Friday, February 23, 2007

Update on Ken Wilber

For those of you who are concerend about Ken Wilber's recent accident, read this.

It actually floored me when i first read it; he's so funny.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tenseishinbikai

I have been studying the religious group called Tenseishinbikai for about five months now (check out their hompage for pics and info). I befriended one of their members and found his organization fascinating. I sometimes visit their church and events. They seem, to me, like wonderful, kind, family people. Of course, I have also found many Japanese who are skeptical or outright mean toward them. For example, while my landlord was in my house looking at a ceiling leak in my shower room with a plumber, a member of the church came to my door to give me (and everyone else in the apartment building) the monthly newsletter. (I hadn’t met this particular member; maybe he was new in town, I thought.) He was young, in his 20s, and friendly. We started talking. I told him I had visited the local church. To my surprise, my landlord immediately walked into the hallway and asked him, in clear, polite Japanese, “What are you here for?"
" I’m a member of Tenseishinbikai.”
"Well, I'm sure not a member, you know. (ne). We are busy right now so…” I felt kind of insulted, and the young man kind of started to get nervous I thought, so I and just continued the conversation we were having about taking a trip to Honshu in march to visit the friend of mine who is a member and who is having a concert (he plays the oboe) and I was wondering if he was going to. “I am!” He says.
“I'll see you later then!” The boy looked me in the eyes and said, most genuinely, “thank you so much.” I said no problem, see ya, closed the door, and went back into the kitchen. Immediately my landlord says to me, in polite Japanese, “They are bad. They are a bad organization, ne.”

I said, in polite Japanese, that maybe that is true, but I am friends with them and even though I already have a religion, and I don’t need theirs, I really enjoy the conversations and kindness. (I'm an artist,, which I consider as a religion, and I also practice different Yogas (which seem very weird to some) as well as Vajrayana Buddhism.
He then smiled and said, “they seem kind on the outside, but they are bad on the inside.”

I wanted to ask why, but he turned, left the hallway, and went back into the shower room. The answer probably involved how they try to get members and financial supporters. Only, like TM, just like TM, they believe their religion is actually transreligious (recognizing that getting stuck in religious absolutism is a significant cause of today’s global problems), and they believe their specific method of meditation and healing is altruistic and reasonable and necessary for “paradise on earth” and the new Human Civilization to emerge as a stage in evolution.


The thing is, though, they use an ancient healing yogic posture used by both Jesus and Buddha, and in this modern world it just looks weird and awkward putting your open palm up to someone's head while meditating. It is especially strange when they do it without explaining what it is or why. (Similar to the hopping done by the TMers. That can weird people like my mom out.) When I experienced my first Jorei I knew enough about Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian mysticism to not think too much of it. It's just another new religion trying to revive the rituals and methods of the past.

Jorei, their main form of worship (transcendental meditation for the TMers) involves one person sitting and imagining (and believing, although that is not necessary) that healing power is coming out of the other person’s open palm as light, directly into their life, body and mind. And the person doing the Jorei, holding their hand up, is not supposed to think about anything. If possible, completely clear the mind. And if thoughts come, there is nothing you can do about it, so just let them pass, but keep your hand up. And if your hand gets tired, change hands, but keep the connection there. They believe that whatever healing happens, it is not you, but is the universe healing itself, so you don’t have to do any special visualization or concentrative meditation. Just sit there with your hand up and the miracles will unfold by themselves.

Now, one rational reason why this healing can and does work to some degree is what is known as the placebo effect. The sick or sad person, by believing that this will work, constructs healthier, positive mind waves or thoughts in their mind, and this helps relax the body and aids in the natural healing or evolving process. It works that way for the receiver, as well as for the giver: The giver, in needing to fulfill some psychological urge to help others, to help heal and bring about peace, can hold her hand there and believe that she is finally helping in a meaningful way. And, like I said, the giver of the miracle may not feel anything necessarily. Maybe a little pain in the arm after a while, but they do feel like they are helping, and that can be very beneficial to an individual. And, in a way, the receiver is actually giving the Jorei to the giver, by letting that person perform the ritual. Does that make sense? It’s ok for a non-believer to sit in front of this person patiently while they do this ritual. It is a gift to them, or can be seen as one. We do similar things when we accept to watch a dance or eat a cultural food. It might seem strange, but it is a wonderful chance for someone to share with you his or her interests and pleasures.

Whether or not subtle energies and spiritual ki is being transferred during Jorei is of course up for debate. No doubt the Jorei affects people, though.
I think ultimately even "nonbelievers," like myself, benefit from Jorei, with our co-workers appearing more friendly and happier day after day, creating a more peaceful atmosphere.

This is so much like TM; only TM has scientists proving that meditation benefits the mind, body, and world.

I think Tenseishinbikai is far more earthy then TM though. More Alchemical. It talks more about the primary elements of the earth, fire, and water. Both talk about the age of Enlightenment though, and the Effortless order and organization of Natural law (the laws of Nature.) They also both promote (above vegetarianism) the immediate end of the use of fertilizers. they also both have huge dome-shaped temples.
Their philosophy is quite fascinating, but also flawed in their inability to see that other philosophies and methods of peace are good to. They are caught in absolutism, or ethnocentrism, trying to convert others. This is very annoying for some. But for others, they really are harmless, I think. And to me, well, they are reviving an ancient yogic poster long forgotten by the masses (even Jesus did this one, remember!) And so did Buddha, and their members seem happy and healthy enough. I’d say they are actually a positive influence in the world. They definitely promote the idea the there is one God who has many different religious names. That is a good, beneficial, tolerant idea, I guess. To each their own. And I have of course received Jorei a few times, and it was a great feeling (because I did my meditation and also tried to imagine what it would feel like to have light pouring into my forehead, and it felt great!). But that doesn't mean I'm going to join the organization. They want me to, but I'm just not interested.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Welcome to Our Global Village"





Welcome to our global village


Last Sunday afternoon I went to the annual Global Party held in Niihama (the rural city I live in on Shikoku Island. The Global Party is one of the greatest events held every year. People from almost all the foreign communities (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Brazilian, Indian) gather at the Woman’s Plaza to share their traditional food, games, dance, and talk. This year at least two hundred people showed. Performers performed, music was shared, dancing and singing and meeting occurred and the universe is a little bit brighter than it was before. The vibe was amazing, to put it vaguely. I was moved. And there was a magician who performed wonderful stage magic (a student from the college here) and we promptly made plans to meet and share magic tricks. As many of you know, I’ve been doing the same 12 magic tricks on a loop for the past ten years, so this meeting is really quite a wonderful thing for me (and for you, if you like seeing my new magic tricks!)

See the sign behind Duncan (performing his beautiful folk music)? It says, “Welcome to our Global Village.” This got me thinking. In the Western world I think the idea of a Global Village, or a world community, entered human consciousness at around the time of Jesus. He promoted the idea of a united world community of brothers and sisters; a Community and a God that is not owned by one particular tribe or ethnicity, race or social class; And the All Powerful Source or God is a Father to which ALL humans (not just a chosen few) can be, and already are, children. His idea of a transcultural, multicultural God was one that could unite ALL people around the world, and actually bring into fruition a Global Village, but only by the help of the willing people to love and care for each others. And, of course, with this early idea, one could only join that Global Village if converted to the common, shared mythology, called “Christianity.” But the idea of “all living together in a shared community or village, one so large it covers the entire globe,” that was quite new, I think, and quite a wonderful dream at the time, I’m sure, with violence and horrible acts of aggression surrounding all cultures in every turn. The history of the world is a brutal example of the power and horrors of ethnocentric pride. And the recent wave of worldcentic pride, that multicultural heart that honors and embraces every living culture is such a relief, you know?

(It’s important to remember (or dream up) how the Christian (“”) idea of a Global Village was not created within our modern perspective from “multiculturalism” or “rational pluralism”, which are both quite new but nevertheless common perspectives. I think we (you and I) all hold this view (Harmony in diversity pluralism), and it a definitely held by the bankers and investors and ecologists and peace-lovers, for it is a necessary component for dealing with global crisis and economics). Because the early idea was constructed out of a limited, uninformed, pre-internet world, it was naturally bound to have an ethnocentric, our-way-is-the-best-and-only-way feel. The present idea of a Global Village, on the other hand, arose out of a global culture (in the information age) and thus is has no roots in an ethnic or religious superiority. I’d call it “transreligiouse” or “interreligious.” It is multiculisitic through and through)

The modern, current Global Village idea, exhibited in these pictures, has evolved to include a universal pluralism of reasonableness and tolerance, of honor and inclusion and appreciation that allows complete harmony in diversity to hum its humble tune. The village now rests on the law: Let each religion go (unless they are blowing up others); let the cultures go and see what kind of beautiful art and music and dance and movements arise out of that freedom and openness. Love all, serve all. No doubt The Global Village is an idea that many people have as a dream for the future.

Thankfully, in so many ways the Global Village is already upon us, with events like this being proof of a community of souls that choose to live together in religious and ethnic harmony. “Welcome to our Global Village” means, Hey, we started a Global Village! Welcome. Come on in and have some fun. We are celebrating. And the celebration never ends with the Global Village. Because the diversity never ends. It just keeps dancing and eating and singing and sharing, and if you look carefully, you can see the miracle of “harmony in diversity” glow as the smile on everyone’s face, especially the laughing, learning, dancing children.

The Niihama Global Party reminds me of the Interreligious World-Peace Meditation held annually in Kansas City. That is something I miss about my hometown, for sure. The Ethnic Festival was also a concert feast. I used to help out with the Japan Booth, selling kakigori (snowcones), and edamame. I miss it, I do. I miss my hometown.


My favorite Japanese saying or “kotoba” is junintoiro, which means “ten people, ten colors.” Everyone is a different color, and all colors are beautiful because they are made of lights interacting with each other. And all Colors are made of the same Light, yet are all infinitely different. Ah, the radiant miracle of harmony in diversity.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Saturday, February 10, 2007

more birthday, more angels













I woke this morning to Yasu walking into my house. Lucky me, he came into town this weekend. We spent the entire day together, meeting up with michele and ty for lunch and then walking in nature. Here are the pics.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Beautiful day



My birthday began with classical music. I lied in bed for a while playing with sleep, feeling deeply into that place where dreams and waking life mix.

Then, I got up, did my some yoga, and then finished cleaning my house for the party later that night.

I took the city bus to Elementary school, and walking through the farmland from the bus stop was unbelievably beautiful. I felt like I was on drugs. A dome of soft florescent cloud-light evenly bathed everything in glow. See how the wood on the houses are burned and charred to be a beautiful black and brown? I love that.







At school I of course told all the kids (I taught the third and fifth grade classes) that it was my birthday and danced around the room as they sang me happy birthday, (putting in some harmony at the end.)

I had a great day with the kids. I taught the fifth graders a 12 months song I made up, and they sang it beautifully.

That night I had a birthday party. About 25-30 people showed up. I came face to face with the horror of leaving people out. I didn't invite everyone, expecting word to get around and that people would just show up, but some friends need more time to prepare, and some need a direct invitation…to all that I did not invite that think they should have been, I'm sorry. You should have been, and I was spacey and only called the first few people I thought of, and I don't think of people in any particular order, and I’m sorry.

The party was great. My apartment was stuffed with some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen in my life.

I put up a picture of a kid’s drawing to remind you that Japanese children draw the sun red, as apposed to our occidental orange or yellow. (So much is a product of our culture. More about that soon. Very soon.) Also pictured is Ishizuchi Mountain seen from my front door, and a collage I made at one of my schools. and also a snowstorm from the first fall this winter. im not joking, the snowflakes were the biggest i have ever seen; they were the size of kitten paws.






the morning after the party i woke up next to two friends who slept over, lucky me, made coffee, and checked my email. My mailbox was full of Facebook messages. that sentence would have been strange 20 years ago.






Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Birthday

My friend Mayu’s 12-year-old dog died yesterday. She was very sad that night at dinner. We ate ramen like we do every Tuesday and this week we got to talking about death and loss (my favorite dinner conversation, as many of you know). She said her dad is already looking at a few puppies. “Few puppies?” She asked me to correct her pronunciation. She was right. It's a funny sound. Few puppies.

She asked if we really buried our dead people. I said sometimes. And she said, “Do you think that they will come back to life or something?” I said maybe. It is a pretty interesting aspect of our culture, I guess. In Japan they always cremate.

I am 24 today. About One fourth done for sure. It’s been a great 24 years. I’ve met lots of people, I’ve seen many dreams. I’ve had lots of experiences; I’ve felt many feelings. I’ve discovered meditation, music, drawing, friendship, yoga, the beauty of nature, and have found more love than I know what to do with. Today I’m healthy and happy, full of friendships and fallouts and family. Its has been a miraculous 24 years—years that I did not ask for. They were just given to me for some unknown reason. And without asking I’ll probably be given plenty more.

And my last grandmother sang me happy birthday over the Internet a few days ago from her deathbed. She used to be a music teacher, and her strong singing voice was reduced to a quiet, airy whisper, but I could still hear that distant angel I have been listening to ever since I was born.

And to think of all the times she has sung that song.
And her last was probably my 24th.

More later.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

May all beings be Free and in Love.



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