Does the sky reach the ground?

When I was in elementary school I remember having art periods. My favorite kind of art was finger painting – it was so gushy and messy! I didn’t like glue and construction paper – for mosaics and stuff – because the glue always stuck to my fingers. I also remember one boy loved to eat…

FEAR

When I first started studying life my focus was on understanding Fear. It was the one threat to my existence that did not have to physically touch me, yet could kill me. I was about ten years old and influenced by horror movies and stories at the time. The Edgar Allen Poe story of being…

Where Does Enlightenment Come From?

   Disputes have arisen, with companions in the singlehearted practice of the nembutsu claiming this practicer as their own disciple and numbering that one among someone else’s. Such contention is totally senseless.    I have not a single disciple. For if I were to guide someone to the nembutsu through my own devices and efforts,…

Is Buddhism a Religion?

This question, although discussed many times, tends to cause more misunderstandings about the Buddha Dharma than it helps to clarify anything.  Part of the reason for such confusion is that the very term “religion” has such a clear and definite meaning in Western civilization. When we try to understand Buddhism through a primarily Western, i.e.…

Is Karma Fate?

There is a very funny commercial comparing a cable TV service with a satellite dish company. It starts out with a man watching TV and his reception is poor. The narrator then tells us that the man starts to get angry and desires to do something about feeling helpless. He ends up taking up hang…

Happy Birthday, How Old are You Now?

This month we will be honoring the birthday of Shinran Shonin. Since we belong to the Nishi Hongwanji branch of Jodo Shinshu, we mark May 21 as that day. But calendar dates can be tricky. The date of an event can “move” depending on which system of calendar is used. For instance, according to Nishi…

Sensei’s April Message

Cherry blossoms that are felt To last till the morrow, May well blow away During the night. Legend has it that young Shinran authored this poem on the evening he was brought to the Shoren-in temple by his uncle Lord Noritsuna for initiation into the monkhood. The temple priest, Jien Sojo, thought that the day…

The Six Paramitas

In March we observe the Bodhisattva practice of the Six Paramitas. These practices are meant to help us “cross over to the Other Shore”, meaning that we leave this world of delusion and reach the shore of Enlightenment. The Buddha used many metaphors, or stories, about crossing the river to get to the other shore.…

Poetry

It is no wonder that Shinran Shonin chose to express his deepest feelings in poetry. Poetry has long been the language of religion. Early people expressed secrets of great power and awe in verse. There is something very fitting about the expression of deep human emotions and experiences in poetry. Ancient Japanese imported the value…