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.… Continue reading Listener question: challenges facing the BCA
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… Continue reading Startling Superficial Soteriological Similarities
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… Continue reading Buddhism and belief
In this episode, we wrap up our conversation about humanism and Buddhism and what the two might have to say to one another, starting off with a question about what Buddhism might say regarding the value or importance of humanity. Humanism seems to suggest that humanity is rather important. But in Buddhism we find ourselves,… Continue reading Buddhism and humanity
Even though this week's episode isn't really about humanism per se, we pick up where we left off last time, allowing Scott a moment to clarify what he meant when he said that Buddhism doesn't care about the individual. This week is really all about individual practice versus community practice, what does it mean to… Continue reading Individual practice, community practice
We're back! Using a couple of related listener questions as a jumping off point, we start a conversation about what Buddhism might have to say about (secular) humanism or what humanism might have to say about Buddhism. Apart from anything humanism may have to say about the rejection of a supernatural or religious foundation for… Continue reading Buddhism and Humanism
In the second installment of our live show, we answer two listener questions. First, we received a question about Shin Buddhist nembutsu practice and the concern that chanting the nembutsu might be something of a crutch, that while making one more calm it might distract us from very real world social problems. We frame this… Continue reading Live show part two: nembutsu and music
Continuing on in our meandering diversion from a conversation about the Shinshu Seven Masters, this episode starts right where we left off last time in a conversation about the promises and pitfalls of "one Buddhism" or a universal religion. The underlying issue here has to do with problems of difference or "otherness," something that we… Continue reading Seven Masters (part three): is Cthulhu one of the seven masters?
Inspired by a conversation amongst fans on our Facebook page, we take up the issue of vows in Buddhism. Obviously, we need to start with how vows are understood specifically in the Mahayana context, especially Bodhisattva vows. But these aren't the only types of vows in Buddhism, and we discuss different types of vows. Some… Continue reading Listener question: where is the Vow?
In the final episode of our first live broadcast, we tackle more audience questions. To get things started, we field a question about the BCA's official position on same-sex marriage (a big shout out to Rev. Briones' officiating at the wedding of George Takei and Brad Altman!). This bounces us around some questions regarding BCA's… Continue reading Live show part four: marriage and politics