Like Musubi, Buddhism Should Evolve
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