clear overview of how to actually work with the precepts, as well as some fundamental Buddhist teachings on the illusion of the self and the advantages of resting in the "full experience" of life "just as it is." The bulk of the book is then given to discussions of the precepts themselves, which Rizzetto presents as aspirations rather than prohibitions: "I take up the way of speaking truthfully" instead of the traditional "not lying," for example. Other precepts include cultivating a clear mind and letting go of anger. Rizzetto's discussions are intelligent and compassionate, practical and engaging: while giving pragmatic suggestions, she persistently affirms that the precepts are not about following "some outward moral authority," but rather about engaging "the power of awareness so that we can see more clearly what deeply held beliefs are behind our actions" a liberating invitation for anyone wanting to break open their usual "reactive thinking" and instead "find real freedom to engage life."