Race

One more episode recorded in October before the election but on a topic that will most certainly continue to be of importance in the year ahead – race, racism, and American Buddhism. This one’s a bit heavy, wherein we discuss the problems of discussing race in public discourse and the social and legal construction of …

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstract_nouns/8524594608/

Social Justice, part two

One of the issues that came up in our last conversation was the idea of “original enlightenment,” or the idea that from an enlightened point of view, everything’s equal. Today we take up some of the consequences of this view; do we use this idea as a way to minimize, dismiss, or disregard the experiences …

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Social justice, part one

Is the BCA silent on issues of social justice? For many, it might seem like there’s no Shin Buddhist public voice in the American  discourse on Buddhism and social justice. We’ve been asked several times about this, so today is part one of a larger conversation about Shin Buddhism and social justice. We start by …

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Random Buddha sticker on a telephone pole in Berkeley.

Why do Shin Buddhist practice?

In prepping for our last episode on how to do Shin Buddhist practice, we started thinking about why people do practice and the question of motivations. The conversation starts with a reflection on a conference paper Scott heard early in the summer about Buddhism, the self-help industry, and BCA’s “Zen envy” (hat tip to James …

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Renunciation and Family

“Won’t somebody please think of the children!” This week we take up the tension in Buddhism between the ideal of monasticism, the renunciant, the solo practitioner who goes off in search of awakening versus the reality of home life, laity, and family. Our conversation is inspired, in part, by a post last fall over on …

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Buddha Bar Vow in Tokyo

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. …

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Buddhism, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness

Hey! This is our fiftieth episode! This week, we take up our conversation from last time about aspects of American culture and their intersection with Buddhism — this time, talking about freedom. What does freedom mean in an American context? And how is this more political understanding different from or similar to soteriological concerns of …

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America, Buddhism, and Individualism

Inspired by a Dharma Talk at the BCA National Council Meeting, Rev. Harry starts us off by suggesting that individualism is a point of contact between Buddhism and American culture. This seems somewhat counterintuitive given that individuality seems at odds with Buddhist ideas of interdependence, no-self, or non-attachment to the ego. But we think there …

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Live show part two: rants

In the second installment of our Live Show, we start off talking about the distinctiveness of Shin Buddhism and its difference and similarities to other types of Buddhism. This somehow sets us off on a series of rants against, among other things, The Golden Chain and universalistic Buddhism. (Our apologies to Golden Chain or One …

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