Vladimir K, who runs the amazing Zensite, has just reviewed If You’re Lucky.
“James Ishmael Ford is a Zen teacher with Boundless Way Zen and a senior minister at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island. I have to confess here that I am suspicious of Zen teachers that mix Zen Buddhism with other religions, especially Christianity. While some have expounded an ecumenical meeting of religions (Robert Aitken Roshi tried hard to bring Zen and Christianity together, not very successfully in my opinion), I have always been very dubious of this approach. Certainly there are similarities amongst all religions but there are also vast differences. I don’t believe a syncretic approach to Buddhism is in the best interests of Zen practitioners. Some scholars aver that the decline of Zen in China was partially due to syncretistic tendencies with Neo-Confucian philosophy and the practice of nembutsu (invocation of the name of Amitābha Buddha) as well as adverse political circumstances. (see Dumoulin (1994-1998) n.124 pp 295-296: “The critical stance of Neo-Confucian philosophy, above all the strong aggressions of the greatest thinker of the age, Chu Hsi, inflicted heavy casualties on Buddhism. To that we must add the sign of internal weakening, above all that produced by syncretistic tendencies…”)”
But, I hope you don’t want to stop there.
For the rest of the story, go here.