Buddhism throughout its traditional homelands is not in a healthy state. A complacent and conservative Sangha has been slow or even reluctant to adjust to the modern world. The approach seems to be just to keep repeating what has been done for centuries. In particular, Buddhism in Japan is pretty much terminal and like Christianity in some western countries, seems irrelevant to most people, especially the young. News from Japan tells of a few monks (perhaps ‘priest’ would be more accurate; nearly all Japanese Buddhist clergy are married) who are trying to attract the young by presenting Buddhism in ways that resonate with them. Apparently one priest runs a bar, chats with customers and chants suttas as he pours their drinks. Another priest is attempting to attract the young by transmitting the Dhamma through rap and hip-hop music. I am reminded of Gomo Tulku, the so-called Rapping Rimpoche - fancy coiffure, dark sun glasses, leather jacket, torn jeans, the whole works.
Surely there is enough in the Dhamma that, presented in modern language and through modern media can be meaningful and attractive! And of course, awareness of problems and doing something about them NOW, might mean that radical compromises do not have to be resorted to. It seems to me that when a religion has sunk so low that you have to jettison some of its basic doctrines or characteristic features in a desperate effort to attract people, then it’s time to throw in the towel.
On the ‘innovative’ Japanese pre priests mentioned above see -