I picked up this book and finished reading it overnight. Having live in a Buddhist country for 12 years, this book is informative and helpful. Although, this is about Zen Buddhism instead of Theravada, the basic tenets are the same.
While in his twenties and thirties, international journalist and best-selling author Martin Roth, living in Japan, became deeply involved in Zen Buddhism. So much so that he co-authored a reference work on the subject, “Zen Guide.”
Now he explains the attraction of Buddhism to himself and to other young Westerners. He also recounts – often in amusing detail - some of his adventures.
He became possibly the first Westerner to complete a famous pilgrimage to thirty-three temples in northern Japan. On another pilgrimage he spent three days hiking through some of Japan’s holiest mountains, sometimes standing under frigid waterfalls in purification rituals. He stayed at famous monasteries, often participating in morning worship services full of dazzling ceremonies.
He introduces some of the fascinating people he met. These include the young priest who lived and meditated in a giant soy sauce barrel; the professor who devised “commuting Zen” meditation for his strap-hanging one-and-a-half-hour rail commute to work each day; and the American advertising executive who became head of his own Japanese Zen temple, a place where Caroline Kennedy, now US ambassador to Japan, stayed during her honeymoon.
But he also explains why his interest in Buddhism began to fade, and why, today, he is a Christian.
This short book (18,000 words), part travel adventure, part memoir, part spiritual odyssey, will entertain and inform.
Chapter One – First Steps
Chapter Two – Learning about Buddhism
Chapter Three – A Series of Newspaper Columns
Chapter Four – Writing a Book
Chapter Five – Zen Adventures
Chapter Six – Was I a Buddhist?
Chapter Seven – Kyoto
Chapter Eight – Heading North
Chapter Nine – Christian Zen
Chapter Ten – Buddhist Art
Chapter Eleven – Doubts
Chapter Twelve – Becoming a Christian
Chapter Thirteen – Buddhism and the Book of Ecclesiastes
Chapter Fourteen – Talking with Buddhists