DaveKS wrote:Thanks for all the awesome advice! I also just found two Shin Buddhism centers nearby and their beliefs and practices appeal to me. I might try attending one of their Sunday services first.
Good that you found something that appeals to you!
Shin's one of the oldest forms of Buddhism in America and very much oriented towards householders.
In coming to the US at the turn of the 20th century, they instituted some cultural forms that they felt would be more familiar to people here - so expect pews instead of zafus (meditation cushions) and organ music instead of bells and fish-drums. Shin centers are also very family-oriented, and many centers have things for the kids. They primarily focus on the Pure Land sutras, which are focused on Amida/Amitabha and they are a more faith-oriented form of Buddhism. Though depending on the branch, they may take a more metaphorical stance instead of a purely literal stance on those sutras. They will teach general Buddhist theory that you are attracted to and their practices are relatively simple. We covered the shorter Amitabha (Pure Land) sutra here on DharmaWheel in the Pure Land subforum and in that sutra are allusions to the 37 limbs of Enlightenment, which covers the 8 fold path, the 4 noble truths, and the 7 factors of Enlightenment. Shin Buddhists also study writings from the founder Shinran, who's views almost echo Soto Zen founder Dogen's words about non-grasping and self-acceptance.
Just remember, if it doesn't fit, or makes you feel uncomfortable, don't give up, just keep reading, researching, and trying out the various schools until you find one that suits you. There are many dharma doors because people have different capacities & needs, so keep shopping until you find what you need.