Like Musubi, Bud­dhism Should Evolve

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - MIS­FIT SPIRIT Jay Sakashita

The Bud­dha is a musubi. At least, that is the im­age that comes to mind when I think of the en­light­ened one sit­ting in med­i­ta­tion un­der the Bodhi tree.

With l egs crossed and hands placed on his lap, one on the other, the seated fig­ure is a musubi-like tri­an­gle shape. A robe wraps around his body like a piece of nori. With his eyes half-closed with an ever-so-sub­tle smile on his he is think­ing about. Like the from plain view (is it sal­mon, konbu, tuna?), the em­pha­sis of the seated Bud­dha is what we can’t fully see — the mind within.

But what’s on the in­side is as im­por­tant as what is on the out­side.

More­over, just as there are ba­si­cally three es­sen­tial parts and nori — there are three in­ter­con­nect­ing sides to Bud­dhism known as the Three Jewels: Bud­dha, Dharma and Sangha. I think of the Bud­dha as the rice; the Dharma the Sangha (com­mu­nity of fol­low­ers) as the nori.There are dif­fer­ent kinds of rice in dif­fer­ent places. Bud­dhism is like this, too.

Bud­dhism be­gan in In­dia in the fifth cen­tury B.C.E., but achieved greater suc­cess be­yond its birth­place when it trav­eled to Sri Lanka, China, South­east Asia, Korea, Ja­pan, Ti­bet and else­where. More­over, wher­ever Bud­dhism trav­eled to, the re­li­gion in­ter­acted with the lo­cal cul­ture and indige­nous re­li­gious tra­di­tion, cre­at­ing new and dis- tinc­tive forms of Bud­dhism in each place. Sort of like the musubi.

changed into some­thing dif­fer­ent from what it was in Ja­pan. To be­gin with, what musubi is re­ferred to as omusubi in parts of Ja­pan. The “o” in front of “musubi” is an hon don’t show the musubi the same level of re­spect in Ha - tional Ja­panese shapes of the omusubi — round, tri­an­gu­lar or cylin­dri­cal — and turn out rec­tan­gle rice bricks in­stead.

We even split the musubi into two, mak­ing it al­most like a rice sand­wich. We don’t use Ja­panese short-grain rice, but use medium-grain rice or what­ever is on sale. The tra­di­tional Ja­panese omusubi is of­ten nearly en­gulfed by nori, with only snip­pets of rice peep­ing out of the corners. The good stuff — ume, kat­suobushi, men­taiko and other hid­den. The tra­di­tional Ja­panese omusubi is re­served and sub­tle. Like Bud­dhism.

The lo­cal Spam musubi, on the other hand, is bold and brash. It re­minds me of Christ he is de­picted in some churches — with his body and pas Only a loin­cloth pro­vides him with a de­gree of mod­esty. The meaty Spam too, in all its choles­terol-bust­ing, sat­u­rated fat and sodium-laden glory, re­clines un­abashedly by John Deer­ing on the top of a block of rice, held in place by a nori thong. It is un­re­pen­tant and mocks our ef­forts to eat healthy, like Christ who ridiculed the sav­ior’s in­no­cence.

and pornog­ra­phy is what you - the lo­cal Spam ver­sion is musubi porn.

And yet, per­haps it’s time for lo­cal Bud­dhist groups in­ter­ested in widen­ing their ap­peal to look to the Spam musubi for in­sight and guid­ance.

Like the Spam musubi, Bud­dhist groups might con­sider chang­ing their shape into some­thing lo­cal peo­ple can eas­ily form on their own. And in­stead of sub­tly plac­ing del­i­ca­cies in the mid­dle of the musubi where it is eas­ily hid­den from view, place the good stuff on the out­side for every­one to see.

In other words, trans­form

This may al­ready be hap­pen­ing in some Bud­dhist groups. In the past, the Bud­dhist teach­ing of empti­ness - cept by those with pro­found un­der­stand­ing in­side the re­li­gion.

Empti­ness is now be­ing is more, mind­ful­ness is be­ing moved to the fore­front of the re­li­gion for all to see. The Bud­dhist prac­tice of mind­ful­ness is now tied to all sorts of prod­ucts and has be­come an ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing tool that has opened Bud­dhism to those out­side the re­li­gion not fa­mil­iar with its tra­di­tional forms.

In short, the omusubi is be­com­ing its Spam ver­sion.

Yet even the musubi has an con­sumed, but more needs to be pro­duced, per­haps with

The Spam musubi is evolv­ing, too. I’ve seen an over­the-top Spam/ba­con/egg/av­o­cado musubi. The nori strains to con­tain this obese musubi, like the waist­band of un­der­wear too small that hides and

Per­haps Bud­dhism has or topped with lo­cal fa­vorites will be cre­ated, caus­ing some Bud­dhists to blush and oth­ers to leer.

Jay Sakashita teaches re­li­gion cour­ses at Lee­ward Com­mu­nity Col­lege and UH

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