Dharma Discussion: Suffering from Birth (September 27, 2020)

Consider your own birth, including the following factors:

  • Your family relationships (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.)
  • Your family’s circumstances when you were born. This could include race, ethnicity, economic status, etc.
  • Where you were born (country, city, local community, etc.)
  • Time: what were some important events in the world around you that have shaped your life since you were born.

Discussion Questions

  1. What challenges and difficulties have arisen in your life as a result of the circumstances of your birth?
  2. How did the circumstance of your birth create the conditions for you to seek the Dharma hear the Nembutsu?

Dharma Discussion: Incense (August 30, 2020)

Click here to read about incense offering etiquette in the Jodo Shinshu school, as well as other schools of Japanese Buddhism

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a fragrance that brings you peace of mind?
  2. Have you ever encountered someone who you felt was “adorned with the fragrance of light”?
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Dharma Discussion: Wisdom/Prajñā (August 23, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Wisdom

Discussion Questions

  1. What is a difficult situation that Buddhist wisdom has enabled you to accept with peace of mind?
  2. What is a difficult situation that Buddhist wisdom has given you to courage to work to change?
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Dharma Discussion: Concentration/Dhyāna (August 16, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Concentration

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever experience a state of deep concentration that enabled to you do an activity skillfully and without distraction, sometimes described as a “flow state” or being “in the zone”? What gave rise to that state of mind? Were you able to replicate it on more than one occasion?
  2. Has Buddhist practice in general, and the Nembutsu specifically, helped you to cultivate a concentrated mind at times?
  3. What the greatest obstacles you face in maintain mental concentration?
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Dharma Discussion: Diligence/Vīrya (August 2, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Diligence

Discussion Questions

  1. What motivates you to study the Buddha’s teachings?
  2. How have the goals that you are working to achieve in your life shifted as a result of hearing the Dharma and the Nembutsu?
  3. How has your way of working changed as a result of your encounter with the Nembutsu?
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Dharma Discussion: Kṣānti (July 26, 2020)

Click here to read about the Buddhist Virtue of Patience

How is patience defined in Mahayana Buddhism?

Three aspects[i]

(1) not giving rise to anger or annoyance—not getting angry in the first place

(2) not clinging to hatred and grudges—if you get angry, not holding onto it

(3) not harboring ill will

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Dharma Discussion: Śīla (July 19, 2020)

Please review the Bodhisattva Precepts

Discussion Questions

  1.  How do you practice these precepts in your daily life?
  2. Is there meaning in doing one’s best, even though one is not able to practice these perfectly in daily life?
  3. Which of these do you think our world needs most at the present moment?

Honen’s Perspective on upholding precepts (from The Passages on the the Selection of the Nembutsu in the Original Vow)

If the original vow required us to make images of the Buddha and to build stupas, the poor and destitute would surely have no hope of birth, but the fact is that the rich and highborn are few, while the poor and lowborn are exceedingly many.  

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