Real World Buddhism articles attempt to show how Buddhism is all around us everyday, and particularly in contemporary media such as TV news, magazines, motion pictures, music and books.This continues the theme of The Living Dharma Website itself, which is that the Dharma, or the teachings of Buddhism, come alive for us when we make the connection to our everyday world; here, today, now.If you have any suggestions for this page, or questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail us.
A Buddhist Interpretation of "My Grownup Christmas List": This ever-popular song is, of course, a “Christmas song,” but to Peter Hata, this song isn’t really about Christmas; it expresses key Buddhist themes, themes that are not only important during the holidays, but year-round and indeed, life-long.
Steve JobsConnecting the Dots: Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computer, passed away on October 5, 2011, and there were global expressions of sadness and naturally, gratitude for all his cool inventions. But as great as Steve’s technological accomplishments were, this essay discusses his 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University. It is quite possible that generations from now, Steve will be remembered for his commencement address. In this talk he shared the Buddha-dharma itself.
An Open Letter to the Buddhist Community: At the Conference of Western Buddhist Teachers, which included the Dalai Lama, 22 Western teachers discussed several key issues relevant to all Buddhist traditions seeking to share the Dharma in the West.
How We Can Help Our Earth: Emerging trends in our environment appear to be warning signs that we can no longer take our planet's natural resources for granted; we must strive now to establish a sustainable future.
Peace, Harmony, and Co-existence: Rev. Kodo Umezu, Director of the Jodo Shinshu Center’s Center for Buddhist Education, was invited to give a talk at the United Nations, a very auspicious occasion. Buddhism, specifically Shin Buddhism, is slowly becoming more well-known internationally.
Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS: Aiko Enoki shares her experiences in the Theravada Buddhist country of Thailand and in India, the birthplace of Buddhism, where she learned about human trafficking and modern-day slavery as a member of a two week Global Exchange reality tour organized by Cal State Los Angeles’ social work department. As she movingly relates, "My summer travels were full of lessons, thought-provoking experiences, and meaningful relationships."
Encountering the Dharma in Christianity: Dr. Dickson Yagi, an ordained Baptist minister, gave a talk at West Covina Buddhist Temple on “Buddhist Verses in the BibleNo-Self.” It may surprise people to know that there are such verses in the Bible, yet it is so.
Departures: This film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film of 2009, and is a heartfelt movie that follows a similar storyline to the book it is based on, Coffinman, by Shinmon Aoki. The film presents the Nembutsu teaching in a very emotional and dynamic manner. As reviewer Michael Jitosho states, "I felt refreshed after the movie was over, having encountered the Dharma in a different form and with a new understanding. Essentially, I was able to watch the teachings of the Nembutsu unfold in the life of this mortician."
An Inconvenient Truth: In her review of Al Gore's movie, Carol Shimizu states, "As a Buddhist, this movie drove home the idea of 'cause and effect' and 'selflessness,' that what we do now has an effect on others. We may not be around to personally witness the effects first hand, but our children and their children will. It may be an 'inconvenience' to recycle or to purchase a hybrid car as opposed to a slick sports car or SUV, but in being selfless, we can affect millions of lives."
Steve Jobs Commencement Address: Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and Pixer Studios, who recently came close to death from pancreatic cancer, addressed the 2005 graduating class of Stanford University with the wisdom, "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it...Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true...Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life."
Construction Begins for New Jodo Shinshu Center: In May 2005, the Buddhist Churches of America held a ground-breaking ceremony for their new $14 million Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, California. Given the slow pace of change in the first century of Jodo Shinshu in Americawhich has led to declining membershipwhat seems most significant about the BCA's new center is the massive scale of the project and the corresponding decisiveness of the leadership behind it.
Higashi Honganji Celebrates 100 Years in Los Angeles: In a recent LA Times article covering Higashi's auspicious anniversary, Shin Buddhist leaders concerned about the future of Shin in America point out the need to "loosen our ties to Japan and focus on the universal aspects of Buddhism," and to produce homegrown ministers with "an American cultural IQ."
Jodo Shinshu and the Challenge of America; America and the Challenge of Jodo Shinshu: Frederick Brenion discusses the challenges facing Jodo Shinshu in America and also identifies both the personal and social/political "challenge" of Jodo Shinshu: "I have come to appreciate the depths of the Dharma in the Pure Land teaching. I have come to see this teaching is for broken people and for broken countries..."
Anti-War Statement by the Federation of Shinshu Buddhism: Bishop Takeno states "Sakyamuni Buddha expounded a world that is free of soldiers and the use of armaments. In addition, our founder, Shinran Shonin, taught us, 'May there be peace in the world and the Buddha's teaching spread,' which tells us to revere all life and together, build towards a world that is free of conflict."
Groundhog Day: Groundhog Day is a Buddhist movie because of the "transformation" of the main character, played by Bill Murray. He becomes, as we would say in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, "a true human being," as opposed to the self-centered and arrogant person he starts out as.
Jedi-Shinshu/The Buddhist Heart of Star Wars: In his fascinating review, Frederick Brenion looks at the actions of Luke, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan and Yoda from a Jodo Shinshu perspective revolving around the key concepts of jiriki (self-power) and tariki (other-power).
Ratatouille: Frederick Brenion's review of the recent Disney film uncovers a valuable Buddhist teaching offered by the main character of Remy. As the review states, "In three simple words, 'Change is nature,' Remy captures the heart of Buddhist teachings about life."
Buddhism and Music/Traditional to Contemporary: West Covina Buddhist Temple's talented teen Lotus Band teamed up with jazz guitarist Peter Hata to present this one-of-a-kind lecture series on the contemporary expression of Buddhism in both music and film
American Beauty/A Movie Review by Peter Hata: This is a troubling film, because it critically examines the core values of our American middle-class lifestyle and dares to ask, "Is this really living?" But it’s also a beautifully moving film because the Kevin Spacey character, as someone who goes all the way to the "other shore," shares with us his extraordinarily relevant insights.
WCBT's Autumn Ohigan Service features Memorial Service for World Trade Center Victims: Rev. Ken Kawawata and Rev. Marvin Harada share the Buddhist perspective on this troubling event.
On Insight and Compassion: In light of the World Trade Center tragedy, Rev. Patti Nakai of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago discusses the real meaning of the Paramita of kshanti.
Statement of Sympathy with the victims of September 11, 2001: Read the letter sent by the ministers of Higashi Honganji's North American District to President Bush
Sharon Stone: Balancing Religion and Acting, Buddha and God: Actress Stone recalls a turning point in her life and how Buddhism and her belief in God coexist in her life.
"The Living Dharma Website": Reprinted from the Rafu Shimpo Newspaper, this article details the creation of this website and examines why interest in Buddhism often appears to be increasing everywhere but at our Shin Buddhist temples.
Thich Nhat Hahn Speaks on Suffering: The great Vietnamese Zen Buddhist shared his insights at a recent Santa Barbara retreat
Buddhism in Popular Movies and Songs: This essay juxtaposes examples from famous movies and songs with similar quotes from our traditional explanations of Buddhist teachings. Is the correlation mere coincidence?
Buddhism in the Southland: Excerpts from an LA Times story on interesting trends in "American Buddhism."
Rev. Ken Tanaka Calls for "Engaged Pure Land Buddhism": Rev. Tanaka calls for a fundamental change in the attitudes of American Shin Buddhists.
The Dalai Lama on "Education and the Compassionate Heart": The Dalai Lama's wise advice to the graduating class of Emory University
Richard Gere on Compassionate Action: In these excerpts from a recent interview, Gere gives us a fascinating insight into the true basis for his activism
The Dalai Lama Makes Historic Visit to Japan: A report on the First World Buddhist Propagation Conference
Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun: Two contemporary movies tell the story of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism Makes The Cover of Time Magazine: A review of the October 13, 1997 Time Magazine Cover Story
"A Place to Heal, A Place to Grow": Excerpt from the Newport Beach Daily Pilot on West Covina Buddhist Temple's sister temple in Newport Beach.
Wayne Shorter Finds Buddhism Helpful: Excerpt from People Magazine
Richard Gere on Buddhism: A "Totally Reliable System"
"Hannah and Her Sisters": Is Woody a Buddhist?
Buddhism For Today: Timely quotes relating to how we perceive "controversial" events in the news.
"Little Buddha" (the movie): Perhaps Keanu Reeves' best role?
The Twilight Zone/"A Nice Place to Visit": An illustration of impermanence.
One World Toys: A "90's" toy store in New York City.
"It's A Wonderful Life" Review: A review by Peter Hata of the classic movie featuring Jimmy Stewart, but from a Buddhist perspective.
"It's A Wonderful Life" Review #2: Here is another, more in-depth review of this great movie by Rev. Marvin Harada.
Thanks to Crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia: This essay expresses gratitude to the crew of Columbia, as well as all to our astronauts, for sharing with us their unique insights, gained from seeing the "big picture" high above the Earth.