News from the Front, Oct. 23rd 2009


This is off-schedule, but a nice chance to take a break and talk about sundry things:

  1. The family and I are settling down in the US after being here for more than a month. I never imagined I would have culture shock coming back to the US, and my hometown, but I did! It took some time to get over this, but life is calming down, and we’re getting ready to move to our new, permanent home at the beginning of November.
  2. Halloween is coming! Our little one is enjoying the festivities. She thinks ghosts are called “Halloween”, so says to her toy ghost “Hi Halloween!”.
  3. Speaking of Halloween, the next 3 posts feature ghost stories by Lafcadio Hearn (or retellings by him). Hope people enjoy! Halloween as a holiday doesnt’ really exist in Japan, but the Obon Season in July-August fills a similar role, so usually ghost stories would be told then, not in October.
  4. Speaking of Hearn, I am reading, among other books, a great book of his called “Kokoro“, which is a collection of his essays on his experiences in 1890′s Japan. Some are very insightful and touching, like the first essay on the murderer whose forced to confront the murdered man’s family. Or his comparisons to the Western religious thought to Buddhism (which he speaks of highly). Other times, he veers into really old-fashioned thinking about racial differences, but clearly he loves Japan and Japanese people, so he’s not critical, but his views seem really old-fashioned by today’s standards.
  5. I’ve also started reading a book about Soto Zen in medieval times. The book is kind of scholarly, but really questions a lot of “neo-orthodox views” held by Western, Zen Buddhists today. I’ve only started, but it’s interesting so far and I hope to write about it soon.
  6. Speaking of posts and writing, I am debating about going back to 4 times a week, as there are just too many good ideas piling up. Once the holiday season at work calms down and we move in, I just do this. Or sooner. I’ll think about it.


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8 Comments on “News from the Front, Oct. 23rd 2009”

  1. Tornadoes28 says:

    Look forward to your review of the Soto book.

    Have you read the book “Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan”? It’s pretty good as well.

  2. Doug says:

    I did actually. But it’s in my boxes of stuff being moved from the EU, so I haven’t finished it. Some parts really infuriated me though, given the amount of politics that went on in the Shinshu community, and the way they split hairs over really fine doctrinal points in those days. Maybe for people on the ground, it wasn’t such a big deal though. I suspect the Zen book above may infuriate me too once I get far into it enough. :)

    Dobbin’s scholarship is great though. I’ve used it to update Wikipedia in a few places before I left Ireland. :D

  3. Tornadoes28 says:

    It’s been a couple years since I read so I probably should pull it out again and read it. I just don’t have enough time to read all the stuff I want to read. I’ve been hittin’ the Japanese history a lot the last year so have not read too much Buddhism. I want to read more about Soto Zen, especially since my wife has been taking our boys to the local Soto Zen temple on Saturdays for Terakoya, like a Japanese/a little Zen weekend school.

  4. Doug says:

    Yeah I wish zen temples in US had something like that otherwise I can’t really bring family. The only temples here on Seattle with sunday school services for kids are the Shinshu temple I go to and a Nichirenshu temple. The others are all “meditation centers” which are devoted only to that. Not the best places to raise a family I think.

  5. JonJ says:

    Aside from the “Buddhist churches” and temples established by immigrants generations ago, there aren’t many Buddhist centers that are family-oriented in the U.S. yet, but I think they will gradually develop. In my experience, at least, most Americans who are interested in Buddhism are either too young to have started families, or so old that their children have flown the nest. Once the younger ones have more families, I think the situation will change.

  6. Tornadoes28 says:

    Zenshuji in Los Angeles is in Little Tokyo and still is highly affiliated with the Japanese community. The Terakoya weekend school is more of a Japanese culture group with some interaction with Zen through Zenshuji.

  7. Doug says:

    Johnl: great observation. It’s clear Biddhism has a presence in the US that is here to stay and I hope this means less self-help seminars and more family oriented places as the generations pass.

    Tornado: Stupid me. I thought you were in Japan and I thought Terakoya was like a Sunday school program. :)

  8. Tornadoes28 says:

    I am in LA. Terakoya is a special Japanese weekend school on Saturday. But in addition to Japanese related learning, they do learn a little about Zen. They meet the monks and occasionally practice Zazen.

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