Tradition and Change

Prompted by a listener who’s interested in how Buddhist teachings and practices change over time, in this episode we take up the tension between maintaining tradition versus adaptation to new circumstances. Whereas one could argue that we should look to Shinran as the final authority on what the orthodox Shinshu teaching or practice should be,

Is compassion possible?

Today we go down the rabbit hole of the Tannisho, the so-called razor text of Shin Buddhism, a text that can cut away misunderstandings, or be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands! Specifically, we’re talking about compassion and the question of whether or not great compassion is even possible. In Chapter Four of the Tannisho,

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.

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

A Buddhist view of History

For some reason, we thought we’d start talking about the Seven Masters. But we get immediately sidetracked by Herbert G├╝enther, a Buddhist scholar who wrote about the Madhyamaka and Yogacara schools of Buddhism. Interestingly, his discussion of the development of these schools isn’t exactly historically accurate from a Western point of view — but it

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?