Why Buddha Touched the Earth
by Tom Swiss
© 2013 by Tom Swiss
Paperback $19.05 (U.S.)
I found Why Buddha Touched the Earth to be insightful as well as entertaining. In the preface to the book the author describes this work as an “essay” in the sense that it is his attempt to present his spiritual path in a form that others can understand.
The subtitle for this book is Zen Paganism for the 21st Century. Zen is simply meditation. Defining Paganism takes a little more work. The author takes the reader on a journey through history exploring the development and impact of Buddhism and zen on the world and on paganism. As such a large portion of the book is devoted to this development.
Reading a history can be dull if not handled well. This book is never dull. Numerous sources were cited, some familiar some not so familiar and ranging from noted scholars to some who have been viewed as raving lunatics. Interspersed with the history are reflections from the author’s trips to Japan which are used to illustrate points in the history and how those factors continue to exist into modern times.
This is followed with chapters suggesting ways to live and meditate. Throughout the authors humor and wit enliven the book as seen in the chapter on meditation that is entitled, “How to Sit Down and Shut Up.” Other chapters deal with others aspects of daily living and dealing with death.
I was particularly impressed with the final chapter his reprisal of what it he views as Zen Paganism. The author lists eight suggestions that can be applied no only to those who seek to live a Zen Pagan way to anyone looking for a means to a happy and fulfilling life.
The book concludes with an appendix expanding some of the material covered in the book, tempered with humor as seen in Smokey Bear Sutra. He also included a glossary and partial time line of Pagan and Buddhist revivals.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about Zen Paganism. The presentation of the material flows well laying out educational material and practical insights. As to why Buddha touched the earth; for that you will need to read the chapter of the same title and hopefully find it as enlightening and amusing as I did when I read it.