The tradition taught at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple is Jodo Shinshu, the “true essence of the Pure Land way,” often called Shin Buddhism in English.

The teaching of Jodo Shinshu shares with all people a way to mindfully realize the true reality of human existence and to live a fulfilled life, grounded on something more profound and essential than mere happiness or unhappiness, with the guidance of Amida Buddha. The founder Shinran Shonin, who lived in the 12th century Japan, revealed this teaching for the sake of all human beings in suffering. The teaching resonated with many people regardless of social status.

In its almost 800-year history, Jodo Shinshu has become the most widespread form of Buddhism in Japan. This tradition came to Hawaii and North America in the late 19th century and was sustained initially by Japanese immigrant families. It has grown to include more than 100 temples in the United States and Canada. The congregation is also changing and has become more racially diverse. Most Jodo Shinshu temples in the mainland U.S. are affiliated with the Buddhist Churches of America.

Photography by Ryoji Iwata