the eshinni honen connection

Last month, Shin Buddhist scholar Dennis Hirota delivered the Ryukoku Lecture at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. Prof. Hirota is rather well known in both the academic and practitioner communities largely due to his translation work, much of which is used on a near daily basis in North American Shin Buddhist communities.

dealing with others

In preparing for a talk I’m giving at the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin next week, I’m reviewing the classics, the Kyogyoshinsho, the Tannisho, and so on. And I came across the following passage from the latter:

Supposing that followers of other schools ridicule us by saying that the Name is meant for those of low intelligence and that this teaching is shallow and inferior, we should avoid any dispute and reply: “As we are convinced that the ignorant who are poorly gifted and illiterate like ourselves will be delivered by Faith, for us this is the supreme doctrine, even though it may seem contemptible to those of higher ability. Although other teachings may be superior, we cannot practice them because they are beyond our powers. Since the original intention of all the Buddhas is to free everyone from birth-and-death, we request those of other views not to interfere with us.” If we treat them without malice, who then will harm us?


Something buried in this post — this delightful, insightful, post-colonial critique-ful post — by Arunlikhati (of course) caught my eye. “Dharmic evolution.”
I’m going to say it. Evolution has nothing to do with the Dharma.
Now look. I love evolution as much as the next guy. In fact, I’m a big fan of science in general. I mean, how can you not like science? It’s given us USB flash drives, penicillin, and the new Star Trek movie. C’mon. How cool is that? But the theory of evolution cannot be applied to human culture, society, or religion. It just can’t.

dharma music

What would be really interesting, of course, would be something bringing these elements together. What would be really cool would be someone making music that brings together the best of both worlds. Which, of course, isn’t a radically new idea, and I think you could make a case for Ravenna Michalsen’s music being a representative example of such blending of traditions — hers is, essentially, devotional music directed toward her teacher, the Buddha, and the Dharma, but arranged in the Western musical tradition.