podcasts and other things

The new episode of the DharmaRealm is up. (Go listen! Now!)

I’m actually sort of excited about this one. We got a really interesting question from a listener about Jodo Shinshu practice in the context Noah Levine’s Dharma Punx that took us to some unexpected places.

That’s sort of the m.o. for the podcast, really. It seems to me that Harry and I have very tenuous ideas about what we’re going to talk about, and we often just follow the flow of conversation and hope it all comes out okay. This time around, we talked about practice in American Shinshu and new ways to engage the Dharma.

One of the things we recognize is that the BCA is very much “family Buddhism.” This is a double-edged sword, of course. One the one hand, it acknowledges that people have families, they have kids and jobs and lives, and it can be very difficult to practice Buddhism. So the BCA creates a space that is extremely open and welcoming to anyone complete with Dharma Schools for the kids. But this can also be really difficult for the solitary practitioner. It can be hard to find your place in a century-old community where there are long-standing family networks if you yourself don’t have a family or pre-exisiting ties. It’s a real problem, and Harry and I certainly don’t solve the issue in this one episode, but I was excited to have a chance to talk about it regardless.

In point of fact, I’m pretty fired-up about Buddhism in general lately. (I had a very productive week!) It seems to me like we’re living in very exciting times not only for the BCA but for Buddhism in America more generally. Older institutions are in a process of change; this can be unsettling but I think ultimately we’ll be better able to serve our communities. And newer institutions are starting to mature and come into their own element. Folks are embracing newer technologies to share the Dharma; but we’re also embracing what stuffy academics call newer ritual technologies, i.e., different ways to practice, different techniques and even ritual objects or texts, often from new or different Buddhist sources.

I know I can get a little snarky, sarcastic, and overly-critical around here. (Which is fun!) But I also want to somewhat sentimentally celebrate the good stuff happening out there in the Buddhist world. I saw a nod to the Institute of Buddhist Studies’ News and Events Blog and Podcast over on Rev. Fisher’s blog (thanks for the props — I manage both of those so it’s much appreciated) and he commented on how much cool Buddhist stuff there is out on the Internet. I couldn’t agree more!

At any rate, even though we haven’t made any definite plans yet — we haven’t set a date or reserved space or figured out what we’re going to talk about — I’m going to start promoting it anyway. Harry and I want to do an episode of the podcast recorded before a live audience. It’ll probably be at the Jodo Shinshu Center, probably in September. Spread the word. And if you’re interested, let us know.

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