Pure Land Pancakes, anyone?Posted: October 11, 2011
Four year-old children are very funny. One night recently I was taking a bath with my daughter, and we pretended to make pancakes. Her process is very convoluted, and requires water, water and more water.
As she was teaching me this complicated process, she explained that if people go to the Pure Land, they eat “pure land pancakes” which are easier to make.
To help explain what she’s talking about, it helps to understand Japanese Buddhism a little. The Pure Land of Amitabha (Amida) Buddha is a big part of Japanese Buddhism, and we are Pure Land Buddhists. When we explain death to our daughter we tell her they went to the Pure Land. I am not sure if other Japanese parents explain it this way, but it seems possible. It works for us, at least.
For people not familiar with Pure Land Buddhism, it’s easy to confuse it with Christianity and Western notions of Heaven, but the similarity is only at the surface level. As far as my daugther is concerned, Amitabha Buddha lives in the Pure Land, it’s a nice place people go when they die, and they have special pancakes.
I made the picture above as a way of trying to make her version of Buddhism come to life. I made this in maybe 5 minutes, so it’s not professional, but it is funny. In the Amitabha Sutra it states:
“Shariputra, if a good man or woman who hears of Amida Buddha holds fast to his Name even for one day, two days, three, four, five, six or seven days with a concentrated and undistracted mind, then, at the hour of death, Amida Buddha will appear before them with a host of holy ones. [bodhisattvas]
So I took an appropriate picture of Amitabha Buddha descending with his host of Bodhisattvas, and added a plate of delicious pancakes. Thus, when Amitabha comes to welcome the dead, he’s bearing pancakes.
Namu Amida Butsu
P.S. Parenting is fun.
P.P.S. Japanese loves pancakes I’ve noticed, but they call them “hotcakes” (hottokeiki ホットケーキ).