Self-Help Does Not Help

Well, life tends to mitigate against complete commitment, doesn’t it? Count Saint Germain, Castlevania animated series, season 4 With the recent turmoil following my mother-in-law’s passing, life has been disrupted in many ways. All of this is temporary, but it has reminded me of how easily one’s Buddhist practice can slip. Since this started shortlyContinue reading “Self-Help Does Not Help”

The Amitabha Sutra: the Story of An Old Recording

Some time ago, I used to go to a local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple, part of the Buddhist Churches of America, and started training for ordination. This meant that I often got involved in cool research projects at the temple, which had been serving the local Japanese-American community (through thick and thin) for 100+ years.Continue reading “The Amitabha Sutra: the Story of An Old Recording”

Buddhist Hymn: Dedication of Merit

The dedication of merit at the end of a Buddhist service (at the temple, or home services) is a time-honored tradition, and you’ll see it in almost every Buddhist community in one form or another. In Japanese Buddhism, this dedicated of merit called ekō (回向) and you’ll often see it recited in more or lessContinue reading “Buddhist Hymn: Dedication of Merit”

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”

A Refutation of Exclusive-Nembutsu Buddhist Practice

Author’s Note: this was another post I found recently from my old blog, possibly something I wrote in 2013 or 2014. It was shortly after this that I decided to leave the local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist community, give up the prospect of ordination, and strike out on my own. My feelings on the subject haveContinue reading “A Refutation of Exclusive-Nembutsu Buddhist Practice”

Morning Odaimoku, Evening Nenbutsu

Japanese Tendai Buddhism, that is the Buddhist sect descended from the venerable Chinese Tiantai (天台) tradition started by Zhiyi (智顗, 538–597), has a number of interesting, not to mention pithy, teachings and phrases. Lately, I’ve been thinking about a particular phrase called asa daimoku ni yū nenbutsu (朝題目に夕念仏). In its most literal sense, it meansContinue reading “Morning Odaimoku, Evening Nenbutsu”

Genshin, We Hardly Knew You

I am happy to report that I finally finished my book on Genshin (源信, 942 – 1017), a 9th century Japanese Buddhist monk who was a big influence on later Pure Land Buddhist thought. Genshin is often referred to as a “patriarch” in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, but available information about Genshin in English (andContinue reading “Genshin, We Hardly Knew You”

There Is More To Pure Land Buddhism Than Just The Nembutsu

(Warning: Buddhist rant) Recently, I got into a debate online (that always ends well) about so-called “auxilliary” practices with some fellow Buddhists on an old, private discussion forum for Jodo Shu Buddhist teachings. The debate started after someone on the forum asked about whether visualization of Amida Buddha was permitted in Jodo Shu, and IContinue reading “There Is More To Pure Land Buddhism Than Just The Nembutsu”

A Criticism of Dharma Decline in Buddhism

In broad tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, there is a concept called “Dharma Decline”, or “The Age of Dharma Decline” or other such names. A few sutras in the Buddhist canon (out of literally hundreds) allude to this concept, but starting with the medieval period in Asia, it became a hugely influential idea that persists evenContinue reading “A Criticism of Dharma Decline in Buddhism”