The Worst (Horse) is the Best

The Worst Horse is doing some of the best work on the Buddhist blog roll lately (The Worst Horse has been on our blog roll from the beginning).

I have to relay some posts that we found interesting this week following his mention in the Winnipeg Free Press article.

First, the Worst Horse linked us to an interesting article on Slate, titled "You've Come a Long Way, Buddha."

The Slate article refers to two events in the mainstream media this week, that may create an interest in Buddhist teachings. The article asks to consider "With a little help from Tiger Woods and PBS, Buddhism may finally shake its counterculture image."

The second blog post is a fun one from this week's episode of the Simpsons. Watch it before Fox takes it down.

Keep up the great work at The Worst Horse!

Buddhist Military Sangha

With the recent news that President Barack Obama has decided to send more troops to Afghanistan, the argument continues if this war is necessary. Buddhists believe in non-violence but also know that the world is complicated and that there are many sides to this debate.

Courtesy Ekoji Buddhist Temple Dharma School in Fairfax County, Virginia

Caught in the middle are soldiers. Many soldiers are religious. In fact, right now, there are 1,900 Buddhists serving in the U.S. (Army Times).

A great blog that helps sort this out for many is the Buddhist Military Sangha. It is an unofficial online resource for Buddhists in the United States Armed Forces. One of the frequent contributors to the site is a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Priest named Jeanette Shin. Shin was ordained at the Nishi Hongwanji, in Kyoto, Japan, in 2003. She was endorsed to become a military chaplain by the Buddhist Churches of America and served in the US Marine Corps from 1988-1992. She is a minister of the Buddhist Church of Florin, near Sacramento, CA.

How does she justify her role in the military?

Yes, there have always been armies and police, and there has to be some provision for defence. Even were we living in a world of wise rulers, protection is necessary. The Buddha speaks of this, as does Dogen. Aggression exists within each of us. But our wars today day wars are hardly the work of wise rulers (Neither were most wars in the past.). Whatever the issues may be, however just, the killing is fed by arms dealers and vast corporations who profit from the various technologies of killing. And by politicians driven by self-interest in raw form. And even by ourselves in a willingness to preserve privilege over groups and people elsewhere in the world.Having said all that, I would add that military personnel and families I have met often embody the highest principles of honour, duty, and self-sacrifice. They try to live according to what I might call “practice,” for the sake of their country and people. It is essential to hold this in mind.

I can’t help wondering, maybe naively, what would come of a policy that replaces retribution with generosity, that uses even a portion of the trillions we spend on war and destruction at home (prisons) and abroad for education, health, housing, and food? I would sign up in a New York minute as a chaplain to that kind of army.


Reviews for the Buddha's Wish for the World

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.

Here are some partial reviews so far...

Precious Metal: the blog

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.

Flatbed Sutra

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.

The Buddha Blog

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.


Living in Mindfulness of the Vows of Amida 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


Bring Your Children up Buddhist

Summary only available when permalinks are enabled.

Obama Buddha

Summary only available when permalinks are enabled.

Dharma Realm

Summary only available when permalinks are enabled.

Barack Obama, An Inspiration to the World

As the race for the democratic nomination for President of the United States nears the finish line, here's an interesting take on Barack Obama. The positive values that Obama exemplifies can be compared to many of the teachings of the Dharma. This is why the blogger believes that this is a big reason why he is the inspirational figure that he is today.

Like the Buddha, Barack Obama learned in his early adult years as a community organizer that poverty is the root of much suffering in the world. He saw how poverty seeps into people's lives like a poison that drives people into a life of crime and overall suffering. He understands that to bring people out of poverty is to improve society as a whole. He is known as a uniter, he is quite gifted at being able to bring about compromises that work for all sides involved.


FYI, even Barack Obama's sister, Maya, considers her outlook on life as "Buddhist".

First Experience in a Jodo Shinshu Temple

In the Editor's Blog, we are on the lookout for interesting posts and articles. This posting came the blog, GODZ. The aim of this blog is to write about different religious experiences in various churches, mosques or temples. In this post, they attend a Buddhist temple. The article begins by being quite skeptical of Buddhism as a current trend.

As the sensei said in temple, your practice should be whatever floats your boat, but I'm talking about the kind of yogi who spends 400$ on a new meditation cushion or yoga mat and another 1,500 dollars on their yoga clothes.

After attending the temple, they have these observations after attending their first Jodo Shinshu service.

The sensei seemed real, honest, intelligent and content. It did not bother him that the folding chairs were only 1/5th full. I got the sense that he might actually have some inner peace.

The writer seemed to lump Buddhism with the "new age" movement. Buddhism is not new age. Jodo Shinshu is not new age. It is old age. It has a rich history. The writer seems to understand and appreciate this knowledge in the end.