Taitetsu Unno, who teaches religion at Smith College, is America's foremost authority on Pure Land Buddhism as developed by Honen and Shinran in thirteenth-century Japan. From its start, this path has had great appeal to common folk because of its understanding that the "dojo" or training place for the practice of Buddhism is in the midst of everyday life.

According to Unno, deep hearing enables individuals to awaken to "the Name-that-calls," the boundless compassion that sustains all of life. Through faith, the practice of the recitative nembutsu is begun — the daily intoning of "I entrust myself to Amida Buddha.'" Out of this devotion grows the realization that the true self is a manifestation of dharma or "reality-as-is."

The Pure Land tradition emphasizes the inner discipline of self-cultivation which aims at the unfolding of humility, compassion, and generosity. Unno discusses other components of Shin Buddhism including the conspiracy of good, nonduality, interdependence, the world of dew (impermanence), unrepeatable life, and the view of death. River of Fire, River of Water paints an authoritative portrait of a very popular school of Buddhism.

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