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Cult or Culture (part 8)

March 27, 2012

…it was only important that I continue to say the words.

Not all at once but over time, as my life continued to go from bad to really bad I convinced myself it was because I was breaking the Bible’s commandment of Thou Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me – by chanting the strange Japanese words that I had no  idea what they actually meant. I could have been chanting something deep and profound. I could have been ordering tempura. Who knew? No one knew…or at least no one would tell me.

For the most part, being surrounded by Christians and those that Christians called heathens, I simply thought it was trendy to say, “I’m a “Buddhist” – despite the fact that I had not been taught one single principle or precept about Buddhism, as a member of the Culture Center Clutch. Having a Gohonzon in a cardboard butsadan thumb tacked to my dining room wall, was like having something exotic that nobody else had. It was like being the first family on the block to get a microwave oven – back when microwave ovens were new and unusual.

I enjoyed the self-righteous rush I got from envious neighbors who couldn’t help sneaking little peeks at my Gohonzon when they were a little scarred of it. I figured they secretly wanted one too, if for no other reason than to have a conversation piece, but their homes worshiped a strict self-cleaning oven doctrine and that would be the end of it!

Eventually I stopped taking the daily calls from my Culture Center Clutch. Next I stopped going to the frequent meetings. Because there was not just the district meeting, there was also the planning meeting to plan what would happen at the district meeting. And there was the chapter meeting which was a meeting of lots of districts combined which made up a chapter. And there was the area meeting which was a meeting of lots of chapters combined. And it all started with the group meeting which was the smallest unit on the pious pyramid that made up the whole organization.

Sometimes there would also be “special” meetings where large numbers of Culture Center Clutch members from cities near and not so near would travel by tour busses to assemble at a large high school auditorium or an even larger convention center, to watch a closed circuit feed of the man with the glasses, speak for hours in Japanese, over English subtitles about everything and about nothing – though never about the Buddha or about Buddhism.

Eventually I also stopped chanting and I stopped paying any attention to my great and powerful Gohonzon that lived inside the Velcro closured cardboard box, thumb tacked to my dining room wall.

I didn’t see the point in it. I didn’t feel any of the happiness I was assured I would feel, from chanting the famous four words, nor did I feel that my life was moving forward in any kind of way. I waited and wished for the exuberant feeling that would make me want to cheer my own course of A-A-OH’s to wash over me, but it never did. I guessed my measure of happiness was different from how the Culture Center Clutch equated happiness. Silly me.  Fast forward 7 years…TO BE CONTINUED.

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