108 Bells
Published 12-20-2008 on my old wordpress blog.

If it weren’t for all the believing in deities hullabaloo, I’d probably become a Buddhist. I’d be a pretty good one and it would probably keep me from losing my temper and my sanity so much.

From my college girlfriend (who was half-Japanese) I learned a lot about Japanese celebration of the new year and going to visit her family on New Year’s for a big party was pretty awesome. But I never learned about many of the other traditions of Japanese New Year celebrations and rituals until I was checking out new free iPhone apps and read about one and then looked up more. Here are the two I liked best:

The cleaning is called Susuharai, or soot-sweeping. Both inside and outside the house, the stains, physical and spiritual, of the past year are rubbed out in order to purify the home and make it fresh for the New Year.

I’ve been working on cleaning during the snow days a bit. There are still quite a few things to clean up or get rid of, but I’m on the way. Perhaps on New Year’s Eve, I’ll clean out the black chest in the garage. It’s time for that, I think.

Probably the ceremony that intrigues me the most is Joya-no-kane. Essentially, Buddhists believe that man has 108 “troublesome desires” (Xtians would call these “sins” I suppose) and by hearing the temple bells ring 108 times at midnight on New Year’s Day, these desires can be cleansed away.

I would like to believe this really works. I would like to be relieved of my “troublesome desires.” It’s been an extraordinarily long year. December is only a few days longer and then we’re into 2009. I would enjoy it if my 2009 was better than every year ever. I’m already planning on going to 8 shows in January, so that’s a good start. I just have to get myself out there and recognize, for once, when something wonderful happens.

In the meantime, judging by the radar maps, we’ve got about an hour before the world ends in a powdery white freezing death. I feel like there should be some sort of preparation for the apocalypse of 3 inches of snow followed by an ice storm. But what can you do? Just sit and hope the power doesn’t go out and that the house stays warm enough. I should have prepared months ago: bought some gloves, knit myself a scarf, grown a beard, got the fireplace fixed, etc. But it is too late now, so we’ll just have to see if we survive. Man, I can’t wait for 2009 and my renewal. I’m going to be more awesome than ever. Or just the same amount of awesome, but people might notice.

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Keywords: buddhism, japan, new year, ritual

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