A year ago nature hit Japan with the great earthquake and tsunami. Memorial services are held all over the world today. Let us share a moment of silence, being with those whose life was prematurely taken away, and those who lost their loved ones.
In a few days I will fly to Japan and also visit the Tohoku region, for the third time since March 11, 2011. While preparing for my trip, two things are on my mind:
The incredible strength I witnessed with the Japanese people, not giving up in the face of such a terrible disaster. It is for sure beyond comparison, the way individuals stand up again and move on to rebuild their lives.
The incredible misconception about what has happened. A memorial service is carried out for something past. The ruins of the atomic power plant in Fukushima are still terribly active, in a much unknown and possibly non-secure condition, euphemistically declared as “cold shut-down”.
Human beings are born and die, this is so by nature. Averting the development of new life for many many generations to come in a large region is a new technical invention of the past century, accounted for by irresponsible bureaucrats who are interested in nothing but a short term return of investment.
What is the answer of Zen in the face of such irresponsibility? I am relieved to learn there even exists an official one, the “Japan Buddhist Federation declaration – Appeal for a Life Style without Dependence on Nuclear Power“, issued on December 1st, 2011. In addition to this, the Myoshinji sect of the Rinzai Zen has made a remarkable public declaration stating, “We must break away at once from dependence on nuclear power for the future of our children”; and “In Buddhism, there is taught the practice of ‘sufficiency’ (chisoku), and we must make an effort to create a sustainable symbiotic society.” Yes!