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This is a delightful book on the history of Zen in Japan. The author starts from the beginnings of zen philosophy in China and brings you right to the Kamakura period where zen became the fashion with the warrior class. I say fashion, but it was/is more than that. It is indeed a study of how a particular philosophy ( zen ) can take hold and flourish in a specific culture, in this case Japan. If you are interested in Zen at all, you will enjoy this book! Highly recommended.

I ended up submerged in an wealth of explanations (understandings) such as, where did the name Zen come from, what are the basic tenets, how is it different from others. The book reads as if written today except for the occasional dated grammar.

The book goes much beyond the roots of Zen. I spent the last hour reading the discussion on the nature of man. Is man fundamentally good, fundamentally bad? The book explores four options and then moves to explore the relationship of man to nature (the universe in my terminology). Wonderful and easy to read.

For those who wish to gain a better understand of oriental philosophy and an understanding of Zen in particular, this book, Zen - The Religion of the Samurai, does an excellent job of describing the evolution of Zen Buddhism from its beginnings in India some 500 years before the Christian era and its growth as it spread across China and into Japan. The story of the evolution of Zen in becoming the dominant set of beliefs and practices of Japan is well documented and carefully presented. The elements of Buddhism are shown in their proper historical context and augmented by lessons and examples from the most significant teachers, sages and masters.

Too many Westerners have the mistaken notion that Zen is monolithic and uniform. This excellent historical analysis of the evolution of Zen Buddhism will quickly dispel that notion and provide detailed information on the various historical forms and sects. Here you will find solid information on what is and what is not Zen Buddhism.

This book is highly recommended not only for its value as a comparative religion reference, but also as a general guide to the philosophy of the East.

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