Author Topic: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks  (Read 13396 times)

Mana

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The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« on: December 30, 2011, 11:48:29 AM »
Yesterday I just posted something about Buddha Bar creating uproar among some Buddhist community, that was old news in 2006.

Now this is the REAL Buddha Bar! A real bar serving cocktails and beer, in other words, real alcohol....and run by ordained monks!

Now what do you say folks? In the previous post about a Buddha statue in a restaurant, most people find it acceptable, how about this then? The monks themselves are mixing and serving the alcohol and selling it to customers....

Abstaining from intoxicant like alcohol is one of the 5 precepts, but now fully ordained monks are serving alcohol, does that contradict the vows, can you accept this? Do you still think this is another skillful means to bring Dharma to wider audeince in modern times?

Mana




by Lucy Craft, NPR, December 29, 2011

At Vow's Bar in Tokyo, Buddhist monks run the place and serve up advice along with cocktails. Here's a monk serving drinks on Monday.



Tokyo, Japan -- Another Friday night at this tiny neighborhood watering hole in Tokyo: By 7:30, the bar stools and tables in this cozy joint are filling up; office workers settle in with their cocktails and Kirin beers. And by a little after 8, it's time for the main act.

Vow's Bar in the Yotsuya neighborhood has no house band, no widescreen TV, no jukebox. But it does have a chanting Buddhist monk so tipplers can get a side of sutras with their Singapore Slings or something even more exotic.

A pair of younger monks — conspicuous with their shaved heads, bare feet and religious garb — man the bar. For a non-Buddhist American like me, they shake up an order of the house specialty, shakunetsu jigoku, or "Burning Hell," and boy, they're not kidding.

This city is said to be honeycombed with 10,000 nightspots, most no bigger than an American living room. So to Japanese, it makes perfect sense that Buddhist monks would run their own themed bars, complete with incense, mandala sacred posters and religious altars. As for the monks themselves, they say that tending bar is, ironically, one of the best ways of connecting with their roots.

"In the old days, temples were the center of community life," says head monk Gugan Taguchi. "But then the temples grew powerful. Monks started getting rich, running funerals. They started to feel superior to their followers. That's not what the job is about."

Getting Out Of The Temple

Trying to suss out just what their job is about has prompted a younger generation of Japanese monks to undertake all sorts of endeavors. They start rock bands, open coffee shops and rent out their temples to theatrical productions and concerts as they search for ways of making themselves as central to their communities as their forefathers were back in the 15th century. To these men of the cloth, in other words, it's high time get out of the temple and go to where their flocks are.

Among tonight's flock is an office worker who said she spent an hour getting here, to seek counsel from the monks. She doesn't offer details, but the monks say they are asked about everything from wayward boyfriends to office politics.

"I tell people not everything is preordained or destiny," one of the younger monks says. "Love and affection change. So sometimes there's no point to trying to hang onto a relationship."

But the transition from austere temple to honky-tonk is not easy, the head monk confesses.

"At the temple, folks are always well-behaved and attentive, no matter how long or boring the sermon is," Taguchi says. "Here at the bar, they don't like my sermons — they walk out."

But for customers looking to get their advice straight up and their spirits lifted, the Buddhist bar is one place where there's always a sympathetic ear - all night long.

source: http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=44,10642,0,0,1,0

hope rainbow

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 12:52:54 PM »
Now, this does surprise me quite a bit I must say.
Isn't the very selling of intoxicants a wrong-livelihood?

I do not see any malice from the side of the monks, no I don't see any, but this is what I think:
We must REALLY live in VERY, VERY degenerated ages so that monks must level down to selling us alcohol at night joints so that they get to have our ears at least a little...
I am actually saddened, because I know that monks would prefer otherwise.

And I would not even be surprised that times are SO degenerated that a large portion of the very people who "force" monks to operate bars to get closer to them would be the first ones to be SHOCKED at this!
And to those who say: "monks can't do this!" etc... I would ask, have you been visiting monks, and temples, and seeking Dharma teachings? If not, then you are the cause why these monks engage in such peculiar activities, because THEY CARE FOR YOU AT A LEVEL YOU HAVE NOT EVEN THOUGHT OF.

My thoughts on this.

vajrastorm

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 01:02:34 PM »
I still think it's a skillful means of bringing Dharma, not just to a wider audience, but also to the heart of where Dharma is truly needed, if not most needed. When monks sell alcohol in a bar, people who come in to drown their sorrows in a glass or tumbler of wine, will be more ready to pour these sorrows out to a ready listener who is at hand to listen and who is full of empathy for them.It is in this context that Dharma can be skillfully meted out as a truly powerful dose of medicine to heal the sorrows and the suffering and more importantly, their root causes, that is,mental delusions and the three poisons.

Temples with monks who are more bent on conducting funerals and making money from that, do not appeal to people in dire need of Dharma as do bars where monks skillfully teach the Dharma  in the form of counselling and advice that really addresses their problems and needs.

As long as compassion rules the hearts of these monks who run  a bar, as long as they see beyond the business of running a bar to the goals of benefiting the people, whom they serve,with the Dharma, then I see no conflict with their having taken the five Precepts.   

negra orquida

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 12:09:52 AM »
I agree with both Vajrastorm and Hope Rainbow... Having monks to serve alcohol does indicate the level of degeneration of this age, and also shows how adaptable, sensitive and selfless these Buddhist monks are to meet the needs of the people of this age.  Degeneration and regeneration is a cycle, what goes up must come down.  This is evidence that the kind sangha will go all out to touch as many people as they can, through various clever (and perhaps controversial) ways, to try to get them on the path out of samsara.  I roughly remember hearing this saying on how where there is intense suffering, a Buddha will appear... and bars are one of such places, isn't it?  These monks are the specks of light in the bar, silently guiding the way of its patrons.

pgdharma

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2012, 02:55:34 PM »
Yes I do agree with hope rainbow and vajrastorm. It is so sad that we now live in a degenerate age that t the monks have to find different ways and methods to reach out to us and spread the Dharma. As the saying goes, “If they don’t come to us, we have to go to them”. I don’t see anything wrong for the monks to tend the bar as they are just tending and serving alcohol not drinking alcohol. Most patrons of the bar are there to drown their sorrows and it is good that they are near proximity with the monks who will lend their ears and give advices.

Galen

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2012, 04:22:03 PM »
My first thoughts are that the monks are bringing the Dharma to the root cause. TO a place where the people needed the Dharma most, the place where evil happens. But when I read the comment from Hope Rainbow, it is so true that the monks have to stoop down to our level to bring their message across. THis is how degenerate Buddhism has become. It is indeed sad to hear and see.

I couldn't believe it either that the monks will serve alcohol as it is a violation of their vows. Yes they are so determined to spread the Dharma and help the people in need.

Maybe it only happens in Japan where the Japanese are a bit eccentric, just like the singing monk who sings and raps the prayers to their listeners. Anything to get the message across. They are also a nation of inventors.

yontenjamyang

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 04:28:38 PM »
If boddhisattvas go the lower realm to 'save' the beings there, then we can certainly understand this. Like the article explained, if the flock don't come, we can go to the flock. After all which bartender listens better then the monks and which psychologist advises better then the monks?

 We are surprised at this because of our projections of what the world should be like. The monks are at the same time breaking our projections. If the patrons want to drink, to would drink. Better have a bar run by monks than not.

kris

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2012, 04:48:31 PM »
Wow, this is indeed controversial...

I felt since it is one of the 5 precepts that we should not consume alcohol (especially for our own enjoyment), we should not have this alcohol bar.

I do understand it is a skillful means, but there must be a boundary. If we allow this to happen, does it mean we can allow ordained monks to open up brothel? If the monks really open up brothel, can we use the same argument that it's high time get out of the temple and go to where their flocks are.??

nagaseeker

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 03:00:24 PM »
Wow, this is indeed controversial...

I felt since it is one of the 5 precepts that we should not consume alcohol (especially for our own enjoyment), we should not have this alcohol bar.

I do understand it is a skillful means, but there must be a boundary. If we allow this to happen, does it mean we can allow ordained monks to open up brothel? If the monks really open up brothel, can we use the same argument that it's high time get out of the temple and go to where their flocks are.??

WOW ! the BEST topic ever ! Kris , we are talking about tokyo , the city that full of sights ranging from ultra modern, desire ,  full gamut of sexual experiences....can you imagine that theres a temple in the middle of the city , what will happen then ? full of ppl who line up to make offering to buddha ? i think those monks are brave and also clever, if others does'n go to temple , why not reach out to them ? unless the monks drinks the alcohol , if not ,it is a good things to do ~

Positive Change

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 08:35:09 PM »
Well, both Vajrastorm and Hope Rainbow have very valid points... I too find this interesting as it hits on two or more levels but at the same time related. One being skillful means from the point of the monks trying to reach out to the core of the people with inner most samsaric afflictions that make them "hit" the bars. Secondly being of such a degenerate age that the means to spread the Dharma, requires monks to do such samsaric "jobs"

Having said that, I do not think the monks have broken their precepts as they are not drinking the alchohol themselves but merely serving it. If you ask me, when I am down and out, I would much rather be served alchohol by a monk who would lend me an ear than a money grabbing bartender who would much rather me lend him my money!

hope rainbow

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2012, 04:46:33 AM »
If you ask me, when I am down and out, I would much rather be served alchohol by a monk who would lend me an ear than a money grabbing bartender who would much rather me lend him my money!

Dear PA, do you really think that?
For me, I am not sure how I would feel being served tequila shots (*) by a monk, and spluttering my pitiful worldly problems to my monk-bartender while being positively drunk.
How would I feel when breaking one of my refuge vow not only in front of a monk but with his assistance...

Really, if I were to get out and drink, the sneaky me would rather do it "out of (monks) sight."
We also don't smoke in front of monks, or indulge in lavish meals in front of them, etc...

Am I being very stiff here?

bambi

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2012, 05:00:07 AM »
Its neither good nor bad depending on how I see it. Yes, it's sad to know that during these degenerate times, the monks have to do secular jobs to spread the Dharma.  We should be the ones serving the monks instead of the other way round. Not only do the monks need to take care of the temple and spread the Dharma, they must also have the strong and correct motivation to serve alcohol and relate the Dharma at the same time. It's good for the patrons as they will have the Dharma imprint from the Sutras and chanting.  They can also get good advice for their daily unhappiness.

WisdomBeing

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2012, 05:01:50 PM »
This is quite a dilemma. Before I learned about Buddhism, i would have no problems with monks serving alcohol. In the west, there are many Christian or Catholic monks who do not just sell alcohol but even brew it in order to sustain their abbeys, one of the most famous being the Trappist monks. And delicious ale they serve too! As the order does not require abstention from alcohol, some of the monasteries produce and sell alcoholic beverages. Monasteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, such as Orval Abbey and Westvleteren Abbey, brew beer both for the monks and for sale to the general public.

Now, with more understanding of the Buddhist principles about intoxicating substances, i guess the right thing would be to say that Buddhist monks should not sell alcohol because it is considered wrong livelihood. However, i still like a pint now and then, and if i was to pick a watering hole, i'd prefer to go to one where my dosh would support something positive, like this Tokyo bar.


Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

Klein

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Re: The Real Buddha Bar, Tended By Tokyo Monks
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 09:37:28 PM »
I still think it's a skillful means of bringing Dharma, not just to a wider audience, but also to the heart of where Dharma is truly needed, if not most needed. When monks sell alcohol in a bar, people who come in to drown their sorrows in a glass or tumbler of wine, will be more ready to pour these sorrows out to a ready listener who is at hand to listen and who is full of empathy for them.It is in this context that Dharma can be skillfully meted out as a truly powerful dose of medicine to heal the sorrows and the suffering and more importantly, their root causes, that is,mental delusions and the three poisons.

Temples with monks who are more bent on conducting funerals and making money from that, do not appeal to people in dire need of Dharma as do bars where monks skillfully teach the Dharma  in the form of counselling and advice that really addresses their problems and needs.

As long as compassion rules the hearts of these monks who run  a bar, as long as they see beyond the business of running a bar to the goals of benefiting the people, whom they serve,with the Dharma, then I see no conflict with their having taken the five Precepts.   

I agree with vajrastorm. I think we need to look at the results the monks are creating. Are more people becoming stronger after chatting with the monks over drinks? Are they becoming Buddhist or more spiritual?

Just like controversial Chugyam Trungpa Rinpoche, these monks are using modern unconventional methods to reach out to people and help them. I believe the Japanese are too busy with their careers and have too many distractions in their lives and are not going to the temples to learn the dharma. So the monks have to "go" to the people and connect with them at places they hang out most.

I believe the monks are very compassionate that they are willing to take the risk of public scrutiny for the sake of the people.