Opening to Oneness
A Practical and Philosophical Guide to the Zen Precepts
Opening to Oneness
Explore what it means to be fully human, without suppressing or hiding parts of yourself, through this accessible guide to the Zen precepts.
In Opening to Oneness, Zen teacher Nancy Baker offers a detailed path of practice for Zen students planning to take the precepts and for anyone, Buddhist or non-Buddhist, interested in deepening their personal study of ethical living. She reveals that there are three levels of each precept: a literal level (don’t kill, not even a bug), a relative level that takes moral ambiguity into account (what if it’s a malaria-spreading mosquito?), and an ultimate level—the paradoxical level of nonduality, in which the precepts are naturally expressed from a state of oneness.
Full of nuance, skepticism, intelligence, and compassion, ten chapters addressing the grave precepts approach them mostly from the literal and relative levels, including instructions for how to practice these precepts individually and in pairs or groups.
The next part of the book takes a deep dive into looking at the precepts from the ultimate perspective, largely through an exploration of the precept writings of Dogen, the thirteenth-century religious genius who founded the Soto Zen school.
At once comprehensive and innovative, Opening to Oneness will take its place alongside classics like The Mind of Clover, The Heart of Being, and Being Upright as a cherished guide to Zen Buddhist ethics.
Nancy Mujo Baker Roshi is the founding teacher of the No Traces Sangha in the lineage of Maezumi Roshi’s White Plum Asanga. A Dharma successor to Bernie Glassman, she is among the first fully empowered lay Soto Zen teachers. She is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at Sarah Lawrence College, where she taught for more than forty years. She lives in New York City.