Friday, April 9, 2010

For my many readers...

Which, including myself numbers two at the moment, thank you two for your kindness! I find myself at a crossroads. Today was Hanamatsuri, and therefore a day of great celebration for Buddhists, not all mind you because we do not all follow the same calendar, but for a good amount of Buddhists nonetheless. Our minister who is from Japan, and supposedly trained in Japan (he is the second son of a temple family, which in Japan means...absolutely nothing) and is therefore considered to be a minister from the day he leaves the womb, did nothing to mark the day besides adding in one chant to our Sunday services on the 4th. I said nothing, because I am primarily the administrative director of the mission, and its president. From my start 15 years ago at Shingon Shu Hawaii I made it very clear that I would not interfere with the practices and methods of any minister assigned to be the resident at our temple. I am fully aware that in all respects this minister is an employee of the Shingon Shu Hawaii and according to its by-laws serving at the pleasure of its board of directors. I have been told on many occasions to get rid of him. Inside I feel that this may not be the best thing to do. Why? For one, is it being Buddhist to give up on someone like that? Of course it may be ridiculous of me to continue thinking that this person will come around and understand that life in Hawaii is very different from Japan. The hierarchy of the ministry there, as well as the position of the Buddhist priest in the community is very different than what it is in Hawaii. For the most part I would hazard a guess that the position attracts far more respect here in the islands than it would in Japan. In Japan if you are merely the son of a minister at the temple, and you are following in your father's footsteps, than your contributions to society at large is small at best. A scholar may be regarded differently, but I know many people who feel that the ministry in Japan is inhabited by those unable to function or operate in the "real world". Now that I am witness to this person's seeming lack of ambition, and careless attitude towards the recognized holy days of our religion, I am not surprised at all that people of my generation and younger have little to do with their neighborhood temple or shrine, which is very sad indeed.
I welcome any thoughts, my dear two readers, and if in fact others are reading this blog as well, as to what the Buddhist thing would be to do...I ask that because I know that sooner or later, I will have to do what an administrator needs to do, personal philosophy notwithstanding.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I wonder what kind of minister you become when you do nothing but pray? Some may argue that this is what a minister is supposed to do, but I disagree. How can you minister people living such a closed existence? Without "doing" do we as humans become empty in our lives? I know of some who are content at being invited out all the time for holiday dinners and such. I would rather cook for my congregation to thank them for all they do for the temple.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All the world is a critic...

You know the Buddha once said that you cannot believe everything you have read, or heard, even if it came from him. The only way one would know the truth is to experience the thing for themselves. Of course this makes me wonder in a time when we are allowed to write (like this blog), comment, and render opinions on every single article, website, or product that the internet delivers to our electronic doorstep every single hour of our lives. My example today is the iPad from Apple. Just so you know right now, I am getting one, because I think it is the coolest thing I have ever seen since Picard glanced at his computer thingy on the Enterprise 1701-D. Do I care what features the iPad has? Yes to a degree. Am I worried about how inflexible Apple's operating system, and software criteria is? Maybe, but so far it all works fine for me. What I do have an opinion about is this: Apple has come back from almost being a forgotten plaything from the 80's to a powerful force in our technocratic lives. No small feat when you consider how fickle the technological world is. Top this with the fact that Apple has the dominant music device as well as mobile phone device globally and you have the makings of a miracle. You could have written Apple off a mere 20 years ago. I digress. Back to the iPad. Like most people I need to read various sites on the web to justify my consumerism and convince myself that I am getting the right thing for myself to use, and I can somehow apply it to my work. The fact that I have rendered almost all of the sutras used in our prayer services to my iphone, kindle, and ipod touch proves that I am somehow using my gadgets to enhance my productivity as it were, yep. So there I am reading all of the comments written by people, the majority of which are dissing the iPad for one reason or another. I realize that most companies worth their salt have a staff of people assigned to watch these chats and forums to get a read on people. But at what point does it become overkill? Every single person has their right to voice whatever is on their mind...but posting it and reading it on the interweb does not make it any more right than the guy who knows a lot of stuff...because he handily can google or wikipedia it, versus someone with a technical knowledge of the subject. This kind of thinking is making its way to real life. I constantly hear people spouting off facts and figures on things that you would never guess they have a working knowledge about. Why anyone would keep the GDP of Zimbabwe in their brain's flash drive is incredible to me. Worse, they also think that because they "published" this opinion online, it made the thing true...a good as Webster's. Last night, I heard someone talking to a guy who owns two motorcycles (rides these bikes to work, and I have actually seen on either one of them at any given time) and this someone was rattling off all kinds of biking nomenclature. I have never, ever seen this someone on a motorbike...not even in leather mind you...yet there he was, preaching to the choir. Of course the biker guy was too polite to stop the idiot and ask "do you ride?" in the wisdom of the Buddha, all I can say is: " you?"

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just feeling weird...

Well, I am just about getting rid of my pneumonia...don't ask how I know, I am just happy that I can sort of breath. Everyone wants to be an armchair coach, and Tuesday morning quarterback. I am sort of thinking along those lines now. Hindsight tells me that I shouldn't have prepared osettai (the after service lunch) on the 21st of February. Sweating profusely in an air conditioned kitchen is probably a warning sign, and of course this was confirmed on the following Tuesday when my doctor told me go and get a chest x-ray. Then me being me, I decide not to cancel Fellowship Night on the 28th AND continued with the Kannon lecture that morning. What was the result of all this effort? Well for one thing I discovered a new favorite dish, Darius DeWitt makes the best cajun gumbo outside of NOLA. It is so good that I am craving it as I write this blog. Ethel may have poisoned Daniel Chen with Maui Sweet Onion potato chips...Dan was chomping through a large bag of those tasty chips, and he loved it so much I told him to take the remainder home...then the next day there is a recall on those chips because of suspected salmonella poisoning! Go figure!
Well Dan came over to eat some Roast Duck noodle yesterday for lunch so I am guessing that he is not poisoned, or has the stomach of a male in his early twenties and wouldn't know if he was poisoned to begin with. All in all my first full day back at the temple was a good one. Cleared several services, prepared some omamori, and even got to celebrate Takuya's birthday and capped it with a delicious birthday dessert prepared by June, her delicious pana cotta which would make an Italian grandmother cry it tastes so good. What does this have to do with Buddhism...nothing...except that I can honestly say there is a very weird vibe around the world right now...and its not just the crazies driving on Honolulu everybody be careful out there!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Year of the Tiger!

Headed out to the bulk mail too seen out the newsletter, and have been stymied again at the esoteric nature of the Postal System. I have been doing bulk mail for 15 years now, and every single time I go, it is a different experience. The USPS changes their forms every so many months because it is what they like to do. Of course this organization does not inform anyone that they are doing so until you reach the office and then get chastised for using the wrong form. I imagine that when people think about "secret" rituals and chants, and mudras, they think of Shingon Buddhism...I give you the United States Postal Service. Without getting to much into this latest episode, suffice in the knowledge that you were not told to wait for 2o minutes because a "computer" told the clerk to "do something arcane in the back with your mail", wasting precious time you could have spent in Honolulu traffic.