Shin Buddhist Conference in Calgary

Forget the Stampede, Calgary was the place to be this summer to learn more about Shin Buddhism.

During the August long weekend, scholars from around the world attended the 13th Biennial International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies Conference. The event was hosted by Dr. Leslie Kawamura and the University of Calgary. Dr. Kawamura is also the Director of the Living Dharma Centre which is a part of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada.

The gathering was open to all sects of Pure Land Buddhism, so not everyone there was Jodo Shinshu. This made for some interesting discussions between the various forms of Pure Land teachings from several countries. There were also very creative presentations. They included one on humour in Buddhism and in particular in Buddhist texts. It was presented by a Sensei from a remote part of Australia. A very isolated Buddhist, humor was his way of coping with his situation.

Many students attended from the Institute of Buddhist Studies located in California. They were interested in discussions about the past and the present situations in Buddhism.

Following the conference, one of the delegates, Dr. Kenneth Tanaka was invited to give a special presentation at the Calgary Buddhist Temple. Dr. Tanaka wrote the book "Ocean" which has become a classic in Shin Buddhism.

His personal feelings about Amida Buddha came through as he described the beauty of the giant redwoood trees in California. He explained that to appreciate and care about nature and the environment, we can also appreciate Amida in our daily lives. He believes that living a life of gratitude throught the Nembutsu, reciting "Namu Amida Butsu" will lead you to access the truth and vitality in Shin Buddhism.

Q: Why couldn't the Buddha vacuum under the sofa?
A: He had no attachments.

Throughout his talk, Dr. Tanaka lightened the mood with Buddhist humor while enlightening the audience on Shin spirituality. The event ended a weekend of listening and sharing the dharma.