What is NASBA?
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.
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.
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
Total Lay Control
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
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
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
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
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.