Japanese Buddhism gets a lot of criticism for having degenerated into what some people call a “funeral business”, but I saw this story on Tricycle Editor’s blog, and thought it was great story:
This article involves a certain famous Japanese monastery called Zenkōji (善光寺), which is a Tendai/Jodo-Shu temple. Originally the temple was slated to take part in the Olympic Torch relay, but decided to take a stand and pull out due to controversies surrounding Tibet. But what I also like was this part:
Buddhist monks said yesterday that they would hold a ceremony of mourning for Tibetans on Saturday at the seventh-century Zenkoji temple, which backed out of being the starting point for the relay.
My family-in-law in Japan have complained in the past that some of the local temples they know are pretty much just business, and don’t really practice what they preach. For example, for the recent holiday of Hanamatsuri, the Buddha’s Birthday, some of the local temples had no real celebration. Also, I remember visiting famous temples in Japan in 2005 and 2007, and some just felt like tourist-traps/museums to me. I didn’t feel anything spiritual there.
However, seeing that Zenkōji is taking an active, ethical stance to the China/Tibet issue makes me feel proud of those monks. I am glad to see these monks of Zenkōji are willing to take a risk politically and speak out on ethical issues they take seriously. That tells me that they these monks are not just interested in collecting donations, but really care about Buddhism, Buddhists and welfare for others.