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

Buddhism and humanity

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,

Individual practice, community practice

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

Buddhism and Humanism

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

Live show part two: nembutsu and music

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

Seven Masters (part three): is Cthulhu one of the seven masters?

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

Listener question: where is the Vow?

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

Live show part four: marriage and politics

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

Live show part three: abortion and shinjin

In part of three of the live show series, our first question has to do with Shin Buddhism’s stance on aborted fetuses. Scott cleverly ducks the question but Harry provides some interesting insight into the Japanese ritual of mizuko kuyo (water baby ceremony) and the efficacy of ritual in Shin Buddhist context. Our second question