But even though Buddhism isn't a spiritual religion, it does have some things that seem a bit religious to most of us. When I first started to go to lectures on Buddhism in Tokyo, one thing I felt uncomfortable with for a while was reciting a verse in Japanese called Kai Kyo Ge (verse to open the sutras) at the beginning of each talk. I asked my teacher, Gudo Nishijima, if it was necessary for foreigners like me to recite the Kai Kyo Ge. He said it was just the tradition in Japan to do so, and of course nobody had to recite it if they didn't want to. For him, reciting Kai Kyo Ge was a way of expressing his respect and thanks to Gotama Buddha for teaching people about Buddhism.
I started to give talks on Buddhism when Gudo Nishijima retired from lecturing in English to devote more time to his translation work. I didn't bother reciting the verse to open the sutras at the first few talks I tried to give. Instead I just got right into trying to give a "talk". But somehow it didn't feel like a proper talk without having said the verse at the beginning. The atmosphere didn't quite feel right. So I started making sure to recite the verse at the beginning and the one at the end too just like Nishijima did. I realized Buddhist tradition can help sometimes.
Now I know anyone reading this probably couldn't care less about some Japanese verse about opening the sutras, but as this is my first real post I thought I'd just go crazy and put up a short video clip of Gudo Nishijima reciting the kai kyo ge at the start of one of his talks at Dogen Sangha's old dojo in Moto Yawata, Japan.