July 2019

Book Review
Tricycle 294.307 T6 v.28 no.4

In this issue (Summer 2019) is an article on “The most important scholar of Buddhism you’ve never heard of” by Wendy Joan Biddlecombe Agsar, Tricycle’s Audience Development Editor. Agsar writes that the Canadian academic, Richard H. Robinson, opened the doors to Buddhist scholarship in the United States and produced a generation of Buddhist thinkers.

Born in 1926, Robinson developed an interest in Asia as a teenager. After graduating from the University of Alberta, he enrolled at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London several years later to study Chinese and Buddhism.

In 1960, Robinson was hired by the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an assistant professor. He taught Chinese, Sanskrit, and Asian Art. He convinced Wisconsin to start a dedicated doctorate program in Buddhist Studies in 1961. The first graduate of the program was Lewis Lancaster, who went on to start a PhD program at the University of California, Berkeley.

Prof. Robinson, 44, critically burned in heater’s blast, died from complications related to the accident. He had started the country’s first dedicated doctorate degree in Buddhist studies.

April 2019

Book Review by Glenn Kameda
Buddhadharma 294.307 B722
v. 17 no.1

This issue includes “Shin Buddhism Is American Buddhism” by Dr. Scott Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell is the Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai Professor of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Studies, and Dean of Students and Faculty Affairs at the Institute of Buddhist Studies.

In this article, Dr. Mitchell makes a point of emphasizing that Shin Buddhism today in these United States is American Buddhism. Too often due to Shin Buddhism’s ties to Asia and specifically to Japan, Jodo Shinshu is known as “Japanese Buddhism” or Asian Buddhism.

Dr. Mitchell writes how Shin Buddhism has evolved into an American Buddhism. He also states how temple members through cultural ties emphasize the Japanese ties.

Please check out this magazine in the Library and read this fascinating article on American Buddhism.

March 2019

New acquisitions: Camp Amache : the story of an American tragedy. In 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ten various camps were opened to hold Japanese-Americans and people of Japanese ancestry.

This is about Camp Amache located in Southeastern Colorado. John Hopper, teacher at Granada High School and his students are custodians of Camp Amache. This DVD tells the story of the people who were incarcerated there.

February 2019

Book Review
Tricycle 294.307 T6
v. 28 no.2

In this issue (Winter 2018) is an article on “A Dose of Equanimity” by Wendy Joan Biddlecombe Agsar. Agsar writes that Suzanne Harvey is likely the only Buddhist in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. When Suzanne Harvey (D-Nashua) defeated a seven-term Republican incumbent in 2004, her victory was seen as an upset. But the real shift in her political career happened a few years later, when she met her future Buddhist teacher, Lama Willa Miller of the Natural Dharma Fellowship, and started on the path to becoming a Buddhist.

After a decade of service and an increasing divisiveness in the Republican-controlled house (which led to an increase in her mantra recitations during marathon debates), Harvey did not seek reelection when her fifth term ended in December.

But Harvey wants to inspire other Buddhists to run for public office at the local, state, and national levels. “As Buddhists we haven’t made our voices heard in the public arena... I think it could really change the conversation. Pick your issue or two and get out there and make a difference,” Harvey says.

January 2019

I was looking at the Summer 2017 issue of the Tricycle. This issue that I picked at random was filled with interesting articles. One was about the Japanese internment experience, another about solutions for climate, and what should we do when everything seems to be going wrong.

The thing that I like about Tricycle is that it shows so many different ways of experiencing Buddhism by people who are following different Buddha paths, but in the end we are all on the same life journey. Try reading an article to two, try it, you’ll like it.

December 2018

Book Review by Glenn Kameda

294.307 P1 Pacific World: Journal of the ser. 3, no. 16
Institute of Buddhist Studies

Included in this issue of the Pacific World is a book review by Jonathan H.X. Lee on Immigrants to the Pure Land: The Modernization, Acculturation, and Globalization of Shin Buddhism, 1898-1941, authored by Michihiro Ama.

Michihiro Ama explores the following question in regards to the development of Shin Buddhism in Hawaii and the Mainland. Why do Shin Buddhists in the United States refer to their religious institutions as a church? Why does a Shin Buddhist temple resemble an Anglo-Protestant church? Why do Shin Buddhists have Sunday services and boards of trustees that emulate Protestant services and organizational structures?

The Author diverts from the traditional beliefs of the whys and finds historical evidence that defines Shin Buddhist acculturatiion as “a blending process consisting of Japanization and Americanization of Jodo Shinshu”.

Readers may have a better understanding (view) of the development of Shin Buddhism in America within Michihiro Ama’s writings.


As many of you might have noticed, things are afoot in our library. We have a recall on all library books checked out. If you are still reading them, just let us know and it will be fine.

We are starting to cull our collection. One reason is that our space is very limited and we are running out of room. Another reason is with the advent of the Internet, you have so many other resources for information. Therefore, we are keeping mainly books on Buddhism and books on the Japanese American experiences in America. If you would like to donate books on these subjects, we would like to have them.

Last year during the bazaar, gently used books on Japanese culture, Japanese authors and Buddhism were sold at the bookstore booth. Books that fit into these categories from the library’s collection that are culled will be sold there.

Thank you for your support of the library and for your patience during this transition.

Support the Buddhist Churches of America Bookstore
The BCA Bookstore has been serving the Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) since 1959. Shop online or at the store in the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley, CA. Visit the BCA Bookstore website for Buddhist books, cards, clothing and gifts. Also available are Obon Odori essentials and Buddhist goods.

June 2017

New Acquisitions

Stars at dawn : forgotten stories of women in the Buddha's life / Wendy Garling.

May 2017

Book Review

Colonel Olcott, his service to Buddhism by B.P. Kirthisinghe and M.P. Amarasuriya
294.32 K367c

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott was born in New Jersey in 1832 and died in India in 1907. In 1874, Olcott met Helena Blavatsky and a year later, they founded the Theosophical Society. The main objectives of the society were to establish the nucleus of a universal brotherhood if humanity and to promote the study of comparative religion and philosophy. He also became interested in Eastern religions, especially Buddhism.

In 1878, Olcott and Madame Blavatsky set out for India to study various religions there, and they arrived in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 1880. They became the first Westerners to receive the refuges and precepts in a traditional ceremony to become Buddhists.

Although Emperor Asoka had propagated Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the third century CBE, but when Colonel Olcott arrived in Sri Lanka in 1880, there were only three Buddhist schools in this Buddhist country. The education system was dominated by the Christian churches. He was successful in revitalizing Buddhism within Sri Lanka and influenced many native Buddhist intellectuals. Colonel Olcott also designed the Buddhist flag. The flag was accepted as the international Buddhist flag by the World Fellowship of Buddhists, which met in Sri Lanka in 1950.

April 2017

New Acquisition

Traveling the bumpy road by Jane Omori (American Buddhist Study Center Publication series no. 3)
294.307 O556t

Book Review

294.307 B722 v. 15 no.3

This issue includes “There is no author” by Judy Roitman, who is a teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen.

According to tradition, the reportedly 84,000 sutras are dialogues among Shakyamuni Buddha, his disciples, and other buddhas and bodhisattvas, remembered by Ananda, who dictated them to the assembly after the Buddha’s death. Roitman states that historical evidence indicates that the sutras were written down centuries after the Buddha’s death in either Sanskrit or Pali, neither of which is a language the Buddha spoke.

For example, the Heart Sutra is supposed to be a record of words spoken by the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara to the Buddha’s disciple Shariputra. Evidence shows that the Heart Sutra was compiled by a Chinese monk. The Sanskrit version of the Heart Sutra was a back translation from Chinese.

Roitman writes “The texts are meant to embody a community’s truths. They are not supposed to emanate from an individual’s mind. They would have no validity otherwise”.

March 2017

New acquisitions

Becoming Buddhist, becoming Buddha, liberating all beings / Gregory G. Gibbs.
    294.387.  G311b

Book Review

Tricycle 294.307 T6 v. 26 no.2
One of the stories in this issue (Winter 2016) is “The Buddhist history of movable type” by M. Sophia Newman, MPH, a writer and global journalist. The history of mass printing in the West started in the 1440s with the introduction of a mechanical movable type printing by a German printer, Johannes Gutenberg. But in the East, in 1234, the Goryeo dynasty, a monarchy ruling the area of the modern Korean peninsula, commissioned a civil minister, Choe Yun-ui, to print a Buddhist text, The Prescribed Ritual Text of the Past and Present. This 50-volume book would have required a large number of woodblocks, the printing technique used by China’s Song dynasty. So Choe Yun-ui came up with an alternative way. Using a method to mint bronze coins, he cast individual characters in metal. He arranged the characters in aframe and coated with ink to press many sheets of paper. By 1250, the project was completed. It was the first book ever printed in movable metal type. Printing helped maintain Korea’s religion as Mongols took control of the peninsula.

Febuary 2017

Book Review by Glenn Kameda

Tricycle 294.307 T6 v. 26 no.2

Included in this issue (Winter 2016) is “The Buddha’s baggage” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Abbot of Metta Forest Monastery in Northern San Diego County.

Baggage is reference to Karma. Does Karma shape everything you experience? Thanissaro Bhikkhu explains the Buddhist concept of Karma, what is and what it is not. He states that most people have a simplistic definition of Karma, and most often the expression is misleading. Thanissaro Bhikkhu expounds on “Everything you wanted to know about Karma but were afraid to ask”. Pay special attention to the article’s section on “skillful and unskillful intentions” of your actions. He also states that we have some “freedom” on how you treat/respond to the Karma seeds within; you can be proactive in preventing suffering.

This article is a highly recommended reading and discussion material for those with basic Buddhist comprehension.

January 2017

New Acquisitions
Just live! On becoming a Buddhist / Ruth M. Tabrah.
294.387. T116

Book Review
Buddhadharma 294.307 B722
v. 15 no.2

This issue includes “We’ve Been Here All Along” by Funie Hsu, assistant professor of American Studies at San Jose Stare University and serves on the board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

Hsu says it’s time to recognize the contributions of Asian American Buddhists--and face up to the cultural appropriation that has all but rendered then invisible in mainstream white American Buddhism.

In the early 1990s when Tricycle editor, Helen Tworkov wrote, “The spokespeople for Buddhism in America have been, almost exclusively, educated members of the white middle class…Asian American Buddhists…so far…have not figured prominently in the development of something called American Buddhism.”

Rev. Ryo Imamura, an 18th -generation Jodo Shinshu priest, who also served in the Buddhist Churches of America as a temple priest, responded with a letter to the editor: “I would like to point out that it was my grandparents and other immigrants from Asia who brought and implanted Buddhism in American soil over 100 years ago despite white American intolerance and bigotry. It was my American-born parents and their generation who courageously and diligently fostered the growth of American Buddhism despite having to practice discretely in hidden ethnic temples and in concentration camps…. It was us Asian Buddhists who welcomed countless white Americans into our temples, introduced them to the Dharma, and often assisted then to initiate their own Sangha….” Rev. Imamura’s letter was never published.