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Following the path of Buddhism is simply living our life in awareness. There is no Buddhism apart from our life, nor is there life apart from Buddhism. Our everyday life, our joys and sorrows, our success and failures, our losses and gains, the totality of our life is Buddhism. We find meaning even in failure, even in disappointment. Our everyday life experience is the vehicle to reflect on and deepen our spirituality.

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Modern psychology is finding that grateful people are actually happier people. This is something that Shin Buddhism has taught for centuries. Countless Buddhists have lived very modest lives, yet had profound gratitude for the teachings, for simple things like a home, a job, food on the table, friends and family, and above all, for life itself.

Because of our ignorance or delusion, our un-awakened life, we fail to appreciate or be grateful for all that life gives us. This is why we need the Shin Buddhist teachings. This is why we need the Dharma in our life, so that we might awaken to all that we have received, are receiving, and will continue to receive from this thing called life.


Of all of the problems that we face in life, the matter of our mortality is the most challenging. Some religions teach an everlasting life after death. Shin Buddhism aims to awaken us to the timeless in the here and now, to transcend life and death and awaken to our true essence. Our journey is like a wave in the ocean that awakens to its essence as water and no longer fears hitting the shore.

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In Shin Buddhism, listening to the teachings makes us humble. But we cannot “strive” to become humble. It is not like earning your black belt in Karate. If you feel like you are making progress, you might think, “Wow, I’m becoming really humble,” but you are actually becoming more arrogant. 

A truly humble person is someone who sees their ego self. Becoming humble and seeing the ego self are two sides of the same coin that occur simultaneously. An arrogant person is weak, like a stiff oak tree that snaps in a strong wind. A humble person is strong, like a bamboo or willow tree bending in the wind. 


Mindfulness originated from the Buddha’s enlightenment and earliest teachings over 2,500 years ago. Mindfulness has become popular in recent times, a positive sign that the Buddha’s teachings are reaching our society and culture. As people seek out the origins of today's mindfulness practices, Buddhism can deepen our understanding.

Mindfulness has long been central to Shin Buddhism.

The Chinese character 念 Nem (or Nen ) means “to think on, to contemplate on.” The character 仏 Butsu means Buddha. Nembutsu 念仏, or “Mindfulness on the Buddha,” means that one reflects on the “contents” of Buddha, which is great wisdom and great compassion. 


Our society and world faces many issues and challenges. Problems abound. Suffering abounds. The Buddha teaches us that all beings are ultimately equal, but how does a Buddhist live in a world of suffering, injustice, conflicts, and crisis? We cannot turn our eyes away from the many issues of our society and the world. However, the way a Buddhist works to eliminate social inequality is important. 

First, we have to be grounded in the Dharma, in the teachings, or else our solution for a social issue or problem will be based on ego-centered ignorance. “I’m right, you’re wrong” thinking only adds fuel to the fire. Based on our understanding of the teachings, a Buddhist moves out into the world and takes on various challenges in our own unique manner, often quietly and in an unassuming way.


From a Buddhist perspective, humans do not rule over the world of other beings. We are one being, one species, among millions. We must first see ourselves in our proper perspective, dependent on the lives of innumerable sentient beings who sustain our lives every day. We must see our interconnected oneness with all of life and live with a sense of gratitude. 

BCA's EcoSangha movement increases awareness of the profound implications of our actions on future generations and promotes ecologically-friendly behavior in our communities.


Our relationships in life are the source of our great joy and also the source of our great suffering. How do we understand our relationships with others? How do we live and work with others, even those with whom we have great difficulty? How do we cope when we lose those dearest to us?

Shin Buddhism is a path for the everyday person who experiences both joy and anguish in their human relationships. Shin teachings guide us through our regular lives, as difficult as they may be at times.

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Buddhism addresses the issue of the self, challenging our notion of the self, who we are and what we are. Low self-esteem or having too high a view of oneself are both issues of the ego at their core. Whether we avoid situations or beat our chests to deal with people or circumstances, our ego can make us feel as if the whole world is against us when life doesn’t go as we want it to.

Applying a Buddhist perspective to our life, we come to see our ego self that is the source of all of our problems and frustrations, and the true self that enables us to live our most meaningful and fulfilled life.


We spend the greatest portion of our adult lives in the workplace. Can Buddhism help me in my work life? We don’t seek the path just for materialistic goals of making more money or having a successful business, but that also doesn’t mean being a Buddhist is detrimental to success in life.

On the contrary, it might be that a humble person, a sincere person, a person who is a good listener, is really valued by a company or business. For person who knows themselves deeply, spiritually, in a Buddhist sense, their happiness does not depend on success or prosperity in their work life.

Image by Brooke Cagle
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