Living Zen Loving God – Book Review

Living Zen Loving God – Book Review

living zen loving god

Book Title: Living Zen Loving God
Ruben L.F. Habito
Wisdom Publications




Ruben Habito is not only a practicing Catholic and a former Jesuit priest, but he is also a Zen master as well as a professor at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.

He has written numerous books on both Zen and Christianity and is a proponent of Buddhist-Christian dialogue.  Some of his other books include titles such as: “Experiencing Buddhism: Ways of Wisdom and Compassion”, “Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World”, and “The Practice of Altruism: Caring and Religion in Global Perspective”.

He received Dharma transmission (permission to teach) in Japan from Yamada Koun who is of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen Buddhism.

 Book Summary

This book is a collection of essays written by Ruben Habito on the similarities between the Christianity and Zen Buddhism over the years.  These essays deeply explore the various similarities as well as differences and constitute a great introduction to Zen for those who are curious.

living zen loving god

Author: Ruben Habito

Chapter 1: Seeing into One’s Nature – A Christian’s Experience of Zen
Chapter 2: Emptiness and Fullness
Chapter 3: The Heart Sutra on Liberating Wisdom
Chapter 4: Every Day is a Good Day
Chapter 5: The Song of Zazen
Chapter 6: The Enlightened Samaritan – A Zen Reading of a Christian Parable
Chapter 7: The Four Vows of the Bodhisattva
Chapter 8: Kuan-Yin with a Thousand Hands
Chapter 9: Zen Experience of Triune Mystery
Chapter 10: Zen and Christian Spirituality – Attuning to the Breath

My Critique

This was a very well written book which manages to not mix traditions.  The author skillfully weaves both Roman Catholic Christianity and Zen.  As John Keenan states in his foreword to the book “Each tradition enriches the other without either turning into some sort of bastardization of itself.”

The only downside to this book is that it can get to be a little too detailed and complicated.  I had to read it a few times in order to get a good understanding of what the author is talking about.

That being said, I found something new to contemplate with each reading of this book and the author does an admirable job of putting his enlightenment experience into words that are both interesting and that lead to practical action.


I would recommend this book to Buddhists or Christians who are curious about Zen Buddhism.  Especially those who are curious whether Zen and Christianity can be practiced in parallel.  I think both Zen and Christianity meet at the level of experience and this is exactly where the author is coming from.

In fact, I would recommend this book to all who are interested in comparative religion.  I would also recommend it to those who wish to make a difference in this world by helping others.

Thanks for reading this review on “Living Zen, Loving God”, and feel free to post a thought or question in the comments below.

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8 Responses to Living Zen Loving God – Book Review

  1. ilona says:

    thank you for the review of the book – I’ve been looking into different teachings of late – was bought up atheist, married a christian pastor and am now trying to find out what my connection to the universe is for myself at 50! really appreciated your review and your website in general has been very helpful – thank you

  2. DIAB says:

    Thank you for “Living Zen Loving God” book review. It is important to understand the similarities and the differences between religions. It is also important the enhancement of our culture and the joy of following the path of spirituality. The spirituality is the start into the “helping others” journey. We start by looking into ourselves by nurturing the spirituality and we help others by being better persons and sharing our experience.

    • Ian H says:

      I definitely agree with you, the spiritual journey is all about helping others. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my review.

  3. Tara says:

    Love anything that teaches peace and relaxation, I’m a Christian and always looking to learn more about churches and about different types of beliefs, budist’s seem to be so calm and relaxed I’ve always wondered about them are you budist? thanks for sharing this book looking forward to your next recommendation.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Tara,

      Not only peace and relaxation but also kindness and compassion toward others which is something Buddhism has in common with Christianity. And yes I consider myself to be Buddhist and gravitate toward Tibetan Buddhism.

  4. Steve says:

    Thank you for this post. i am always interested in learning new philosophies, religions and spiritual topics. i know you said that the book can get a little complicated but that just means it is showing a deeper message. Thank you for making this available, I cannot wait to fully check it out!

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