The end of an era in Japan


We don’t think much about it but it is the start of the Post-Christ era. Like everything else we need to place things relative to each other. Time is no different.

In Japan the Gregorian calendar is used in conjunction with the Japanese “nengo” or era name. The present era is Heisei, the name chosen for the present Emperor’s reign which started in 1988. The two Chinese characters of the name means “becoming peaceful”. And it has been relatively peaceful. This year, 2019, is the 31st year of his reign. But this will end on May 1st when he abdicates.

Abdication is not the norm for the Japanese imperial family. Usually they reign until death. This is perhaps only the second time in history that an emperor had abdicated, and the first in modern Japanese history. So the citizens have no idea what to expect.

The country is also holding its breath as to the name of the new era which is being decided by the government at the moment. We will find out on April 1st.

Id/superego/ego, Japanese culture, Schopenhauer 

If there is one thing useful that I would have to pick that Freud gave us, it is the idea of id, superego and ego. The id is what you want to do. The superego is what society wants you to do, and the ego is what you do in light of your id and superego. Something is wrong if you let either the id or superego do all the thinking. It is best to take the balance with the ego.

Japanese culture has this built-in to their thinking with the concept of in-group/out-group. We must always think of ourselves not as just mere individuals but also in relation to society.

Or this is similar to Schopenhauer’s idea of will and representation. We are individuals in charge and control of our self (will) to be contrasted to things outside beyond our control (representation).

While abstraction is something we humans are good at it is dangerous to let it take over without a return to the real world or reality. No matter what the world is, there we exist and only exist. Any other thought is wrong.

Monk Begging in Shopping District

Drowned out
By summer heat,
Rushing crowd.

Why did the neighbour cross the street?

“We have been all the way to the Moon and back,
but we have trouble crossing the street
to meet the new neighbour.”

Dalai Lama

A place where Buddhism and alcohol mix?

Having started out Buddhism from Zen Buddhism (and now with a bit of Theravada) I cannot fathom what drives some monks to think they can run a bar and still think they can still call themselves Buddhist monks. It wasn’t mentioned which sect these monks belong to but my guess is that they are from the Jodo Shin sect.

I am not against Jodo Shin sect at all but rather misinterpretations by people of what its original founders had intended.  Like all societies and their religions there will be radical offshoots. Is it okay to start a prostitution house just because you have a sympathetic ear?

A line has to be drawn somewhere and it has to be drawn with common sense even though common sense can be problematic at times.

The link between the environment and war

Did you know that 40% of world’s civil or internal wars in the last half century have been fought over for natural resources?

Today is International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. We should remember the (illogical) reasons why we are fighting in the first place. Then, may be, we will put down our weapons and make peace instead.