Shuichi Maida (1906–1967) was born in the city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. When young, his teachers regarded him as a scientific genius. But when he was eighteen, he attended a three-day Buddhist lecture by the Rev. Haya Akegarasu (1877–1954), an eminent Shin Buddhist teacher. Maida was so deeply impressed by Akegarasu that he lost interest in science and started to read books on religion and philosophy. Maida considered this meeting with Akegarasu the most important event of his life. Maida entered the University of Kyoto and majored in Western philosophy. He studied under Dr. Kitaro Nishida (1870–1945), probably the most eminent philosopher in modern Japan, who interpreted Buddhist (particularly Zen) ideas by using Western philosophical concepts. Maida became an English teacher at a high school in Kanazawa, his hometown. Then at age thirty-one he became a professor at the Teachers’ College in Nagano, where he taught Buddhist philosophy. Having taught at the teachers’ college for six years, he returned to Kanazawa and became dean at the Women’s Teachers’ College there in 1943. It was when the Second World War was at its peak. When the war ended in August 1945 some of Maida’s students at the Teachers’ College in Nagano, who had returned home from their military services, asked Maida to come back to Nagano and teach them Buddhism. In January 1946 the forty-year-old Maida abruptly quit his job at the college in Kanazawa and went back to Nagano. He lived the most dynamic and creative life. Without any concern for fame or wealth he engaged in various activities, such as studying with small study groups consisting of several people, holding annual retreats, and publishing a monthly journal. He did not receive any Buddhist ordination and had no official affiliation with any sectarian establishment. He was a prolific writer, producing more than ten thousand pages during the last twenty years of his life. Maida says that his first love was Shakyamuni Buddha. He says that he studied various Eastern and Western thinkers because they all enabled him to understand what Shakyamuni taught. His final work is entitled the Face to Face with Shakyamuni. It is Maida’s commentary on the Sutta-Nipata, one of the earliest Buddhist texts that are said to contain the original teachings of Shakyamuni. In this commentary Maida expressed his joy of having met Shakyamuni and Rev. Akegarasu who, he says, most clearly showed him who Shakyamuni was.
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