The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang

One of the most important figures in Buddhism and East Asian history, arguably, is also one of the least known outside of some cultural circles. I am talking about a famous Chinese monk named Xuan-zang (玄奘, 602 – 664).1 Recently, I found an old, but fascinating book on my shelf I had forgotten about, titledContinue reading “The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang”

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Hello Readers and Happy New Year! In Japanese, people greet each other for the first time using the stock phrase akemashite omedetō gozaimasu (明けましておめでとうございます) which means something like “congrats on the opening of a new year”. Note that Japanese New Year is based on Chinese New Year, but since early industrialization period, the Meiji Period,Continue reading “Happy Year of the Rabbit”

Consulting Yi Jing the Dungeons and Dragons Way!

In my high school years, I was exploring many different facets of spirituality before I finally settled on Buddhism in my early twenties, and that included divination and other things. I dabbled in Tarot with a friend, but later took up the Yi Jing after finding a book at my local Waldenbooks bookstore. Even nowContinue reading “Consulting Yi Jing the Dungeons and Dragons Way!”

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”

Making A Good Impression

In 17th century China there lived a Buddhist monk named Ouyi Zhixu1 (蕅益智旭, 1599–1655) who wrote a famous commentary on the Amitabha Sutra called the Mind Seal of the Buddhas (阿彌陀經要解, Ā mí tuó jīng dài jiě, lit. “Commentaries on the Amitabha Sutra”). I have linked a PDF of it here. Ouyi lived during aContinue reading “Making A Good Impression”

The Five Tone Nembutsu

Lately, I’ve been reading about an important Japanese-Buddhist figure in the Tendai sect named Ennin (円仁 794-864) also called Jikaku Daishi (慈覚大師) posthumously. More on his life in an upcoming posts, but among his many accomplishments was to bring back from Tang-Dynasty China a practice called the five-tone nembutsu, or goé nembutsu (五会念仏).1 I hadContinue reading “The Five Tone Nembutsu”

Happy Moon Festival 2021!

The Moon Festival (中秋節), celebrated across east Asia starts tonight depending on your time zone. I got to celebrate on Animal Crossing: New Horizons by decorating my “home” with regional treats: moon cakes from China at front, colorful song-pyon from Korea on the back-right and white dango from Japan on the left. In Japan, theContinue reading “Happy Moon Festival 2021!”

Understanding Chinese Pure land Buddhism

I have been continuing my read of the new book Chinese Pure Land Buddhism (first mentioned here), and enjoying it thoroughly. This is the first helpful Buddhist book that I have read in a long time. In today’s post, I wanted to highlight an excellent passage in the first chapter on how the Pure LandContinue reading “Understanding Chinese Pure land Buddhism”

Buddhism: Gates, not Sects

Recently, I stumbled upon a particularly fascinating book on the oft-neglected subject of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism titled Chinese Pure Land Buddhism: Understanding a Tradition of Practice. This book was published in 2020, so it’s quite recent. The book seeks to clarify what defines the Chinese “Pure Land Buddhist tradition” by relying on more nativeContinue reading “Buddhism: Gates, not Sects”