For more than four decades, Robert Aitken Roshi has taught thousands of people the Buddhist practice of Zen meditation, and has led hundreds through their practice of the study of traditional koans. He has authored more than a dozen books; volumes of commentary on sacred texts; works on ethics, daily life, and social action; and one of the best-loved introductions to Zen Buddhism, Taking the Path of Zen. A founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, he has spent his life as a political activist, work he continues to this day.
To culminate a long and remarkable life—he recently celebrated his 91st birthday—Aitken Roshi offers a collection of 266 short texts in Miniatures of a Zen Master. Some are clearly parables; others are simple stories, quotations, memories, and commentaries. Resembling Benjamin Franklin’s Almanac or the epigrams of Chamfort as much as it does work from ancient sages, this collection of “miniatures” distills a life devoted to teaching and awareness, of being present, showing up, and making a difference.