Soyen Shaku

‘Buddhist ethics is the simplest thing to practice in the world. It has nothing mysterious, nothing superstitious, nothing idolatrous, nothing supernatural. Stop doing anything wrong, which is against the reason of things; do whatever is good, which advances the course of reason in this life; and finally help those who are still behind and weary of life to realize enlightenment: and here is Buddhism in a nutshell. It has nothing to do with prayer and worship and singing and whatnot. Our simple everyday life of love and sympathy is all that is needed to be a good Buddhist.’ (Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot)

These words come from 1905-6, as Soyen Shaku presented Buddhism to America for almost the first time. The translation is by D.T. Suzuki. I would quibble with the use of the word ‘reason’ in this passage, but, as with Nyogen Senzaki, a student of Shaku, they were making their best effort to communicate in language that would be easily absorbed.

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