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This book is accessible and a perfect beginning place for those who haven’t encountered Pure Land Buddhism before, but there is also plenty of food for thought for experienced Dharma practitioners.
“Pure Land Buddhism might suggest an otherworldly orientation, but its primary focus is on the here and now. Not the here and now grasped by the controlling ego-self, but the here and now cherished as a gift of life itself to be lived creatively and gratefully, granted us by boundless compassion. The bountifulness of great compassion makes possible our liberation from the iron cage of our own making.” ~ Taitetsu Unno
About River of Fire, River of Water: “With great spiritual insight and unparalleled scholarship, Dr. Taitetsu Unno–the foremost authority in the United States on Shin or Pure Land Buddhism–introduces us to the most popular form of Buddhism in Japan. Unique among the various practices of Buddhism, this new form of spiritual practice is certain to enrich the growing practice of Buddhism in the United States, which is already quite familiar with Zen and Tibetan traditions. River of Fire, River of Water is an introduction to the practice of Pure Land Buddhism for readers with or without prior experience with it.
The Pure Land tradition dates back to the sixth century c.e., when Buddhism was first introduced in Japan. Unlike Zen, its counterpart which flourished in remote monasteries, the Pure Land tradition was the form of Buddhism practiced by common people. Consequently, its practice is harmonious with the workings of daily life, making it easily adaptable for seekers today. Despite the difference in method, though, the goal of Pure Land is the same as other schools–the awakening of the true self.
Certain to take its place alongside great works such as Three Pillars of Zen, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind–River of Fire, River of Water is an important step forward for American Buddhism.”