No-self, again!

A little while back we did an episode on no self and identity — and what do you know? It was wildly popular. Go us. So we decided to come back to the issue. But we’re not gonna deal with identity; we’re just going to do a deep dive into no self. This deep dive

Buddhist Ethics

Picking up where we left off (in our D&D episode), we wrestle again with the questions and challenges of Buddhist ethics. We begin with the assumption that a basic Buddhist ethical framework is based on compassion and informed by the wisdom of seeing the world clearly, as it is. But this clarity of vision is

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

Japanese Buddhism

In response to a bunch of listener questions that we thought would be pretty straightforward, we bring you several episodes to discuss, first, the differences between Japanese Buddhist schools of Jodo Shu, Jodo Shinshu, and Nichiren. What unites these traditions are their founders’ experiences in the Tendai tradition and eventual dedication to a single path

Good and Evil

Okay. Some big questions this time around, none of which we’re gonna answer but we have a good time talking around the issues. Does (Shin) Buddhism give us a way to act? Are there guidelines on how to be good and avoid evil? Is it right to even judge persons as good and evil or

Tariki, Jiriki (Shin and Zen, part three)

Just gonna say it up front: Harry’s on fire in these episodes, saying some profound stuff! In this final installment of our reflections on Shin and Zen practice, we take up the issue of other-power/self-power. We dive right into the deep and complicated issues about the nature of the self, what’s at stake in the

Shin and Zen Practice, part two

We take up the issue from last time, wandering around the historical circumstances of exclusive practice, Kamakura-era Buddhist schools, deal with how the context in which one practices matters, ritual efficacy, heresy, and whether there’s really a difference between zazen and nembutsu. We don’t really answer the question of whether or not one can combine

Buddhism and magic

We’re not talking about magicians, we’re talking about ritual and whether or not there is some efficacious power inherent in Buddhist ritual practice. Ritual is often derided by modern folks or rejected explicitly as not a part of Buddhism, distinct from practice proper. But there’s ritual throughout Buddhist history and practice, and ritual serves an

Buddhism and music, part three

We round out our conversation about music by focusing on Shin Buddhism, starting with Shinran. It’s clear chanting was an important part of early Shin communities, and many of Shinran’s wasan (poems) have come down to us as songs still sung today. We take a brief detour to talk about Herbie Hancock before getting into

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