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Buddhadharma : Spring 2012
Reviews THE RADICAL THINKERS of PURE LAND In the past two decades, there has been increasing awareness in America of Pure Land Buddhism as a major development of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism. While Zen Buddhism is still better known in the West, Pure Land Buddhism and the practices involving the Buddha of Infinite Light, or Amida Buddha, have long been far more prevalent in East Asia, and also widespread in other areas, including Tibet and Vietnam. Even though dozens of books on Pure Land Buddhism have appeared in recent years, there is still the perception that the tradition is one of simplistic devotionalism and that it caters to the unsophisticated and less capable. Two recent publications help to correct such mispercep- tions. Both are anthologies of translations of original works in Japa- nese, compiled by scholars and specialists, but are from opposite ends of the historical spectrum. Together they showcase the pluralism of Japanese Pure Land thought and practice and serve to bookend the tra- jectory of the Vow of Amida’s Compassion, from the seminal work of the founding master Honen to the modern work of four great scholar– practitioners of the Higashi Honganji branch of Shin Buddhism. Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi’s The Promise of Amida Buddha: Hon- en’s Path to Bliss is one of the most comprehensive compilations to date THE PROMISE OF AMIDA BUDDHA: Honen’s Path to Bliss Translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi Wisdom Publications, 2011 504 pages; $39.95 (hardcover) CULTIVATING SPIRITUALITY: A Modern Shin Buddhist Anthology Edited by Mark L. Blum and Robert Rhodes SUNY Press, 2011 256 pages; $75 (hardcover) The Tathagata of Unhindered Light (Amida Buddha) Calligraphy by Zuiken Inagaki SPRING 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 67 Reviewed by Mark Unno