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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Ichinen-sanzen (part two)

In this episode, we continue our conversation on ichinen-sanzen, but take the conversation up a notch. We’re wrestling with some difficult issues in Buddhist philosophy; namely, if we understand samsara to be the realm of delusion and defilements and nirvana to be a purified realm, how do we reconcile this dichotomy with a generally non-dualistic …

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Ichinen-sanzen (part one)

Rev. Harry brings up the complex idea of ichinen sanzen — three thousands things in a single thought moment — from Tendai (Tiantai) Buddhism. In short, ichinen sanzen says that each thought moment contains within it all of existence — wait, what? How does all of existence exist within each thought moment? Whose thought moment? …

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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 …

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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 …

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Listener questions: no-self and universal Buddhism

Prompted by another listener question, we start off clearing up some issues about the “no self” or “anatman” doctrine in Buddhism. Does it mean “no soul”? Short answer, yes with an if; long answer, no with a but. In short, there is a world of difference between the question of a soul in a Christian …

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Reincarnation: part two

In our second conversation about reincarnation, we start off discussing the how the current Dalai Lama’s position is predicated on the belief that he is the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama and how his reincarnation and the reincarnation of other Lamas creates a certain amount of consternation for the government of the People’s Republic …

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Reincarnation: part one

In the first of two episodes on the endlessly entertaining topic of reincarnation, we start off talking about whether reincarnation really is even a part of Buddhism (we say yes!) and pop-cultural ideas about rebirth (we reject them!). But getting into the nitty-gritty of it all, we discuss how reincarnation can be possible even with …

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Karma: part two

In the second installment of our conversation on karma, we start with a critique of Sharon Stone’s comments on karma, the Chinese government, and earthquakes, exploring the problems with her essentialist claims. We don’t linger there long, though, and wander off to discuss good versus evil karma and whether or not those who do intentionally …

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Karma: part one

One of the many words from Indian philosophy that has found its way into modern English, the concept of karma is often equated with a kind of fatalistic good (or bad) fortune. Our conversation today covers a lot of ground, from popular (mis)conceptions of what karma means to the relationship of karma to reincarnation and …

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