Zen Buddhism begins with the Buddha’s enlightenment. While the word, “enlightenment” suggests there is something you get and that once have it you are “enlightened,” “intimacy” comes closer to the truth. We gain nothing. Rather, through attention to counting the breath, experiencing the breath, or putting our attention into a koan, we become of less interest to ourselves and, in this losing is finding. The world steps in — trees, mountains, bugs, rivers, people — and we rediscover our original, undiminished intimacy with all things. No longer strangers to this Earth, to others, or to ourselves, such intimacy has healing power. This is to live our own Zen life of Buddha.
"I just ordered 10 copies to give to people; it’s the best simple introduction to the Buddha Way and what it's all about that I’ve read in quite a while.” —Karma Yonten Gyatso, Buddhist publisher
"Should be required reading for all Zen students. Rich in the insight and detail that can only emerge from years of dedicated Zen practice and teaching." —Sunyana Graef Roshi, Dharma Heir of Roshi Philip Kapleau and Abbot of Vermont Zen Center
"I love this book, so deeply important for beginners and experienced practitioners alike!” —Taigen Henderson Roshi, Abbot of the Toronto Zen Centre
"It rescues the Buddha from the prison of unapproachable myth, revealing him to be utterly human, utterly you, utterly me. Short and eminently readable, it is the fruit of Martin Roshi’s half-century deep dive into Zen practice and teaching.” —Hoag Holmgren, author of No Better Place: A New Zen Primer
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Drawing on myth, legend, Zen koans, and Buddhist folklore, as well on his own more than 50 years of formal Zen practice and over 10 years as a fully transmitted teacher, in this companion volume to A Zen Life of Buddha, (Sumeru 2022), award-wining author Roshi Rafe Jnan Martin looks at the nature and role of bodhisattvas, the wise and compassionate beings at the core of Zen Buddhism, and the heart of Zen practice.
“With stories, and exposition, and more stories, Rafe Martin guides us into the Bodhisattva way. He brings ancient dreams into our moment and our actual lives. I found myself pulled and invited into a place where the ancient worthies were revealed as my constant companions, and their stories the stories of my heart. This is a wonderful book and a worthy companion to 'A Zen Life of Buddha'.”
—James Ishmael Ford, author of “Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons”
“Charmingly written. Reflecting on both traditional Bodhisattvas (such as Kannon) and non-traditional Bodhisattvas (like Bob Dylan or a couple of used car salesmen), Rafe challenges us to recognize the Bodhisattvas in our lives and our call to function as Bodhisattvas in the lives of others. A delight to read.”Go to Sumeru Books
—Rick McDaniel, author of “Zen Conversations” and “Further Zen Conversations”
In this delightful book for children, Zen teacher and master storyteller Rafe Martin brings to life the magical story of The Buddha’s Birth. Rafe originally created a longer version for the Rochester Zen Center’s Vesak celebrations, when Rafe was a student of Roshi Philip Kapleau. In 1980 Rafe collaborated with illustrator Vicki Wehrman to publish a small commemorative booklet of The Buddha’s Birth with Vicki’s line illustrations.
Here in a newly revised version for children, Rafe’s loving retelling of the inspirational story of the infant Buddha’s birth is joined with Vicki’s colorful and exuberant illustrations to create an honoring of the Buddha and the heritage of peace, love and awakening he brought into the world.
Discover how ordinary beings—a deer, a robber, a monkey, a parrot, and more—make up the past lives of the Buddha before he was Buddha. See excerpt in “Tricycle” magazine.
Before Buddha Was Buddha: Learning From the Jataka Tales was featured in Forbes (!!) in an article on how to deal with Trump's war on Truth! How's that for the very contemporary relevance of the jataka tales and of ongoing Zen practice!
“With this book, Rafe Martin has made it possible for us to go directly to the Big Boss, (the Buddha himself), before his supreme awakening, and learn how he, too, struggled to find his way when he was swamped by the “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. An excellent and most useful book!"—Danan Henry Roshi, Founding Teacher, Zen Center of Denver
"Clearly the result of decades of practice and insight. Written by a very mature teacher, it can help spiritual practitioners deepen their understanding … I am personally impressed and inspired by it!"—Hogen Bays Roshi, Co-Abbot Great Vow Zen Monastery and Heart of Wisdom Zen Temple Portland, OregonReview: Before Buddha Was Buddha: Learning From the Jataka Tales—108ZenBooks
Review: Before Buddha Was Buddha: Learning From the Jataka Tales—Book Pleasures
Interview: Before Buddha Was Buddha: Learning From the Jataka Tales—Spiritual Media Blog
In this traditional Buddhist folktale from India, humans learn from the animals: the monkey king’s action and wisdom serve as a model for the king of the humans.
Winner of the 2023 NYC BIG BOOK AWARD in the "Childrens-Inspirational" category. (The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers, and professional copywriters. Selected award winners and distinguished favorites are based on overall excellence.)
“This children's book is a fresh, relevant, moving take on an old wisdom tale."—Lion's Roar
“Children will celebrate the brave little parrot’s victory and ask for this story again and again. It’s a wonderful choice for reading aloud.”—Booklist
"Rafe Martin’s lyrical retelling brings to life an inspiring tale from ancient India … Today, as rain forests burn, this old tale of doing the one little thing you can takes on special meaning."—Publishers Weekly
A moving story of compassion The Banyan Deer highlights courage, triumph, and the meaning of wisdom. Beautifully illustrated by Richard Wehrman, and elegantly told, this book makes an ideal gift for anyone facing transitions or rites of passage.
"The Banyan Deer shows that the lives of all living beings are equally important."—His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje
"The Banyan Deer … is the ultimate story of courage and compassion… In less capable hands, this story is instructive but hardly riveting, but in Martin's it's a page-turner." —Tynette Deveaux, "Good Reads for Little Buddhas," Shambhala Sun
In this definitive edition, completely updated and rewritten with expanded commentaries and two new sections, Rafe Martin brings together a fascinating array of stories from the Buddhist tradition.
"...not only a beautiful book but an important one."—Roshi Phillip Kapleau, author of The Three Pillars of Zen
Ten ancient stories and new commentary reveal the practical power of imagination in spiritual development and everyday life.
“A treasure for all seekers of the Way! A much-needed integration of the awesome past and our perplexing present. And a delightful read.” —Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, abbot, The Village Zendo, co-director, the Zen Peacemaker Family
"Endless Path is for students of Buddhism, Dharma teachers, and anyone with an interest in viewing one’s journey through life as an opportunity for spiritual awakening.” —Parabola
This latest addition in Rick McDaniel’s valuable series of works on the transmission of Zen Buddhism to the West. Thematically organized, these interviews with contemporary North American Zen teachers, including several with Roshi Martin, are honest, revealing, and offer quite a variety of perspectives — Soto, Rinzai, lay, ordained, experienced and new teachers, large and small centers and zendos—on North American Zen. Here’s a link to Roshi Martin’s complete foreword.
One of the greatest aids to spiritual advancement was invented in China over a thousand years ago. We know it by its Japanese name, the koan, which Zen master Philip Kapleau describes as a direct and profound presentation of the truth.
“True awakening,” Roshi Kapleau has said, “is not a ‘high’ that keeps one in the clouds of an abstract oneness, but a realization that brings one solidly down to earth into the world of toil and struggle.”