The Living Dharma Library
Memorable Dharma Talks:
Rev. John Doami: True Listening Can Change Your Life
Rev. Gregory Gibbs: The Oneness of Life
Rev. Gregory Gibbs: The Practice of Shin Buddhism
Dr. Franz Metcalf: The Meaning of Eitaikyo
Dr. Nobuo Haneda: Is America a Better Place for Buddhism than Japan?
Rev. Marvin Harada: The Universal Beat of the Drum
Rev. Marvin Harada: Message to Baby Boomers-The Best Years of Your Life Are Ahead
Rev. Peter Hata: Buddhist Modernism and the "Problem" of the Sangha
Rev. Peter Hata: Inner Awareness
Rev. Peter Hata: The Significance of Bodhi Day
Rev. Peter Hata: On Tariki
Rev. Takami Inoue: The Significance of Being Human
Rinban Nori Ito: Improving Our Relationships
Rinban Nori Ito: The True Gift of Buddhism
Rinban Nori Ito: WCBT's 40th Anniversary/A Look at the Past, Present and Future
Rinban Nori Ito: Seeing Conflicts With Clarity
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Eitaikyo, The "Perpetual Sutra"
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Finding the Middle Path
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Golf and Buddhism
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Why Do We Come To Temple?
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Remembering Rev. Saito
Rev. Ken Kawawata: Transformation
Rev. Kiyota: As You Are
Rev. Kiyota: Dream Land or Pure Land?
Rev. Kiyota: Your Fundamental Wish
Rev. Kiyota: Shotsuki, "Joyous Month"
Rev. Kodani: Be a Verb/Face the Darkside
Rev. Kodani: Discovering the Profoundly Beautiful
Rev. Kusala: Living in Community With Others
Rev. David Matsumoto: The Nembutsu as Music
Rev. Nobuko Miyoshi: The Dynamic Work of Rituals
Rev. Ryoko Osa: Two Kinds of Pure Land
Rev. Bobby Oshita: Stop Complaining
Rev. Patti Nakai: Shinran's Appreciation of Others
Rev. Patti Nakai: Still Listening to Rev. Saito
Rev. Gyoko Saito: A True Human Being/The Story of Mukaibo
Rev. Gyoko Saito: The Beans From Egypt
Rev. Gyoko Saito: The Face
Rev. Sen-ei Tsuge: The Eyes That Look Inward
Bishop Ko Yasuhara: The Heart of Reverence
Living Dharma Articles
These are essays contributed by lay members of West Covina Buddhist Temple. The word "Dharma" refers not only to the teachings of Buddhism but, especially in the case of this column, to the day-by-day experiences of our lives that teach us important lessons. That's why we say the Dharma is "living." All the Living Dharma articles seem to describe that kind of discovery or insight which results when something happens in our lives that causes us to reflect. And yet, while the experience described in each article is totally unique, somehow we can all still relate. There is a universal human element. This is what makes the Living Dharma so fascinating to read each month.
Living the Dharma, by Susan Shibuya
Searching for the Way, by Reiko Ikehara Nelson
My Life with Buddhism, Anthony Gutierrez
My Path to Buddhism, by Julie Griffith
Rude Awakenings, by Frederick Brenion
What is the Beginner's Mind?, by Peter Hata
Questions, by Claire Hansen
Not Just for Sundays, by Joanie Martinez
The Truth of Impermanence, by Mary Kato
A Natural Mix, by Christine O'Connell
The Light of the Dharma, by Peter Hata
Making Time, by Johnny Martinez
Lighting the Candle, by Carl Aoki
My Role Model, by Sherry Hashimoto
For All Ages, by Margaret Lopez
Self-Help, by Peter Hata
Buddhism Online, by Toshi
Remembering My Mother, by Cora Kikunaga
Mothers, Buddhism and Developmental Psychology, by Kurt Kowalski
My Father, The Bodhisattva, by Jon Turner
Perception, by Claire Hansen
Oye! Oyasama!, by Frederick Brenion
Looking For Your Keys, by Jon Turner
Losing Face-Saving Face, by Frederick Brenion
Death and Grief: A Personal, Psychological, and Buddhist Perspective, by Kurt Kowalski
Articles on the Future of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America
The Best Kept Secret in Buddhism: Shin Buddhism in America: Dr. Alfred Bloom reviews recent declines in American Shin Buddhist Sanghas but also clearly outlines the potential of Shin's appeal to Americans as a demanding discipline of the heart, not merely as a self-centered means to gain one's personal salvation. Shinran deeplyand realisticiallyunderstood the nature of our ineradicable egoism, and thus altered the general Buddhist assumption that enlightenment could be achieved through determined, rigorous practice. As Dr. Bloom states, "For Shinran, if salvation were possible, it is only possible by virtue of the Buddha's action, not from a practitioner's own finite, unstable mind and actions."
Growing the Sangha: Rev. Ron Miyamura, head minister of Chicago's Midwest Buddhist Temple, adds new insights regarding the issues facing our changing Shin Sanghas in 21st century America. Like most Buddhist temples located in urban centers, Rev. Miyamura notes the growing interest in Buddhism from Americans not from traditional Shin Buddhist families. As he states, "Obviously, the real growth of our Temple has to be from these non-traditional members. Additionally, it goes without saying, the future of our Temples depends on this group of new members. This is the real challenge for the next 20 years. I do not have a magic wand that I can wave to ensure our future. In recent years, we see a lot of initial interest in Buddhism, but we do not know how to transform that interest into a curiosity enough to join the Sangha."
The Issue of Deviation in the History of the Honganji: In this essay, Rev. Peter Hata discusses the issue of "deviation" as highlighted in Yuien's Tannisho and finds that, as traditions transplanted from Japan to America, both Higashi and Nishi Honganjis today must "deviate" in order for Shin Buddhism to thrive in America, if not to simply survive. However, it isn’t the message of Shinran that needs changing; it is American Shin Buddhists as its “messengers” that, while staying true to Shinran, need to creatively find new and effective ways to communicate his message here in the West.
The Pure Land in the New World: In this article, Dr. Taitetsu Unno discusses not only a concise history of Jodo Shinshu temples in America, but the "winds of change" which are creating an uncertain future for these temples. He also discusses some interesting trends that may provide a glimpse into the future.
Past, Present and Future: In this perspective on Shin Buddhism in America, Dr. Nobuo Haneda makes the key point that, unless we work together and create a new "American container" for the "universal water" of Shin Buddhism, we are not truly hearing Shinran's message.
Shinshu's Growing Pains in Hawaii: As a tradition with its language and cultural roots in Japan, Shin Buddhism is often difficult for Americans to understand. And, as Rev. Ken Yamada states, "The problems we face in helping people in America find meaning in their lives through Jodo Shinshu cannot be solved overnight...We cannot just import Shinshu as it is. Rather, Shinshu must evolve in a way that fits the culture and life experience of America."
Issues in the Propagation of Shin Buddhism in the West: In this essay, Dr. Alfred Bloom offers eight bold suggestions for a more effective propagation of Shin Buddhism, such as the importance of having a "minister of propagation," a person able to develop a philosophy of propagation, pinpoint areas where new Shin communities can be initiated, and develop strategies and programs for sharing Shin Buddhism. In addition, he suggests focusing propagation efforts outside traditional ethno-centric temples and also encouraging lay members to take a much more active role in sharing the teaching. Overall, it is crucial to be able to articulate why Shin is a meaningful way of life today. As he puts it, "The traditional Shin terms must be translated, not merely linguistically, but philosophically, into understandable and relevant religious concepts and principles for the Western mind."
Bright Light, Dark Amida: Like many Shin writers today, Rev. Jose Tirado acknowledges the need for change in our Shin temples. However, he also asks if changing the (East Asian) image of a temple's Amida to one representative of the ethnic makeup of its surrounding community might make that Shin temple more welcoming to those not of Asian descent. Ultimately, he asks, "Isn't there room for a nembutsu life that breathes and pulses, dances and celebrates, speaks in different languages, sings in various melodies and looks like different people of the world?"
"The Future of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America" Series
A series of five articles by Peter Hata, originally published in The Gateway Newsletter from June to October 1996.
Part I: The Present Situation
Part II: The Ideas of Dr. Haneda and Dr. Bloom
Part III: Why Shinshu?
Part IV: The Mahayana Mission
Part V: 21st Century Buddhism
Articles on Shin Buddhist Outreach
This series of essays, originally titled, “Sharing the Dharma With Others,” not only takes a comprehensive and critical look at the challenges facing Jodo Shinshu, most importantly, the essays focus on finding creative and practical solutions that remain true to the Buddhist teachings.
The Role of Ethnicity in BCA Temples: Lay Outreach and Propagation in 21st Century Jodo Shinshu, by Kenneth Tanaka. In this essay, Rev. Tanaka examines the sensitive issue of the deep-seated “tension” between Buddhism and the JapaneseAmerican ethnicity that characterizesand threatens the future ofthe Buddhist Churches of America (BCA).
Lay Outreach and the Meaning of “Evil Person,” by Taitetsu Unno. This essay focuses on lay outreach and how it might advance the cause of the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA).
What Accounts for the Success of Soka Gakkai? Lessons for the Renewal of Shin Buddhism in North America, by Roger Corless. Professor Corless not only documents how the SGI organization has demonstrated that large-scale institutional reform is possible; he emphasizes that the Jodo Shinshu Bishop Yemyo Imamura prophetically called for this reform more than 80 years ago.
Growing American Jodo Shinshu: Are There Lessons in the Christian Mission Model?, by Gordon Bermant. In his essay, Gordon Bermant advocates recasting the roles of both ministers and laypersons in order to foster the development of active, outward-facing Sanghas which can fulfill their Bodhisattva vows.
The Crucial Element in Outreach: Establishing a Buddhist Education Program, by Marvin Harada. Rev. Harada clarifies that a Buddhist Education program is the solution of every problem that faces the BCA's templesdecreasing memberships, lack of ministers, financial shortages, conflicts between ministers and members, are all solved through establishing a Buddhist Education Program.
Expanding Shin Buddhism in the United States, by Hoshin Seki. Hoshin Seki discusses the interesting history of his New York American Buddhist Study Center and emphasizes “going outside the box” in the propagation of Shin Buddhism.
In-Reach, by Pieper J. Toyama. This essay focuses on creating meaningful educational programs for teens, with the hope of helping them understand the importance of relationships in their lives and the role that Jodo Shinshu can play in growing those relationships.
Jodo Shinshu Outreach Efforts and Results, by Rich Wolford. Rich Wolford is the Ekoji Temple's Director of Outreach and shares his temple's outreach successes, best practices, insights, and mistakes.
WCBT Outreach Efforts
Jodo Shinshu leaders today are increasingly realizing the need to be engaged with the larger community beyond the temple's walls. But the impetus for engagement is actually not self-generated; instead, it arises naturally from listening to and reflection upon the Dharma. And the essence of the Dharma is the deep understanding that all life is one.
The San Bernardino County Museum's “Multicultural Celebration of Ancestors”: WCBT was invited to participate at this annual event, and what made the sharing of culture particularly valuable was the Museum’s “multicultural celebration” theme, which greatly enhanced our appreciation of the essential oneness of all cultures; in regards to the loss of a loved one, all traditions incorporate a spiritual dimensionwe understand that life is impermanent and therefore, precious.
Outreach and Inreach: In this essay, Frederick Brenion announces the creation of a pivotal Director of Outreach position at WCBT, but also clarifies that while the position sounds one-sided, it actually involves "inreach" as well: "As I go deeper into listening to the Dharma, deeper into learning to listen to others, as well as myself, I find at the same time, the need to express myself outward to others that which I have found through this listening."
Retreats and Seminars
WCBT 2013 Family Retreat: Interdependence: Not only did this retreat offer a refreshing escape from our urban Southern California environment to the beautifully scenic Central Coast, the weekend’s dynamic activities also provided a truly memorable glimpse into the essential truth of “interdependence.”
WCBT 2012 Family Retreat/Why Me? Why Not?: A Closer Look at the Meditation Sutra: At this retreat, Bishop Nori Ito for deepened our appreciation of the timeless story of Queen Vaidehi by revealing the link between this ancient teaching of the Buddha, our Jodo Shinshu tradition, and most importantly, our everyday lives today.
Mahayana Buddhism: Images of Liberation, Acceptance, and Adaptation to the Needs of Others: The distinguished Buddhist scholar, Dr. Luis O. Gomez, delivered a highly unique and yet also universally resonant presentation which focused on the deep meaning and sage advice contained in the Buddhist teachings.
The Tanbutsuge: A WCBT Lecture Series Featuring Rev. Marvin Harada
In the Fall of 2009, Rev. Marvin Harada of the Orange County Buddhist Church gave a moving series of lectures on the Tanbutsuge, one of the sutra chants that is part of the traditional Jodo Shinshu service. Though this sutra represents a relatively small part of the Larger Sutra (also known as the Sukhavativyuha Sutra, the key sutra of Jodo Shinshu), in many respects, it captures the essence of the Larger Sutra, and thus, of Buddhism itself. Most importantly, what Rev. Harada wanted to communicate was the deep meaning behind the Tanbutsuge.
WCBT 2011 Family Retreat/Benefitting Self and Benefitting Others: In the picturesque setting of San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple, Rev. Mas Kodani presented thought-provoking insights into the unique, non-dual teachings of Buddhism.
WCBT 2010 Family Retreat/What is a Bodhisattva?: Featured speaker Bishop Akinori Imai addressed perhaps the most important distinguishing factor of Mahayana Buddhism, which is the Bodhisattva ideal, the awakened being ("bodhi"=awakened) who devotes themselves to the awakening of others.
WCBT 2009 Family Retreat at San Luis Obispo: The History of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism
In conjunction with WCBT's auspicious 50th Anniversary, this retreat aimed to trace the development of Shin Buddhism from Shakyamuni Buddha 2,500 years ago, through the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, the Seven Shin Patriarchs, Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin, Rennyo Shonin (the restorer of the Honganji), and the founder of modern Shin Buddhism, Manshi Kiyozawa.
WCBT Family Retreat at San Luis Obispo with Dr. Franz Metcalf: Dr. Metcalf, Cal State LA professor and author of several popular books on Buddhism (among them, What Would Buddha Do?) joined the WCBT Sangha for a lively, warm and often inspiring retreat at the beautiful SLO Buddhist Temple. Utimately, Dr. Metcalf said that when we experience life with the kind of openness encouraged by Buddhism, our life can become very rich indeed.
WCBT 2005 Family Retreat at San Luis Obispo: Once again, WCBT members thoroughly enjoyed listening to Dr. Franz Metcalf's lectures and also, a weekend together as a kind of "extended family."
2003 North American District Retreat with Rev. Peter Lait: In his keynote address, Rev. Lait, a British Jodo Shinshu minister living in Japan, made the controversial declaration that he personally does not "say the Nembutsu" and that, in Japan, "Jodo Shinshu is a huge shell with nothing inside." But is it "saying the Nembutsu" or "living the Nembutsu" that is most important?
Lifestyle of the Nembutsu Practitioner: This is a talk given by Rev. Junsho Tamamitsu, which offers us valuable guidance on how to incoporate the teachings of Buddhism into our modern lifestyle and gain a deeply satisfying spiritual independence.
"Studying and Promoting Jodo Shinshu in America": Rev. Peter Lait is an Englishman who has spent the last 20 years struggling to "get" Jodo Shinshu while living in Japan. Rev. Lait, like most of us here in America, doesn't speak Japanese, yet Rev. Lait was able to be a "bridge" for us and helped us to gain a deeper appreciation of the Shin Buddhist teachings.
"Nembutsu For Dummies": at WCBT's Monrovia Canyon Park Retreat, Rev. Saito explained that our own anger can often be our best teacher
"The Changing Face of Buddhism in America"
At a recent Higashi North American District Seminar, the distinguished Dr. Taitetsu Unno, Professor of Religion at Smith College, gave a memorable talk, asking "Why do new Buddhists come to our temples?," "What should we base our temple leadership on," and "How can our deluded self be transformed?"
"Becoming True Followers of the Buddha"
The Rev. Junsho Tamamitsu of Japan gave a very deep and challenging talk at the District's Religious Committee Retreat, covering topics like "The Ten Benefits of Shinjin," "The Buddhism of Transformation," and "Developing a Fresh Self."
"Buddhism: Finding Oneness in Diversity"
At WCBT's Wilderness Park Retreat, Rinban Nori Ito showed us that opening the door to true awakening and oneness requires us to first honestly confront our true human nature.
What is the Role of Religion in the 21st Century?: History of Religion expert Dr. Michael Kerze Ph.D, a practicing Catholic and yet also highly respectful of Buddhism, gave Board of Directors from Higashi Honganji's various California temples valuable insights into Buddhism.
"North American District Conference Proves Memorable"
Featured speaker was Rev. and Dr. Shunko Tashiro of Doho University in Japan, who spoke passionately on the subject of dealing with death from the Buddhist perspective.
Higashi Honganji North American District Joint Retreat
At the recent joint retreat for all North American temples, the popular and well-known speaker Rev. Shigeshi Wada spoke movingly on "The Wish," "Life and Death Are One," "The Teaching of Awakening," "The Great Path" and "Unfolding the PureLand."
"Buddhism: The Seeker's Path"
Rev. Gyoko Saito shared his personal understanding of "the path" in Buddhism at WCBT's Family Retreat, and emphasized that it is not simply a matter of our "choice."
The Living Dharma Seminar Series
West Covina Buddhist Temple has inaugurated a great series of seminars over a two-year period with the goal of establishing a clear and modern understanding of Buddhism. The series features Dr. Nobuo Haneda of the Maida Center of Buddhism, one of the most in-demand Buddhist lecturers today.
Seminar I: Shakyamuni Buddha and Amida Buddha
Dr. Haneda focuses here on the clarifying the "Two Buddhas" of Jodo Shin Buddhism, also the core difference between Mahayana and Theravada traditions.
Seminar II: Shakyamuni and Shinran; "Is Jodo Shinshu Really Buddhism?"
In this landmark lecture, Dr. Haneda compares the essential insight of Shakyamuni, "I am impermanent," to that of Shinran Shonin, "I am evil," and definitively answers the question at hand.
Seminar III: "Modern Shinshu; Rev. Manshi Kiyozawa": In the third installment of our Living Dharma Seminar Series, Dr. Haneda gave a powerful lecture on the pivotal contributions of Rev. Kiyozawa, the "fountainhead" of modern Jodo Shinshu. Yet, as modern as Kiyozawa is, Dr. Haneda showed that Kiyozawa's awakening experience--summarized by his famous statement, "I am a December Fan"--was the same experience as Shakyamuni and Shinran.
Women In Buddhism
Women in Buddhism Series: Rev. Patti Nakai first published the following four-part series in WCBT's Gateway newsletter. Rev. Nakai passionately documents why Buddhism does not support any form of gender discrimination.
Part I: Prajapati, the First Buddhist Nun
Part II: Negative Depictions and Positive Contributions of Women in Theravada Buddhism
Part III: The Power and Participation of Women in Mahayana Buddhism
Part IV: Shinran and the 35th Vow
Women's Liberation in Buddhism: Despite the gender bias seen in the writings of some of the greatest teachers of the Buddha-Dharma (due to historic and cultural circumstances), in "Women's Liberation in Buddhism," Rev. Patti Nakai cites examples of how the Buddhist teachings can still guide women to true liberation from a "dead-end ego-centered life...into the richly unfolding path of realizing our unique potential."
Thanks to Women: In her essay, Rev. Patti Usuki not only discusses the key roles played by Shinran's wife, Eshinni, and daughter, Kakushinni, in the creation of the original Jodo Shinshu sangha and preservation of Shinran's teachings, but also how they and countless other devoted Buddhist women demonstrate that the Buddhist teaching applies to everyone without exception.
Gender Discrimination in Buddhism: In response to a female board member’s question of, “Is there discrimination against women in Higashi?,” Rev. Peter Hata notes that, while there is still a "glass ceiling" in the Higashi Honganji institution, female Buddhists today who sincerely listen to the Dharma will, without question, change the face of Buddhism just like Prajapati and Eshinni and Kakushinni did in ancient times.
Modern Shinshu: The Teachings of Kiyozawa, Akegarasu and Maida
The Tannisho: A Shin Buddhist Classic
Rev. Kiyozawa, Rev. Akegarasu and Shuichi Maida were a series of highly influential 20th Century Shin thinkers in the Higashi Honganji tradition.
Come to the Light of Unlimited Wisdom: In her essay, Rev. Patti Nakai clarifies that, though all Shin Buddhists recite Namu Amida Butsu, "Until I can be that true seeker in the third stage of being an ordinary person, my saying 'Namu Amida Butsu' has little worth, but my listening to 'Come to the Light of Unlimited Wisdom' will have great consequence for me and all the lives interconnected with mine."
An Introduction to Buddhism: Rev. Haya Akegarasu echoes the commonly-heard complaint from Buddhist seekers that, "There aren’t good teachers to guide them," but states that, while he once thought the same thing, "I realize now that the problem wasn’t that there weren’t teachers, the problem was that I wasn’t truly seeking...The way to enter the path of the Buddha-dharma is not by looking out. It is by looking in."
The Maida Center Summer Retreat 2009: "Listening-AwakeningThe Meaning of Shinjin
Regarding the process of attaining awakening or enlightenment, Rev. Patti Nakai states, "I think the Larger Sutra (the key sutra of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism) was compiled because too many people thought Shakyamuni’s enlightenment came about purely from his own efforts." Shinran Shonin's writings however, show his search to understand the actual "power," a power beyond our self-power, that leads human beings to enlightenment, that can work to "break through the stone and reveal the jewel that was hidden deep within." And, as Rev. Nakai puts it, "Shinran found his answers in the Larger Sukhavativyuha Sutra."
The Maida Center Summer Retreat 2006: "Dipping a Toe in the Treasure Ocean":
At the retreat, participants studied Shinran Shonin's Kyogyoshinsho, which Rev. Patti Nakai describes as Shinran's expression of gratitude for the teachings that brought about his transition from “provisional Buddhism”turning to religion for solutions to our problemsto "true Buddhism," to the realization that the only real problem is our self-attachment.
The Maida Center Summer Retreat 2005: “Falling Down Into Real Life”
Rev. Patti Nakai clarifies that defining “birth in the Pure Land” as “falling down into real life” may sound disappointing to those who want their Buddhism to “take them to fantastic realms far away from the dust beneath their feet.” However, after learning what this “falling down” really means, who would not want this “birth in the Pure Land?”
The Maida Center Summer Retreat 2002: The Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path"
Retreat participant and presenter Rev. Patti Nakai points out that, in presenting this famous Buddhist parable, "Dr. Haneda's aim was for us to see the parable as a description of the spiritual journey that transcends both the secular and the religious worlds, the journey experienced by Shakyamuni Buddha and the great masters throughout Buddhist history."
The Maida Center Summer Retreat 2001:
Here are two wonderful perspectives from Joanie Martinez and Jon and Linda Turner, all participants at Dr. Haneda's annual retreat in Berkeley, California.
The 2000 Maida Center Retreat: The Life and Thought of Shuichi Maida
This article, courtesy of Jon and Linda Turner, is a brief but very good summary of what was an incredible 3-day retreat. As the Turners mention in their article, "The camaraderie among the members of this retreat was quite unique. It made us realize that something very special is occurring all across America."
The 1999 Maida Center Retreat: The Life and Thought of Rev. Kiyozawa
Dr. Haneda, along with fellow speakers Rev. Saito and Rev. Nakai, "set the record straight" about Rev. Kiyozawa's enormous contribution to modern Shin Buddhism. This is a long article, but is highly recommended reading.
"Faces Brightly Shining, Rev. Akegarasu and the Eternal Life Sutra"
This is a wonderful essay by Rev. Patti Nakai which defines in plain, everyday English, what it means to be "reborn in the PureLand." A must-read.
On Karma: As Rev. Haya Akegarasu relates, "This year there might be a big snow. We might wonder, will my house survive a big snowstorm? But if it snows, let it snow. Let anything come. If it is cold, let it be cold. If it is hot, let it be hot. I will receive that heat or cold and transcend it. I will receive it as my nourishment. If someone is kind to me, let them be kind. If someone is rude to me, let them be rude. I will receive them all, and from there a new me will step forward into this world. This is to break the bonds of karma."
What is the Maida Center of Buddhism for Me?
In this wonderful essay, Dr. Haneda announces the landmark opening of his new Maida Center and movingly communicates its significance to us.
What is Hongan?
Dr. Haneda explains clearly in plain English the crucial but often misunderstood meaning of the Shin terms, "Hongan" and "Amida."
20th Century Shakamuni
What is it like to be enlightened? How does one get to that state? Rev. Patti Nakai generously shares with us her rewarding experiences at the Maida Center's first summer retreat, which gave concrete answers to those questions.
What Is a Buddhist?
Dr. Haneda discusses not only how he came to be a Buddhist and met his teacher Shuichi Maida, but also that the word "Buddhism" really means an attitude, not a set of doctrines and dogmas.
What Is Shin Buddhism?
In this key essay, Dr. Haneda clarifies not only what might be called the essential uniqueness of Shin Buddhism, but also that attaining its ultimate goal depends on having entered the "maturing stage."
What is Amida Buddha?
Is the figure of Amida Buddha, which occupies a central place on most Shin temple altars, a historical person that once lived, or perhaps even a "god?" Or is Amida actually a universal symbol with which all human beings should identify?
What is the Pure Land?
Shin Buddhism, or Jodo Shinshu is also known as "Pure Land Buddhism," and it is commonly thought that the Pure Land refers to a kind "heaven" that is only entered after death. Yet, as Dr. Haneda points out, nothing could be further from the truth, and also answers the questions "What is the power of the Pure Land?," and "Who can be born in the Pure Land?"
Shinran's View of the Two Types of Birth
Dr. Haneda discusses the two types of birth in the Pure Land, one a "preliminary birth" due to our dualistic thought that nirvana is highly preferable to samsara, and the other, a "true birth" with an awakened, non-dualistic view that in reality, "samsara is nirvana."
The Tip of the Iceberg
In this essay, Dr. Haneda uses quotes from such diverse sources as Zen master Dogen, Goethe and Isaac Newton, as well as examples from his personal life, to illustrate the true meaning of shinjin, which he calls "...the most important human experience taught in Shin Buddhism."
The Oneness of Life and Death, a book review of Coffinman
In her review, Rev. Patti Nakai says, "...in Buddhism, each death we mourn is a reminder to seek the Bodhisattva path while we have life. In Coffinman, the concrete details of the experiences and poignant feelings of one particular human being serve to encourage us both in our grief and in our seeking."
The Tannisho Homepage: In his modern translation, Dr. Taitetsu Unno, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Smith College, movingly captures the timeless essence of this Shin Buddhist classic.
The Shoshinge: Shinran's Song of the Nembutsu
The Shoshinge is a key sutra that Shin Buddhist sanghas commonly chant at every Service, and we present here Ruth Tabrah's wonderful English translation. It is an essential part of Shin teaching because in it, Shinran clarifies not only the contributions of the Seven Patriarchs of this tradition, but also that they in turn were clarifying the message of both Amida Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha. And, as Rev. Shoji Matsumoto states in his introduction, "Shinran was a radical in the same sense that Shakyamuni was. No thinker in the thirteenth century has had as direct, deliberate, and powerful an influence upon mankind as Shinran."