In Japan, the Do (pronounced ‘dough’) spirit exhibits distinct Japanese cultural values as well as their unique way of learning. Originating from a combination of thought from Ancient Chinese Taoism as well as Zen Buddhism, Do literally means “the way” or way to be followed. The Do spirit follows a distinct pattern as follows:
1) A formal rule-bound pattern to be followed.
2) A constant repetition of the pattern.
3) Mastering the pattern through different levels.
4) Perfecting the pattern.
5) Going beyond the pattern, and becoming one with it.
The practice of whatever is being taught takes place in a setting which the student is to be quiet, respectful, obedient, and mirroring of the instructor. Whether it was learning art, weapons training, writing, the tea ceremony, or religious mantras the student simply had to follow set established patterns to learn from the teacher. In Taoism as well as Zen Buddhism little emphasis is placed on critical thought or intellectual reasoning, but rather on absorbing already established ideas set forth by the teacher through repetition. In this way, Japanese thought differs dramatically from Western thought which prides itself on reasoning and analysis.
How can the Do spirit, Japanese Apprenticeship, impact missionary work? On the positive side, Japanese are very good at learning massive amounts of information in a short time. Because of the Do spirit, Japanese people are highly detail-oriented and dedicated to all things that they set out to accomplish. On the negative side, Japanese people do not place a high value on reasoning or intellect, so it becomes difficult to try to “convince” them of the truth through typical Western means. Also, in a church setting emphasis can be placed on doing many things without much thought placed on the “why”. Please pray that we can understand how to minister to those that have the Do mindset!
Interesting? Keep going with your Japanese culture learning!