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”
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.”
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”
As the year ends, let’s reflect on the importance of time.
This week, there are two important Buddhist services marking time—the Year End service and New Year’s Day service. I stress the term “Year End” (instead of New Year’s eve) because it’s a time to look back on the past year and think about all that has happened. The New Year’s Day service commemorates a beginning and starting out fresh.
A friend of mine was enjoying his life—he was intelligent, had a good career and a happy home life. Then, as he said, “cancer happened.” Without treating his particular form of blood cancer, a doctor gave him three years to live. He said, “I crumbled and wept upon hearing those words.” Continue reading “Illness is my friend”