Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mixing with the Buddhist Priests

It's not everyday that you get to hang out with Buddhist priests. This afternoon David took himself to a large Buddhist temple in the centre of Sapporo. He was there with two other OMF missionaries, one German and one Korean, to join in a discussion with a group of priests who wanted to hear the opinion of foreigners on the topics they were considering. It was one of these occasions where someone knew someone else who then arranged for the three of us to be there. As we arrived at the temple complex, we were greeted by one of the priests, resplendent in his black robes and ushered into the smart office building beside the temple grounds. The temple also has its own kindergarten and the Buddhist group of which it is part runs a university in Sapporo. Around 10 priests were there, many of them quite young. They meet now and again to talk about issues relating to worship of the spirits of those killed serving their country in wars gone by and who are laid to rest at Yasukini Shrine in Tokyo. There are many complex and emotive issues surrounding this and our discussion (all very amicable, but frank at the same time) ranged over topics related to war, the Emperor, politics and even the British Royal Family popped up at one point. It was a fascinating time of interaction and learning and we may be invited back again. David spoke to the main priest and asked whether he had ever been in a church. He had - for a funeral, a wedding and even at Christmas. He was a little disappointed at the funeral though as he thought a choir would appear to sing! It will be interesting to see if there is a next time. Who knows where it might lead?

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