Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving
Wednesday gratefuls: Kakun, family precepts. This article. Ikigai. Ichi-go, Ichi-e. Cribbage. Card decks. Playing as the snow came down yesterday. Other cultures. Repositories of wisdom about how to be human. Ours, too. The snow on Black Mountain. The beauty here. Politics. Covid. Going, Going.
Japan. An old, sometimes conservative, sometimes radically modern place. So much to learn from them. The article I link to above: This Japanese Shop is 1,020 Years Old has three ideas that resonate (thanks, Tom, for reminding me of this idea). Kakun, family precepts. Many Japanese families have a motto, or a family saying that guides them. Like those quotes at the bottom of European heraldry, I suppose. “Live long, live healthy, die suddenly.” “As long as you strive to be popular, you will remain unpopular.” “Boys must help with the housework.” Quotes from this website, SoraNews. It’s masthead reads: Bringing you yesterday’s news today.
Shinise. This term connotes a business that has been in business for a really long time. 19 for over a thousand years. 140 over 500 years. 3100 over two hundred years and 33,000 with over a hundred years. In this last group are Nintendo and Kikkoman. These businesses, especially the older ones, have opted out, really probably never participated in, the notion of maximizing profit, expand all you can. Seems like an idea that might be important in late stage capitalism. The more shinise, the more stable the economy.
Kakun + shinise = Ichiwa. Family precepts, or values, married to a shinise approach to business, can yield stability and security that lasts. Makes me wonder about our individualistic, upwardly striving, materialistic culture. But, as a counter point. A useful reminder that there are many ways to be human.
As I age, I find myself more interested in family, about what mine means, about the message, the kakun, that is implicit in ours. Not sure what it is, but I think there is one. One thing that’s a part of our kakun is service as a calling. Teachers. Warrior. Doctor. Organizer. Writer. Journalist. Maybe you can think of others? Pass them along if you do. Perhaps another is: Learn. Lottsa graduate level education. Travel? Read?
In a mixed economy shinise might play a disproportionate role. While the necessary matters like housing, medical care, and sufficient income for food and education would be governmental responsibilities, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses that have kakun and shinise at their core. In Bangkok, 2004, I visited a small community of folks whose only product was Buddhist begging bowls. The bowls required several different steps, all done by hand, and the steps got distributed among families. Bought one and it sits nearby.
We’re so binary. Liberal? Conservative? Which are you? Well, on this, I’m liberal. On this, conservative. On this, maybe, neither one. Are you an individualist or a communitarian? Are you gay, straight, trans, bi? Life requires nuance. Ideology is good for critiquing, but not so good for planning.
It might be that a conversation around these values is what we, the USA, needs.