Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ramble and Ramble, while eating his pie...

Weird night last night.

So after work I go to Shimada-sans house to help her translate my speech about Ukraine for Saturday. Her 18month old kid was there and demanded the majority of the attention but we got some of it done, I will meet her again on friday. She also fed me beef curry and gave me a couple DVD's she said she highly recommends.

So after that I go home and on the way I stop at Circle K by my apartment. As I go in I notice that the two women in the car in the lot are giving me really odd, interested looks. Whatever, thinks I, and I go into the store. I shop around for a bit, assemble a collection of junk food indulgent enough to bring a tear to Jon's eye, pay, and notice that the car with the women in it is still there when I get out. As I am getting on my bike, they get out and approach me.

I make like my Japanese is worse than it is as tends to be my policy when I meet new people. Well, I cant say policy so much as, my japanese is awful when I am caught unawares and so I come across as ignorant of the language. But anyway, in basic japanese they slowly explained that they were representatives of some sort of a group that wants to spread joy through mystical powers. They asked me if they could come to my apartment to give me a demonstration and, curiously amused, I agreed. So we get to my place and they sit me on the floor facing one of them with the other behind me and tell me to close my eyes and pray to god for anything I have that I want granted. I am thinking, wait, two strangers in my house want me to close my eyes with one behind me while I am sitting on the floor? Sure, why not, so I does it. They do some sort of mumbo jumbo where the one in front of me like held her hand out towards me and so we sat for 5 minutes as I prayed they wouldn't suddenly stab me in the back and steal my playstation. I guess it worked cuz they didn't. I also tried to think about good health and wisdom and yadda yadda yadda.

But I am inherently distrustful of any religion that tells me I can achieve happiness through satisfaction of my desires, that seems silly. Anyway, then they sat there and asked me what I thought about it and I tried politely to thank them for their time and that I would look into their group. The old woman was like Oh you probably dont believe it but thats okay, you just have to try it and even if you dont believe it it will work cuz it is a miracle. I guess they wanted me to try the holding-my-hand-out-to-grant-the-desires-of-the-person-in-front-of-me trick. But in order to try it I have to go get one of these little things they wear around their neck cuz thats how God enters me? Anyway I was tired and they asked me to come to their temple in Niihama and I'm like Naaaaaaah that's okay but they pressed me and I figure well if they were gonna kill me they'd have done it by now so what the hell I might as well get a cultural experience.

So off to the temple we go where I meet some priestess woman with scary evil eyes who does the whole hand thing to me and the other women at the same time (I guess she must be more powerful?) Then she asked me to watch a video in english explaining it. Sure, why not, I'm already here.

So I watch the video and it is such crappy new-agey rubbish, I dunno. It's like a conflation of all the bad ideas in christianity and buddhism and kept trying to establish authority by saying "just the Buddha said..." or "just like Christ said..." or "just like Dante wrote..." (not kidding that was one of their references). I guess the basic goal is that you can achieve heaven on earth, or rather, that it is coming - that there is a difference between civilization and culture, that civilization (obviously) means freedom from war and disease and that given the state of things the world is not yet civilized, but it is cultured, which is sort of a step towards civilization. And that judgment day is coming and that there will be a terrible disease that will wipe out most people and depending on the state of your soul you get a different colored robe when you die and go to a different heaven/hell (there are 180 levels) to await rebirth (or maybe you stay there? It was vague) and that the only ones protected from the plague will be members of this group.

All the details came from revelation to some Japanese guy 70 years ago. The one thing that intrigued me in the video was that apparently this group has gotten like 15 world peace prizes including one from the United Nations? This was in the beginning when it was firing out factoids about many different things in an effort to sway vast groups of people (uh, we got ancestor worship, into that? No, uh, okay, we got an apocalypse! No? Damn. Rebirth? Oh oh! Peace! We got peace!) but what was interesting was that there was zero mention of what exactly they did to earn these peace prizes. As near as I can tell the purpose of the group is to build slick looking temples across japan and abduct gaijin from convenience stores. And the hand thing (which was called Jou Rei?).

So anyway this video was still going on around like 11 which is my bedtime and while I had indeed been trying to keep an open mind it was really getting irritating and they didnt know how long it was cuz it was only supposed to be 15 minutes and it had been goign for like 45 so they asked me if I wanted to keep watching and I was like, no thanks. They asked me if I wanted to receive the little neck thing and I said I would pass, but thank you for the evening. They took me downstairs to say goodbye and thank you to evileye priest woman but were afraid to knock on her door (there was like fear, the older woman was pushing the younger woman to knock). Finally they knocked and kinda pushed me forward and she saw that I could see into her office and yelled at them and they dragged me back and she came out into the hall to meet me and thanked me for coming and asked when I would like to get the neck thing that lets god in and I said thanks but no thanks and she just got really really cold and was like "Good Night." and then they took me home.

I cannot for the life of me remember any of the names of the figures or of the religion itself, just the hand thing, joh-rei. In fact I am not altogether certain that it wasnt a crazy dream. But it wasn't. Very surreal.

Anyway, yeah. Anyone heard of these folks? These hand-waving-peace-spreaders with awards to prove it? They were showing me pictures too, "Look! This is in America! Americans do this too!" I nodded sagely.

I dunno, I dont mean to sound cynical and it is nice of people to want to spread their joy...but what the fuck, man? I didnt get to bed until 1230 and then overslept. Gah.
Am I dreaming?
It was weird, man, weird. I think I might have some papers they left in my house. And the woman got my email address. I wouldnt give my phone number. How strange.
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