Living Dharma Centre Virtual Book Club

This spring we will be reviewing “Dharma Breeze – Essays on Shin Buddhism” by Dr. Nobuo Haneda. A Japanese-born Buddhist scholar, translator, and teacher. Dr. Haneda is the Director of the Maida Institute for Buddhism in Berkeley, California and comes from the teaching line of Kiyozawa-Akagerasu-Maida-Haneda which is important in the powerful way they get us to take a fresh look at the world.

The following excerpt is from an article written by Rev. Fred Ulrich after a talk given by Dr. Haneda at the Manitoba Buddhist Temple in 1992:

“Dr. Haneda challenged us to redefine our priorities, to place the emphasis in our temples on the essence of Buddhism, the Living Tradition and "not on the ethnic and cultural elements or part of the Dead Tradition...This is the essence of Buddhism. It is the spirit of the student, the seeker. It is also the creative spirit. The living tradition comes directly from Sakyamuni himself, from his enlightenment which was the insight into the truth of impermanence." Dr. Haneda goes on to explain that there is a difference between culture and religion: "Culture is not self-negating. It is something that we enjoy. Religion, on the other hand, challenges and negates the self. Culture can give us amusement, comfort and pleasure, but only the Dharma can give us deep joy, rebirth and a fundamental spiritual transformation."

Dharma Breeze is a straightforward, easy to read book that anyone wishing to learn more about Shin Buddhism should read…..whether you agree with his views or not. The essays are grouped together in four sections: 1. Amida Buddha, .2 The Pure Land, 3. True Practice and 4. General Topics. Beginning March 1 we will spend approximately two weeks on each section, with discussion/posts at the end of each section.

This book is available through the BCA bookstore (unfortunately, not available through Chapters or in electronic format) so please give yourself enough time to order the book in.

We encourage you to read the book and begin to interact with our world-wide virtual sangha. It should create some lively discussion!

If you have not already signed up for the club, and wish to join, please contact:

Barb MacCarl     

Note: a Gmail account is required to make posts/comments

An Update on How the LDC Virtual Book Club Works

Hello everyone!  
We are planning the reading and review of another book for the winter/spring 2017 time which will be "Buddhism of the Heart" by Jeff Wilson (ISBN 0-86171-583-7). Jeff Sensei is a Buddhist Scholar who teaches at a Canadian university. This book is insightful, thought provoking and quite humorous in spots.

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We will be starting this session on January 21, 2017, so if you would like to be involved with this book, be sure to pick up a copy, available through Chapters or Amazon  (also available in Kindle and Kobo versions) or from your local temple.
After feedback from the last book review, we have decided to use a Private “Google Group” to facilitate this next session. We believe this should make it easier for everyone to respond to and review everyone’s responses.  As this will be a private group, it will require you to have a “Google account” (with Gmail e-mail address) to participate.  There’s no charge to set up an account & Gmail email address.

  • If you already have a Google account and have already provided us with your Gmail address, there’s nothing further you need to do until you receive your invite to join the group – Jan. 21st.
  • If you do have a Gmail address but didn’t provide it, please send it to: and to
  • If you do not have a Google account, please set one up at: and provide us ( and with your new Gmail address.
Dorothy Gigliotti is assisting Barb MacCarl with the set up of the Group.  Please include her in any correspondence regarding your set up.  Dorothy can also be contacted, if you need further assistance to set up your Google account or participation in the group, by emailing her at   
Once you’ve set up a Google account and sent in your new Gmail address, the next step is to look for a Google group invite, which will be sent to you by email.  Follow the instructions to connect to the group and your journey will begin!! 

This is a brand new year, let's learn, grow and make the most of it together!

Barb MacCarl
Books and Education  
Living Dharma Centre

Living Dharma Centre Book Club

The Living Dharma Centre is starting a Virtual Book Club this fall. We invite interested people to read a specific book chosen every three months and sign up for email participation and discussion.

The first selections for the months of September, October and November, we have chosen two titles. Both are excellent introductions to Shin Buddhism and are easily understandable. These books are available through Chapters Indigo and Amazon.

River of Fire, River of Water   By  Taitetsu Unno

River of Fire, River of Water was published in 1998 and speaks for itself as being a classic in Shin Buddhism literature. Written by  the wonderful teacher and Shin Scholar, Tai Unno, if you have not already read it, we encourage you to.

Call of the Infinite  By John Paraskevopoulos
Call of the Infinite was first published in 2009 and the following are a few comments made by people who have read it:  

"Call of the Infinite  is a rare and lovely thing: a succinct treatment in 96 pages of the major concerns of Shin faith and life which manages to be compelling for all its brevity. Author John Paraskevopoulos is an Australian convert who is also a Shin priest. He has the marvellous ability to anticipate a reader's questions and answer them in straightforward fashion in a clear, lively prose."

“I wouldn't hesitate to recommend CALL OF THE INFINITE to one who has no previous background in Shin Buddhism. I feel confident that such a reader could then go on to the more fully-orbed works of such established writers as Alfred Bloom, Dennis Hirota, Kenneth Tanaka, and Taitetsu Unno. “ -Peter M. Schogol

“This is a deeply thoughtful work and is a mature and useful guide for the spiritually hungry or perplexed. It is brief, but not epigramic; each paragraph gives the reader plenty to contemplate, but the meaning is always clear. The book is written in beautifully constructed English - not something one can take for granted in any published work. It is also cleverly and clearly structured.”- M.F. Healsmith

If you have any question or to sign up for discussion emails please contact Barb MacCarl:

Japan Tour 2016

Japan Tour

Following the Footsteps of Buddha


We just got back from an amazing 14 day tour which included many friends, family and Jodo Shinshu temple members from across Canada. The group of 24 people was led by Roy and Itoko Akune who were going to India for the 3rd time.

The first week covered what is referred to as the “Golden Triangle”: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. We visited popular tourist attractions such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, City Palace, Jantar-Mantar Observatory, the Pink City, and Amber Fort. We began the pilgrimage portion of the trip the second week. We flew to Varanasi and proceeded by bus to historical sites where the Buddha spent critical periods of his life. In Sarnath, the Buddha gave his first sermon. In Bodhgaya he spent 6 years in penance in a mountain cave, Dungeshwari, then renounced his austere practice to take a more moderate approach.

Time for reflection under Mahabodhi Tree (photo by Brenda Ikuta)

We visited the Mahabodhi Temple and the Mahabodhi tree, said to be a descendent of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. We visited Vultures Peak where Buddha preached the Larger Sukhavati Vyuha Sutra and the site of Nalanda University, the oldest Buddhist university. We visited Vaishali where he spent his last rainy season and Kushinagar where he passed away. We crossed into Nepal to visit Lumbini, the sacred garden where he was born. We ended with Sravasti where he spent 24 rain retreats.

A service at Vultures Peak overlooking the Valley where the Larger Sukhavati Sutra (Jodo Shinshu) was delivered to the 1500 Bikkhus. (photo Brenda Ikuta)

India is definitely a land of dramatic contrasts, overwhelming sights and sounds, unbelievable experiences around every corner, and is steeped in a history that includes a diversity of cultures and religions. Our guides spoke English and were extremely knowledgeable in the history of Buddhism and Indian culture. They organized a variety of experiences for us which included a tour of the National Art Museum, rixe/rickshaw rides through the byways of old Delhi, an elephant ride to the Amber Fort, boat excursions on the Ganges River, visits to government approved traditional craft and textile cooperatives, and an opportunity to enjoy traditional dance and music. We were able to visit amazing temples from a variety of religions (Islam, Hindu, Jain, Baha’i) and Buddhist sects (Thai, Bhutanese, Japanese, Tibetan). The transportation experience in itself was memorable; our drivers were thankfully very adept at maneuvering the incredible traffic and road conditions.

This cave was just below Vultures Peak where they believe Buddha stayed during some of his rain retreats. (photo Brenda Ikuta)

The group was wonderfully cohesive and we have spent the last few weeks sharing our reflections and post-trip learning as we try to understand our experiences better. Our deepest gratitude to our leaders, Roy and Itoko, who spent countless hours coordinating with the tour company both before and during the trip - such generosity and warmth in looking out for all of us! It was wonderful to have an opportunity to experience situations with a Jodo Shinshu perspective and to have services at many meaningful sites. We have a lot to process in the coming months. Some of us will be available to share more information with Temple members so stay tuned. And please consider joining one of these JSBTC pilgrimages if you are able to in the future…they are well worth it!!

In gassho,

Brenda Ikuta