Serving up some Dharma

CNN has this article about a monk in Japan that is getting a lot of  attention for his approach. He’s a young monk that is using hip-hop, booze, and a casual atmosphere to deliver the dharma. Says one of the patrons:

“Buddhism for Japan is a religion you normally only experience at funerals,” said patron Naoyuki Osano, who comes to the bar twice a week. “But the Buddhist philosophy is wonderful. It’s great to have a place like this for us to learn about Buddhism.”

Interesting. At first, I thought this whole idea was stupid and disingenuous. It all seemed kind of hokey and not unlike those proselytizing Christian vans that roam the city filled with “cool kids” that wanna hang out and talk about Jebus. Surprising from someone that runs a blog called Home Brew Dharma? Yeah, I could see that. But if you have read what I’ve said about the 5th precept before (here, here, and in the comments here) you’ll know that I’m actually not a huge drunk!!! Wow!!! I’m not going to go into the 5th precept here in this post as I’ve already directed you to my thoughts on it, which haven’t changed.

But maybe there is something to this. I can’t speak of the cultural aspects of Buddhism in Japan or how it is incorporated into everyday life. From the little I’ve read/heard, it seems as if it is more of a passive aspect of the average Buddhist’s life there. So maybe an approach like this is what is needed there. It’s a way to get Buddhism out of the temple and integrate it daily into the lives of everyday people. It’s helping people to discover and engage in a new practice, or maybe bring an inactive practice to the forefront of their lives.

Group Dharma Transmisson at the "Tipsy Co-ed Mountain Retreat Center"

I also wonder what the “bar scene” is like where this monk is at. I doubt it looks much like the bar scene that I experienced in college. I’m guessing it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere where the level of conversation high and the level of intoxication is generally low? Without more information, I don’t want to make anymore uniformed judgements. I’ll just say that if it helps to spread the dharma to those that want to hear it, and can help people lessen their suffering (even a little bit) then I say go for it. Is it unorthodox? Yeah. But maybe that’s what the community needs there. I for one, am all about Dharma Drinks.




Filed under Buddhism, Home Brewing

3 responses to “Serving up some Dharma

  1. Jack Daw

    I can’t emphasize enough the process of growth in Buddhist practice. I don’t “not drink” but my drinking has decreased dramatically in the past few years.

    But the connection between booze and Buddhism has roots in both Japanese and Chinese Zen. In both monasteries their was usually sake brewing. Now whether this was a hold-over from Taoist and Shinto customs, I don’t know.

    I usually mee tsome practitioners for Dharma Drinks at a local tea house that also serves beer. Sometimes we get oolong and sometimes Fat Tire…

    No big whoop.



  2. I think after looking at it further, I would agree with you. I did always hate the ‘cool kid rap’ that the zealot Christians would do sometimes, it always seemed just rather …OMFG that’s so stupid.

    Adapt or die, like John talks about in his post.

    BTW, I don’t drink, so i never felt comfortable saying ‘Cheers’ at the end of a email or something. Its always Later or Thanks, I need something with more style!

    I’m thinking:


    • “Adapt or die”

      Yes, while I don’t want to see people prosyletizing door-to-door, I do believe that we need to grow the international sangha. After all, I think we can all agree that the Buddhist path is an incredible source of good and compassion in this world, and letting it die out isn’t in the best interest of humanity or this planet.

      Hmmm……. how’s about……” L’Chaim “. That’ll really keep people guessing. WTF? a jewish zen-squirrell??????