Wednesday, October 20, 2004

To share the problem, not the answer.

I had a long conversation with the young Zen priest, Jikisai Minami in a temple in central Tokyo. Jikisai is known for his books on the Buddhist philosophy, emphasizing non-traditional and yet essential views on what Buddhism is all about. The conversation is to be published in the quarterly magazine "Kangaeru Hito" ("The Thinker") to be released in December.
In the conversation, Jikisai emphasized the importance of sharing the problem, while not necessarily sharing the answer. Sharing a particular answer, he said, might lead to the closure of the system. Many religions failed to remain open spirited because the leaders imposed a certain set of official answers. We can share the problem instead, he said. As human beings, we cannot escape from the fundamental constraints on our existence such as age and death. Everybody can share these basic problems. If we remain open-minded about the possible answers to these questions, then we can be religious and open at the same time.