The Daily Bento

Live from Okinawa, Japan


Okinawan Zen Driving

Posted by dailybento on March 5, 2009 at 9:30 PM

If you refuse to feel the flame it cannot burn you.


If you refuse to accept the water it cannot drown you.


If you refuse to acknowledge the pain it cannot stumble you.


If you refuse to see the red light it cannot stop you.



Perhaps driving around Okinawa has reacquainted me with my spiritual side, because let me reassure you that on more that one occasion it has definitely brought me closer to god. Here are some of the moments when Zen Driving can be employed:



When stuck in one of those ridiculously tight little side-roads. It’s at times like this when the only possible solution to getting out seems to be levitation. However, the presence of being that is required when trying to lift an entire Toyota Corsa off the ground is so great that I normally have to resort to a 35-point turn.



One needs the patience of Buddha when trying to do ANYTHING involving the local driving authorities! For example, trying to get car insurance and having to go through a LABYRINTH of different little windows and doors before actually getting the damn thing, and then having to get another form of insurance before you can drive without JTEs worrying. Or when you want to get your Japanese license, and having gone through the many preparations you finally get to the licensing offices ONLY TO FIND THAT THEY ARE OPEN FROM 9am TO 11am MONDAY TO FRIDAY! (Easy James, hummm, chant, mantra, mantra, mantra, shanti, shanti, shanti)



You’re going to need the four faces and eight eyes of Chakramsamvara if you want to see all the scooters that seem to magically materialize out of nowhere, as if through some malevolent force. And maybe, with the help of the Lotus Sutra, you could receive instant enlightenment. That would help you to predict when the obaa in the car in front of you is going to stop completely unannounced.



And finally, the ability to go into a meditative trance is handy when driving around endlessly looking for a place to park your car. When you have procured yourself a tight little area between two little wheeled shoeboxes you are going to have to reincarnate into a habu or a gokiburi to squeeze yourself out of the car!



Oh, and on a more serious note, if you are just starting to try to learn kanji, like me, be careful how much time you spend trying to read road signs. I was up near Onna village a few weeks ago, and I was looking at an oncoming sign desperately trying to remember whether the kanji I was looking at meant left or right. Unfortunately I was paying so much attention to the sign that I nearly crashed into the barrier that the sign was trying to warn me about. Not very Zen, let me assure you, but I can now very quickly recognize the road signs that say, “Keep right”.



Drive safely everyone, and “Be water, my friend”

Categories: Driving

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