My New Buddhism Book!

I did it, I finally finished it. For years I wanted to write a book about Buddhism, especially Mahayana Buddhism, and each time I struggled to get past a certain point and keep point. Recently while cleaning out some files on the computer, I discovered that in early 2020, during the first months of theContinue reading “My New Buddhism Book!”

Of Burning Houses and Rain

Here is another wonderful poem (previous posts here and here) by the 11th century Japanese poetess, Lady Izumi (izumi shikibu 和泉式部 in Japanese), that I found in The Ink Dark Moon by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani: Original Japanese Romanization Translation ものをのみ Mono o nomi Should I leave this burning house 思ひの家を Omoi no ieContinue reading “Of Burning Houses and Rain”

The Shōshinge Hymn

While in Japan, my wife, kids and I attended the 49-day memorial service (details here) for my mother in law. This service was held at a neighborhood Jodo Shinshu-sect temple which my mother in law frequently volunteered, and our kids have grown up together for generations. 😌 This was the first Jodo Shinshu Buddhist serviceContinue reading “The Shōshinge Hymn”

Genshin and the Essentials of Pure Land Buddhist Practice

I continue reading my new book on the eminent Buddhist scholar-monk Genshin (源信; 942 – 1017), and one part of the book summarizes Genshin’s approach to Pure Land Buddhism: Aspiration for enlightenment. Controlling one’s conduct. Having deep faith. Being sincere. Remaining constant in one’s practice. Remaining mindful of the Buddha. Arousing the vow to beContinue reading “Genshin and the Essentials of Pure Land Buddhist Practice”

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”

The Lotus Sutra and the Pure Land: a Medieval Japanese Perspective

Page 56 of my new book highlights a common theme in early-medieval Japanese Buddhism (e.g. the Heian Period, 8th-12th c.) expressed in the writings of one Yoshihige no Yasutane (慶滋保胤, 931-1002): “Truly now, nothing takes precedence over the Lotus Sutra in making all sentient beings enter into the buddha’s insight and wisdom.  For this reason,Continue reading “The Lotus Sutra and the Pure Land: a Medieval Japanese Perspective”

What is the Nembutsu? A Not-So Brief Overview

For anyone who’s come across the Pure Land tradition in Buddhism, they will have almost certainly heard like terms “nenbutsu”, “nian-fo” and such. Pure Land Buddhism is a long, broad tradition within the even broader Mahayana Buddhism. But if I had to distill it into a 30-second explanation, the tradition is based on devotion toContinue reading “What is the Nembutsu? A Not-So Brief Overview”

Buddhist Sophistry

In the famous Chinese-Buddhist treatise, Mind Seal of the Buddhas (linked here and here), written in the 17th Century by a monk named Ouyi is the following quotation: The Pure Land [Buddhist] teaching is profound and wondrous. It destroys all sophistry and cuts off all delusive views….Those of worldly intelligence, the followers of Confucianism andContinue reading “Buddhist Sophistry”

Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers

Since this week is the Japanese-Buddhist holiday of Ohigan (lit. “other shore” お彼岸), I wanted to share a famous parable in the “Pure Land” Buddhist tradition, written by a 7th century Chinese monk named Shan-dao (善導 613-681).  This is usually called the Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path.  You can find translationsContinue reading “Buddhism and the Parable of the Two Rivers”