Teachers, Authority, and Community

Let’s pick up where we left off; last time we discussed how contemporary Shin Buddhists can make the teachings and practices applicable to modern life, balancing tradition and change. This raises the important question of how one can determine whether or not a particular interpretation of the Buddha Dharma is in line with traditional or

Tradition and Change

Prompted by a listener who’s interested in how Buddhist teachings and practices change over time, in this episode we take up the tension between maintaining tradition versus adaptation to new circumstances. Whereas one could argue that we should look to Shinran as the final authority on what the orthodox Shinshu teaching or practice should be,

Is compassion possible?

Today we go down the rabbit hole of the Tannisho, the so-called razor text of Shin Buddhism, a text that can cut away misunderstandings, or be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands! Specifically, we’re talking about compassion and the question of whether or not great compassion is even possible. In Chapter Four of the Tannisho,

Media Representations of Buddhism

In this episode, Scott complains about the media! Seriously, though, bouncing from the last episode that dealt with the commodification and commercialization of Buddhism, we now deal with the related issue of media representations of Buddhism and Buddhists. How is Buddhism represented in the media, and what we can learn about Buddhism via these representations?


Someone tried to sell some shoes with an image of the Buddha on them. And, boy, were Buddhists mad about it! This is our jumping off point for a discussion about commercialization and the commodification of Buddhism. Should Buddhists be offended or angry when corporate or commercial ventures try to sell products with images of

Hardcore Shin Buddhist Practice

A couple episodes back, we tossed out this idea, off the cuff, of hardcore practice. We finally get to it now, asking directly, what is hardcore Shin Buddhist practice? Of course, this raises the important question of what is Shin practice? What do Shin Buddhists actually do? Is it all the temple stuff, Sunday services,

Shin Buddhism 101

We’ve been inspired. A listener wrote in asking for the basics of Shin Buddhism? Could we do a sort of Jodo Shinshu 101 episode? And we thought, well, we can try. This is a great question and in an effort to help clear up misconceptions and to help folks know more about Shin Buddhism, we’d

Institutionalism, anti-institutionalism

We pick up our conversation from last time about the attrition problem in American Shin Buddhism, its possible causes, and solutions. This time we focus on our listener’s suggestion that there is an essential anti-institutionalism within Shin Buddhism. We’re on the fence on that one; we want to be cautious about reading too much of

Listener question: challenges facing the BCA

A listener wrote in to ask about the problem of attrition in the Buddhist Churches of America (or Jodo Shinshu more generally) and suggested a few possible doctrinal reasons for declining membership including Shinran’s seemingly anti-institutional and anti-ritualistic understandings of Buddhism. Harry and Scott tackle these questions starting with the assumption that membership is declining.