Practical Buddhism

Recently, I’ve been reading some old books of mine about the life of Honen, a 12th century Japanese-Buddhist monk who started the Pure Land movement in Japan which includes Jodo Shu and Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Honen had a pretty eclectic following: from nobility in the elite Fujiwara family, to prostitutes, ex-monks, etc. In one famousContinue reading “Practical Buddhism”

Buddhist Portable Altar

A few years ago, during our last trip to Japan before the Pandemic, we came to the famous Buddhist temple of Zojoji: one of two head temples of the Jodo Shu sect. My wife and I like Zojoji in particular, and since it is right next to the famous Tokyo Tower, it is always worthContinue reading “Buddhist Portable Altar”

Jodo Shu: Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice

The 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Shandao (pinyin: Shàndǎo, 善導, 613-681) is probably the single most influential monk in the entire Pure Land Buddhist tradition. Both Japanese and Chinese traditions claim him as a patriarch of their respective lineages. Shandao taught an interpretation of the Pure Land that was much less ambiguous and more accessibleContinue reading “Jodo Shu: Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice”

Pure Land Buddhism at Large

Recently, I took some personal time to delve deep into Pure Land Buddhist teachings, re-reading some old books, but also some new ones. In particular, I was very impressed by Charles B Jones’s latest book, an excellent survey of the entire Pure Land tradition in Mahayana Buddhism. If you’re not familiar with Pure Land Buddhism,Continue reading “Pure Land Buddhism at Large”

Eye on the Prize

“We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan I stumbled upon this great quotation by Oscar Wilde and somehow it reminded of a much, much older poem but a Japanese-Buddhist monk named Hōnen (法然, 1133 – 1212). The poem is titledContinue reading “Eye on the Prize”

Happy Birthday, Honen!

Today, April 7th in the Japanese-Buddhist calendar, is a holiday called Shūso Gōtan-e (宗祖降誕会) which celebrates the birthday of a monk named Honen (法然, April 7, 1133 – February 29, 1212). Ostensibly, Honen was a monk of the Tendai sect in Japan, but went on to be a founder of the Jodo-Shu or “Pure Land”Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Honen!”

Reciting The Nembutsu in 3 Easy Steps!

The nembutsu (念仏),1 whose origins and doctrinal place within Buddhism I’ve written about here, is the central practice for Pure Land Buddhists across all of East Asia. However, today I am focusing on the Jodo Shu sect’s practice specifically. I decided to write this post after I discovered recently that an old English language siteContinue reading “Reciting The Nembutsu in 3 Easy Steps!”

Buddhism for Everyone: the Pure Land Gate

One of my favorite stories about the life of Honen, the 12th century Buddhist monk who started the Pure Land Buddhist movement in Japan is from his time of exile in 1207. From the capitol (modern day Kyoto) he and many followers were banished to the hinterlands, a common punishment at the time. In Honen’sContinue reading “Buddhism for Everyone: the Pure Land Gate”

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”

The Power of Goodwill and the Nembutsu

From time to time, I am reminded of the importance of goodwill, or metta, in Buddhism, and as an example of this the famous Circle of Hierocles, which I wrote about here. Lately, I’ve been inspired to recite the nembutsu1 not so much as a personal practice but for the sake of sharing a bitContinue reading “The Power of Goodwill and the Nembutsu”