Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buddha of Infinite Light

I just recently completed reading the book, "Buddha of Infinite Light" by D.T Suzuki. D.T. Suzuki, who is from Japan, is a well-known expert and author of Buddhism. He comes from a Zen Buddhist background. This book however, is about Shin Buddhism or Jodo Shinshu and is based on several lectures Mr. Suzuki gave in the 1950s. Did you know that Shin Buddhism is the most widely practiced form of Buddhism in Japan?

Shin Buddhism is a school of Buddhism that originated in Japan from the historic figue Shinran Shonin in the 1100s. Shin Buddhism is based on the Pure Land philosophy. Shin basically believes that those who have faith in Amida Buddha will be born in the Pure Land.

This is the second time I have read the book. I read it the first time before I knew that much about Shin Buddhism. It was a very difficult book to understand. I thought it would make more sense the second time around now that I know more about Jodo Shinshu. Well, it is was still a difficult read.

I have tried reading one or two other books by D.T. Suzuki and I have found that his explanation of Buddhism and his style are hard to follow, at least for me. Buddhism in general can be a difficult subject to really understand through only reading, and especially Zen Buddhism. Since this author comes from a Zen background, that may be part of the reason. I can see how having a Buddhist teacher is necessary for someone to more fully understand the Buddhist philosophy.

My understanding from the book is that the author has a slightly different interpretation of Shin Buddhism. While the general Shin belief is that once you have faith in Amida, you will be born in the Pure Land following your death. While Mr. Suzuki feels that the Pure Land is here with us. And once you have achieved faith, you are already in the Pure Land. At least that is the impression I got from the book.

If you are interested in Shin Buddhism, I would recommend this book as Mr. Suzuki is one of the top Buddhist authors from Japan. Just be prepared that you might have to read it a couple of times to understand it.

No comments:

Post a Comment