I’ve been reading a book about the Japanese and they are very different to a Westerner like myself. So different that it rubs out a lot of the ‘givens’ in life and leaves one faced with a blank sheet of paper on which to draw a new picture, a new way of being.Perhaps the biggest difference is God. They don’t have one and according to Alan MacFarlane in his excellent book Japan Through the Looking Glass, there was a time when the Japanese thought the ruling classes in the West had made it up to keep people in line and society stable. The interesting thing is that many of us in the West no longer believe in God but the language, the ethics and much more has been internalised and colours and forms our rather hazy shade of reality. The question is are we now hard-wired having literally grown up in it and digested the teaching, or can we change and modify what we do by simply replacing the software. Personally I think we are pretty much hard-wired. We can never get rid of it, but we do have the ability to disarm it and then engage with as we want. In many ways this is what the Japanese have done. They don’t believe in gods but there are thousands of Shinto shrines and spirits that share life with them. And if that doesn’t make absolute sense then perhaps we should follow the Japanese and give greater weight to the silent spaces between words and sentences when it comes to the pursuit of meaning.
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