Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Dharmakara » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:43 pm

Noticed that as well, especialy in media and news report... the funeral aspect is always front and center, giving the impression that it it the whole of the Japanese Sangha regardless of sect. Often wondered about that as well.
Dharmakara
 
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:08 pm

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby gyougan » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:17 am

Japan is slowly but steadily becoming poorer and poorer and this is very unlikely to change. I wonder what happens to Japanese Buddhism when people no longer do not want or can not afford to pay the ridiculous sums of money for funerals.

Probably many, many obousans will lose their middle class lifestyle.
gyougan
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:37 pm
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:03 am

gyougan wrote:Japan is slowly but steadily becoming poorer and poorer and this is very unlikely to change. I wonder what happens to Japanese Buddhism when people no longer do not want or can not afford to pay the ridiculous sums of money for funerals.

Probably many, many obousans will lose their middle class lifestyle.


Or stop being obousan (priests) altogether.

It is already happening. The number of priests in the last number of decades has decreased quite a lot in the last few decades. If I can find the statistics I will present them.

I know some who just want to live ordinary lifestyles. Get a job, get married, etc... and meanwhile they're stuck with this temple full of bones and ashes to look after back home in the countryside.

Temples will just be abandoned. Japanese Buddhist sects will largely be limited to the main temples. They'll survive. It will be the dedicated and devoted who carry on the traditions. However, the whole funeral religion thing will slowly fade away along with many priests.

In Japan there are some companies getting into the funeral market. Plain, simple and cheap funeral services. Nothing religious. Tasteful. Inexpensive. That's highly appealing to the middle-class family with limited funds to spare when their grandmother dies.

Competition will drive out those expensive priests from the market. :soapbox:
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5949
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Pero » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:44 pm

tobes wrote:Not nearly as boring as long, dull, boozy conversations where everyone is intrinsically convinced of their own greatness.....


They're not that boring if you're drunk. :D
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
- Shabkar
Pero
 
Posts: 1847
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:54 pm

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby tobes » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:24 am

Pero wrote:
tobes wrote:Not nearly as boring as long, dull, boozy conversations where everyone is intrinsically convinced of their own greatness.....


They're not that boring if you're drunk. :D


Yes, exactly. If you don't mind me being crude, isn't it rather like smelling dog poo on the grass? I mean, it's not that bad......if you're a dog.

:namaste:
User avatar
tobes
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1140
Joined: Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:09 am

After all the criticism of Japanese Buddhism I feel like I have to mention some positive points about the development of Buddhism in Japan. :D Things could be better of course, but Buddhism has to recover after the bureaucratisation of the Edo period and of the persecution and subjugation of the following State-Shinto Period. I think Buddhism will recover and is on the way to recovery.
There are new temples being built like the one on the island of Enoshima (rebuilt 1993), which was an important pilgrimage site before it's destruction in the course of the subjugation of Buddhism in 1880s. There are also new temples with huge Buddha statues being built like Showa Daibutsu (built 1984) and Ushiku Daibutsu (built 1993).
But it's not only that new temples are being built. The pilgrimage on Shikoku is getting more and more popular. Today more than 100.000 pilgrims are walking the path. Temples also offer classes in copying of sutras, there is a "dharma-talk" after each service (at least I experienced a talk every time I went to a service in Japan) and I saw temples giving meditation instructions to visitors. Also the larger temples are full of visitors - even students go there to pray for good grades ;)
I also don't really see the point in criticising Japanese Buddhism for being involved in funerals. Death and funerals are an important occasion in the lives of relatives (and of course for the dead person ;)). In Japan for example, persons, who had an abortion are attended by rituals for the deceased foetuses, whereas in the west the people concerned are being left alone. There is no comparable way of helping people getting over life crises in "Western Buddhism". You may find help from individual Buddhists, but you cannot go to a temple or group to find help (I'd bet, that you'd be sent to a psychologist instead ;)).
Also the service in front of a Butsudan (buddhist home-altar) twice a day, conducted by mainly older people, is a huge commitment and proof of the role Buddhism takes in many personal lives. Not to speak of the culture, which is full of reference to Buddhist ideas.
One also needs to consider, that the funeral prices have to be put into context. In Japan the average salary is much higher than in Europe or America, which is reflected in the higher prices of commodities and also in the prices for funerals.

:namaste:
    南無阿弥陀佛
    南無妙法蓮華經
    南無観世音菩薩
User avatar
Tatsuo
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:50 pm

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Tatsuo » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:25 am

However, public perception of Japanese Buddhism is that it is just a bunch of dudes who do funerals and get paid stupid sums of money for it.

Don't you think, that one reason for that could also be, that new interpretations of Japanese Buddhism like Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōsei Kai, Reiyūkai, Shinnyo‘en, Agonshū and Sanbō Kyōdan are considered to be "new religions" (shin shūkyō 新宗教) rather than Japanese Buddhism?
    南無阿弥陀佛
    南無妙法蓮華經
    南無観世音菩薩
User avatar
Tatsuo
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:50 pm

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Indrajala » Tue Jan 25, 2011 11:31 am

Tatsuo wrote:After all the criticism of Japanese Buddhism I feel like I have to mention some positive points about the development of Buddhism in Japan. :D Things could be better of course, but Buddhism has to recover after the bureaucratisation of the Edo period and of the persecution and subjugation of the following State-Shinto Period. I think Buddhism will recover and is on the way to recovery.


However, the numbers continue to decrease and few people I know under 35 have any interest whatsoever in religion. Buddhism is largely associated with death.

Even in the academic world the number of people researching Buddhism is on the decline.


But it's not only that new temples are being built. The pilgrimage on Shikoku is getting more and more popular. Today more than 100.000 pilgrims are walking the path.


That doesn't mean people do it to gain merit or for religious reasons. People like hiking up Mt. Fuji, which historically was a religious activity. Waling around Shikoku is likewise originally a religious activity, but now is more of an activity for tourists and retired people.

Also the larger temples are full of visitors - even students go there to pray for good grades ;)


Sure, they go there to take photos and do sightseeing. That is no more religious than going to Disneyland in Chiba.


I also don't really see the point in criticising Japanese Buddhism for being involved in funerals. Death and funerals are an important occasion in the lives of relatives (and of course for the dead person ;)).


Funerals are important, yes, but I disagree with charging anything at all for them. If a family offers a donation, that's fine, but having set fees for such rituals is base.


In Japan for example, persons, who had an abortion are attended by rituals for the deceased foetuses, whereas in the west the people concerned are being left alone.


I think having an abortion and praying to Ksitigarbha to take care of the murdered baby so that you don't get some pissed off ghost coming after you and your family is absolutely disgusting. People think offering some toys to a Ksitigarbha statue and paying off a priest will somehow dissolve them of their past misdeed. That is adharmic.


Also the service in front of a Butsudan (buddhist home-altar) twice a day, conducted by mainly older people, is a huge commitment and proof of the role Buddhism takes in many personal lives. Not to speak of the culture, which is full of reference to Buddhist ideas.


The older generation is going to rapidly die off and the youth of today will probably not care to have a butsu-dan in their living room.


One also needs to consider, that the funeral prices have to be put into context. In Japan the average salary is much higher than in Europe or America, which is reflected in the higher prices of commodities and also in the prices for funerals.


Again, the future is not so bright. Many young graduates cannot find suitable employment and continue to live with their parents well into their thirties. They will not have a lot of surplus funds to spend in the future.



Don't you think, that one reason for that could also be, that new interpretations of Japanese Buddhism like Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōsei Kai, Reiyūkai, Shinnyo‘en, Agonshū and Sanbō Kyōdan are considered to be "new religions" (shin shūkyō 新宗教) rather than Japanese Buddhism?


The perception of old guys in robes doing funerals for money is still there regardless.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5949
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Japan

Re: Being a Buddhist in a Christian society

Postby Tatsuo » Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:14 am

Huseng wrote:However, the numbers continue to decrease and few people I know under 35 have any interest whatsoever in religion. Buddhism is largely associated with death.

Even in the academic world the number of people researching Buddhism is on the decline.

The numbers may be decreasing for the old schools of Japanese Buddhism - but that's definitely not the case for the new interpretations of Japanese Buddhism. And you have to be cautious, when Japanese say, that they are atheists or have no interest in Religion. What matters is what they do - and they do in fact take part in religious rites, like pilgrimages, festivals, temple visits for praying etc. That Religion in Japan has a negative connotation and everyone claims to have no interest in it, is one of the recent research themes in religious studies. It probably has roots in the ideology of State-Shinto, which claimed, that Shinto is not a religion, that the Shinto Ideas about the creation of Japan and the enthronement of the Tenno is not mythology, but historical fact and that the rites are not religious acts, but the natural behaviour of Japanese people (which made it easier to force people, who had other beliefs to do Shinto rites, and accuse them of unpatriotic behaviour if they chose not to take part in Shinto rites). That is exactly the way some Japanese would argue today, that taking part in Shinto rites is not religious at all.

That doesn't mean people do it to gain merit or for religious reasons. People like hiking up Mt. Fuji, which historically was a religious activity. Waling around Shikoku is likewise originally a religious activity, but now is more of an activity for tourists and retired people.

Do you really think people go to 88 Temples - most of them being not very outstanding from an architectural or artistic point of view - spend all this money and effort, learn how to recite the Heart Sutra etc. just for tourist reasons? I don't think you do justice to the pilgrims by making wild assertions. Can you give some evidence, that the pilgrims on Shikoku don't do the pilgrimage for religious reasons?

Also the larger temples are full of visitors - even students go there to pray for good grades ;)


Sure, they go there to take photos and do sightseeing. That is no more religious than going to Disneyland in Chiba.

Well they actually go to offer incense and pray there. I'm sorry I don't see the connection to Disneyland, Huseng.

Funerals are important, yes, but I disagree with charging anything at all for them. If a family offers a donation, that's fine, but having set fees for such rituals is base.

Set fees for funerals are normal around the world. There is no formal membership to Japanese Buddhist Schools, so there is no regular income unlike other religions so the fees are not just normal, but also existential for the priests.

I think having an abortion and praying to Ksitigarbha to take care of the murdered baby so that you don't get some pissed off ghost coming after you and your family is absolutely disgusting. People think offering some toys to a Ksitigarbha statue and paying off a priest will somehow dissolve them of their past misdeed. That is adharmic.

There is not one passage in the Jizoukyou mentioning, that the ghosts of the deceased will come after you - making rituals for them is out of pure compassion. And the Jizoukyou is the basis for those rituals. And you have to think about the psychological trauma after an abortion. A ritual can help you deal with this and the "ghost coming after you" is nothing more than the bad conscience. I absolutely do not support abortion, but I think helping those, that have troubles after an abortion is not "adharmic" but compassionate and a buddhist thing to do.


Also the service in front of a Butsudan (buddhist home-altar) twice a day, conducted by mainly older people, is a huge commitment and proof of the role Buddhism takes in many personal lives. Not to speak of the culture, which is full of reference to Buddhist ideas.


The older generation is going to rapidly die off and the youth of today will probably not care to have a butsu-dan in their living room.

How do you know that the youth will not have a butsudan in their living rooms? What tells you, that they will not be interested in Buddhist practice when they are older? Most young people I knew had much more interest in other stuff than "religious stuff", which changed after they grew up...


Don't you think, that one reason for that could also be, that new interpretations of Japanese Buddhism like Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōsei Kai, Reiyūkai, Shinnyo‘en, Agonshū and Sanbō Kyōdan are considered to be "new religions" (shin shūkyō 新宗教) rather than Japanese Buddhism?


The perception of old guys in robes doing funerals for money is still there regardless.


That doesn't change the fact, that these new forms of Buddhism are not regarded as Buddhism. There may be the perception of some people, that Buddhism is about funeral, but what they mean is traditional Buddhism in their home town and not the Buddhism of large temples, the pilgrimages, newer forms of Buddhism etc.
    南無阿弥陀佛
    南無妙法蓮華經
    南無観世音菩薩
User avatar
Tatsuo
 
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:50 pm

Previous

Return to Personal Experience

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests

>