I am Japanese but was born and raised in rural central Utah. At ﬁrst, my parents were afraid that our involvement with the Church would weaken our grounding in Japanese tradition. As it turned out, it only reinforced my interest in animism, Buddhism, and other aspects of Japanese culture. As a scholar of Japanese culture, I have discovered that Latter-day Saint culture and Mahayana Buddhist culture are similar in many ways, and that the paths to the building up of Zion, on the one hand, and to Zen enlightenment, on the other, are one and the same. The genius of both faith traditions lies in how they push the abstract ideas of salvation down into the world of material practice. Raking sand in a Zen garden reminds us that mortality is similarly a “high maintenance” situation, where constant service is required if we are to grasp our purpose here on earth.
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- Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship