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Streams of Light: Shin Buddhism in America

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We've all heard of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. It's a branch of Buddhism, right? Right. Originated from Japan? Correct. But after that, things start to get a little hazy. The truth is many Western converts overlook the tradition, favoring Zen and Tibetan practices. Yet Jodo Shinshu became transnational long before other Buddhist practices set foot on American soil. Much of Buddhism's early American history was written by Jodo Shinshu practitioners.

In 1898, a group of young Japanese American immigrants founded the religious association “Soko Bukkyo Seinen-kai," or “San Francisco Buddhist Youth Association." Soon after, the Nishi Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto began to dispatch Japanese priests to the USA. This community would form the Buddhist Mission of North America (BMNA), which would become one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the United States. 

This documentary film explores the history of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America through archival materials jointly maintained by the Buddhist Churches of America and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), as well as interviews with priests who are actively serving temples in the United States.


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worthmoremusic's picture

Interesting film. Was not all that familiar with the Shin sect of Buddhism. Thank you for sharing !


zenja's picture

Thanks that was lovely .

cmccann13's picture

Beautiful film.

nathanbaker's picture

Shinran cultivated a deeper understanding of his own beliefs, the Pure Land teachings of Hōnen.

Pema Gilman's picture

As a lineage Dharma teacher in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism I was delighted by the similarities I found in the expressions of Shin Buddhism as conveyed in this film. The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha is the living stream linking all Buddhist sects. I offer my gratitude from an open heart/mind. May Buddhadharma flourish in the hearts of all who encounter it. Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Swaha.

gerry_yancey's picture

Very beautiful, thank you so much for the much needed enlightenment of the path of Shin Buddhism.
3 bows

mattbard's picture

...the absolutest most remote Oscar contender.....a little while into the film , i felt it was going to be a boring grinding of old history stories, and it was a tiny bit so.... slowly, a wave of respect for the profound sincerity and efforts to make Shin Buddhism "alive n well" into the future for different generations, and cultures began to reveal itself. Good luck in Brazil, may the dharma shed light to all hearts. matt