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Shin Scholar Alfred Bloom Passes

With a focus on the non-Zen Mahayana schools flowing from China, Japan, Korea, etc.

Shin Scholar Alfred Bloom Passes

Postby Caodemarte on Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:39 am

Given the closeness of Zen and Shin there is sad news. On Aug. 25 Alfred Bloom, who greatly expanded American understanding of Shin and East Asian Buddhism, passed away. From the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai America website "Bloom Sensei was born 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when Buddhism was not so well known on the U.S. mainland. In his youth Bloom was exposed to both Jewish and Christian spirituality (from his father and mother respectively). He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1944, performing his service in occupied Japan, drawing on his studies of Japanese at the University of Pennsylvania. While in Japan he also promoted fundamentalist Christianity, and ironically it was the discussion of Christianity by a minister to a Japanese audience that first introduced Bloom to Amida Buddha. Later Bloom returned to spiritual studies at the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1951. Having earned his BA. and Th.B. he continued at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts in 1953 and earned his B.D. and S.T.M.

Bloom studied Chinese Buddhism and Japanese language at the Harvard–Yenching Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he gained his doctorate with a thesis on Shinran Shonin. His academic career included a stint as Proctor for Center for the Study of World Religions and Teaching Fellow in History of Religion, both at Harvard Divinity School; lecturer at Newton Junior College in Newton, Massachusetts; Associate Professor and then Professor of Religion, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa; and Dean and Honganji Professor of Shin Buddhism, both at the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California. When he left IBS in 1988 he was a young 61 and had 30 more years of study, teaching, and writing in his future. In the 1990s he received tokudo, kyoshi, and kaikyoshi ordination as a Jodo Shinshu priest. In 2002 he received the Living Treasures of Hawaii Award from the Hongwanji Legislative Assembly and in 2016 the Third Annual President’s Award from IBS.

Bloom Sensei is survived by his wife of 66 years, Dorothy Nell Pease Bloom; daughter Lily Bloom Domingo of Hawaii; son Ross T. Bloom of Oregon; and six grandhildren and six great-grandchildren. In a similar fashion he is survived by generations of Buddhist scholars and followers of the Dharma, all of whom were assisted by his insights and support. In addition to numerous publications and the Shin Dharma Net website, his legacy includes the Futaba Memorial Lecture Series on Buddhism."
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