Learn more about Jōdo Shinshū Buddhist minister Rev. Marvin Harada.
I grew up on a family farm in Eastern Oregon where we raised onions, potatoes, sugar beets, corn, and grain, and even cattle. As a child, I attended the local Shin Buddhist temple, but I was not a serious student of the dharma until I went to college. My closest friend there, who was a devout Christian, tried to convert me and always wanted to talk about religion. It made me realize that although Buddhism was my family’s religion, it was not yet my own. I then began to seek and study for myself, rediscovering the wonderful teachings I’d learned but had never put into practice before.
This led to working for thirty-three years as a minister at the Orange County Buddhist Church. Now I am the bishop of our national organization, the Buddhist Churches of America, leading fifty-eight Shin churches and temples. My focus is on growing our sanghas and introducing Shin Buddhism to those who have yet to encounter it. I’d also like to begin a project that combines Buddhism and mental health, including recovery programs at local temples. The world is very much in need of what we have to share as Buddhists.
Shakyamuni Buddha and Shinran Shonin, the founder of Shin Buddhism. Personally, I’ve had several wonderful teachers like Rev. Haruyoshi Kusada, Rev. Gyomay Kubose, Rev. Takamaro Shigaraki, and Dr. Nobuo Haneda. I also gain a lot from the writings of Rev. Haya Akegarasu.
Favorite meditation practice?
Traditional sutra chanting.
What dharma books do you recommend?
Everyday Suchness by Gyomay Kubose, Heart of the Shin Buddhist Path by Takamaro Shigaraki, and Dharma Breeze by Nobuo Haneda.
Your favorite virtue?
Your chief characteristic?
My sense of humor.
Your principal poison?
I have all three: greed, anger, and ignorance.
Your idea of happiness?
Seeing the dharma resonate with people.
Your idea of misery?
The inevitability that we will all have to experience physical pain from injury or illness.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Weeding onions on our family farm in Eastern Oregon. But it helped me build character and a work ethic!
If not yourself, who would you be?
I can’t imagine being anyone else in this world.
Name three of your heroes.
My mom; the late professor of Shin Buddhism, Takamaro Shigaraki; and one of my former members of the Orange County Buddhist Church, the late Sachi Ochiai.
The natural talent you’d most like to have?
To be an accomplished musician.
Your favorite author?
The late Rev. Haya Akegarasu, a Shin Buddhist minister of Japan.
Your favorite musician or group?
Your favorite current TV show?
This Is Us.
What’s for dinner?
A motto that represents you?
“Ichigo-Ichie.” (“Live every day like it is the first and last day of your life.”)
Going to Las Vegas.