From Publishers Weekly
Taxonomists rejoice: for all who have wondered about the difference between a roshi and a sensei, this book sorts these two kinds of Zen Buddhist teachers and offers lots more information about Zen schools and influences. A longtime Zen student and Unitarian minister, Ford is a sympathetic insider who knows much of his history firsthand, yet sees clearly enough to acknowledge the distortions and even abuses in the history of Zen as it came to this country. His delineations form a road map to persons and places in Zen in America. His eye is especially keen in appreciating the early teachers who brought Zen from Japan and adapted it to an audience growing in numbers and receptivity to Asian religious wisdom. End matter, including a guide to finding a teacher, is helpful; missing, however, is some graphic representation—a family tree, perhaps?—that could have summarized paragraphs of prose about lineages and who taught whom. The very existence of the book is evidence of the growth and maturation of a small but culturally significant group of what Ford rightly characterizes as religious believers. Beyond the obvious niche audience, this book holds interest for all curious about American Zen Buddhism and contemporary expressions of American spirituality. (Nov.)
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About the Author
James Ishmael Ford is a senior guiding teacher of Boundless Way Zen. James has been a student of Zen Buddhism for over forty years. He is also a senior Unitarian Universalist minister serving at the First Unitarian Church of Providence and a member of both the American Zen Teachers Association and the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. He lives outside Providence.