Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the 11 men and women profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury have all made the transition to sustainable, fulfilling lives. Based on Andy Couturier's popular articles in The Japan Times, this lushly designed volume has a wealth of stories about real people who have created an abundance of time for contemplation, connecting with the natural world, and contributing to their communities. In their success is a lesson for us all: live a life that matters. Read an excerpt of the book here or here. Read a review of the book here, here, or here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"It's all Buddha" Zen Abbot Takaoka on Death

A short talk with Abbot Shucho Takaoka on his work during funerals.  I had just seen the movie Departures, which I recommend very strongly, and it deals with this topic.  I asked him about it.  

(Takaoka was mentioned in many chapter of A Different Kind of Luxury.  He inspired many of the people in the book. Please read about him in the book to find out more.) 

Shucho Takaoka, Abbot of Tokurinji Zen Temple

"Everyone thinks of the dead body as dirty, a disgusting thing.  They don’t want to touch it.  But in the case of a loved one, the dead body is also the body of the person they were very close to.  So that creates a psychological distance or imbalance.  And people have the need to “circulate” those feelings.  In Japan, we have a word, hotoke for the people who have died, and it means that they have become a Buddha.

As Buddhist priests conducting a funeral, it’s our job to bring the people from one place to another.  There’s a business of decorating the body, making it pretty, and that may be part of the same impulse, to bridge the distance, and to help people move from the feeling of “dirty” to “clean”.

But we know that every single person dies—there is no one who doesn't die. You will absolutely and without fail die.   But usually it’s not from fully alive to utterly dead in an instant though.  Things in the body break down bit by bit, in small steps.

From my point of view,  I want to show people that it is all hotoke.  Living, dying, and dead.  It’s all Buddha. 
This drawing is by Hideo Ito of Akira Ito,
who passed away some years ago.


1 comment:

  1. I see, understand and relate. It is all Buddha. Love, life, death, wisdom and experience. It is all apart of the universal cycle.