Answers to common questions about Shin Buddhism
HOW WILL BUDDHISM HELP ME IN MY LIFE?
Buddhism has many practical applications to our lives. We all want to live a happy life, but Buddhism first challenges how we are pursuing happiness, or what we think is the source of happiness. Our entire approach to happiness is questioned, which can lead to a true sense of happiness and fulfillment through a life of gratitude. There are many other ways in which Buddhism helps us to live a fulfilled life, a meaningful life, a reflective life, and an awakened life.
HOW DO BUDDHISTS LOOK AT OTHER RELIGIONS?
In Buddhism, we respect other religions and other religious traditions. There are many paths to the top of a mountain, and Buddhism is one path. Once you get to the top of the mountain you can appreciate the other paths that you could have taken to the top. Buddhism does not claim to be the only path or the only true path.
HOW IS SHIN BUDDHISM DIFFERENT OR SIMILAR TO OTHER BUDDHIST TRADITIONS?
Shin Buddhism was founded in Japan in the 1200’s by a religious teacher named Shinran, who left the monastic tradition and shared Buddhism among the common people. It spread throughout Japan and is one of the largest schools of Japan today. It came to this country in the early 1900’s with early immigrants from Japan.
Shin Buddhism is similar to other Buddhist traditions in that all Buddhism comes from the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha. From the original Buddha’s teachings and sermons, compiled into sutras or texts, Buddhism evolved and spread throughout Asia, reaching Japan in the 5th century.
WHAT IS MEANT BY THE PURE LAND?
The Pure Land is a metaphor for the world of truth or enlightenment in Buddhism. The Pure Land is not a physical place, nor is it a realm like heaven. It represents, symbolizes, the world of enlightenment, which is in contrast to the world of ignorance and delusion, or the unenlightened world. The Pure Land also represents the ideal world that we aspire to live in and to also create as a human being.
In Buddhism, we, the unawakened, do not see our life as being in delusion. That is why it is called delusion. It is like being lost somewhere in the forest and not admitting or realizing that you are lost. Once we realize that we are lost or in delusion, we can begin to find the path out of the forest, or out of the world of delusion.
DO YOU PRACTICE MEDITATION?
While meditation is not a central practice in Shin Buddhism, meditation is being offered at many of our churches and temples. In Shin Buddhism, we do not regard meditation as a practice to attain enlightenment, but we look at it as a way to calm and settle our hearts and minds to be able to listen to and receive the dharma, or the teachings. The sutra chanting in a Shin Buddhist service also has a meditational aspect to it.