August 2009

KENNETH KENSHIN TANAKA (author of Ocean: An Introduction to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in America) was born in 1947 in Yamaguchi, Japan. In 1958 he moved with his Nisei parents to Mountain View, California, where he was introduced to Buddhism at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple. After graduating from Stanford University in 1970 with a degree in Cultural Anthropology, he took a year-long journey around the world that included a stint as a monk in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He then entered the M.A. program at the Institute of Buddhist Studies. In Japan, he studied at Tokyo University where he earned a M.A. in Indian Philosophy, followed by his ordination in 1978 as a Jodo Shinshu priest. Returning to the U.S., he spent 8 years at the University of California, Berkeley to earn a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies. Dr. Tanaka’s first professional position was at the Institute of Buddhist Studies where he was on staff for 11 years, much of the time as Assistant Dean and Associate Professor. He was then resident minister at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church for three years. In 1998, he was appointed professor at Musashino University where he teaches a Buddhist class “The Principles of Interdependence.” He currently serves as President of the International Association of Shin Buddhist Studies and has been an active member of the International Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter sessions based at Purdue University. Dr. Tanaka’s other publications are The Dawn of Chinese Pure Land Buddhist Doctrine: Ching-ying Hui-yuan’s Commentary to the Visualization Sutra (State University of New York, 1990); The Faces of Buddhism in America (co-editor, The University of California Press, 1998); Engaged Pure Land Buddhism (co-editor, WisdomOcean Publications, 1998); Approaching the Land of Bliss (co-editor, University of Hawaii Press, 2004); Pure Land Buddhism: Historical Development and Contemporary Manifestation (Dharmaram College, Bangalore, India, 2004).

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