Where exactly is the Pure Land?

By Rev. Ken Yamada

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?”

Seishinshugi: Shinshu’s Clash with the Modern World

Rev. Manshi Kiyozawa

By Rev. Ken Yamada

Today, government mandates clash with personal rights; an unprecedented rise in wealth clashes with unrelenting poverty; political upheaval, military expansionism, and redefined social mores and identity abound. In these changing times, we must ask, “Is Jodo Shinshu Buddhism relevant?”

These challenges confront us now, but they also confronted a small group of innovative Buddhist thinkers a century ago, spurring them to redefine, modernize and find meaning in Jodo Shinshu, which for the previous two centuries had stagnated and grown moribund. For their contributions, they were persecuted, some even excommunicated by their own denomination. Their writings continue to be studied, debated, and valued in understanding Shinshu today. Continue reading “Seishinshugi: Shinshu’s Clash with the Modern World”