• Hermosa Beach, California

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Thank you for Amy Chavez’s Dec. 10 column about the splashy holidays in Japan (“How does ‘Come all ye Bodhisattvas’ grab you?“). In 2005 I visited Japan in November and was surprised to see all the holiday lights going up. Having lived there as a child in the 1960s, it was a dramatic change. (Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s wooden street signs were still there after the 1964 Olympics.)

It was on that trip that I discovered the Jizo Bodhisattva, revered as the Buddhist protector of women, children and travelers. He promised Buddha that he would remain on Earth until all beings were finished suffering.

In practicing Jizo meditation and integrating his essence into my work as a psychotherapist, I created Jizo and Chibi (www.jizoandchibi.com), where you may find my meditations, art and jewelry designs. For the non-Japanese reader, Chibi means “little one” in Japanese; thus Jizo holds the child, or inner child, safely.

Santa only comes once a year with presents and credit-card debt. The practice of mindfulness and Jizo-awareness — finding a Jizo within us, a resource for being grounded — is a moment-by-moment proposition. And in January, there are no huge credit card bills or depression as the result of unmet expectations. Choosing between what Santa has come to represent and a 2,500-year-old teacher’s commitment to end suffering is easy for me.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

valerie johns

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