What We Don’t Talk About

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

By Taylor Kawate Oxnard Buddhist Temple

Twelve years. Even after 12 years of being a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist, I have so many questions.

While Buddhism is fascinating, it isn’t the sutra chanting, glorious onaijin, oshoko offerings, or even the Dharma talks that keep me going to the temple (and no, it’s not my parents either). I stick with this religion because I know that deep down, at the core of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, there is a truth. I feel it. This truth is what I not only want to study, but learn about and ultimately understand — shinjin.

To be brutally honest, I feel like shinjin is a forbidden topic in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. It is almost never mentioned or explained, only hinted at or indirectly alluded to.

In the summer of 2018, I had the pleasure of attending the Buddhist Youth Retreat (BYR) pilot program. The weeklong retreat was an unforgettable experience as I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot about Buddhism. But an interesting moment during the retreat was when one of my fellow attendees mentioned the word “shinjin” in a Dharma talk. It almost came out of nowhere, even surprising the ministers. However, what could have been an interesting conversation about this mysterious “shinjin” was cut short with a blunt, “we don’t really talk about that (shinjin)”. And just like that, the word was never mentioned again.

When I go