Saturday, October 31, 2009

Book Review

Ethnic Buddhism is culture confused as spiritual teachings. You could use something like a Japanese Tea Ceremony to improve your mindfulness. There are hundreds of different practices to choose from. Buddhism is new to the USA, and we have taken to meditation and an intellectual approach, as far as I can tell. To be honest, I have not wandered far from the FWBO, which is an ecumenical and inclusive order. But I do enjoy reading about other traditions. I enjoy learning about other cultures as well. I don’t know if ethnic Buddhism counts as culture of Dharma. As the Dharma travels through different cultures, it changes, new aspects are revealed. The Buddha didn’t want his ideas translated into the formal Brahminical language—he spoke in the language of the people.

In reaction to monastic formalism, Shinran quit the monastery he’d been in for 20 years, and got married and preached a more devotional populist Dharma, Rejecting an emphasis on meditation. What I like is that Shinran followed his heart, he experimented against the grain. I don’t personally want to reject meditation, or attempts at stream entry in this life. But the most popular form of Buddhism on the planet Earth is Pure Land Buddhism, a devotional form of Buddhism. Shinran is part of the WBO refuge tree, which I do as prostration practice and visualization.

The Buddha’s Wish For The World
by Monshu Koshin Ohtani spins a basic unpretentious Dharma, that is deeply embedded in Japanese culture. (“Monshu” is a heredity title, by the way, and Buddhism was more about a natural hierarchy than being born into a role, but no doubt the training the Dali Lama has gotten has helped him to evolve to quite an awesome.)

Here are links to other reviews of the book.

One on Amazon:

"This publication honors the 750th memorial of the founder of Jodo Shinshu, Shinran Shonin (1173 -1263). Jodo Shinshu, who established this spiritual path in 13th century Japan, had much in common with his contemporary, Zen Master Dogen."

It's a positive review, but I don't share Ted Biringer's glowing review, but perhaps he was more in tune with the book.

Here is another positive review.


One of my friends said a practice of Shin Buddhism is to say the mantra eighty thousand times in a day. Now that’s something. Extreme things appeal to me. You have to do something challenging to shake up ordinary consciousness to move towards enlightenment.

I'm not attracted to the other power yet, but I'm going to keep reading Shin Buddhism to see if I can glean any insights into devotional aspect of Buddhism.

2 comments:

Kyōshin said...

"One of my friends said a practice of Shin Buddhism is to say the mantra eighty thousand times in a day."

That is incorrect I'm afraid. It may be true of one of the other Pure Land sects such as Chinzei Jodo, Seizan, Jodo, Ji or Yuzu. However in Jodo Shinshu the nembutsu is said spontaneously as an act of gratitude or a limited number of times in specific liturgical contexts.

Stephen Parks Bell said...

Ah, thanks!