Delusion of Name and Form

Wheel of Life

By Rev. Ken Yamada

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”

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?”

The Eastern Buddhist: A Century of Shinshu Studies

By Rev. Ken Yamada

A century ago, Jodo Shinshu began transforming its image from beliefs in superstition and the supernatural towards teachings addressing modern day problems, bolstered by efforts of a new academic journal called The Eastern Buddhist. Today, the journal remains an active voice in English, clarifying Shinshu teachings, along with various other Buddhist traditions. Continue reading “The Eastern Buddhist: A Century of Shinshu Studies”

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Koan


By Rev. Miki Nakura

(Renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh passed away this month in Vietnam at age 95.)

I once visited Thich Nhat Hanh’s Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York. When I was about to leave, a friend gave me a calligraphy written by the famous teacher that said, “The Pure Land is here and now.”

I immediately thought, “Oh, this is a koan (Zen riddle) that Thich Nhat Hanh is giving me.” The koan asked, “Miki, what does Pure Land mean to you? Continue reading “Thich Nhat Hanh’s Koan”