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The 12th Conference of European Shinshu Communities
September 5-6, 2002
D. Brazier ¦ A. Cirlea ¦ M. Cumberlege ¦ K. and N. Eri ¦ F. Martens
T. Moser ¦ K. Nakagaki ¦ G. Pinto ¦ E. Sasaki ¦ K. T. Sato ¦ M. Sengoku
(The Buddhist House, UK)
Existence as Poetry
I would like to share with you some of my sense of Amidist Buddhism as an existential mysticism (astivada) that is most purely expressed as a poetry of everyday life. In this approach, Amida personifies measureless existence and mysticism indicates the possibility of a deeper perception of things as they are. From this perspective we do not need to think of the Pure Land as far away, but rather may experience sukhavati and samsara endlessly interpenetrating and in their crossing ripples find all the colour and vibrancy, light and shade of being "as the mountain whereon the tiger roams".
This subtle sense of being is better expressed in poetry than in prose, though prose has its part to play by pointing out: Look! Look just here! Do you see it? The world as it is (tathata) is already infinitely wonderful (sukha) as well as grievously cruel (dukkha), but in this bitter sweetness there is the ever present possibility of shimmering moments of complete purity when one lets go of everything by relying totally upon Amida in identifying with existence itself. Such moments are never static. Buddha never intended us to lose our flowing passions - just to purify them totally by complete entrustment, so that each moment of settled faith is like a gasp of joy tinged with sadness.
If we can live in such a spirit, how can we not reach out in love, gratitude and friendship with all being. Namo Amida Buddha.
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The Perspectives of Shin Buddhism in Romania
I would like to bring Romania into your attention as a country where Shin Buddhism can answer to the spiritual search of
Two Buddhist groups are already present here beginning from the first years after the revolution from December 1989 so there is a precedent which proves that the Way of Buddha has chances in Romania.
I shall make a presentation of the first steps made by now as well as some ideas and proposals concerning future actions:
1. the need to open an informational center in order to put the Romanians reach the Jodo Shinshu teaching.
2. the founding of an association: Jodo Shinshu Association from Romania which will coordonate the spreading activities of Jodo Shinshu.
3. the organization of conferences for the popularization of the teaching.
4. regular visits from Shin priests from abroad; the need for the direct, oral teaching.
5. the translations of Shin Buddhist texts into Romanian. Here I shall name the translations made by now.
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- cancelled -
Poems of the Other Power
POEMS OF OTHER POWER by Marcus Cumberlege is a selection of Shin Buddhist poems from his latest collection "Angels at Work".
The nine poems are linked by a commentary which focusses on the Presence of Amida Buddha in the Poet's
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Kokei ERI and Naoki ERI
(Heian Bussho, Kyoto)
Past and Future, East and West, Shinshu and I
Written from the perspective of a father and son engaged in the practice of Buddhist sculpture, the present thesis presents our thoughts and feelings on the subject.
It touches upon aspects of the Buddha sarira after Sakyamuni's nirvana that one can get a glimpse of in the depths of the figure one is engaged in sculpting, as well as the spiritual intercourse between East and West.
This brief essay was composed as an expression of joy to the Shinshu teaching as clear testimony to the Dharma we are experiencing today, whose myriad courses run throughout history and go beyond all differences of race, color, and creed.
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Globalization from within Japan
The Activities of the Association of Women of Japanese Temples
In 2000 the Association of Foreign Women of Japanese Temples (AFWJT), Gaikokujin Bomorikai, was founded by three non-Japanese wifes of Japanese priests, who choose to live in Japanese Temples. The wife of a resident priest (jushoku) is automatically given the position of bomori. This is a very unique position in Buddhism in general, because traditionally monks were not allowed to marry.
Shinran broke with the precepts of a monk by his marriage. Accordingly he was in a status of neither monk nor laymen. One could even say that this was a proof of the authenticity of his teachings. He did not always follow a fixed etiquette or set of rules which were even more strict at his time, but every moment he had to decide anew what would be the right act, the right speech, the right endeavor etc., as it is explained in the Four Noble Truth. He fulfilled his lifework of spreading the teaching of the Nembutsu with the support of his wife, Eshin-ni. A completely new role model for a Buddhist spiritual leader having a family and passing his position on to his eldest child was created. In fact since then the position of Monshu is passed on to the next generation in the Otani family. In present days Japan we find the same system in most Shinshu temples. It is actually rather difficult to maintain a temple without a wife, bomori, and a predecessor, usually the eldest son in Japan.
I want to explain the role of the bomori in the temple compared to the role of the resident priest jushoku, and also in the larger frame of the temple society. As a comparison the position of the jizoku in Japanese Zen temples might give some useful hints.
The role of the AFWJT is to prepare a bridge and support network for foreign women in Japanese temples, and also to Japanese women and family members dealing with similar situations in Buddhist temples. As we are foreigners in Japan we have another access to the Buddhist teachings through the English language. We would like to create opportunities in Japan to talk and learn about the Dharma in English and also to provide insight in the daily temple life and rituals for Shin Shu followers in Europe. Hopefully this presentation can be a contribution for this mutual exchange.
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Propagation of multilingual Shinshu texts through the internet
At the dawn of the third millennium we realize that speaking more languages has become a must… If we want to propagate Shinrans vision, we should take into account that it’s necessary to provide the basic texts in the mother tongue of the Shinshu follower – if possible. We can be happy: living in this era of the internet, we dispose of several tools to acquire this aim.
During this seminar you will be able to follow the process of creating a web site consisting of a Shinshu text in its Asian language (Chinese/Japanese), together with the Japanese syllables we chant in our temple, and its translation in a few European languages. Although using a Western operating system all the time, you will learn how you can type in the characters with macrons (like ? or ?), and even Japanese kanji, and combine them with one or more translations.
First we’ll learn how to create the website in its basic format (HTML or Hypertext Transfer Markup Language). In the second part we will use the more intelligent techniques of building sort of Lego blocks (via ASP or Active Server Pages): now our website is easier to maintain and more flexible to extend, and we can deliver up to date information on the fly.
At the end we’ll cover shortly the way you can have menus and help in several languages (even Japanese) by means of the so called Multilanguage User Interface.
Throughout the presentation we’ll use actual examples; we’ll even try to extend our website with a new translation or a new text on line! You don’t have to be a web developer to attend this meeting: we’ll keep the level to its basics. As an extra, we provide the computer professional with lots of tips and several elaborated downloadable documents.
Sorry about the more technical subject… but we promise to make this seminar as practical as possible: at the end we need a vehicle to propagate the dharma, don’t we?
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(German Jodo Shinshu Association)
The Evolution of Jodo Shinshu in Germany.
German Jodo Shinshu was founded on 16 January, 1956 - the first such group in Europe. I will give a short outline of its history. Then I will show how it has developed since its reorganisation in 1992 and the founding of Shin Do community centre and shrine room.
My main intention is to show the acculturation (to become part of the ordinary religious and cultural life - rather than being exotic) of Shinshu in a conservative and catholic dominated area, the difficulties in transcription and inner transportation of the essence of Shinran's teaching in the context of the general Buddhist teaching - and their acceptance among the diversity of the many Buddhist denominations within the national umbrella organisation.
I will also discuss our practice, social engagement and community life towards a holistic understanding of Buddhist teaching. Shinran's dissemination of the way to freedom will close my explanations.
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T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki
(New York Buddhist Church)
Thoughts on a pronunciation of the Nembutsu in the global community
Nembutsu is a common language among the Buddhist countries, especially among Mahayana Buddhist countries. As Jodoshinhsu is international and universal teachings, the language, especially our main practice form of the Nembutsu, needs to be given more thoughts on.
I believe that the language plays an important role for spreading and sharing Shin Buddhism in our global community on earth.
In many of service book in English, the Nembutsu is chanted as "Namandabu." It is a shorten form of Namo-amidabu(tsu). It may be good to shorten for Japanese people in Japan. As the Jodoshinshu Buddhism spread to the western world, we need to realize that the Nembutsu is not Japanese, and it is Sanskrit. In fact, namandabu is a kind of dialect (not a standard) of the Nembutsu, particularly well-adopted to Japanese language. Since English and other European languages are more closer to the Sanskrit Language, Namo-Amitabha or closer pronunciation, I believe, is preferable for Western countries.
This paper is intent to bring your attention to consider a role of pronunciation of the Nembutsu in the global world where we live now.
After all, the Nembutsu is our central practice.
1) How the Nembutsu is pronounced by other Buddhist countries; (including field study in various Buddhists in New York)
2) Pronunciation of [tsu]: namo(u)-amidabutsu vs namo(u)-amidabu; (sound of tsu is foreign sound for English speaker; addition of tsu creates seven syllables; deleting tsu can say Nembutsu smoothly with three beats, namo-ami-dabu)
3) Namanda vs namoamidabu; (Teaching a standard form "namoamidabu" is better than dialect form "namandabu", especially to the new people of the world. Even if people know namu-amida-butsu as appears in books, they cannot guess the meaning of namandabu, but, they can easily guess the meaning of namo-amidabu)
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Land of Peace, A Buddhist Center in Brazil
The paper intends to make a brief presentation of a project for rebuilding the larger Bamiyan Buddha in the geodesic center of South
America, to be the host of a dialogue among different religions.
Brazil has a long history of peaceful co-existence between different religious traditions and now aims to sponsor a Forum of Religions under the Buddhist initiative of the "Land of Peace Association", a non-profit organization settled in a 2.300 hectare farm in central Brazil.
The project includes the building of a Theravada Temple, a Chinese Temple, a Korean Temple, a Tibetan Temple and a Japanese Temple, as well as a Center for Inter-religious Education.
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(Prof. Buddhist Studies, Kyoto Women's University,
IABC Executive Secretary)
Learning from Eshinni Letters
- Our Daily Life of Shinjin Followers (2) -
In his works, Shinran Shonin (1173-1262) does not write anything on his daily life or his career, except of the Postscript of his major work, the Kyogyoshinsho. It is difficult, therefore, for us to know the concrete aspects of his daily life or his career.
For an example, I would like to attend to his marriage. Although it is well-known that Shinran Shonin was the first monk in Buddhist tradition to publicly take a wife and break dietary restrictions against eating meat, yet we have no definite and reliable materials that tell us how and when he married. Six years after he had become a disciple of Master Honen (1133-1212), Shinran was exiled to Echigo (present-day Niigata Pref:, remote country side, over three hundred km north-east from his native place, Kyoto) in 1201, while Master Honen, to Tosa about three hundred km south-west from Kyoto. While staying there under many difficulties of daily life of the exile for several years, he seems to have got married with Eshinni (1182-1270 ?). Some scholars consider that he had a wife besides Eshinni, and others say that he had only one wife. We also have no conclusive evidence to make it clear. Thus, the details of his life remained quite unclear until the discovery of Eshinni's letters. At least, these letters showed us evidently that Shinran and Eshinni had a Buddhist family.
In October, 1921, these 10 letters written by Eshinni, addressed to her youngest daughter Kakushinni (1224-1283), were discovered in the archives of Honpa Honganji (Nishi-Honganji), and edited as the tilte Eshinni Letters, (Eshinni-monjo). They immediately filled the gaps in Shinran's life at Mount Hiei which hitherto had remained a blank. This discovery of the letters was, therefore, an epoch-making event.
In the Eshinni Letters, we can see some aspects of Shinran's and Eshinni's daily life, which will be so helpful for us, I think, to consider ourselves how to live our daily life as nembutsu followers. Here, I would like to consider our own daily life, through reading some of them.
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Kemmyo Taira Sato
(Three Wheels, London)
My talk "On Doshu" is a brief introduction to Doshu, one of Rennyo Shonin's disciples, referring to some chapters from the "Rennyo Shonin Goichidai-ki-kikigaki".
My translation of Doshu's 21 resolutions will be shown at the end of the talk.
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(Director of the Office of Buddhist Education, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii)
The Shin Buddhist View of Education in relation to the Pedagogy of Steiner's Waldorf Schools
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Kyodan has been striving to attain the establishment of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission High School. This can be considered as a remarkable deed among Buddhist organizations and schools since the Hongwanji High School would be the first Buddhist High School in the United States. As well as the importance of academically demanding courses based on an expectation that every graduate is capable of enrolling and succeeding in college, developing a qualified Buddhist Values curriculum is indispensable as the main characteristic of the Jodo Shin Buddhist School. By using classroom lessons and life experiences, the students should be taught and guided to live a life of compassion, interdependence, and moral integrity that are at the core of Buddhist teachings.
President Terakawa Shunso of Otani University stated that in 1992, Otani started obligatory courses in ningengaku (anthropology or study of the person) based on the philosophy of Kiyozawa Manshi, the famous reformer of Shin Buddhism in the 20th century and the founder of Otani University. Ningengaku's aim is to give the students an opportunity to consider what is a human being and what is life. Terakawa asserted that the course is very important since before, the students have almost no education in such questions. Buddhism is very much the exploration of the human being. So instead of calling it Buddhist studies, Shunso said it is more relevant to call it ningengaku.
It is fascinating to discover that Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), who is the founder of Anthroposophy and the famous Waldorf Schools, extended a very similar view on education as Otani University's ningengaku. For Steiner, education means development. Proper education means development of the whole human being. According to scholars, the word itself composed of Anthropos, meaning "man", and Sophia, meaning "wisdom" or "knowledge". Thus, a real education can only be provided on the basis of a real knowledge of man, a knowledge which embraces the whole human being: body, soul and spirit. It is also significant to learn that according to Steiner, the core of moral education lies in the cultivation of the feeling of "gratitude". The feeling of gratitude should be directed not only to other people and the world around but also the divine beings who are the founding and sustaining powers of the universe. It is a matter of saying "thank you" not only to fellow human beings but also the higher powers for instance, saying grace at meals. I believe that this shares the same view of interdependence and relationality of Buddhist teachings.
Established in 1919, Waldorf school based on Steiner's Anthroposophy has flourished, becoming the fastest growing private school system and there are now approximately eight hundred schools world wide including not only Europe and America, but also Israel, Egypt, India and Japan.
As stated above, for Steiner the program of moral education based on knowledge of the human being as a whole is a core for his philosophy of education. However, Anthroposophy as the knowledge of man is also applied to the whole curriculum, including physical education, creative arts and crafts, gardening, science and mathematics, as well as an overall vision of the unity of religion, art and science. Some of the characteristic programs at Steiner's schools are handwork, gardening and first-aid. According to Steiner, the purpose of handworks is not only to learn skills but to appreciate the many facets of life. Education needs to be comprehensive. Concerning the gardening, Steiner believed that it is important for children to have given the opportunity to contact with the earth, and the students do some actual garden work at school. Art such as myth, fairy tale, story, symbolic image, mandala, poetry, drama, painting, music, and film is of particular importance for an education into spiritual psychology at Steiner's school since art has a harmonizing effect on the soul and it has a great part to play in education. "Eurythmy" is a new physical exercise developed for the Steiner's school children based on Steiner's philosophy that mind, body and spirit must function together to educate the whole human being. Steiner also encouraged the integration of psychology or "soul education" into the curriculum as a way to reflect on oneself and he talked about the importance to reach into one's unconsciousness and learn about own karma and reincarnation as a method of developing and transforming the whole person.
In the paper, I would like to explore the potentiality of how the philosophy and curriculum of Steiner's Waldorf school can be applied to the Honpa Hongwanji Mission High School in Hawaii by researching the existing programs and pedagogy of the Waldorf school and examining their adoptability to our Mission School in Hawaii.
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