Buddhism and music, part three

We round out our conversation about music by focusing on Shin Buddhism, starting with Shinran. It’s clear chanting was an important part of early Shin communities, and many of Shinran’s wasan (poems) have come down to us as songs still sung today. We take a brief detour to talk about Herbie Hancock before getting into

Buddhism and Music, part two

In part two of our discussion of Buddhism and music, we talk (mostly) about the potential genre of “Buddhist music.” Genre is a tricky; it raises all sorts of questions about who gets to define an artist or musician and whether or not it further divides people into camps of musical identity. But we definitely

Buddhism and Music, part one

We’ve got a long-standing interest in music; coincidentally, a listener asked us a question about music on Facebook, so we took the subject and ran with it! This is the first of three episodes dedicated to the subject of Buddhism and music. Today’s show is a general overview of the subject, both the question of

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,

Give us your best shot

Harry and I will be heading back into the recording studio soon (i.e., the kodo at the Jodo Shinshu Center) to record some new episodes to be released in December and January. We’ve got some ideas rolling around our heads for podcast topics, but we really want to know — what’s on your mind? Got

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.

Startling Superficial Soteriological Similarities

Inspired by a listener question, we explore some of the superficial similarities between Pure Land Buddhism and the monotheistic religions. After considering the difficulty of really knowing the historical origins of Mahayana Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism, let alone what sort of connections may have existed between South Asia and the Near East, we think

Buddhism and belief

Inspired by a listener question/discussion on Facebook, we tackle the issue of belief in (Shin) Buddhism, specifically when it comes to Pure Land imagery. Are we expected to believe in it in some substantive, literal sense? Or do we take it as metaphorical? Symbolic? Symbolic of what exactly? We start by suggesting that wrestling with