If there is no soul, can Buddhism (in Japan) die?

Via Rachel Steele
on Jul 14, 2008
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According to this NYTimes article by Norimitsu Onishi, many Japanese no longer find Buddhism or Buddhist traditions, such as elaborate funeral rites, relevant. The article also mentions how many people became disillusioned with Buddhism in the wake of WWII, a time when Buddhist temples, alligned with the state and military, gave fallen soldiers honorable Buddhist names. I know a little more about Chinese Buddhism then I do about Japanese Buddhism (which is one semester versus, well, nothing), so I am hesitant to analyze this nuanced and thought provoking piece, however, I found myself lingering on the page long after I finished reading.

I turned to Eastern religious thought because Western religious philosophy lacked relevance to my life. When my maternal grandfather died during exams my junior year, I found enormous solace in a paper I happened to be writing on the influence of the Bhagavad Gita in Walden. Last year, I began to meditate when I realized that drinking milkshakes is not a valid coping mechanism for a bad breakup (clearly I didn’t spend Yom Kippur fasting). The milkshakes made me happy for all of about 5 minutes; meditating made me thankful instead of resentful. But this isn’t about me (really, I swear), it is about religion and spirtuality, and regardless of the religion being discussed, the issues raised in this piece speak to the role (or often lack thereof) traditional religion plays in modern (or should i say post-modern?) life.


About Rachel Steele

Rachel Steele originally hails from Charleston, SC, but schlepped all the way to Boulder to play in the mountains and study at the University of Colorado. She graduated with a degree in in Political Geography in 2008 and then briefly traveled in India and was certified as a yoga teacher in 2009 at Holy Cow Yoga Studio. She has since returned to her mother's ancestral home of Brooklyn, NY and is proud to call the Williamsburg area home. Despite what her mother recently said, she doesn't think she's become a hipster. She does wears many hats, including a fedora with a pin of Lindsey Lohan on it, but the one that is most important to her is that of a feminist filmmaker. She also loves live music, enjoys cooking, and is happiest when rabble rousing. She does miss Colorado, but feels very connected to her college home when writing for elephant. Her personal blog can be found at womanofsteele.tumblr.com and on imdb.


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