Welcome to the Western Quarter!

This blog is devoted to the propagation of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, a 750-year-old Buddhist tradition.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Importance of Study

I am currently deployed to Afghanistan so unfortunately I cannot post as often as I would like to this blog! However, during the down time here (and in the absence of many recreational activities we take for granted!), I am taking the opportunity to engage in some study of the Pure Land texts. Although we rightly say that faith, or tariki ("Other-Power") is foremost in our tradition, this does not necessarily imply that we shouldn't take advantage of studying the writings of not only Shinran Shonin, our founder, but also of the Seven Pure Land Masters the sutras themselves, and even writings by contemporary Pure Land scholars and priests. This is the reason for my earlier posts of some quotes and other books. In my job as chaplain, I often encounter Buddhists and it still surprises me of how little is known of their own traditions. However, this equally is true of many members in our Jodo Shinshu temples, who for one reason or another have never picked up a Pure Land text other than the service book for chanting. Although we are a tradition of ritual, like other Buddhist traditions, we should also remember that Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin actively promoted the study of the Pure Land, through their letters and writings, and asked that their letters be read to others. It's not just for scholars! Ideally, we should all put on our "scholar cap," take a break from the TV or Internet, and pick up a Pure land text to read. Every time I read the writings of the Masters, I still find something new and inspiring, that can speak directly to me although they were written centuries ago. Don't think that the texts are "too intellectual" or too hard to read - take a chance and go to the source! This is how we can eliminate our own doubts about the efficacy of the Pure Land, and Jodo Shinshu teachings.

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