Today is a beautiful day – warm, sunny, calm – everything you would want from a nice day. I’m in a great mood.
I received an email from a very progressive organization about non-violent demonstrations and how people need to be trained to do this. Here is a line from the message –
To help the 99% movement succeed, we want to kick off the spring by training 100,000 people in nonviolent direct action, in the spirit of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks
Notice it is Gandhi, King and Parks? I’m just saying…
In our corner of the SGI, we have been talking about how to spread Buddhism in America. It has been a very open dialog with members speaking their minds. It’s very refreshing. The leaders up the ladder continue to remind us that nothing will happen quickly, which is one of our problems. I suspect any big changes will have to go through Japan. In my opinion, one of the obstacles to the spread of Buddhism in America is Japan and Japanese culture. We have talked about this many times, but what are we practicing? Nichiren Buddhism or Japanese culture? Where does one begin and the other end? Our alters are Japanese. Most of the mid-level leaders are Japanese. The national leaders are Americans who might as well be Japanese. If we want to make this practice accessible to Americans, we’re going to have to step away form Japanese culture, Japanese language and Japanese leaders. That, of course is my opinion. When I brought up dropping all the Japanese jargon and using English words, a woman from my area was flat out against it. She still uses those titles that I never understood – chick-i-butcho, what is that?
But I applaud SGI for even talking about this. The organization has finally figured out that it’s not working. We are losing members. We have a new member in one of our districts. She is so excited and enthusiastic that I’m worried she will burn out. Every time I see my first group leader (who is now an area leader) she tells me about someone who she has reconnected with. A few months ago it was a man that Greg introduced from Nichiren Shu, I think. He is Indian and we used to go to his home and there would be the gohonzon right in the middle of the Hindu alter.
There is another exam this month. I’m done with those. I never study and always pass, so why bother? I’m facilitating this time. At a meeting of mid-level (Chapter, Area & Region) leaders, it was brought up that young people are just not going to get into a “Fill in the bubbles” test. An area leader asked why are we doing this? What is the purpose of a graded exam? Some members study for these tests, but the majority don’t. I enjoy studying Buddhism, but I don’t really enjoy the monthly SGI study because it doesn’t teach anything. I think it’s purpose is to reinforce the same tired concepts over and over. I gave a presentation on the life of the Buddha last month (at Nichiren Shu). I really enjoyed that.
So to summarize – Nice day, good mood, not taking exam and business is getting better, but that is another story.