Updated: Feb 4, 2021
The BCA is no stranger when it comes to the world of podcasts. In fact, they’ve been around since 2006 — when the Midwest Buddhist Temple began providing its Sunday services with Rev. Ronald Miyamura.
There’s a wide variety of podcasts available to Sangha members and anyone interested in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. The subject matter and tone covers the spectrum, ranging from the informal banter familiar to anyone who’s heard a radio show to Sunday services, and to light discussions about pop culture, young Buddhists, food and love to heavy topics like no-self, shinjin, suffering, doubt, and evil.
And anyone with a smartphone or a computer can access podcasts. The beauty of podcasts is that you can listen to them virtually anywhere — while multitasking, working out, at a playground with your children or grandchildren, on a hike, outdoors, cooking, gardening or in your car. Warning — they may prove to be irresistible and habit-forming.
The links provided aren’t the only ones available — podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud, Podbean, backtracks.fm, among a few channels. And they’re also available on the websites of the BCA, IBS and the temples and churches.
The new, updated BCA website has a page devoted to podcasts. For more information, go to: buddhistchurchesofamerica.org/podcasts
Here’s a rundown on some of the BCA podcasts and their links:
The longstanding podcast by Rev. Harry Bridge of the Buddhist Church of Oakland and IBS Dean of Students Dr. Scott Mitchell is currently on hiatus because of the pandemic as well as time and work demands, according to Rev. Bridge.
It’s been around for 12 years, with more than 100 podcasts and has featured special guests such as IBS research fellow Natalie Fisk Quli, who specializes in the social scientific study of contemporary Buddhisms.
Other topics featured in “Dharma Realm” have included: no-self and identity; social justice; race; ethics; Japanese Buddhism; and the diversity of Buddhist teaching.
For more information, go to: http://www.dharmarealm.com.
‘The Dharma Lantern’
Ten years ago, Rev. Henry Adams launched “The Dharma Lantern” podcast of Sunday services while still serving at the Oxnard Buddhist Temple and Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara. He’s since continued with a San Mateo Buddhist Temple podcast that contains talks with visiting ministers and occasional conversations with Sangha members.
“Oxnard is the only temple in Ventura County and Santa Barbara serves a large swath of the southern Central Coast, so both temples have members spread across a fairly large area,” Rev. Adams said. “Many aren't able to make it to services regularly, so I thought starting a podcast could be a way for Sangha members to get to stay connected with the teachings. It's not that much work to keep it up — although I do fall behind — so I've managed to continue. Rev. Bridge and Dr. Mitchell gave me some great guidance for getting started.”
Rev. Adams said that every summer, he comes up with a tentative outline for Dharma talk topics over the next year. “As we go along, I look for opportunities to connect the topic for that week to experiences members of the Sangha might be having at that time,” he said.
For more information, go to: https://www.dharmalantern.net.
‘Everyday Buddhism: A Jodo Shinshu Buddhism Podcast’
The Buddhist Church of Parlier has featured visiting ministers since 2017, and the roster is impressive: IBS President Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto, Rev. Matthew Hamasaki of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento, Rev. Ryuta Furumoto of the Senshin Buddhist Temple, and Rev. Kaz Nakata, who gave the Bodhi Day service message.
For more information, go to: https://everydaybuddhism.libsyn.com.
‘Institute of Buddhist Studies Podcast’
The IBS podcast is a digital archive of audio and video recordings of academic lectures and Dharma talks.
For more information, go to: http://podcast.shin-ibs.edu.
‘Midwest Buddhist Temple Dharma Talks’
Since 2006, the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Chicago has featured Sunday services via a podcast.
Resident Minister Rev. Ron Miyamura said the Midwest Buddhist Temple continues to have about 400 downloads of the podcasts each month. He said that a temple analysis a few years ago showed that the area with the most downloads was Texas.
“We feel the podcasts are important and we continue to keep them up each week,” Rev. Miyamura said.
Rev. Miyamura recalled a story that was tied to the podcasts a few years ago at the Fuken in Portland.
“Someone who I did not know taps me on the shoulder and asks if I am Rev. Ron. I said, ‘Yes,’ and he responded, ‘I recognized your voice.’ He was someone who automatically downloaded the podcasts each week.”
For more information, go to: https://mbtchicago.org/category/dharma-talks/,
‘No Doubt: A Shin Buddhist Approach’
Rev. Dr. Takashi Miyaji’s “No Doubt” podcast looks at current events, people, and language from a Jodo Shinshu perspective, as well as topics that address doctrinal issues. For more, see the accompanying story.
For more information, go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/no-doubt-a-shin-buddhist-approach/id1511351502.
‘Shin Buddhist Sangha Services’
These are Sunday services from the Tacoma Buddhist Temple officiated by Rev. Dr. Takashi Miyaji. He is currently making his Sunday services at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church available on YouTube.
For more information, go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shin-buddhist-sangha-services/id1517181914.
‘The Weekly Wheel’
The Weekly Wheel is the Orange County Buddhist Church’s podcast of its Sunday services, both in English and in Japanese, as well as new content submitted by ministers and Minister’s Assistants. It’s all created from scratch, according to OCBC Resident Minister Rev. Jon Turner.
It began three years ago when an OCBC Sangha member, Jim Scott, wanted to help those who could not attend Wednesday night meditation services in person, according to Rev. Turner. Instead of another study class, Scott wanted to reproduce the experience of a service. He composes the podcasts by aggregating audio content via a script he has written.
“The Weekly Wheel is meant to compliment study and to appeal to those that are interested more in practice,” Rev. Turner said. “We are not really thinking about outreach, but rather a way to expose others to the feeling and depth of Buddhism. We are on all the various podcast platforms — like Spotify, Apple, among others. We have also picked up subscribers globally as well.”
Rev. Turner said the podcast has had 10,000 total plays.
“We are trying to reach out in a variety of ways — different content on different platforms and then we try to cross promote — we have seen growth that is slow and steady.”
For more information, go to: https://soundcloud.com/weeklywheel.
Since 2018, Rev. Matthew Hamasaki of the Buddhist Church of Sacramento and Matt Tokeshi-Nitta, a Sacramento Sangha member, have been hosting an informal, friendly podcast covering topics of interest to young Buddhists. The topics have featured the Jr. YBA, Young Buddhist Editorial, Millennials, the mindfulness as seen by Mr. Rogers, Disneyland, pop culture, food, love and music.
“We felt that following college (and even during college), there was a disconnect with the temple for that particular age group,” Rev. Hamasaki said. “In trying to re-establish some sort of connection, we looked at different mediums and felt that one of the more effective ways to reaching them would be a podcast.”
The two Matts — who refer to each other as Rev. Matt and Regular Matt — try to post every other Sunday, but take breaks whenever they get busy with their own lives.
“We started out not really knowing where we would go with it, but recently we have found that the most interesting topics (to us at least) are the ones that people we know are most passionate about,” Rev. Hamasaki said. “It's more fun to have guests on the podcast and when we talk about what they are excited to talk about, it generates a good conversation. And, of course, we always try to show the relationship that the temple or Buddhism has influenced or continues to influence that particular individual's experience.”
He said the audience “Welcome Matts” is trying to reach are “those who have graduated college and older and have a little distance from the temple and are not quite ready to come back. The people who still want some Dharma in their life, but don't need to be there all the time. Of course, if there's people who can't get enough Dharma and want to listen, that's great, and we also are happy when people who have never been to a temple listen!”
The feedback to the podcast has been positive and they get around 90 to 100 listens per episode with the total number of listens at around 4,300 to date.
For more information, go to: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/welcome-matts/id1436622443.