Buddhism, Belief and Interpretation

Jumping off from our conversation about utopia and Star Trek from our last episode, this time around we’re diving deep into questions of belief and interpretation and how to approach the mythological aspects of Shin Buddhism. What do we do with this tradition whose cosmology appears, at face value, to be so far removed from

Pure Land Diversity

In response to a listener question, we discuss the variety of Pure Land practices outside the Shin and Japanese traditions. We begin by noting that Honen and Shinran set up distinct schools and institutions devoted to a single Pure Land practice (nenbutsu) whereas across the Buddhist world, Pure Land is best understood not as a

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 sci-fi (part one)

This week, Harry and Scott take up the topic of Buddhism and science fiction, inspired in part by our off-hand conversation about Cthulhu from a couple weeks back and in part by Harry reading Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the novel that in turn inspired the movie Blade Runner. (Spoiler alert!

Listener question: where are all the bodhisattvas?

A listener writes in with an extremely interesting question: if Jodo Shinshu claims that when you go to the Pure Land you come back to this world as a bodhisattva, where are all these bodhisattvas?! This begs a lot of questions and raises a lot of issues about Jodo Shinshu Buddhism with the most obvious


One of the issues that came up for us in our post-modern conversations was the idea that here in the post-modern world, we’re all free to choose whatever religion we want, to choose whatever we want to believe or practice — which raises the specter of heresy! In this episode, we talk about Buddhist heresy