In 1959 Newsweek reported on a young Zen monk and scholar who threatened to shake Japanese Buddhism out of its lethargy by publishing the “secret answers” to the kõan. Though he never did take that step, Akizuki Ryõmin did make good on his promise to devote himself to “breaking the formalism that constricts Zen and exposing the fake masters.” Now, thirty years later, he brings his ideas on reform together into the proclamation of a “New Mahayana,” a reexamination of the basic tenets of Buddhist teaching and practice in an attempt to create a new approach that better answers the needs of people in the modern world.
Akizuki combines the earthy humanity of a Zen Master, the passion of a committed practitioner, and the precision of a scholarly mind to give us a picture of Mahayana Buddhism that is both informative and engaging.
Akizuki brandishes his sword and wreaks havoc in the spirit of the Zen dictum: ‘If you meet the Buddha, kill him!’
James W.HEISIG is a permanent research fellow of the Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture.
Paul L. SWANSON is permanent research fellow of the Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture.