One Heart

What is Shinnyo-en?


In Buddhism, there are many types of training to help us access our pure core, our buddha nature, and attain wisdom.  That is what is meant by enlightenment and salvation.  Those who come to Shinnyo-en are first invited to join services and home meetings.  On these occasions, there is sutra-chanting, and followers' experiences and teachings are presented.  Services are held on various days for different purposes, such as spiritual consolation for the deceased, purification, and important Buddhist observances.  In Shinnyo-en, the basic daily training is called the Three Practices.  In addition to these, there is also meditation training and study of the doctrine.

Three Practices

The Three Practices are called kangi, gohoshi, and otasuke and are a concentrated form of traditional Buddhist training (the Six Paramitas).  They are all a means of putting aside the ego, practicing generosity, and cultivating a caring and compassionate heart.

The first of the Three Practices is "service" (gohoshi), and involves giving one's time to serve others during a temple activity or in society at large.  The second practice is known as "joy" (kangi), as it refers to making donations joyously.  This means to do so only when one is truly willing.  Only then can it have any real effect on one's mind and karma.  The donations of followers are used not only for upkeep of facilities, but also for charities and philanthropic work outside of Shinnyo-en.  Finally, there is "mentoring others" (otasuke), which is to share the teachings or doctrine and give other people the opportunity to walk the path as well.

Fundamental to the Three Practices is the sincere altruism displayed by the Buddha in seeking enlightenment for the sake of all living beings.  The Buddha taught that true generosity cuts the chain of karma and cultivates joy in oneself as well as harmony with others.

Meditation Training

At Shinnyo-en, we are able to practice a type of meditation called sesshin.  In Zen Buddhism, there is also a meditative practice by the same name.  However, in Shinnyo-en it is performed in a relatively short time with the aid of spiritual guides (Jpn.  reinosha) who act as mirrors for trainees.  All followers can train to cultivate the faculty to become spiritual guides so that they, too, can help other followers become more aware of their karma and buddha nature.

Through meditation and applying what we learn to our daily lives, we can gain greater insight into truth and help create a more harmonious relationship with the world around us.  At Shinnyo-en, this is the core of the training–to integrate our meditation at the temple with actual application in everyday life in our communities, in our homes, and in our workplaces.  This is, in fact, what truly helps us to gain wisdom.

As we continue to walk our individually unique paths, those who wish to proceed further can direct their efforts toward attending special meditative sittings

known as eza.  During these trainings, we can elevate our hearts and minds to progressively higher levels of enlightenment.


After a sufficient amount of basic practice, followers can also enroll in dharma courses (Chiryu Gakuin).  The reason for such study is to better understand and convey the essence of the teachings.  Students study ritual and doctrine, and receive initiation into various aspects of the Shinnyo-en teachings.  Upon graduation, they are conferred with a dharma and later given the opportunity to become teachers in the tradition and take formal vows as Buddhist disciples.

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