“It’s a laid back Buddhist. That’s the way I like to say it, laid back Buddhist, because traditional Buddhist you are really trying to improve yourself and you’re working towards your enlightenment. Then as you move in that direction you find out how difficult it is to obtain enlightenment on your own. As you find that out Jodo Shinshu Buddhism then you realize that we all are enlightened. We are all working in that direction. But we do it with the help of the other power which is known as Amida Buddha, which is what our whole shrine is dedicated to. Amida Buddha is not really a person per say, it’s a personification of an ideal or concept which is love, wisdom and passion all rolled into one,” said Rev. Jim.
“That’s what life really is because every time something good happens there is kind something bad is lurking or just happened. The best example of this is when the Buddha was out during a ceremony for planting the crops in the spring when he was a young child or teenager they were ploughing out the fields and this was important to the village, because this provided crops for the rest of the year. They were ploughing the fields and the Buddha noticed you know were getting all this good stuff but there is also bugs and plants and animals dying out there because all the sudden they were exposed. The birds come down and eat the bugs, the lizards jump on the birds and it goes on. So even during this great time and celebration there is this stuff going on that isn’t so good and that’s was it really is. Things aren’t going to be perfect, and the more we want them to be perfect the more frustrated we are going to become. If we just accept things as they are then life kind of makes sense,” said Rev. Joe.
Rev. Jim and Rev. Joe refer to Jim Warrick, and Joe Schwab, who are both Certified Minister’s Assistants . They work with Rev. Don Castro at the Seattle Betsuin Temple.
Tricycle magazine has made space on their website for a brief retrospective of articles on Shinran Shonin and the teachings of Jodo Shinshu. The links are posted on the Tricycle Editor's Blog. Here's a sample:
How has Shinran made an impact on you personally? I see Shinran as a towering figure. He took Buddhism, turned it upside down, and made it something that could illuminate people’s personal experience in a new way. Even though it comes out of medieval Japan, I believe his teaching is universal. And so he intrigues my imagination.
I think it’s the right time to explore a deeper interpretation of Shinran, because I think it might help those who are racked by guilt, by distinctions of flesh and spirit, and by the other dualisms of Western culture.
One morning not long ago, I was born again. Though unexpected, this was never outside the realm of possibility. According to the teachings of Pure Land Buddhism, all who call Namu Amida Butsu, Amida Buddha’s name, may be reborn in the “Land of Utmost Bliss,” provided they truly believe that he will save them. That, of course, had been the problem. Try as I might to finesse my way into the Pure Land, it didn’t matter as long as I didn’t believe.
The JoyTV program, "Discovering Buddhism" introduced viewers to the teachings of the Buddha. The 18 part, half-hour program was produced in 2009. The main participant was Sensei Fredrich Ulrich of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple.
In this clip, host, Tim Smith asks Sensei Ulrich to explain why some may choose to not think of Buddhism as a religion but more of a teaching.
Rev. Ulrich's rich knowledge of history and art provided viewers with a unique perspective on the historical Buddha. He describes the symbolism in the statues that often represent Amida Buddha.
Check your local TV listings to see when the series will air again. Unfortunately, JoyTV is only seen in B.C. and Manitoba.
"We wish the torch of the Buddha-Dharma lit in the City of Winnipeg is never extinguished"
Jenny Setsuko Nishimura was the wife of Rev. Hideo Nishimura, the first minister of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. She would have celebrated her 100th birthday in June 2009. Even with her passing into nirvana earlier in the year, her life continues to resonate in our hearts because of her selfless service.
Jenny's poem was discovered by her niece, Tomoko Tatsumi. Bishop Orai Fujikawa graciously wrote the kanji and it now hangs in the hondo as a reminder... to care and celebrate life in our temple.
Concerned that Buddhism is no longer part of everyday life, the Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto sought to reach out to the younger set by coming out with a DVD depicting the life of its founder, Shinran, of Shin Buddhism. The 108-minute Japanese anime DVD, comes with collectible miniature characters, key rings, pens and notes.
Sorry, no English subtitiled version seems to be available yet.
Monshu Koshin Ohtani is the spiritual head of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha in Kyoto, Japan. He is a scholar whose articles have appeared in major magazines for several years, including an interview with the Dalai Lama in 2008 in which they exchanged views of religion in today's world.
Jodo Shinshu members in North America have had limited opportunities to read Monshu's messages in English. Now, for Shinran Shonin's 750th Memorial, an English translation of his 2003 book, "Ashita niwa Kogan arite" is available as "The Buddha's Wish for the World." It gives English-speaking Shin Buddhist members a wonderful opportunity to get to know Monshu Ohtani's views on life, family, religion and society.
Here is a brief excerpt from a recent interview with the Monshu, courtesy of the American Buddhist Study Centre:
Reviews for "The Buddha's Wish for the World" are now appearing. Rev. Gregory Gibbs of the Oregon Buddhist Temple has previewed the book and has these comments:
"For Jodo Shinshu Buddhists in North America this book will be important. The Go Monshu/Chief Abbot has not been obvious in a leadership role so far as understanding our teachings goes for some decades. People look to the Kangakuryo for questions of accuracy but a committee cannot be a leader. His Eminence Monshu Koshin Ohtani will now be more obviously in his proper role of leadership for those of us who are pretty much limited to the English language for our appreciation of the Buddha-dharma.
I really enjoyed the book because it not only taught me about the tradition of Shin Buddhism but also brought to light the importance of values this form has picked up based on its geographical origins. Specifically, the importance of family and surrounding oneself with family. Not only considering our direct family, but all of humanity as one big family.
Buddhist practitioners of all schools (including Zen) are certain to discover many affinities with the Shin teachings–which can certainly provide some profound insight into their own traditions. While it is true that students and practitioners of all Buddhist traditions will find many similarities, it may be the unique qualities of the Pure Land teachings, when compared to other traditions, that offer some of the more profound insights.
It is a short book and can be read in one sitting but don't let that fool you into thinking that it's not full of great wisdom. It is frankly wonderful how much wisdom and unique insights Monshu offers in this thin but enriching monogram.
Robert Thurman (from the introduction)
To read The Buddha’s Wish for the World is to feel enfolded within that wish, which the author so deeply feels to be expressed in the vision of the original compassionate vow of the bodhisattva Dharmakara, who eventually became the Infinite Light Amitabha Buddha.
What does it mean to say Namu Amida Butsu? Rev. Gregory Gibbs explores this question in an article at the Shambala SunSpace blog. Gibbs is the minister at the Oregon Buddhist Temple in Portland. A former Catholic and Zen Buddhist, Gibbs also reflects on his experience to also answer how far the practise of meditiation can take you in an article for the Shambala Sun blog page.
Over at Barbara's Buddhism Blog, she recently posted a wonderful photo on her website describing the Japanese Buddhist practise of Takuhatsu. She correctly described it as a practise performed by monks. But in this case, as "Jeff" pointed out in her comments, these were not monks, but members of the New York Buddhist Church. He was able to identify them by the wisteria crest on their kesa (ribbon around the neck).
We can further tell you that the man leading the group is Jodo Shinshu minister, Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki of the New York Buddhist Church.
Traditionally, Buddhist monks would walk through their communities pausing for donations of food or money. Today, Takuhatsu is more commonly used as a meditative practice.
All Photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
In the case of these photos, Rev. Nakagaki was experimenting with the practise in North America. He was also taking donations for his temple. In 2008, a member of the New York Buddhist Temple wrote about the experience:
We went by subway to “Strawberry Fields” of John Lennon and Yoko Ono fame in Central Park, where we began the traditional meditation walk. “Ho ho ho ho, ho ho ho.” Stop. Ring the bells and gong simultaneously. Start again. “Ho” means “the Dharma” (the Teaching of the Buddha) -- not Santa Claus. This continued all the way to and around Columbus Circle and Midtown Manhattan. We walk to bring the Dharma to the city. --Dimitri Bakhroushin, New York Buddhist Church
Worth watching! The landmark six hour, six part mini-series, "The Story of India" is a fantastic journey through the history of India. Michael Wood is your engaging and articulate guide who brings you along on a whirlwind tour of the country and its history.
Especially don't miss episode two, "The Power of Ideas." The series spends some time under the Bodhi Tree telling the story of the Buddha.