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Thread: Zen No More in Japan

  1. #1
    Member Roland's Avatar
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    Zen No More in Japan

    An interesting article in The Guardian about the dwindling number of monasteries in Japan: 'Zen no more: Japan shuns its Buddhist traditions as temples close'. But it seems to be hopeful about a movement to go beyond 'funeral Buddhism'.

    Gassho
    Roland
    #SatToday
    Last edited by Roland; 11-06-2015 at 08:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Perhaps treeleaf can inspire new approaches?

    Gassho
    Ongen

    Sat today


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  3. #3
    Member Roland's Avatar
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    of course, robots can come to the rescue, also in this case, the Asahi Shimbun says: After spooking parishioners, robot monks teach imperfection, impermanence

    Gassho
    Roland
    #SatToday

  4. #4
    Yes, it is true. It is one reason I cannot get people here to come to our Zazenkai. Buddhism is something for grandpa's funeral and memorial services. "Zen" has an image of austerity and pain because that is the media image. So, when I say "come to practice Zen", it is like trying to persuade people to come to a funeral parlor for a good time of getting hit with a stick! Really.

    If I did not call our Zazenkai "Zen Buddhist" ... and maybe changed the name and atmosphere to "Happy Relax Cosmic Yoga" or some silly name. and filled the place with balloons and a bounce house, I would get many more people to come. I mean it.

    Gassho, Jundo

    Typical media image in Japan of Zazen ... his "satori" is he realizes the kind of house he wants to build ...



    At least this has the required Japanese cute! It is a reminder to put something in the savings account (don't ask why) ...



    the power of his cologne ...

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-06-2015 at 09:30 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    This is one of many attempts in Japan to make Buddhism more approachable to folks and get away from its image as being "the religion one turns to for a funeral". Some of the other activities include holding match making parties ...

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/201.../#.UVUAahxy-5I

    A fashion show of beautiful Kesa worn by stylish young priests (not sure about this one):



    Japanese monks and nuns hit the catwalk in Tokyo on Saturday in a bid to spread Buddhism among younger people in this rapidly aging society.

    In the "Tokyo Bouz (monk) Collection" held at Tsukiji Honganji, nearly 40 monks and nuns from eight major Buddhist sects joined in the event aimed at winning back believers.
    http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index....4,5581,0,0,1,0

    The Hip Hop Priests (there are a bunch of these guys) ... however, I rather feel the guys running a bar are just a couple of guys running a bar, and not sure about their real motives ...



    And my personal favorite, the Anime temple:



    The Ryohoji temple, built in the late 16th century in a Tokyo suburb, erected a colourful manga-inspired sign at its entrance in June and has since seen visitor numbers perk up -- especially young men.
    Ryohoji's chief monk, Shoko Nakazato, 45, said he did not think it was inappropriate.
    "I'm a manga generation who grew up watching them on television. I have little resistance to manga.... I wanted to tell the people that temples are a fun place to visit," he said.
    Ryohoji previously had almost no visitors during the week, but recently up to 30 people, mostly young men, had come every day, Nakazato said.
    Adding to the spectacle, Toromi, a singer who drew the manga characters on the temple's sign, was in a red-and-white costume inspired by a goddess worshipped at the temple.
    "I'm so happy as unexpectedly many people came," said Toromi, who goes by one name and is a common sight in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics district that is frequented by computer buffs and fanatics, known in Japanese as "otaku."


    She is dressed as Benzaiten, an old Indian goddess mentioned in the Lotus Sutra and often depicted holding a biwa, a traditional Chinese lute, and considered a patron of music and arts.

    The Temple is a Nichiren Buddhist temple, the flavor of Buddhism which chants the name of the Lotus Sutra Namu-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō.
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-06-2015 at 09:47 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Hi all,

    I think it's sad that zen is getting lost. Culture changes, time changes and we now how Buddhism has had to adapt to keep alive. Efforts like Treeleaf are very useful for zen and Buddhism since we use technology as the basis for our sangha.

    Still, I think we could use a little anime here and there.

    Oh and I'll go get me some Axe deodorant today

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    #SatToday
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyonin View Post
    I think it's sad that zen is getting lost.
    Impermanence!

    I hope that Zen is not getting lost, so much as undergoing migration and transformation. The old divisions and "streams" of Buddhism (north / south, Theravada / Mahayana, etc.) are changing as folks encounter them in new historical and cultural contexts. Over the past century Dogen's works have been re-visited and re-integrated (instead of fragmented in small collections isolated in temples across Japan), the Mahayana Sutras and Pali Suttas are being reviewed by Buddhologists and similarly examined through textual analysis.

    I am very optimistic about the future of the Buddha-Dharma!

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sattoday
    #readsuttastoday
    sekishi
    石志

    He/him. As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  8. #8
    History and statistics are funny things, and often depend how ya look at things:

    One can actually argue that Zen, and Buddhism in general, are doing better than ever in history. That is so both in their countries of origin and world-wide. How?

    By the way, population wise, there is good evidence that Zen Buddhism ... and Buddhism in general ... is more popular (by number of Buddhists) than ever in world history. It covers more countries, more millions of people than ever found in centuries past in the rather small historical populations of ancient India, China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Tibet etc. by manifold. Also, people these days tend to be better educated, so their attraction to Buddhism is not simply based on illiteracy, need for potentially superstitious beliefs to make the crops grow or to cure a sick baby, or social compulsion (the Emperor and all the neighbors are Buddhist, so we had better be as well or we might find ourselves banished. So many of those temples which are closing in Japan were built in the first place because the government required membership as a way of social control and policing, a way to keep an eye on folks and keep Christianity from taking root).

    Buddhism was a fact of life and death during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868): every household was expected to be affiliated with a Buddhist temple, and every citizen had to be given a Buddhist funeral. The enduring relationship between temples and their affiliated households gave rise to the danka system of funerary patronage.

    This private custom became a public institution when the Tokugawa shogunate discovered an effective means by which to control the populace and prevent the spread of ideologies potentially dangerous to its power--especially Christianity. Despite its lack of legal status, the danka system was applied to the entire population without exception; it became for the government a potent tool of social order and for the Buddhist establishment a practical way to ensure its survival within the socioeconomic context of early modern Japan.
    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.p...=9780674025035
    Many people become Buddhist these days based on an actual ability to go out, learn and practice by choice, encountering a true affinity to the Teachings. There may be more Zazen sitters in America and Europe today that in China, Japan and Korea combined at Zen's height there, and more general practitioners who actually have some real understanding of the central tenets of what they are practicing (and the same for Tibetan and other Buddhist practices, given the relative lack of access to practice in the past among ordinary folks and the relatively historically tiny populations, class bound and with little opportunity for social mobility or access to education, of many places in old Asia).

    But Zen Practice. at its heart, should never be about quantity in any case. It has always been an arcane Practice meant for some, suited to those whose Karma brings them there.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-06-2015 at 04:15 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Mp
    Guest
    Maybe we are just being replaced with robot monks?

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_...AJ201511060003

    Gassho
    Shingen

    #sattoday

  10. #10
    This is all very interesting. Jundo, is the tendency to be "funeral Buddhists" all that is left from feudal systems of each house belong to a temple? Or is it that the prevalent contemporary cultural attitude is to simply view Zen Buddhism as being mostly what what does at death. I find it kind of odd that a practice with so much to teach about how to LIVE has been reduced to a funerary custom tradition. Is this in part because the contemporary temples really aren't doing much in the way of real practice or teaching? Why the transformation of attitudes? I suppose if you look at if from a more Western civilization perspective; modern Europeans aren't exactly a bunch of church goers anymore either.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today

  11. #11
    This is a very interesting subject. Since reading Zen books in the early 80's I always visualized Japan as primarily Buddhist. Not sure why I thought that. Jundo do I remember you saying somewhere that Shintoism is prevalent? Or is it largely a cultural/funeral participation also?

    I wonder how much impact that Amazon and the Internet in general have had in the worldwide adoption of Zen. Accessibility.
    Gassho,
    Rodney
    #sattoday

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Ishin View Post
    This is all very interesting. Jundo, is the tendency to be "funeral Buddhists" all that is left from feudal systems of each house belong to a temple? Or is it that the prevalent contemporary cultural attitude is to simply view Zen Buddhism as being mostly what what does at death. I find it kind of odd that a practice with so much to teach about how to LIVE has been reduced to a funerary custom tradition. Is this in part because the contemporary temples really aren't doing much in the way of real practice or teaching? Why the transformation of attitudes? I suppose if you look at if from a more Western civilization perspective; modern Europeans aren't exactly a bunch of church goers anymore either.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today
    Hi Ishin,

    It is very rare to see a Buddhist Priest (with a couple of exceptions, see the following link), Shinto Priest or any Christian Clergy on the tv here to comment on social or moral issues.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jakucho_Setouchi

    For most people, religion is not something one turns to for guidance on life issues. Buddhism is for ancestor worship via funerals and later memorial ceremonies (respecting the spirit of our late father or grandmother), Shinto is for weddings and general "good luck" (such as wanting a little help on a school exam). The Japanese have turned more and more to so-called "new religions" when they seek further spirituality (perhaps SGI - Sokka Gakkai is the biggest and most well known in the West, but there are hundreds of others) ...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soka_Gakkai

    Christianity has never made large inroads here for a variety of reasons (unlike Korea, where Christianity has become much larger than Buddhism).

    It is hard for me to explain why, but most Japanese generally ... unlike in some other cultures ... don't seem to get so emotionally wrapped up in religious matters. Even the people who join those "new religions" are sometimes said to do so more more social reasons (lonely people who need some group to belong to) than any special attraction of the belief. For every "Dogen" who was a passionate religious man in Japanese history, the majority of people were more "whatever, cover all your bases, I will light incense or toss a coin to whatever Buddha or Spirit will help the crops grow and keep me healthy."

    One of the reasons Shunryu Suzuki, Maezumi and some of the other famous Japanese priests in the West came to America is because they were more serious about the Practice than many back home.

    This is a very interesting subject. Since reading Zen books in the early 80's I always visualized Japan as primarily Buddhist. Not sure why I thought that. Jundo do I remember you saying somewhere that Shintoism is prevalent? Or is it largely a cultural/funeral participation also?
    The "cover all your bases" attutude means that most Japanese are both Buddhist and Shinto, as I mentioned (the former for funerals, the latter for weddings), but without deep feeling for either. On the other hand, I would say that the Japanese can be very "superstitious" toward bother. For example, my wife and most Japanese insist on putting little Shinto straw talisman on all the doorways at New Years to cleans and keep out bad spirits. However, I am sure almost nobody knows why they do this.

    http://uncoveringjapan.com/2014/12/3...new-years-eve/

    I have lived here for 30 years, and my wife and all her relatives are very insistent on many little customs like that throughout the year. Almost nobody knows why, however, except that one does not want to tempt fate and the spirits.

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Much like "knock wood" or throwing salt over your left shoulder, to ward off evil.
    _/st\_ Shinzan

  14. #14

    Zen No More in Japan

    No more Zen in Japan?

    Wow.I have a many Zen and Zazen friend in Japan and some friend from oversea is just like Japanese.

    Many philosopher and counselor think Zen and other area can unite.

    Do we need sit at temple?



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    Last edited by Kakunen; 11-09-2015 at 06:59 PM.

  15. #15
    Thank you for taking the time to answer that Jundo. I find the same issue with many Catholics I know, my wife included. They are what I call "cherry picking" because if you ask them what they believe in it isn't Catholicism. When I went to Japan in 1986 I stayed in Hokkaido and the family I stayed with were Soka_Gakkai. We sat in meditation every day at noon and chanted with the entire community. It was interesting.

    Gassho
    Ishin
    Sat Today

  16. #16
    I saw this article today. Apparently, here in Japan, one can now order a Buddhist funeral through ... AMAZON!

    Japan’s ‘monks by mail’ offer Buddhist ministry in Internet age
    BY MARI YAMAGUCHI
    AP
    FEB 2, 2016

    YACHIYO, CHIBA PREF. – In Japan, where communal ties to local Buddhist temples are fading, families have in recent years been able to go online to find a monk to perform funerals and other rites.

    But when Amazon Japan allowed a provider to offer Obo-san bin, or Mr. Monk Delivery, on its website, it shone a spotlight on the emerging trend and prompted a major Buddhist organization to criticize the Internet marketer of commercializing religion.

    A basic plan for a monk, transportation and a donation offered by the Tokyo-based provider, Minrevi Co., one of dozens of emerging budget companies, costs 35,000. Three other options are available for more money. The monks would typically go to a home, funeral hall or a grave to perform the requested ceremony.

    “Such a thing is allowed in no other country in the world. In this regard, we must say we are disappointed by an attitude toward religion by Amazon,” Akisato Saito, director of the Japan Buddhist Association, said in a statement.
    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/201...-internet-age/
    I found the site, and offer a very rough translation ... "Monks Flights" means "Monk By Mail" and "No Movement" means he goes to one location (extra charge for multiple locations). "posthumous name" means a Kaimyo, a kind of Dharma Name for the dead which some temples charge the equivalent of several thousand dollars for (more for a "special" name). This company charges a mere extra $200 equivalent for the name as an extra option.

    https://translate.google.com/transla...url&authuser=0

    Gassho, J

    SatToday
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-02-2016 at 12:38 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17
    Member Roland's Avatar
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    Zen No More in Japan

    Something tells me that at times when all meaning seems to be lost and mindless commercialization takes over, we're about to witness a reaction against these trends. This sangha for instance is part of such a reaction and I'm grateful for that.

    Gassho

    Roland
    #SatToday

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