American Gatha

Scott A. Mitchell is trying to understand the role of music in Jodo Shinshu Buddhist culture. Mitchell is currently a teacher at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California. He is also a co-contributor to the Dharma Realm podcast.

His project is called American Gatha. Mitchell wants to go beyond the gathas we sing and the sutras we chant. He sees a new generation integrating music like never before.

I’m interested in the types of music being composed, performed, and played within US Shin Buddhist communities today, who’s making this music, and why. My long-term goal is to write a book on the subject which will focus primarily on music performed as practice during Shin Buddhist rituals, services, and celebrations. I am curious about the place of music-as-practice within the borader context of Shin Buddhist ritual/practice life. How does music making compare to, say, reciting the nembutsu, reading a book about Buddhism, mediation, or hearing a Dharma talk? --Scott Mitchell

Scott Mitchell wants to know what is happening today and he is looking for your help. Check out the website, and maybe add your own contributions.


Honouring Our Elders

Keiro-kai is our day to say “thanks” to the senior members of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. Throughout the years, they have given their time and effort for the Buddhist community in this city. Their Buddhist lineage goes back several generations. An incredible notion if you think about it. While many of us may be new to Buddhism, these people were brought up in a Buddhist home with a Buddhist family.

 Fifty people, including eleven elders, attended this year’s Keiro-Kai service and lunch, which was held in the hondo of the temple for the very first time.

Thanks to everyone who brought a dish of food for our meal. I especially want to thank Mona Hiebert and Donna Nishimura for preparing the games and prizes. Also to Susan Nishi for organizing the potluck. We are grateful for your contributions.
With great respect to our elders, we hope you enjoyed your day.

Nakai featured in Tricycle

Reverend Patti Nakai of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago is featured in this month's Tricycle magazine. Nakai is a third-generation Japanese-American. Her mother was Baptist, her father Buddhist, but she attended a Presbyterian church as a child. Her journey back to Buddhism is chronicled here. For of interest to Canadians and anyone else who may be there, Nakai will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 World Women's Conference in Calgary, Alberta.

Nakai is interviewed by one of the editors, Emma Varvaloucas. The article is titled "Get Real". Here's her response to the question:

One of your favorite quotes is “Rather than answer your questions, the Buddha questions your answers.” How does that come into play in Buddhist practice?

People come to Buddhism looking for answers, but Buddhism is not about giving you some easy formula. It’s all about you needing to question yourself. When you think you’ve got it, that’s when you especially need to question it—and if you don’t question it right away, you’ll run into situations that will make you question it, if you’re fortunate. Life is always throwing monkey wrenches into the machinery of your calculating mind.