Turning A New Page, Sort Of

Hello dear readers, I have a few updates to share.

First, I updated the name of the blog. When I first built it, I had chosen a snarky name at random and never bothered to update it until I had a more clear idea what i wanted to do with the blog (and not just post random things). I realized that over time the blog has unknowingly envolved, and having been inspired by the novel of the same name by Greco-Irish author Lafcadio Hearn, I decided to finally update the name.

Second, I decided to setup a Twitter feed for the blog here. I will be posting blog updates there, but also extra content as interesting things come up. I might even also start other social media feeds at some point, but for now, I wanted to at least do Twitter. My teenager likes to remind me how old-fashioned Twitter is now.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

FInally, as folks probably picked up, I’ve been busy on the spiritual side of things lately and I wanted to share some things.

The home “retreat” I did in August had, not surprisingly, a lot of twists and turns. Planning a months-long retreat at home with kids, work and summer plans was never going to be easy and something goals quickly fell off (like not blogging, nor abstaining from junk food), but other aspects did fare better such as finishing a number of books and keeping up home practice. So, all in all it wasn’t bad. I had to remind myself, once again, to keep it simple and flexible. 🤦🏼‍♂️

Further, I felt like taking a retreat would help reinforce my faith in the Pure Land path, but after a series of unexpected encounters and realizations, I decided that I feel more at home in the Zen path, and I’ve decided to shift gears and focus my practice and study there. I don’t regret my time involved in the Pure Land path, but I think I’ve taken as far as I could, and I found that once I started a new meditation regimen and such, i was happier with my practice again.

This isn’t such a big change for me. I’ve always been a Pure Land Buddhist with an interest in Zen, but I guess I’ve now transition (at least for the time being) into a Zen Buddhist with a deep appreciation for the Pure Land path. And again, as we learned with Chinese Pure Land Buddhism, the distinctions between the two aren’t so great anyway.

On the other hand, one reason why I’ve avoided Zen for so long is that proliferation of two types of Zen students you often meet in local communities: First are the “Bushido Bros”: people who love martial arts and Zen, but with little understanding of contemporary Japanese culture or language. These “Neo-Orthodox” types are eager to imitate traditional Zen culture in an intellectual way without the cultural context. If Dogen didn’t say it, it’s worthless. Conversely, there are the “American Buddhist” types who want to eschew all Asian cultural trappings for something more hip and modern. You’ll see these folks in trendy (read: gentrified) neighborhoods, and dot-com companies.

In short, I am not comfortable with either one, and they’ve turned me off for the longest time.

However, as my language skills have improved to the point that I can read (basic) Japanese literature on Zen in Japanese, I am finding that there’s plenty of good stuff. It’s not that Westerners get it wrong, or that Westerners are stupid, but they either try too hard to imitate, or try too hard to reinvent Zen. I just want to enjoy the tradition as it is (i.e. as it is practiced in Japan), warts and all, and just enjoy it for now. I still recite the nembutsu often, but the emphasis these days is more on practical meditation and a streamlined liturgy, and not getting hung up on doctrinal minutiae.

So anyhow, hope you like the new title, please feel free to follow on Twitter, and please be patient as I adjust my blog content slightly to meet the new path.


Namu Amida Butsu

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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