How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

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KiwiNFLFan
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How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by KiwiNFLFan »

Hi, I'm currently living in New Zealand, where there are no Jodo Shinshu temples (in fact, as far as I know there are no Japanese temples of any kind here). I do not know any Jodo Shinshu practitioners in my city either.

What would be the best way to learn about Jodo Shinshu without having a Shin temple and priest to learn from? I have downloaded the Dharma School curriculum from the Buddhist Churches of America, but what do you suggest I read after that? Rev. Cirlea's books?

Also, would it be possible to develop a relationship with a priest over the internet (Skype/Zoom etc?)

I know about the correspondence course offered by the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, CA, but I cannot afford it at this time, so it's not an option.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

KiwiNFLFan wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:16 pm Hi, I'm currently living in New Zealand, where there are no Jodo Shinshu temples (in fact, as far as I know there are no Japanese temples of any kind here). I do not know any Jodo Shinshu practitioners in my city either.

What would be the best way to learn about Jodo Shinshu without having a Shin temple and priest to learn from? I have downloaded the Dharma School curriculum from the Buddhist Churches of America, but what do you suggest I read after that? Rev. Cirlea's books?

Also, would it be possible to develop a relationship with a priest over the internet (Skype/Zoom etc?)

I know about the correspondence course offered by the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, CA, but I cannot afford it at this time, so it's not an option.
I bet there are some streams. Or you can ask around the temples and shrines and maybe ask if they can stream or if you can be in contact with their priest. I think it is for sure possible to skype or zoom. While they might be bussy, but some of them might have some time.

My suggestion is to look around and if you cannot find anything then ask around. And you will see. Maybe some Jodo Shinshu groups on FB would know?
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.
cjdevries
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by cjdevries »

Rev. Kasahara operates a temple in Tokyo and provides a monthly OTSUTOME practice via zoom: https://www.rinkaian.jp/e/

He also provides the opportunity to become a formal sangha member of his temple in Tokyo even if you are from another country, via an official ceremony that he conducts online.
"Please call me by my true names so I can wake up; so the door of my heart can be left open: the door of compassion." -Thich Nhat Hanh

"Ask: what's needed of you" -Akong Rinpoche
cjdevries
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by cjdevries »

I believe Rev. Kasahara also answers questions over zoom.
"Please call me by my true names so I can wake up; so the door of my heart can be left open: the door of compassion." -Thich Nhat Hanh

"Ask: what's needed of you" -Akong Rinpoche
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明安 Myoan
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by 明安 Myoan »

Hi, Kiwi.
I follow a different school, but am in the same situation, as a Pure Land Buddhist in another Western country.
There are no Jodo Shu temples in my city or state, and I don't even know any other Buddhists in person, all online.

Fortunately, there are temples that have online services, especially now with COVID. You can often reach out to priests or webmasters of temple websites through email, just like Könchok and cjdevries wrote.
That's how I found my refuge temple.

Before then, I spent a lot of time reading Pure Land books, the sutras, looking for daily life practice advice.
Temple or not, priest or not, you can continue to recite nembutsu and develop something like an admirable friendship with Amida Buddha.

I recited nembutsu for about four years before finding a temple, but it's not like those four years were unproductive or a waste of time. They became the context for a relationship with a temple to have meaning.

Chu-hung wrote some simple, memorable advice that helps me when I feel isolated:
Universal Encouragement to Buddha-Remembrance

Studying Buddhism is not a matter of adornments and formalistic practices: the only thing that is important is genuine cultivation of practice. Buddhist laypeople who live at home do not need to dress like monks and nuns. People who keep their hair can make a constant practice of buddha-remembrance: they do not need to abide by the daily schedules of monks and nuns.
People who like quiet can practice buddha-remembrance [alone] in silence: they do not have to form groups and create associations [for the purpose].
People who fear untoward events can practice buddha-remembrance [at home] behind closed doors: they do not have to go to temples to hear the scriptures.
People who know how to read can practice buddha-remembrance according to the scriptural teachings.
Burning incense [in temples] far and wide is not as good as sitting peacefully in a hall at home practicing buddha-remembrance.
Serving misguided teachers is not as good as being obedient and filial to one's parents and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Making widespread connections with deluded friends is not as good as preserving one's purity alone and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Storing up merit for future lives is not as good as creating merit in the present by practicing buddha-remembrance.
Making vows and promising expiation [of wrongdoings] is not as good as repenting past faults, undergoing self-renewal and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Studying non-Buddhist books and texts is not as good as being totally illiterate and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Engaging in false talk about the principles of Zen without knowledge is not as good as genuinely main-taining discipline and practicing buddha-remembrance.
Seeking demonic spiritual powers is not as good as having correct faith in cause and effect and practicing buddha-remembrance.
To express the essential point, an upright mind annihilates evil. If you practice buddha-remembrance like this, you are called a good person. If you practice buddha-remembrance while reining in the mind and eliminating scattering, you are called a worthy person. If you practice buddha-remembrance while enlightening your mind and cutting off delusion, you are called a sage.
I urge people who are completely at leisure to practice buddha-remembrance. You have finished arranging marriages for your daughters. Your sons and grandsons are taking care of family business. You are secure and at leisure with no concerns. You should practice buddha-remembrance with your whole mind and your whole strength. Every day recite the buddha-name several thousand times, or even several tens of thousands of times.
I urge people who are half at leisure and half busy to practice buddha-remembrance. You are half through, half not through: sometimes you are busy, sometimes you are at leisure. Though you are not totally at leisure, when you are busy you should take care of business, and when you have free time, you should practice buddha-remembrance. Every day recite the buddha-name several hundred times, or several thousand times.
I urge people who are completely busy to practice buddha-remembrance. You are working on government affairs, or else running around taking care of family business. Though you have no free time, you still must steal a bit of free time amidst your busy life and practice buddha-remembrance. Every day recite the buddha-name ten times in the morning, and several hundred times during the day.
And please feel free to send me a PM any time.
Honen Shonin recommended reaching out to and supporting other nembutsu practitioners.
He wrote that doing so can nurture our own faith and practice :thumbsup:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the Nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen
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hng1388
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by hng1388 »

Hi Kiwi,

I was like you 25 years ago, when I became strongly interested to follow the Jodo Shinshu Path. I too. could not find a Jodo Shinshu temple in New Zealand where I live or an internet Sangha I could trust. Having carefully studied Master Shinran's magnum opus, the Kyo-Gyo-Shin-Sho over many years, I was keenly aware of the serious divergences being taught by most of the temples outside Japan. These misleading teachings which clearly contradicts what Master Shinran has taught, must have cause many would-be seekers to leave Jodo Shinshu.

Jodo Shinshu is a precious and wonderful Dharma Teaching that guarantees our Salvation from this painful samsara. It is easy to understand but extremely hard to believe. It would be fortunate to find a good Dharma friend (someone you call a teacher), who could guide you to receive Amida Buddha's Gift of Shinjin or to join a Sangha that follows strictly Master Shinran's words. However, if you are really serious about reaping the true benefits now and the assurance of getting out of samsara, you can still do it by yourself by listening deeply to the abundant expositions of Master Shinran now available. How you progress in Jodo Shinshu is entirely in your hands.

Namo Amida Butsu

Gassho,
Heng
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Zhen Li
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by Zhen Li »

Even in Japan, gatherings have been cancelled due to covid. Livestreams and zoom chats are getting more common—I think the advantages of these are being made apparent and they will hopefully continue in some form after the pandemic is considered over.
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: How to progress in Jodo Shinshu without a sangha?

Post by FiveSkandhas »

My humble advice:

Just chant nembutsu wherever you are with a heart full of faith and full entrusting. Be mindful of Amida Buddha as you go about your day.

If you like, and if you haven't already, read and study Tannisho and Kyōgyōshinshō, or other Pure Land classics like Jodoron, etc.

Try to live up to basic Mahayana lay morality and cultivate compassion, to the limited extent any of us can as deluded beings.

No need for much more: Amida Buddha will embrace you and never let go, right? although it's always nice to connect with teachers and fellow bonbu when you can. But they call pureland "the easy path" for a reason.
:bow:
南無阿弥陀仏。
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