Jodo Shinshu Buddhism is welcoming, open, and holds no secrets. Yet, some people follow a “secret” kind of Shinshu, off-limits to outsiders.
Such groups existed ever since Shinshu’s founder Shinran Shonin’s time. Called by various names, including “hiji bōmon” (secret dharma) and urahōmon (hidden teachings), members follow a tight-lipped tradition of closed-door gatherings, obscure rituals, evangelical-like sermons, and teachings considered heretical by major Shinshu denominations. Noted Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki reputedly as a child underwent a secret dharma ritual, following his mother, who was a member. Such groups still are active today in Japan. Continue reading “Secret Shinshu”
In today’s social media world, image is everything. Becoming an influencer, garnering “likes” and followers, evoking vibes of “Cool,” “Young,” “Rebel,” “Rich,” “Happy.”
Is it really? Or just illusion? What makes such images appealing to us?
The Buddha contemplated this phenomenon more than two millennium ago and called it, “name and form” (Sanskrit: nāma-rūpa). In other words, our minds attach names to objects (and vice versa), giving what we see real existence. Consequently, desires arise, and along with them, passions. Continue reading “Delusion of Name and Form”
Under the Founder’s Hall Gate at Higashi Honganji’s mother temple in Kyoto sits a large wooden box. Such boxes, which seem to contain money, sit near the two main temples, at the foot of each hall’s front steps, and elsewhere on the temple grounds. They are “donation boxes.”
People who come to worship put donations in these boxes and gently place their hands together in gassho, a prayer like position. Giving “alms” is a common practice in Christianity and other religions, but what does it mean for Shin Buddhists? Continue reading “Donation Boxes at Temples”
Feeling lonely? I think the emergence of COVID-19 cut off our gatherings and made our loneliness more apparent. I too became aware of my loneliness and its restrictions. For many elderly, their sense of loneliness was magnified when no one could visit them.
When temple visitors ask, “Where’s the Pure Land,” I usually say, it’s in “a state of mind.” Is that correct? Many people thought differently, and some were persecuted for their views.
Even today, some Jodo Shinshu followers think when they die, they’ll go to the Pure Land, comforted by the thought of reuniting with deceased loved ones. For hundreds of years in Japan, such beliefs were common.
Nowadays it’s absurd to think the Pure Land exists as a real place. There’s no proof and it’s never been scientifically verified. But just 150 years ago, a debate erupted over the Pure Land’s actual existence. Continue reading “Where exactly is the Pure Land?”
Frederick Brenion embraced Christianity whole-heartedly growing up and was an insatiably curious teenager. He became interested in world religion and sacred books. Yet, big questions nagged him: “What is truth?” “Who am I?” “Why am I?” Turns out, a children’s story held the key. Continue reading “Profile: Rev. Frederick Brenion”