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

(credit: plumvillage.org)

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”

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”

Year End: A Time to Reflect

By Rev. Ken Yamada

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.

But aren’t these merely random markers of time? After all, each day flows mostly indistinguishable from the next. Continue reading “Year End: A Time to Reflect”