Saturday, December 15, 2007

Making Religious Life Fashionable

I thought the headline was a joke: "Japanese Monks Stage Fashion Show." But no: in a bid to woo the younger set back to Buddhism, monks actually donned elaborately-hued robes and hit the catwalk in Tokyo today to show just how colorful the monastic life can be.

As someone who grew up in Paramus, New Jersey, a town with the highest per capita retail sales in the United States and a place where, as I used to joke, "when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping", I found it amusing and somewhat amazing that the monks felt they needed to appeal to outer appearance in order to entice young people into exploring the inner life.

Granted, we all come to our evolutionary journey in our own way and time ~ and I certainly was still workin' the shopping gene in my 20s and early 30s. Even with the detachment I now feel towards the temporal trappings of our corporeal existence, I confess I still love beautiful clothes, whether or not I own them. The difference is, I'm well aware that possessions are not the answer, just something to enjoy on the journey.

So we do what works to get the message across. In this case, dress it in bright green and purple patterns, and literally pray for the best.

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