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”

Toward a New Look at Honen

Recently, I re-posted an old polemic article I wrote 8 years ago (!) in a former blog at a time when I was on my out the door from the local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist community, citing references to one of Honen’s biggest critics, Jokei, an influential monk of the influential Hosso (Yogacara) school. Many ofContinue reading “Toward a New Look at Honen”

The Three Karmic Bonds of the Buddha

Recently, I dusted off an old book from my shelf titled Traversing the Pure Land Path which was published by the Jodo Shu Research Institute (JSRI) which recently moved here. I had a number of their publications at the time, and they were helpful English-language resources for folks of that persuasion. A lot of themContinue reading “The Three Karmic Bonds of the Buddha”

Reciting The Nembutsu in 3 Easy Steps!

The nembutsu (念仏),1 whose origins and doctrinal place within Buddhism I’ve written about here, is the central practice for Pure Land Buddhists across all of East Asia. However, today I am focusing on the Jodo Shu sect’s practice specifically. I decided to write this post after I discovered recently that an old English language siteContinue reading “Reciting The Nembutsu in 3 Easy Steps!”

Buddhism for Everyone: the Pure Land Gate

One of my favorite stories about the life of Honen, the 12th century Buddhist monk who started the Pure Land Buddhist movement in Japan is from his time of exile in 1207. From the capitol (modern day Kyoto) he and many followers were banished to the hinterlands, a common punishment at the time. In Honen’sContinue reading “Buddhism for Everyone: the Pure Land Gate”

A Refutation of Exclusive-Nembutsu Buddhist Practice

Author’s Note: this was another post I found recently from my old blog, possibly something I wrote in 2013 or 2014. It was shortly after this that I decided to leave the local Jodo Shinshu Buddhist community, give up the prospect of ordination, and strike out on my own. My feelings on the subject haveContinue reading “A Refutation of Exclusive-Nembutsu Buddhist Practice”

Morning Odaimoku, Evening Nenbutsu

Japanese Tendai Buddhism, that is the Buddhist sect descended from the venerable Chinese Tiantai (天台) tradition started by Zhiyi (智顗, 538–597), has a number of interesting, not to mention pithy, teachings and phrases. Lately, I’ve been thinking about a particular phrase called asa daimoku ni yū nenbutsu (朝題目に夕念仏). In its most literal sense, it meansContinue reading “Morning Odaimoku, Evening Nenbutsu”

Contemplating Death and the Buddha’s Pure Land

After my recent personal ascetic retreat, I spent some time getting reacquainted with Jodo Shu Buddhist teachings, and in particular the “second founder” of Jodo Shu: a monk named Benchō, who had been a leading disciple of founder, Hōnen. In Japanese Buddhism, he is often called in Shōkō Shōnin (聖光上人). Benchō’s writings are not thatContinue reading “Contemplating Death and the Buddha’s Pure Land”