Sunday, March 26, 2006

Preliminary reflection on the Taste of Japan

I could write forever about how exhasted I am and how happy I feel, but as I wrote to Liane Louie on Sunday, March 26, 2006 8:08 AM "Taste of Japan was a great time for all. I learned so much! We will read the Buddhist story you sent as an example of why our Taste of Japan was so important; we placed a community need-awareness of the Japanese culture in OKC- and we were the hands that fed others at the same time as we fed ourselves. It is the best example of reciprocity I have ever encountered. I met Liane at the NAIS Conference in Boston and she closed her wonderful presentation with the Buddhist Story that expresses how I feel about the Taste of Japan the morning after, IN HEAVEN.

Thank you Lianne for a great story of the power and beauty of service.

The Power and Beauty of Service

There is a Buddhist story of a boy who wants to learn more about Heaven and Hell.
He is brought to the dinner table inside hell where he sees the most wonderful feast he has ever seen - delightful dishes of meat and fish and piles of fruit. Chairs were arranged on both sides and chopsticks to eat with were neatly set upon the table. “How could this place be hell?” the boy wondered.

Then suddenly, appearing out of nowhere, hungry ghosts and spirits from the world of hell began to gather. They were all restless and making a big fuss. When all the spirits were finally seated, they began fighting for the chopsticks.

Then something strange happened. The chopsticks started to grow, becoming longer and longer, and longer, until they were all three feet long. The hungry ghosts tried to eat with their long chopsticks. But they couldn’t. Even if they could pick something up, they couldn’t put it into their mouths. After some time had passed, the red doors of the dining room opened, and a large, black gaping hole appeared. Mealtime was over. The hungry ghosts, still hungry, threw down their long chopsticks and slowly got up from the table.

Then he was taken to the dining room in Heaven. He noticed that everything looked exactly like the dining room in hell. “What’s the difference?” he wondered. The boy looked closely and noticed that the pairs of chopsticks were already three feet long. Then quietly and with grace, happy-looking people started to gather around the table. “How are they going to eat with those long chopsticks?” the boy thought.

After sitting down, the people began picking up the food with their very long chopsticks and, instead of trying to feed themselves, they began putting it into the mouths of the people sitting on the other side of the table. They took turns feeding each other, giving the other person whatever they wanted to eat.

The boy was very touched. He then understood the difference between the two worlds – that caring about each other, not just your own self, is what made the dining room in heaven so wonderful and different from the one in hell.

Prepared by Shinnyo-en Foundation, 2006

1 comment:

Yukiko Y. said...

Dear Carmen,
I cannot help saying "Thank you" hundreds of times for your wonderful job at the Taste of Japan. I could see only our tea ceremony and the finale, but we were so happy to see many audience there and we could see their deeper understanding on the Japanese culture. Besides, this is our first time to demonstrate kimono & tea ceremony in OKC, we believe that we could expand our activities and have made a good relationship with other Japanese communities there.
At the tea ceremony, Mary and Sarah helped us perfectly. We really appreciate their big help. They worked for us more than we expected. We were so happy to have the beautiful and kind assistants there. Arigatou Gozaimashita.
I hope that you could have very good rest from the festival.
When you need me for reporting to the Japan Foundation and other things about the festival and Japan, please feel free to contact me. :)

Sincerely yours,
Yukiko Yokono

P.S. I enjoyed the story about the Buddist boy on your blog. 

Yukiko Yokono/ Japan Outreach Coordinator
The Oklahoma Institute for Teaching East Asia
The University of Oklahoma-Schusterman Center
4502 E. 41st St., Tulsa, OK 74135 U.S.A.
Phone: 918-660-3372/Fax: 918-660-3490
Tulsa Global Alliance
2819 E. 10th St., Tulsa, OK 74104 U.S.A.
Phone: 918-591-4750/Fax: 918-591-4755