Thursday, February 23, 2006

From the East and From the West

Today is a small deviation from normal posts in an attempt to serve a point to anyone willing to listen.

I found this passage on the internet recently:

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: "Have you ever read the Christian Bible?"

"No, read it to me," said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: "And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these... Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself."

Gasan said: "Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man."

The student continued reading: "Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."

Gasan remarked: "That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood."

This passage is particularly relevant for anyone from the West who seeks to visit the East. I make no religious endorsement whatsoever about the passage; I wish only to explain that the man Gasan is from a different culture than that which produced the Christian Bible - yet he appreciates what he hears. A wise man is able to see value in things that are beyond his own sphere of influence or sphere of thought. It is very important to keep in mind when you are visiting another country that there is value in opinions which are not your own. Perhaps you may experience a heightened sense of value precisely because they are not your own.

I have experienced the clashing of cultures during my time here in Japan. I have not met each clash with dignity and openness I am ashamed to admit. I like to think, however, that as my time here winds on, I open more and more to ideas that are not my own.

Just a bit of advice about life in another country.

1 comment:

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