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Buddhadharma : Winter 2018
98 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY it gauche to talk about money in connection with the dharma, the fact is that Buddhist communities don’t exist in some ideal universe but rather in the real world. And this real world requires money. Temples, Zen centers, dharma groups, and even secular mindfulness workshops need to pay the rent, and dharma teachers need food and health care. Whereas some Buddhist communities survive entirely on donations, and others have created innovative funding structures to maintain themselves, the Buddhist Churches of America exists on a family-based membership model. Membership dues are used not only to fund general upkeep of the temple but also for educational programs, salaries, and special events. Still, at a time when member- ship in Shin Buddhist communities (and religious communities in general) is in sharp decline, temple presidents look for new ways to pay the bills so they can keep their temple doors open. Hosting events with popular public appeal represents a different economic model for the community, an innovative strategy to help support a temple. The carnival games and the taiko drumming may be merely cultural expressions with little direct relationship to Bud- dhist practice, but they will enable this community to keep the lights on so that future generations of Shin Buddhists can return again and again to the hondo above the social hall. We can write off these innovations as cultural, or they can serve as points of inspiration for Shin and non-Shin Buddhists alike, pointing the way to long-term stability. Shin Buddhism is a community that has thrived and persisted in an often-antagonistic American religious landscape for more than a century. Rather than reject the cultural aspects as inessential, we can learn from these adaptations. However, we can only draw inspira- tion from this community if we view it as genuinely American and not as a perpetually racialized “other.” Such assumptions reveal more about those who dismiss Shin Buddhism than about the com- munity itself. Shin Buddhism is not an “other,” different from some homogenized “American Buddhism,” but one type among the many that constitute American Buddhism in its fullness. SCOTT MITCHELL is the Rev. Yoshitaka Tamai Professor of Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Studies at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley and the author of Buddhism in America: Global Religion, Local Context GLENNASAKAWA