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.

Love and Creation

Inspired by conversations in our last two episodes, today we discuss creativity, art, and love. What does Buddhism have to say about the creative process? Is it merely a kind of desire? Or attachment? And what about familial and romantic love? (It is almost Valentine’s Day, after all!) Classical Buddhism suggests that we ought to

Suspension of Disbelief

We’re not done with TRON yet! Well, sort of we are. We use TRON — film, art, music, anything really — as a jumping off point for discussing the suspension of disbelief. What is it about our expectations or preconceptions that sometimes get in our way, that keep us from appreciating certain kinds of films?

Buddhism and TRON

We’re going to talk about Buddhism and sci-fi again! Get ready for several episodes about sci-fi, movies, music, the creative process, and Buddhism. In this episode we talk about TRON: Legacy, a movie that probably only the two of us and, like, three other people ever saw. But it’s got specific and explicit Buddhist references.

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

Episode 51: We’re back!

It’s been six months since our last episode. Where’ve we been? What did we do all summer? Now that we’re back in the “studio,” we recap some of the stuff we’ve been working on and promise to release new episodes this fall. After a short chat about what it’s like to be a professional Buddhist,