Sanskrit, Prakrits n’ Pali

Recently, I’ve been delving into both the Sanskrit and Pali languages, both used for Buddhist religious scripture, and just when I thought I had things figured out, I realize the situation is even more complicated and fascinating than I thought. Sanskrit is a language that was brought to India by invaders who called themselves theContinue reading “Sanskrit, Prakrits n’ Pali”

Buddhism and Really Big Numbers

Some time ago, I discovered the 30th chapter of the Flower Garland Sutra, which is titled “The Incalculable”. This chapter is unusually short and takes a very unique approach to expressing the massive scale of the Universe. The Buddha begins by saying: At that time the enlightening being [bodhisattva] Mind King said to the Buddha,Continue reading “Buddhism and Really Big Numbers”

What To Do With Your Twilight Years

Earth-son, I greet you by the twenty-seven Names that still remain, praying the while that you have cast more jewels into the darkness and given them to glow with the colors of life. –Roger Zelazny’s Isle of the Dead Lately, after reading an article about the infamous Villages retirement community in Florida, I’ve been ponderingContinue reading “What To Do With Your Twilight Years”

The Big Buddhist Headache: Language and Sacred Texts

Recently, I made a lengthy rant on Twitter about my frustrations with learning Sanskrit in order to read Buddhist texts. The issue is a surprisingly complicated one, and something I wanted to explore here a bit more. When you look at religions of the world, Buddhism is somewhat unusual in that it isn’t rooted inContinue reading “The Big Buddhist Headache: Language and Sacred Texts”

Understanding Chinese Pure land Buddhism

I have been continuing my read of the new book Chinese Pure Land Buddhism (first mentioned here), and enjoying it thoroughly. This is the first helpful Buddhist book that I have read in a long time. In today’s post, I wanted to highlight an excellent passage in the first chapter on how the Pure LandContinue reading “Understanding Chinese Pure land Buddhism”

Kandahar and the Greco-Buddhists

Long long ago, before Afghanistan was a battleground for Soviet and then American forces, the famed Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka, instituted a series of pious inscriptions across his vast empire. One of these inscriptions exists in the city of Kandahar, the same city known these days as the birthplace of the Taliban. Afghanistan has been aContinue reading “Kandahar and the Greco-Buddhists”

Buddhism: Gates, not Sects

Recently, I stumbled upon a particularly fascinating book on the oft-neglected subject of Chinese Pure Land Buddhism titled Chinese Pure Land Buddhism: Understanding a Tradition of Practice. This book was published in 2020, so it’s quite recent. The book seeks to clarify what defines the Chinese “Pure Land Buddhist tradition” by relying on more nativeContinue reading “Buddhism: Gates, not Sects”

Moonlight: A Buddhist Poem

The founder of the Jodo-Shu sect of Buddhism, a 12th-century Buddhist monk named Honen, once composed a poem titled tsugikagé (“Moonlight” 月かげ). What follows is a rough translation on my part: Japanese Romanization Translation 月かげの Tsuki-kagé-no There is no village いたらぬ里は itaranu sato wa that the light of moon なけれども nakeredomo does not shine, 眺むる人のContinue reading “Moonlight: A Buddhist Poem”