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River of Fire, River of Water Paperback – April 13, 1998
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From the Inside Flap
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.
From the Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
River of Fire is a deeper study. In it, Unno not only tackles the depths of Shin Buddhist doctrine but speaks with warm wit about his own imperfection and the transforming influence of Shin Buddhism upon his life through a period of decades. Hence, it is partly autobiographical, although the main thrust of the book is not centered around his life.
Shin Buddhism is a religion of conscience and faith, not a religion of compulsion and belief. Morality and stern practice is not seen as the key unlocking the door to enlightenment, only simple faith and conscience.
I cannot recomment this book highly enough. It is published by a major publisher, Doubleday, which portends a wide circulation and may hopefully touch many lives with the positive and life-affirming path of Shin Buddhism, the natural way to enlightenment.
Shin Buddhism for centuries has been the prevailing Buddhist faith of Japan. It has remained largely within Japanese communities in the United States and hence has not been widely known, much less understood. But books such as this are sure to change this picture. Already, native-grown Shin Buddhist groups are springing up in the United States and elsewhere, often as lay groups.Read more ›
This book's title comes from a Pure Land parable which encapsulates the premise of faith in "other power", namely that of Amida Buddha, which can best be described as the 'ur-Buddha' from whom all Dharmic wisdom and compassion springs. Specifically, Rev. Unno is writing here about the Jodo Shinshu school, one of the great schools of Japanese Buddhism which sprang from the Kamakura period of that nation's history, in the 12th and 13th centuries. Jodo Shinshu is, in fact, one of the largest sects of Mahayana Buddhism, but in the West is little-known outside of the Japanese ethnic community. But despite this ethnic concentration, the Shin faith is more or less a "Buddhism for Joe Average", irrespective of ones' skin color or land of origin.
The book is very well-written, and also well-organized given the amount...and often, complexity...of the information it imparts. Rev. Unno deftly opens up the teachings of Jodo Shinshu to anyone who might wish to learn, or for that matter might simply be curious. He deals excellently with both the historical perspective of this school, as well as the more complex philosophical issues posed by the Nembutsu-faith as well as its place in the mainstream of Mahayana thought.
Shin Buddhism is truly a faith that anyone can follow, without the complexities of what is referred to as "the path of difficult practice". And likewise, "River of Fire, River of Water" provides an uncomplex point of entry into this rich and enriching path. For anyone starting down this path, I would have to say that this...along with Dr. Kenneth Tanaka's "Ocean"...makes for an excellent point from which to begin. I recommend it unconditionally.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is no doubt a super interesting read, but the practice of nembutsu is never fully explained. The actual saying of namu amidha butsu and its benefits.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Meandering and pedantic , this book is not an introductory text on Shin Buddhism. I understood enough to know to look elsewhere for something more accessible. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joshua Parish
I've read this book twice, and I must say that it was one of the most impactful books I've ever read. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Sigmund Sundelin
A lot of people really seem to like this book. I would not recommend this to beginners to Buddhism as I was. It was so hard to understand. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Lucy
superior jodo book, one of the best.
the author has intuitive insights that
can only come from amida butsu
(other power). Read more
Dr. Taitetsu Unno has written a modern classic.
Wanting to use the book for reference in writing the review, i could not find it. It was under my pillow! Read more
I have this book on my Kindle Fire HD and no matter what page I open to...it tells me something I need to hear that day...try it!Published on March 24, 2013 by LynnAnn Thomas