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Infinite Circle


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About the Author

Bernie Glassman is a Zen master and the first dharma successor to Taizan Maezumi Roshi, founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. He is well known for integrating Zen practice with social, economic, and educational initiatives. He is also the author of Instructions to the Cook and Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace.


Former abbot of the Zen Community of New York, Zen master Glassman (Instructions to the Cook) expounds upon three written works here. Though primarily for intermediate and advanced practitioners, some beginners may also find it helpful. The first half is devoted to the 24 lines of the Heart Sutra. So thorough is Glassman's explication that the title alone consumes 10 pages, many addressing the first word of the Sanskrit title, maha. Glassman was trained as a mathematician, a background that becomes evident when he uses the image of the circle: "If we are all within the same circle, then all of this is One Body; there is no outside. Since there is no outside, there is no inside either.... If there is no outside for the circle is infinite then not only is there no inside, there is also no circle anymore." The second section closely examines "The Identity of Relative and Absolute," a classic poem written by Chinese master Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien exploring enlightenment, intimacy and the call to action. Action is of particular importance to Glassman, a cofounder of the international social activists' Zen Peacemaker Order. The third section examines the Bodhisattva precepts, with emphasis on "nonkilling." The author's style and thinking are like thick, polished glass: clear, compact and strong. Marrying metaphor, illustration and abstraction, he reaches to the heart of many essential concepts, reminding us firmly that, among other things, "we don't practice to become enlightened... we practice because we are enlightened." (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"A timely and spiritually wise book. Glassman is a very profound and skilled teacher who manages to illuminate some very difficult Zen subjects."-- Spirituality and Health

"Glassman's style and thinking are like thick, polished glass: clear, compact, and strong. Marrying metaphor, illustration, and abstraction, he reaches into the heart of many essential concepts, reminding us firmly that, among other things, 'we don't practice to become enlightened . . . we practice because we are enlightened.'"--Publishers Weekly

"A watershed book for Zen students, a good study companion and a trustworthy guide."--Zoketsu Norman Fisher, founding teacher of the Everyday Zen Foundation

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