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Catholicism and Zen

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Royal Octavo


Catholicism and Zen

Richard Bryan McDaniel

210 pages, 6.14″ x 9.21″


Ever since Catholic priests from Portugal and Spain entered Japan in the 1500’s on missions to convert the Japanese to Christianity, a quiet transformation has been taking place, beginning among those Jesuit missionaries and spreading into the present day among American and European Catholics, lay and ordained alike. As Rick McDaniel writes in this important book, in seeking to understand the Japanese mind so as to know better how to convert the Japanese to Christianity, these early – and later – priests undertook Zen practice.


Although there are a number of books written on Christianity and Zen, including several by Catholic clergy, this is the first to take it from its origins with the Jesuit missionaries sent to Japan, to interviews with the many contemporary Catholic clergy – priests and nuns both – who maintain their Catholic faith and practice and find it enhanced by their Zen training. Many of these men and women have done extensive Zen practice under recognized Zen masters and have become authorized themselves to teach Zen practice – and see no conflict with their Christian faith. The author himself was raised Catholic and has practiced Zen for several decades, thus having a unique background through which to explore the congruencies between the two, and his research has resulted in some fascinating insights into the accord between the two religions. Read on!
– From the foreword by Ven. Mitra Bishop, Abbot, Mountain Gate


Catholicism and Zen cover McDaniel


Overture in Montreal


Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle & Koun Yamada

William Johnston & Thomas Merton

Thomas Hand

Ruben Habito

Willigis Jäger

Elaine MacInnes

Intermezzo: A Conversation with Bodhin Kjolhede

Maria Reis Habito

Pat Hawk

Greg Mayers

Robert Kennedy

Janet Richardson

Day Star Zendo

Oak Tree in the Garden

Finale in Oaxaca




Rick McDaniel’s Catholicism and Zen offers a glimpse into the experience of Zen through the eyes of Catholic teachers, lay, clergy, and religious. Based on a series of interviews with Catholic practitioners of Zen, it offers insight into a complementary relationship that can exist between Zen and the Catholic spiritual experience. For the Catholic who has little experience of Zen, this work provides an accessible introduction.
Father John Jennings, Dept of History (Ret.), Saint Thomas University, Fredericton


Rick McDaniel’s study, interviews, and writing shed an abundance of light on all that many of us have learned thus far from the West. Deep gratitude is offered to Rick as we continue to make use of much of what he has unearthed from the East.
Sr. Pascaline Coff, OSB, Benedictine Sisters Our Lady of Rickenbach


Reading Catholicism and Zen you’ll hear categories collapsing – Christian/Buddhist, East/West, and mysticism/daily life. Rick McDaniel brings to life a most remarkable development in religion through the real-life stories and perspectives of women and men engaged in the spiritual quest who discover and enliven the meaning and form of awakening beyond traditional constrictions.
Dosho Port Roshi, Nebraska Zen Center



Rick McDanielRichard Bryan McDaniel taught at the University of New Brunswick and Saint Thomas University before starting a 27-year career in International Development and Fair Trade. He is the creator of the YMCA Peace Medallion. A long time Zen practitioner, he lives in Fredericton, NB. This is his fifth book in a series on the evolution of Zen Buddhism as it moved from China to Japan and the West.


His other two books published by Sumeru are The Third Step East: Zen Masters of America and Cypress Trees in the Garden: The Second Generation of Zen Teaching in America.

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