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Home > Teen Books > The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji

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pdf iconpages 42-43
The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji: The Life
of Zen Master Keido Fukushima
author: Ishwar Harris
foreword by: Jeff Shore
Subject(s): Grade level / Lexile measure

Eastern Religion

high school / Lexile measure: 980L

Format: Size / page count:


5.5" × 8.5" / 272 pages

ISBN: Date available:


Available now



This book is an intimate account of the life and teachings of the contemporary Zen Master Keido Fukushima. Light hearted, it shows how a living Zen master applies Zen in his life. He explains the profound message of Zen through simple, concrete teachings such as “every day is a fine day,” “be a fool,” and “with my Zen mind.” Seldom has Zen Buddhism been more engagingly conveyed to a Western audience.  The author, Ishwar Harris, has known Master Fukushima for more than thirty years and this intimacy shows in the openness and candor in their communication. The book summarizes the Master’s teachings in a manner that is accessible to a lay reader as well as to a student of Zen Buddhism.  In the spirit of one of Keido’s calligraphy pieces in English, “Watch, Touch, and Bite,” it is an invitation to befriend Fukushima and to taste his brand of Zen.

Reviews (hide/show)

“Zen mind. Many Westerners have a vague concept of what it means. Relatively few, however, will have the opportunity to meet an authentic Zen master in order to experience such a living exemplar of Zen Buddhist life. In this concise and accessible volume, Harris (Ghandians in Contemporary India) presents a rare look into the life and teachings of Roshi Keido Fukushisma, Rinzai Zen master of Tofukuji monastery and accomplished…calligrapher. Biographical details of his life form an effective background for a living demonstration and elaboration of Zen ideals: nonattachment, the precepts of mu (the state of non-ego), and focusing attention in the present. Ultimately, the book specifically aims to demystify and ‘personify’ the concepts of Zen for Western audiences (indeed one of the Master’s primary aims) and achieves this objective admirably. The book ends with an appendix of brief tributes and impressions from colleagues. Recommended for public libraries, specifically as an addition to Eastern religion collections.”
Library Journal Review
“…This book serves as a wonderfully fresh introduction to Zen for the Western reader and an inspiring glimpse into the radiance of a remarkable spiritual character. These pages offer a deep dip into the Zen tradition and we can feel the pulse of this Zen master as a flesh-and-blood human being. Fukushima Roshi can be placed in the tradition of the great Zen scholar, Professor D.T Suzuki and the late Zen Master Shibayama Roshi, in bringing authentic Zen to the West.

“In the spirit of one of Roshi Fukushima’s calligraphy pieces in English, ‘Watch, Touch, and Bite,’ this book is an invitation to befriend Fukushima and to taste his brand of Zen.”
Banyen Books and Sound
The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji: The Life of Zen Master Keido Fukushima is an enlightening insight into the inspirational life and practices of Keido Fukushima. As a biographical documentation as well as an intuitive balance of humor and Zen teachings, The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji is an informed and informative look into one of the most influential and progressive spiritual masters of his time. Very strongly recommended for the non-specialist general reader with a interest in Eastern Philosophy in general, and students of the Zen and Buddhist practices in particular, The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji is a truly memorable read.”
Internet Bookwatch
“This book is a very legible, un-idealized, honest and reliably experiential account of traditional Zen training by the distinguished Zen Master Keido Fukushima, Abbot of Tofuku-ji, one of the classical Zen monasteries in Kyoto, Japan.”
Frederick Franck, artist and humanitarian, and author of The Buddha Eye
“This delightful volume, The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji: The Life of Zen Master Keido Fukushima, introduces us to one of the most influential Zen Buddhist teachers of our time. Through this book we encounter a spiritual master and consummate calligrapher whose infectious joy and humor has inspired the devotion of his biographer, Prof. Ishwar Harris, and students. Keido Fukushima Roshi transmits the spirit and teaching of Zen through humor, as well as deep spiritual insight. This volume will contribute to the encounter of Zen Buddhism and Western culture in a positive and illuminating way.”
Alfred Bloom, Buddhist minister, scholar, and author
“There are lots of commendable books about Zen, of course, and even an increasing number by and about Zen masters, a few of them American, but most still Asian. Hence, this book by Ishwar Harris on the life and teachings of Keido Fukushima stands out not because of its subject matter, or even its structure and approach, which are straightforward. No. What we find in these pages are Zen insights that shed clear light on the human condition and modern life that are almost startling in their simultaneous simplicity and profundity. This is made possible because the relationship between the author and his subject has been ongoing for more than thirty years, and the consequent openness and candor in their communication has allowed a picture of Zen wisdom to unfold before the reader in this casual-yet-profound manner.…Ishwar’s lengthy relationship with Keido Fukushima [has] enabled him to engage in many discussions with the master in which Zen experience is explored as thoroughly as possible given the limited power of words.”
Paul Mundschenk, Western Illinois University
The Laughing Buddha of Tofukuji by Ishwar C. Harris…is very attractive…[and] will serve as a relatively easy introduction to the spirit of Zen Buddhism, especially as embodied in the life and actions of the Zen Master Keido Fukushima. That is, it has the virtue of accessibility, which is not always the case with books on Zen.”
Taitetsu Unno, Smith College, and author of River of Fire, River of Water and Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold
“Ishwar C. Harris…has created an admirable tribute to Roshi Fukushima.…Roshi Keido [Fukushima] once made a calligraphy that says ‘Hey! Throw it all away.’ That is a constant reminder to not become too attached to anything — even the pursuit of nirvana. Another one of this Zen Master’s best teachings is the slogan ‘Watch, taste and bite.’ In this metaphor, Zen is a slice of sweet pie and all that is necessary is to bite into it and enjoy. Not a bad way to read this paperback.”
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