A Brief Introduction of Yogacara Buddhism

For this year’s fall Ohigan season, I wanted to provide a brief introduction to fascinating and highly influential school of thought within Mahayana Buddhism called Yogacara (as in “yoh-ga-cha-ra”), also known as “Conscious-Only Buddhism”. I first encountered Yogacara Buddhism through a book that was translated from Japanese by Professor A. Charles Muller titled Living Yogacara:Continue reading “A Brief Introduction of Yogacara Buddhism”

Soto Zen Home Liturgy

When people think of Zen, they think of meditation, and sand gardens. And with good reason. Zen uses the Buddhist teachings as a guide, but seeks to experience first-hand what Shakyamuni Buddha experienced. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a devotional side to Zen either. As a peerless teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha pointed theContinue reading “Soto Zen Home Liturgy”

Amitabha Buddha and Gandhara

Recently, while bumbling around Wikipedia (as one does), I came upon this random by very fascinating example of Buddhist art from the Gandhara region. This is a depiction of Amitabha Buddha preaching upon a lotus throne in the Pure Land (Sukhāvatī in Sanskrit). This picture dates from the Kushan Empire, which inherited the earlier Greco-BactrianContinue reading “Amitabha Buddha and Gandhara”

Samadhi, Schamadhi

My family knows I love to eat rice and natto, or fermented soy beans, in the morning. Often with Korean kimchi. It’s a breakfast habit I started about 10-15 years ago, and never looked back. Thanks to the crunch of the pandemic, and inflation, shipments from Japan have become a trickle, and so our localContinue reading “Samadhi, Schamadhi”

The Real Treasure Was Inside Us All Along

Recently, I have been reading up on the Obaku sect (Ōbaku-shū, 黄檗宗) of Japanese Zen Buddhism: the same sect that Tetsugen was a disciple of. Obaku Zen is the third and last Zen sect to come to Japan to China, centuries after Rinzai and Soto were imported. Rinzai and Soto were both imported from ChinaContinue reading “The Real Treasure Was Inside Us All Along”

What Separates Humans from Animals

Time and again, I keep thinking back to that famous scene from the original Dune novel by Frank Herbert and the gom jabbar test. “A duke’s son must know all about poisons,” she said, “…Here’s a new one for you: the gom jabbar. It kills only animals.” Pride overcame Paul’s fear. “You dare suggest thatContinue reading “What Separates Humans from Animals”

Buddhist Practice and Being Reasonable

I found this quotation recently in the 13th century Japanese text, the Essays in Idleness, and have been giving it some thought: Someone asked the holy priest Honen how to prevent himself from being negligent in his practice by inadvertently nodding off when chanting the nenbutsu. “Chant for as long as you stay awake,” answeredContinue reading “Buddhist Practice and Being Reasonable”