A nice weekend in SpringPosted: April 20, 2009 | Author: Doug | Filed under: Buddhism, General, Japanese, Language, Zen | 5 Comments »
It was a great weekend, despite being on-call, here in Ireland. A few points I wanted to bring up:
- As I move on in my preparations for the JPLT, I find I am struggling very badly with the Japanese language approach to giving and receiving. If you follow the link there, you can see that its actually quite complicated to explain who gives what to whom. In addition, you also have to deal with issues of politeness and humility as well. Is the giver in your “group” or not? Is the “giving” to you, or to someone else? I was hanging out with some Japanese friends this weekend, and I had a lot of trouble explaining that my father-in-law taught me “X”, so later that night I asked my wife all these questions and kind of understand better now. Giving and receiving are important in any language, but with Japanese, you really should spend the extra time studying this aspect, and getting very familiar with it. I’ll write a separate post about it later.
- I played Dungeons and Dragons, version 4, for the first time this weekend, after purchasing the basic 4th edition Player’s Handbook. One of my co-workers was the DM. I haven’t played since the 2nd edition, but knew it well back then, and they really, really changed a lot, but the more I play, the more I appreciate what they did for the 4th edition. The handbook is well-written and anticipates a lot of ambiguities that used to come up when I played 2nd edition. Also, concepts like Daily, Encounter and At-Will powers eliminates the annoying hassles for Clerics and Wizards for building up powers and such, with a more realistic approach. I also like the easier-to-read battle tactics, and better thought strategy involving movement and such. Frankly, it was just great to get out of the house, enjoy a good barbeque, kick a soccer ball around in the backyard and play D&D with some other guys for the first time in a while. I realize now I haven’t spent enough time relaxing and enjoying life.
- On that note, since this weekend I appreciate more and more something Dogen, founder of Soto Zen, said in the Bendowa:
[Regarding practice] It simply depends on the will. Those who can discern excellence and inferiority will believe Buddhism naturally. Those who think that worldly tasks hinder Buddhism know only that there is no Buddhism in the world; they do not know that there is nothing that can be set apart as worldly tasks in Buddhism….
For too long, I tend to see Buddhism as something I have to set-aside and do as part of my day. Another chore that has to be done at the end of the day when the dishes are done (chanting, meditation, blog writing, etc), but Dogen’s arguing something different: every act can be a Buddhist act. Of course, it’s good to set aside time now and then for chanting and/or meditation, but the reality is is that for working-class people (especially with families) it’s hard to stay consistent. I think this is why in traditional Buddhist culture, even from the time of the Buddha himself, lay people were often taught the importance of the Five Precepts and that more devoted practices were reserved for Sabbath days. Even now, this is still important. If one faithfully tries to follow the Five Precepts, out of benefits to loved ones and coworkers, and strives to work hard and be a good parent or spouse or family member, then as Dogen teaches, this is Buddhist practice. No need for the retreats and such. Buddhism becomes your life, not just another chore to follow.
Have a great week, everyone!
Namu Amida Butsu