Shodo Harada Roshi
Translated by Daichi-Priscilla Storandt.
Edited by Roy Tribelhorn and Eunice Nakao.
North Atlantic Books/Frog, Ltd.: Berkeley, California, 1993.
90 pp., $9.95 (paper).


This book began as a series of newsletters sent by Harada Roshi, the abbot of the Rinzai Zen Sogenji temple in Okayama, Japan, to his diaspora of students. The patient language of these essays, which first appeared between 1988 and 1992, speaks to readers in an approachable, unaffected style. Harada Roshi successfully mixes modern, often political dilemmas—the ethics of organ transplants, the Gulf War as a sorrowful manifestation of egoism—with the Buddha’s teachings (“Seek the light within yourself.”). Of the Berlin Wall, for example, he writes, “The true wall, a more difficult wall to bring down, is the wall of the ego within each of us. There is nothing as unreal but difficult to deal with as this wall. If we put it truthfully, the Berlin Wall, the ‘Iron Curtain’ as well, have come from that mind of all of us.” Sometimes his emphasis lies more in showing what our problems are—”If our minds are upset we get attached to the solution of our own small difficulties and don’t see another person’s perspective at all”—rather than offering a systematic way to solve them, but overall, the book leaves one with an impression somewhat like a Japanese inkin-a clear bell ringing lightly, reminding, pleasing to the ear.

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