Reading for a modern Shin

While there are many excellent and helpful publications listed in the “Books” section of Shin Dharma Net (see index at right), unfortunately, Shin literature isn’t easy to come by in general bookstores. Still, there are two consistently dependable sources: Buddhist Churches of America Bookstore (BCABS) in Berkeley, and the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Book Store (HHBS) in Honolulu. As good books become increasingly accessible, a more reliable understanding of the teaching will reach a wider audience, and its meaning for modern people become clearer.

Here are a few recent and forthcoming books to illumine our understanding of Shinran and Shin Buddhism:

>> “Cultivating Spirituality: A Modern Shin Buddhist Anthology,” by Mark L. Blum and Robert F. Rhodes (2011) SUNY Press (NY). This book contains essays by modern leading Japanese teachers of the Otani-Higashi Hongwanji tradition. The introduction provides an orientation to the modern development of Shin (Hardcover & Kindle eds. at Amazon).

>> Two by Jitsuen Kakehashi:

“Bearer of the Light: The Life and Thought of Rennyo,” Pure Land Publications (from BCAB). This text focuses on Shin Buddhism’s eighth monshu – successor to Shinran – who was active in the 15th century. He established Hongwanji organizationally and socially, making it a large and powerful religious community. Additionally, he was an eloquent propagator. Hongwanji still benefits from the impetus he gave it in early modern times.

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“Hearing the Buddha’s Call,” translated by Toshi Arai, and published recently by the Buddhist Study Center in Honolulu (contact the BSC for information). This book focuses on Shinran’s life and teachings, offering a modern interpretation based on important passages in his writings.

>> By Koshin Ohtani:

“The Buddha’s Wish for the World,” (1st ed., 2009), published by (and available through) the American Buddhist Study Center; and “The Buddha’s Call to Awaken” (available now at HHBS). They are translations of the present Monshu’s thought as he seeks to establish Shin Buddhism as both a socially relevant and a personal faith.

>> Finally, available August 15th (pre-order from Amazon) … “Shinran’s Kyogyoshinsho: The Collection of Passages Expounding the True Teaching, Living, Faith, and Realizing of the Pure Land,” by Daisetz Teitaro (D.T.) Suzuki. Here we have a re-publication of Dr. Suzuki’s translation of Shinran’s major work. Regrettably, Suzuki Sensei passed away before completing the final volume of the work.

I hope some of these books will fit into your reading schedule, and that by encountering their message you’ll gain new insights to deepen and enrich your 21st-century experience with Shin Buddhism.

Thanks for visiting.

Gassho _/_ Al Bloom

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p.s. As always, feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think.


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