Unfolding the Eightfold Path:
A Contemporary Zen Perspective
by Dale Verkuilen Firethroat Press

"The definitions listed below are general statements about the right elements... The brief characterizations are the starting point for a growth in clarity."

Dale Verkuilen's Unfolding the Eightfold Path: A Contemporary Zen Perspective is a Buddhism guidebook for beginners. The author admits that he devised his book while learning to meditate. Formulated over time as a "backburner" issue for many years, he tinkered with the idea for a while until inspired to complete what he started. The author meant for his book to be a "frame of reference," a field guide of sorts to the world of Buddhism. The arrangement of the text is that of an incremental, building block learning patterns as one would encounter in language instruction or mathematics. The author creates a flow chart, geometry of understanding Buddhism as he shows one element building on the other.

Quotes from Eastern and Western writers and philosophers are sprinkled throughout the book at chapter beginnings, and each chapter functions as a meditation prompt. Form marries content in this piece as the construction of the book is essential to the information it is conveying. This design enhances the study as the book is light and pliable, and the chapters are short, not to say that the material is not thought-provoking or lacks substances.

Dense at first, the book's chapters are broken down into historical anecdotes, for example, Aldo Leopold's story of a dying wolf population and an out of control rise of deer in Arizona braided together with the Golden Rule of Ecology. The author also shares personal asides telling stories about himself, and his family and loved ones. The inclusion of proverbs and aphorisms in his text allows for the author to create and enhance opportunities for his readers to reflect and meditate as he attempts to highlight the architecture of Buddhism.

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