North American Shin Buddhist Association

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Chapters: USA
Chapters: Canada

Welcome!

Looking for a community?

 

We invite you to a new kind of buddhist sangha...

 

 

 

 

 

Buddhism is a life long education to learn how to realize our human potential by transforming suffering into peace, joy and liberation.

 

What is NASBA?

 

The North American Shin Buddhist Association (NASBA) is a growing and innovative collection of independent Western lay Buddhist communities that follow the successful and increasingly popular practice style of its flagship sangha, the Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut. Established in the year 2005, and now headquartered in Middletown, Connecticut, NASBA serves as the religious and administrative center for its affiliated sanghas across the continent and the world.

 

Expanding Boundaries

 

NASBA offers open, caring, and nurturing communities for all who seek the Buddhist experience. As a spiritual pioneer of the 21st century, its aspiration is to expand the boundaries of the Buddha Dharma and the Nembutsu Way, thereby, helping to create a new American Buddhism. 

 

As a mission oriented organization, its task is to unfold total spiritual transformation for its members and society by actively engaging in the Buddhist teachings and practices and to share this path with all sentient beings. Its inspiration is the bodhisattva path that strives to edify Buddha's message of nembutsu, peace and compassion with all.

 

Total Lay Control

 

NASBA follows the early Shin Buddhist ideal of total lay control of the sanghas with an egalitarian, non-elitist and democratic format. Originally, Shin Buddhism did not have or need religious professionals like monastics or clergy. Spiritual transmission was not passed down from teacher to student but as Shinran Shonin taught, it unfolds as shinjin (true entrusting mind), which manifests directly from the Primal Vow of Buddha Amida. Inspired by the original intent and teachings of Shin Buddhism, this North American association does not follow any spiritual hierarchical or vertical (top-down) organizational format but adheres to a flat or horizontal design. It does not ordain clergy or have any rituals of guru to student transmission. It believes that all spiritual endowments come directly from the inconceivable Great Compassion, symbolized by the Primal Vow of Amida Buddha.

 

Fellow Travelers on the Path

 

Being faithful to the original intent of Shinran Shonin, the founder and foremost teacher of Shin Buddhism, NASBA considers all of its members as equal “spiritual leaders” who are directly called by the Great Universal Aspiration (Primal Vow) to inspire, encourage, practice and teach the dharma.

 

As a result, every member is personally responsible for the well-being of his/her religious community and is called to participate in the practice, teaching and propagation of the Buddha Dharma. NASBA members are encouraged to use reason, the scriptures and personal experience in religious life, and never mindlessly and obediently depend on the so-called “interpretation” or “spiritual powers” of religious professionals.

 

Leadership & Organization

NASBA utilizes an integrated informal and formal organizational structure (See What Makes Us Different? web page). We have a chief administrator, called Senpai, which means Head Student, who also serves as the religious leader for the association; the actual Japanese word means, The One Gone Before.  In addition,  he/she also serves as the coordinator of all of the  Associate Teachers and Practice Leaders within NASBA. Our chief administrator must be a member of and elected by our Board of Directors.

Following the original egalitarian intent of the 13th century religious reformer and founder of Shin Buddhism, Shinran Shonin, who said, "I have no disciples," all so called NASBA "teachers" including the Senpai and "leaders" are considered akin to "head students" of the community. They are just fellow "bompus" (foolish beings) with a little more knowledge and/or administrative flair, called by the Primal Vow, to serve others and the Buddha Dharma.

NASBA's main administrative body is its Board of Directors, which sets organizational objectives, budget, policies and maintains and innovates religious practices for the modern world. It meets at least once a year. The organization also has a much larger Sangha Council who can elect Board of Directors, propose new initiatives and provide oversight to the policies and operations.

Finances & Reformist Spirit

NASBA is the umbrella organization and direct arm of the Buddhist Faith Fellowship of Connecticut (BFF of Ct), which is a 501(c) non-profit organization. All affiliated chapters are independent entities both legally and financially separate from the BFF of Ct. Both NASBA groups and BFF of Ct are completely operated on a shoestring budget with no employees. Furthermore, the dynamic growth of NASBA’s movement is run solely by part-time lay volunteers.  This is in keeping with the reformist spirit and teachings of Shinran Shonin. Based on the founder’s intent, NASBA does not focus on money, and abhors power, materialism and/or guru or priest-like veneration. One may say that NASBA is an anti-cult, non-elitist and grass roots movement, in which common American folk* with various backgrounds, humble abilities, hefty schedules and weak perseverance can come together and benefit from the inspirational Shin teachings, so designed for people just like them. 

 

*American folk refers to North & South American peoples

Basic Group Practice

NASBA's affiliated chapters and groups explore the Mahayana Buddhist practices and teachings with an emphasis on Shin Buddhism. Its meetings integrate zazen (quiet sitting) or vispassana, and voice meditation (chanting). In addition, NASBA gatherings include some rituals, prayer practice, nembutsu, lively discussions, food, refreshments and fellowship with folks with similar interests and spiritual values.

 

NASBA Facebook

NASBA Facebook

Namu Amida Butsu!