Buddhist Sabbath, American Style!

Buddhist practice is a subject that interests many Buddhist converts a lot. Afterall, you’ve converted so now what do you do?

I’ve been Buddhist off and on since I was 16, but I only took it seriously since 2005, and since then I’ve experimented with many ways of practice. The trouble is that most were not sustainable. Even the sustainable ones are hard to keep up due to the vicissitudes of life.

This is actually why I think the monastic community was established by the Buddha: the lay-holder has a lot obligations and challenges that can get in the way of deep, concerted Buddhist practice. Lay converts may frequently underestimate this until they are more experienced. For this reason the Buddhist Sabbath (Uposatha) has existed in various forms for laity since the beginning and usually takes place a few times a month.

As for me, I gave up on daily practice a while ago. Some days I could do it, other days I worked from morning until late night so I just couldn’t find time. I simply could not develop a consistent routine. So finally I decided to reserve one day a week for this: Sunday.

Sunday is traditionally a holy day in American culture,1 so I decided to dedicate Sunday as my “Buddhist sabbath”. It’s easy for me to remember and is culturally significant.

For me as Jodo Shu Buddhist I try to use this time to recite the nembutsu, repent my mistakes, try to be nicer and try to eat at least one vegetarian meal. It’s not much to some, but it’s been sustainable for me. Someday I’d love to attend a Buddhist retreat or temple-stay in Japan or Korea but that will have to wait another day.

1 unless you are Jewish (Saturday) or Muslim (Friday), of course. ;-)

About Doug 陀愚

A Buddhist, Father and Japanophile / Koreaphile.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Jodo Shu, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Buddhist Sabbath, American Style!

  1. timetales says:

    Thank you for being honest about your practise, i am retired and still find it hard to stick to my practise my mate works long hours and when she is off i feel i need to spend some quality time with her this often throws me off. The other thing is haveing a lot of time and getting spaced out , this morning the thought for today came to me “I have lots of things to do , just do them” Intent is the key for developeimg good Karma (or bad) but no matter what we still have the nembutsu is their to be used anywhere.

  2. Doug 陀愚 says:

    Hi Timetales,

    I have that same problem. I can’t really practice on weekdays because I see my daughter so little, so I try to spend time with her, then afterwards I need to help cleanup the house so my wife can have a break. On the weekends, it’s all about catching up on parental time, though lately she likes to imitate me when I pray before the altar. It’s funny to watch, but a good example of setting a positive role model for kids too, I suppose. :)

  3. pete says:

    this is a good idea. i am also thinking of doing this myself.

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