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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
buddhadharma| 65 |spring 2008 reviews ZoketSu noRman fiScheR iS the foundeR of the eveRyday Zen foundation. he pRacticed at the San fRanciSco Zen centeR foR thiRty yeaRS and SeRved aS co-abbot fRom 1995 to 2000. buddhism was first introduced to the West in the late nineteenth century as a rational, iconoclastic, psycho- logically oriented form of spirituality. so different did Buddhism seem from West- ern religions that there was even some question as to whether it was a religion at all, considering there was no God, no revelation, and no supernatural element whatsoever. educated Westerners who held this view of Buddhism had a strong Protestant, anti-magic, anti-ritual bias and an enthusiasm for the new science of psychology, which more or less debunked religion as a product of the primitive human mind. While other religions were full of superstition and mumbo-jumbo (the very concept of God as a punish- ing father being entirely dependent on blind belief and fear), Buddhism, in the view of these Westerners, was sober and balanced. it was an essentially rational approach to spiritual fulfillment, based on personal effort in meditation to reach exalted states of human perfection. the British scholars who translated the early Buddhists texts were predisposed to see them in this light, and the Asian Buddhists who supplied the texts to the rethinking ritual Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist theory in Practice edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright Oxford university Press, 2008 352 pages; $74 (paperback) Reviewed by norman Fischer donfaRbeR