Tom (Thomas) Wharton, a Canadian author, wrote the following back in 2005 when I was running a priory in Edmonton. At that time I was keen to see Rev Master Daizui’s book more widely read or even known about. The following review copied below was never used, up until now. Here it is. Thanks Tom for letting me publish this after all this time.
I like Rev. MacPhillamy’s relaxed, conversational style. The lack of terms from other languages is also refreshing and offers a less “exotic” approach to the subject, which is a good thing. The ancient, Asian terminology that most Buddhist books use can make it seem that you should be having an ancient, Asian experience to really practice meditation, whatever that might mean!
The section on karma and rebirth I found particularly fascinating and helpful. I’ve never seen these elusive concepts set down in quite this accessible way. Rev. MacPhillamy proceeds from a straightforward description of ethical cause and effect which one can quickly verify for oneself with a little thought (when we hurt others we hurt ourselves), and proceeds from there to the more “cosmic” way of looking at the consequences of our actions.
At the stage I’m at with all of this, I find I’m not ready or willing to invest belief in some of these more cosmic notions. But of course neither Rev. MacPhillamy nor Buddhism itself would insist that I do so. And I feel that this respect for the individual person’s freedom of belief is one of the best clues that Buddhism points a trustworthy way to the truth about the universe. Truth shouldn’t need to be policed.
Review written by Thomas Wharton
The last chapter, “So, Is this a religion?” offers a brief telling of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life which thankfully doesn’t scatter lotus petals over everything. This is the kind of biography that I would show to people who wanted to find out about the historical Buddha. It’s hard for us cynical westerners to believe that he is not actually worshipped by Buddhists when one reads some of the more mythic versions of his life story. Maybe these magical stories are true. How should I know? I just find it’s more encouraging to me to think about Buddha the human being.
Buddhism From Within can be bought on-line and it doesn’t cost a fortune either.
3 thoughts on “Buddhism From Within”
Really? Edmonton Zen Priory? Is where I “cut my teeth” ?what? 1978 or ’79!
(After years of being a dharma orphan I encountered Gampa Abbey and eventually began practicing as Kagyu.)
I recently gave a copy of this book to a Christian friend who wanted to learn something about Buddhism and meditation. His reaction was so positive that I immediately purchased 3 more copies to have on hand to give people.
The first part of the book is structured around a Country & Western song wherein an old cowboy shares his insight as to how to achieve a happy life: Faster Horses, Younger Women, Older Whiskey, and More Money. The man I gave the book to happened to have the song in his collection and had a lot of experience chasing just these things! He loved this book, saying that it explained the fundamentals of Buddhism in plain language that he could clearly understand.
I then re-read the book myself, after practicing Buddhism for more than 47 years, and reached the same conclusion.
In the future, I suspect that this will be the first book I reach for when someone asks me for an overview of what Buddhism, and Zen in particular, is all about. It is a real masterpiece… written in the most down-to-earth, unpretentious terms. Much like Reverend Master Daizui himself!
So very like the monk himself.