“When I won the TED prize in 2008, I asked TED to help me create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion that would be composed by leading thinkers and activists in a range of major faiths. Hundreds of thousands people contributed their ideas to a draft charter online, and with the aid of a council representing six of the major world religions, together we crafted the charter.”
Created by Alex Tew, this website features an image of a sunset, the ocean, the sound of crashing waves and a small clock.
Try relaxing for the next two minutes. If you nudge your mouse or press a key on your keyboard, the clock resets.
Sound easy? Think again.
Going nowhere, being nobody, doing nothing... try it here.
Barack Obama and Rep. Mazie Hirono
The United States Midterm election is over and three Buddhists have been voted into the House of Representatives.
• Congresswoman Mazie Hirono represents Hawaii's 2nd congressional district. She was first elected to Congress in 2006 and easily won re-election this past Tuesday. Rep. Hirono was raised Jodo Shinshu.
• Congressman Hank Johnson represents Georgia's 4th congressional district. With Rep. Maizie he was first elected in 2006 and won re-election on Tuesday by a comfortable margin. Rep. Johnson is a member of Soka Gakkai International.
• Our third Buddhist in Congress is Colleen Hanabusa, who was elected to represent Hawaii's 1st congressional district. Rep. Hanabusa had served in the Hawaii state senate for 12 years and had been senate president since 2007. She also was raised Jodo Shinshu, and in a campaign flier distributed among Hawaiian Buddhists she promised to integrate "Buddhist values into American political leadership."
Thanks to Barbara's Buddhism Blog
As we continue to hold our monthly meditation session at the temple, it's interesting to note that meditation is not a true practise of Jodo Shinshu Buddhists.
While temples in Calgary and Vancouver are both holding "Walking Meditation Relays", these are held as events and not a regular practise of our sect of Buddhism.
Jodo Shinshu Buddhists do not believe in self-power practises. To use an analogy (from the blog, Nembutsu), if we are like the circus tightrope walkers, then meditation provides us with the technique of how to walk and the pole to balance ourselves. In contrast, Jodo-Shinshu lends little assistance on the "how" of walking but simply says, "Don't worry, there is a safety net in case you fall!"
Traditionally, Shin Buddhism has limited its meditation practices to sutra chanting and recitation of the Nembutsu (Namo Amida Butsu). However, there is an increasing demand from within our temples and from those wishing to join us, for "quiet sitting" meditation instruction in addition to chanting meditation.
So, the debate continues on the website, Echoes of the Name. Here's an excerpt from one of the articles.
If we take the word meditation in the proper sense of its consideration, study, self preparation, exercise, practices, declamation, then Shin Buddhism has five kinds of meditation activity or service. These do not form an actual practice, though Shin dislikes and even refuses the word. Moreover, since Shin is a fusion of the principles of the ancient Sanron and Kegon sects reflected against the Buddhism of the Kamakura era, Shin does not define certain activities or services as practice, but insists that every action, even the most insignificant of daily life, may be an essentially religious action within the Way of Buddha …The goals of all such meditative exercises in Buddhism must be carefully analyzed. Westerners, and even ill informed Buddhists, too easily fall into the trap of believing that the goal of Buddhist “meditation” is the attainment of enlightenment of Nirvana. This however, is an erroneous notion …The correctly aware disciple knows that his meditation was undertaken as a result of past conditioning, and that, however much he thought he was doing it of his own innate volition, he actually was caused to meditate. The five kinds of meditation which are practiced in Shin are: ritual service, practical service, regular service, social service, and quietist service.”
--On Meditation by Rev. Phillip Karl Eidmann
An increasingly popular tradition, Buddhism continues to penetrate western ideas of science, psychology, and spirituality. What might we expect from the sectarian facets of the Buddhist community? How will American Buddhism differ from its historic roots? Patheos engages these questions in its Future of Religion series.
A discussion on the future of Buddhism is taking place on the Patheos website. Of particular interest, we suggest:
"Challenges and Opportunities: Speculations on a Buddhist Future" by Jeff Wilson, Renison University College
"An Editorial Introduction to The Future of Buddhism" by Gary Gach, Patheos
"Heresy and the Future of Japanese Buddhism in Hawaii" by George Tanabe, University of Hawaii
Patheos claims to have balanced view of religion and spirituality. It includes portals to information from Judaism to Islam and articles featuring comedian, Jon Stewart to the effects of Supreme Court decisions. The Future of Buddhism is part of a series titled, The Future of Religions.
Thanks to Casey for writing and providing the link.
READ MORE AT PATHEOS...
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.
"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.
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.
READ A SAMPLE OF THE BOOK AT THE AMERICAN BUDDHIST STUDY CENTRE...
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.
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.
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.
In the next phase of this web site, we hope to introduce more people to the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism. This will be a place for the editors of this web site to share their thoughts, web sites, and recent news of the world.