Book Review: Why Buddha Touched the Earth

Tom Swiss

Why Buddha Touched the Earth: Zen Paganism for the Twenty-first Century

Stafford, UK: Megalithica Books, 2013

This cheerful and informative book is part theology, part travelogue, and part personal experience of Zen Buddhism from a pagan point of view. Mr. Swiss provides a light touch as he draws these seemingly disparate threads together and weaves a truly unique framework for spiritual practice. Although the purpose of the book is to present Zen Paganism, the majority of the text is spent discussing Zen and even Shinto belief and practice.  This is especially helpful for the reader who is unfamiliar with these traditions.  Interspersed throughout the book he also regales the reader with stories of his travels in Japan or experiences as a pagan in the United States. The strongest contribution this book makes is to ethics for pagans, which he discusses intelligently and thoroughly, and he calls for a new religion or spirituality that fosters and supports more advanced human development.

I was glad to see this clear and thoughtful integration of two different spiritual traditions, and believe that such theologizing is what is needed for the future. We now require a spirituality that is integrated, that accepts and even embraces our religious differences if we are to continue peacefully together on this planet. All paths lead to God, but by different ways, and each way has a different view of God. If we can learn from those on other paths, our vision of God and our spirituality will be more complete. I am glad Mr. Swiss has made such good effort toward this goal.

I highly recommended this book, especially for those with an interest in contemplative spirituality.

Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.

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