Dharma Talks
This is our online library of Sensei Ulrich's Dharma talks. Explore the many topics to learn more about Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Click on the heading to read the full text. Enjoy these mindful readings and share with your friends. Your comments are always welcome.
2013
The Amida Kyo - Story of Amida Buddha
There are Three Essential Pure Land Sutras that were deliv­ered by Shakya­muni Buddha. Sensei Ulrich has adapted the Amida Kyo (Sutra of Amida Buddha) into a short story for easy reading and further study.
(for download only)

Snowflake Dharma
This life is impermanent, flowing, interrelated, recycling, dangerous, beautiful, weak and strong, exciting, and boring. Like the snowflakes, we are fragile and beautiful, too. Nevertheless, as a Sangha we can be as formidable as the Snowflake Sangha piled high on our lawns.

Buddha's Vow
The teachings of the Buddha usually start with the statement that to live is to suffer. Is this being too negative?

Drum of the Deathless
From the beginning, rhythm played an important part in the experience of the Dharma. Even when Shakyamuni was sitting under the Bodhi Tree a music teacher passed by with her class.

Deep From Within
The saying of the nembutsu, after the thought of saying it emerges, is the first word in the new direction of our spiritual lives. It arises from deep within, from a place that is the deep within everything.
2012
Dharma Chakra
We are all familiar with the Dharma chakra. Chakra here means wheel which is the eight-spoke wheel that has become the ancient symbol of all of Buddhism. But all the elements of the wheel—the rim, the hub, the 8 spokes can be arranged to form the shape of another object.

Words of the Nembutsu
We live embedded in words. Words determine the direction and speed of our lives. Shinran saw this happening in his world. His answer is the nembutsu—namo amida buddha. These are the true and real words that can be trusted.

The Third of the Three Poisons
We can readily see that the Three Poisons are intimately intertwined with our day-to-day lives. They are part of our humanity. By the way, Shinran’s teachings are all about the Three Poisons!

The Three Poisons
he historical Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha Shakyamuni, offered us the antidote to the Three Poisons. In the Fire Sermon he goes to great lengths to describe the impact of them on our whole selves: seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, tasting and the psychological and physical events.

Birth Announcment
Birth Announcement from the Kosola Free Press, April 16, 563BC:
The Gotama family is proud to announce the birth of their first son, Siddhartha, on April 15, 563BC. Suddhodhana, the father, rushed to the side of his ailing wife, Maya. She was resting in Lumbini Garden where the child was born under a tree.

The Best Value: The Nembutsu
There are some things in life that are so valuable they can have no price. Someone will dispute that though. At one time the price of a human body in terms of chemicals was about 200 dollars. Most of us feel more valuable than that.
2011
Exhausting Yourself
It is important not to become socially exhausted during these special days. Neither should we become financially exhausted. If we do, the holidays are just another “problem” to be dealt with.

One Word Dharma Talk
The lantern that he carries for us is a one-word, yes one-word Dharma Talk! He gives this over and over again. Namo amida butsu, namu amida butsu.

JSBTC Day
The present name of JSBTC makes who we are clearer to the general public. It also reflects more clearly the situation of Buddha Dharma as a whole in Canada.

The Seven Steps
When we hear about those Seven Steps. Seven is an important number in the West. It also brings a bit of math into a colourful talk. This tradition of the seven steps also spans cultures and centuries as far apart as our own Aboriginals in Canada & the people of Siberia.

The Benefits of Shinjin
It was the teachings of Shinran & Rennyo that caused the Shin Buddhist people to face their troubles with courage. They felt a sense of strength that allowed them to simply endure. Families and friends pulled together in many creative ways, and it was the Buddha Dharma that provided the foundations of their actions.

Mother's Day
We are all weak in some way, dependent and caught up in the conflicts of life as finite, limited beings. That is the very reason that Amida made his vow to embrace all living beings with wisdom and compassion without exception—including both men and women. The women of Rennyo’s day widely supported Shin Buddhism, as they continue to do so in our own time.

All One on One Planet
We are all one community of life. It has been that way for millions of years. It is part of our blood, bones and minds. It is our reality—an intimately interrelated community of life, all one on one planet.
2010
Rennyo and the Shin Believer
It was Rennyo himself who captivated the hearts of the people. Here was a saint, a truly remarkable man, a model to be copied; and it was Rennyo not the Hongwanji people were converted to.

Nembutsu, Nembutsu, Nembutsu Everywhere!
When people attend our services the one thing that stands out is the repeated recitation of “ namo amida butsu.” Is it a mantra? Is it a magical phrase?

The Mind Trap 
The Shoshinge that we chant for our monthly memorials contains a section about Nagarjuna. The passage states that Nagarjuna overcame both being and non-being. He also became a true Bodhisattva, an “awake-being.” He was so brilliant that some people regard him as the Second Buddha.  

Buddhist Language
I was reading a Buddhist text recently when I realized how overwhelmed new members must be with the large vocabulary connected with Buddhism.

The Nembutsu is Useless
The nembutsu takes us beyond the ego-laden self-powered mind. The namo as a mantra gets in the way because it is “our” namo. In this way the nembutsu becomes something useless to the contrivances of the self-centred mind set.

Shinran Studied Meditation
Both Shinran and the Buddha practiced meditation, but there is no sense that doing meditation itself is a guarantee of moral excellence. It should not be used for status mongering. Neither does it make us perfect.

Happiness
Well finally, happiness is in! It’s all the buzz in popular literature. Many newspaper articles and self-help books on the topic are appearing daily. There is even a program for training happiness coaches, so that people at least know how to act as if they were happy.

Beyond Mind and No Mind
One of the traditional duties expected of a minister is making calls to hospitals and elder care homes. However as the years pass, what was once a contractual duty becomes a privilege carried out in gratitude because it does bring home clearly the reality that is our human condition.

Amida Sangha
When we recite the Triple Treasure we use the words Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Buddha declared that to see him was to see the Dharma and to see the Dharma was to see him. The two were inseparable. But what about Sangha?

The Hand that Amida Deals Us
I often drive past a casino on the way to otera. It is amazing to see all the cars parked at the Casino. The question I always ask is this: What kind of hand is being dealt in the casino?
2009
The Golden Chain
We often recite the
Golden Chain of Love in our services. The children love it & parents grew up with it. For years it was one of the few teachings that anyone heard in English. Many came to consider the Golden Chain as the essence of Shin Buddhism.

Freedom and Responsibility
Few religions are the equal of Buddhism in their insistence upon individual responsibility for the actions in one’s life. This idea of individual responsibility is the very heart of what later came to be called democracy. Responsibility for one’s own actions is the cornerstone upon which Buddhism is built.


Address of the Addressless
When we come to a Buddhist Temple, we are entering a place with no absolute address. It offers us a chance to experience what it means to just be sitting there, being nobody, doing nothing, going nowhere.

Jenny Nishimura
On Thursday, December 25, 2008, Jenny Setsuko Nishimura, wife of the Late Rev. Hidoe Nishimura, entered Nirvana at the age of 99 years. Jenny was born June 19, 1909 in Shiga-Ken, Japan and immigrated to Canada in 1934. Sensei Ulrich provides this look back at her life and contributions to the Manitoba Buddhist community.

Our Image in Canada
Apparently the media image of Buddhism is good. All the movie stars espousing Buddhism, the meditation crazes of Zen and Mindfulness all make a positive feeling for Buddhism more widespread

Buddhist Women
In the case of our own Jodo Shinshu, Shinran’s wife, Eshinni, supported Shinran in his work.  Without her or her daughters there may not have been a Hongwanji.  But in Buddhism there has developed the attitude that women are inferior to men.
2008
Two Frogs
Children's story by Hogen Fujimoto. I am grateful that someone passed it on to me. Rev. Fujimoto was very active in the Buddhist Scouting movement in the USA. He also worked for a Dharma in Prisons program.

The Gift of Silence
The Gift of Silence: this is a phrase we encounter in our services at otera in Winnipeg. We normally read it at least twice on the printed program, both to open and to close the service.

Spiritual Overload
I learned a new, fancy word the other day. I happened to be reading a study on the effects of constant prayer or long periods of meditating on monks.

Happy Holidays
Many Buddhist Statues wear what is called ‘the archaic smile.” But why, when Shin Buddhism makes the role of our human limitations in seeking the truth so clear to us?

A Special Time of the Year
Real religion requires real work in all senses of the word. That is to say we need to reflect on our selves as human beings then ask how we can best live out our lives with our fellow human beings on earth.

Buddha's Birthday
The story of Buddha’s birth is full of myth and magic, but woven into it is a sound teaching. Modern people are often amused at the old myths, but they should not be so jaded as to miss the foundation of the teachings that shimmer through the rich imagery. One such element of the story of Buddha’s birth is his seven steps.  

Right Speech
Amida Buddha as our mother offers us a way to practice Right Speech in the form of reciting the Buddha’s name, the Nembutsu.

Troubled Times
Our Jodo Shinshu emerged in difficult times. Shinran and Rennyo were not naïve college kids rapping late into the night in a posh dorm. Their teachings came out of the school of hard knocks. Both men lived in turbulent times.

Oamitafo
There are still many Chinese who use this phrase as a form of greeting in daily life. This professor explained that for him it carried the whole of Buddhism in one simple phrase.
2007 and previous
Faith
Faith marks the point at which the self is really and truly a solitary self, and really and truly becomes the self itself...

The Satori of Faith
Perhaps one-day shinjin, like satori, will also become a word we can find in the English dictionary...

Mature Member of the Human Family
According to Shakyamuni's teachings a mature member of the human family strives to develop at least 7 virtues...

Is there a God?
Shakyamuni was asked many questions which are being asked today: such as, Is there a God? Who created the world? Is there life after death? Where is heaven and hell? The classic answer given by the Buddha was silence...

The Mundane World
Have you ever thought about how much work goes on unseen, behind the scenes, to make our temple function...

Bodhi Christmas
So, once again I will erect my Buddhist Christmas tree, my Bodhi Tree. There will be dragons, elephants and fantastic birds. For the post Sept. 11 world, I will also include a symbol for other faiths...

Buddhist Citizenship
During Shakyamuni's lifetime his society was a tribal republic goverened by a council of elders. These were the ancient rules of town-hall democracy that still hold relevance today...

On Being a Member of a Civilized Society
Once ones mind has been rooted in the path to nirvana, this kind of behaviour proceeds naturally out of that state of mind. It transcends culture, ethnic identity, language, gender, and conditioning...

Spiritual Power of Shinjin-Transpersonal Faith
This is a key concept in Shin Buddhism. It refers to an awakening of a universal, self-free faith experience, a kind of satori of faith...

Social Virtues
Buddhist social ethics include the paramitas, literally 'the ultimate infinities'. They are sometimes called the 'Godly-virtues' or how to live like a God in a world of finite beings in the grip of the Three Poisons, Ignorance, Hatred and Greed...

Is There A Purpose to Life?
In very broad terms I think that the purpose of life is found in living it. It requires no further explanation. It is one of these dishes that is spicy enough and requires no further spices to enhance it...

Buddhist Meditation and Brainwaves
In the last few years there has been much research on the human brain and brain waves. The Dalai Lama was very involved in scientific experiments concerning the relationships between the brain, meditation and consciousness...

A Thousand Winds
There was a touching poem listed in at least one source under “Native American, author unknown”. I was intending to use it for Obon. This poem is now a very popular song in Japan -
Senno Kaze ni natte.

Ohigan
In the spring and fall, we celebrate Ohigan. It is the seasonal equinox. Both night and day have become equal and the translation means crossing over to the ‘other shore’ because the two shores of light and dark are so close to one another, the passage back and forth is easier.

The End of the World
Have you ever wondered what is going to happen to the world? Of course the major religions have their own answers—the End of Times, the Last Judgment. All of these theories have their loyal followers. What do you think?

Quotes to Ponder
What are the social implications of Shinran's Theology of Ignorance? Looking behind and beyond Shinran’s Theology of Ignorance...

48 Vows of Amida Buddha
There are many versions of the Bodhisattva Vow. The following are the vows that Bodhisattva Dharmakara (Dharma-Totality) made and then fulfilled to become Amida Buddha...

Violence in Faith is Violence to Faith
So-called faiths have become a round about way of worshipping themselves—their ethnic identities, their clan or tribe, their organized religions, their power and money, their country...

The Future of Shin Buddhism
Buddhism a wonderful treasure, if we hide it in an ethnic container, it is a crime. It is the living water that can quench the thirst of all humanity. It can liberate all the people in the world...

The Nembutsu Life - Ondokusan
The Ondokusan that calls us both to a strong faith and to repay benefits with a life of simplicity, serenity and service...

Deconstructing Fundamentalism
Which form of the scripture is the valid one? Can religious tradition finally be reduced to nouns? Is this a form of noun addiction...

Holi-Daze
The word 'holiday' is derived from 'holy-day'. This is a fitting name for December because it really is a month of holy days...

Amida Sutra - 7 part series
The sutra constantly reminds us that all levels of human experience, even that of religious transcendence, are beholden to the law of karma. Ignoring this fact always bring tragedy in its wake...

Shin and Zen: Bitter Rivals
The chanting of the Heart Sutra is strictly forbidden in Jodoshinshu temples, as it the chanting of Pure Land material in Zen temples. Will it ever end...

Just Listen
We simply experience the opening of our being in the light of our listening. Won’t you listen with me...

How to Stop a War
When we become addicted to the negatives we miss the miracles. Shinran stated that even though the clouds of evil may overcast the landscape, the light of shinjin illuminates our lives. His teachings break the hold of the negative on our thinking...

Buddhist's Concerns Regarding Suicide
Suicide is considered a crime in most states. It is considered an immoral act by many societies and in the Christian religion. For Buddhists it is a neutral reality...

Thomas Merton
I would like to share with you the impressions of that great Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, at seeing the statues of the Buddha in Sri Lanka...