Monday December 31, 2007
If you are out celebrating New Year’s Eve tomorrow night, as you are elbowing your way to the bar, listen out for the sounds of other-worldly chanting: it may be a cohort of Buddhists come to enlighten you as you relax with your friends.
According to the BBC website, Buddhist monk Hogen Natori and his companions have organised a regular spot in a jazz bar in Tokyo where they perform chanting for the gathered crowd, and then in the interval hang out with the audience, drinking and smoking, chatting and, er… making balloon sculptures. Hogen Natori is unconcerned by criticisms that such behaviour is unbefitting of serious Buddhists. Over a cigarette, he explained to BBC reporters that people “think Buddhism is very difficult, and deep and serious, but Buddhism is much more than that – exciting, funny even. I want to spread this kind of teaching.”
The pious can rest easy in their beds, however. According to my learned sources here at thinkBuddha (and I assure you that they are very learned indeed), there is no single Vinaya rule that specifically forbids the making of balloon sculptures.
I wonder if this raises an interesting question about the connection in the West between religion and high seriousness. But that, of course, is a terribly serious question. So instead of worrying about things like that, I’m going for a cigarette and a stiff whisky, and then I’ll have a go at making some Buddhas out of balloons.
Image of balloon sculpture courtesy of Wikipedia
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