The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism
John Daido Loori
Charles E. Tuttle Co.: Boston, 1996.
267 pp., $16.95 (paper)

Near the end of this book dense with principles and interpretations, John Daido Loori writes that it is vital to “take the teachings out of the theoretical and abstract mode and thrust them into the present moment.”

Loori then recounts the story of a dharma teacher in America who knew that he was infected with the virus that causes AIDS and yet had sexual relationships with students. He “essentially made the statement that his realization, his enlightenment, enabled him to transcend cause and effect,” Loori writes. The teacher has since died, his community of practitioners has virtually broken down, and at least one person has been infected with AIDS virus.

“What would you do?” Loori asks. “How would you have handled that situation as the teacher? How would you turn it around?”

Until that point, Loori essentially provides an exhaustive presentation of and commentary on the Buddhist precepts, which, he writes, are “the definition of the life of the Buddha.” But from the outset, with the tolling of a bell in the introduction, Loori strides into the complex moral and ethical fray of modern society.

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