In the West, The popular image of Buddhism is as a philosophy of life that emphasizes meditation, relaxation and the exploration of the mind. There are no strict rules, it is not dogmatic and it is without rituals. It merely encourages creativity and freedom of thought which is more compatible with a modern scientific world view. It leans much more towards spirituality than a religion.

However, if one visits a typical Buddhist temple, monastery, or pilgrimage site in Asia, they may be surprised to see that the practice of Buddhism includes bowing before Buddha images. This is performed within a mythical cosmology inhabited by many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They call to us along the path and we respond with invocations and offerings.

We will explore how these two versions of Buddhism, the traditional and the modern, can both coexist and even be mutually re-enforcing along the path.

Your Instructor

Rev. Dr. Mutsumi Wondra


Resident Minister at Orange County Buddhist Church. Born and raised in the Shin Buddhist tradition, educated in Kyoto, Japan. Was a trade and finance professional. Changed career midlife. Received a Ph.D. in Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, ordained at the Nishi Hongwangi in Kyoto, Japan and is a Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Buddhist Studies (IBS).