OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
 
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 
 

 Is Zen Still At War?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 917
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:42 pm

Is Zen Still At War?

I recently read Zen At War (ZAW). I had already been aware of the issues in a general way, so I was not too surprised at the extent of collaboration between the Zen sects and the Japanese war machine during WWII. What was new for me was seeing the connection between that behavior and my own experience at Shasta Abbey. In essence what the Japanese government did was co-opt the Buddhist practice of no-self/selfless service to serve the goals of military conquest and empire building. There was a time I believed a system dedicated to the enlightenment of the individual would be innately resistant to such a takeover, but it was not and it’s important to understand why.

Zen practice enables one to realize no-self by creating a context where choice is replaced by surrender and obedience. The protective layers of ego resistance are gradually worn away and eventually it becomes possible to drop self and experience transcendence - the classic kensho experience written about in Zen literature. Those stories usually end at the moment of enlightenment, but of course life goes on and to really appreciate Zen practice you have to look at the role it plays in the life of the individual and community over time. Traditionally monks are “transmitted” after kensho, which in theory means recognized to be spiritual adults, but the freedom and autonomy that I associate with adulthood are not apparent in Japanese monastic culture. Monks in monasteries remain subject to those hierarchical, authoritarian systems regardless of seniority and spiritual understanding. It is clear that in Japan during the war years obedience to authority was made the primary obligation of the individual, superseding personal needs and even personal survival. ZAW documents that even the most senior monks and leaders of the Zen sects obeyed the government and supported war – in fact bent over backwards to justify it.

It is clear that Jiyu Kennett gradually replicated the Japanese system at Shasta Abbey. After criticizing what she called the “authoritarianism” of the London Buddhist Society and rejecting the Japanese Soto Zen Head Office it is quite ironic that she eventually created essentially the same hierarchical, authoritarian system. In a way the OBC finds itself in a situation similar to the Japanese Zen sects during WWII in that they see it as a matter of loyalty and respect, perhaps even spiritual survival, to not question or consider changing anything Jiyu Kennett created. Sadly they miss her own example of leaving traditional Soto Zen so she could be free to think for herself and teach others guided by her own vision.

Can the traditional Zen system produce autonomous individuals? Can a hierarchal system that requires surrender and obedience avoid infantilizing its members and misdirecting their selfless service? And once you understand the value of selfless service is it appropriate or necessary for someone else to determine how you should express that in your life? Shakyamuni Buddha was himself a classic individualist. He left both family and teachers to navigate the inner wilderness alone, and when dying he affirmed “be lamps unto yourselves”. How do we reconcile the Buddha’s words with the traditional Zen demand that we not question?
Back to top Go down
Laura

avatar

Posts : 124
Join date : 2010-07-30
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:07 am

Isan,

What a carefully thought out and insightful post! I do have one question though. Is it really a traditional Zen demand that we not question? My initial introduction to Zen at the Oregon Zen Priory really taught me to question everything, including my most deeply cherished beliefs, in order to find the real truth. I still consider that to be a fundamental tenet of Zen. It is a tenet that I was never willing to abandon, which is why I finally left the OBC, as I personally never found any other way to reconcile the conflict between this tenet and the OBC practice of unquestioning faith.
Back to top Go down
Howard

avatar

Posts : 554
Join date : 2010-06-27
Age : 62
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:54 am

Hey Isan
How do we reconcile the Buddha’s words with the traditional Zen demand that we not question?

A number of years ago some chinese Zen buddhists said that the only place that
zen required the abandonment of questioning was within it's institutional body which had little to do with Zen and had everything to do with business.

They said that they were sorry but most western zen teachers seemed to have come from the institutional camp. They recommended a search of small rural temples if I wanted to find something beyond a zen business education.

They seemed to think that serious zen meditation teachers choose the small rural centers for the same reason Dogen thought monasteries were best built far away from royal influences.

I bring this up because the validity of the traditional Zen demand maybe the real problem with the question you are asking.

My meditation is an endless question and the guy whose footprints grace your avatar says that's just fine.

With respect
Back to top Go down
http://hrmitchell54@yahoo.com
Andi

avatar

Posts : 12
Join date : 2010-08-04
Age : 52
Location : Cheshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:37 am

Hi Isan Smile

mmmmm.............it's 'head above the parapet' time.

Hasn't the 'Zen System' produced autonomous individuals?

Isn't one of the characteristics of the Zen System that autonomous individuals burst out of it?

Nyogen Senzaki, Suzuki (S), Brad Warner (?!)javascript:emoticonp('Shocked')

Chisan Koho Zenji - who spent the war in education, appeared to encourage free-thinking, even going against the hard-wiring to encourage female, western practice.

Could we even say that Rev Master Jiyu's 'Zen System' created the autonomous individuals of Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson? (Not sure about whether they had a choice about being autonomous?)

Zen & other forms of Buddhism do seem to have this bit about them - true training is practiced, that then solidifies into an institution, training suffers, people go off to carry on with true training, they then have to create an institution which then solidifies etc.

There are many stories where this has happened - the Forest Tradition of Thailand for example.

The OBC of recent times seems different in structure to the 'Rev M Jiyu centred' one of the past. This is a point that may get missed.

The 'OBC' seems now to consist of Temples, Priories etc. spread around and which to a certain extent train as equal institutions. The leaders of these temples all seem very much on a par with one another. The Head of the Order could end up having little power as these 'leaders' are more like brothers and sisters.

My take on the OBC is that the structure was very vertical.
It is now quite flat.
Some of the senior teachers are maybe hard-wired to operate on a vertical structure but haven't had that structure since post-1996.

It is trendy in modern life (or post-modern) to think that flat, empowering structures are the bees-knees.

Unless dealt with carefully, respectively and with strength, the way that the OBC is now structured - where Temples may be able to do what they want - will actually lead to it's downfall and/or fragmentation.

As an aside:
So, autonomous individuals?

Say I get my Buddhist Teaching Badges (X years of practice etc.) I leave that terrible Zen Institution. I am charismatic, can manipulate people. I attract lost people with money and then abuse them with my power trip. I truly harm people.

But the good thing is........I am autonomous.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I said hello on this forum last August and then backed off when I saw it was turning into a bullying site.

I believe that robust discussion is healthy.

However, joining in with causing further harm is not my 'thing' at the moment.

I look forward to joining in with further discussions, if that's OK, in the hope that the site remains healthy.

Not sure whether I have posted in the right place!

Take care everyone,

With best wishes,

Andi

Shocked Shocked
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 917
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:23 pm

Andi wrote:
Hi Isan Smile

Hasn't the 'Zen System' produced autonomous individuals?

Isn't one of the characteristics of the Zen System that autonomous individuals burst out of it?

Could we even say that Rev Master Jiyu's 'Zen System' created the autonomous individuals of Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson? (Not sure about whether they had a choice about being autonomous?)

Zen & other forms of Buddhism do seem to have this bit about them - true training is practiced, that then solidifies into an institution, training suffers, people go off to carry on with true training, they then have to create an institution which then solidifies etc.

As an aside:
So, autonomous individuals?

Say I get my Buddhist Teaching Badges (X years of practice etc.) I leave that terrible Zen Institution. I am charismatic, can manipulate people. I attract lost people with money and then abuse them with my power trip. I truly harm people.

Take care everyone,

With best wishes,

Andi

Shocked Shocked

Hello Andi,

You make many good points. I agree that there's a cycle involved, and I feel it mimics our biological families. Children are initially completely dependent on their parents. It is essential that they gradually become more self-reliant and eventually separate to become full adults. It's a difficult process and it's not uncommon to see parents who are unwilling to let go and allow their children to grow up.

My original question can be better phrased as "Does the traditional Zen system produce autonomous individuals because of it's enlightened approach or in spite of itself? Are the individuals who emerge from the system the exception or the rule? Using your example of Kyogen and Gyokuko keep in mind that they had to affirm their autonomy in the face of an ultimatum (that they divorce among other things) and accept being excluded from the order as a result. To my knowledge their exclusion continues to date. I don't see their situation as an example of the OBC system working particularly well.

Regarding your "aside" I would say that true autonomy doesn't exist in isolation. It is demonstrated (and put to the test) in groups where members hold to their beliefs while keeping open minds and finding ways to work together for the good of everyone. It's a lot harder to manifest than being either a loner or an unquestioning follower.

Thanks for posting and I hope you'll stick around to help keep the discussion robust.
Back to top Go down
Andi

avatar

Posts : 12
Join date : 2010-08-04
Age : 52
Location : Cheshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:44 pm

Hi, me again!

Just to clarify.

I agree totally with your comment regarding Kyogen and Gyokuko. I don't live for the OBC, but am a Lay Minister within it. I can see absurdity when I can see absurdity.

Regards,

Andi
Back to top Go down
Lise
Admin
avatar

Posts : 1412
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:43 pm

(hi Andi -- nice to see you -- really nice avatar pic)
Back to top Go down
http://obcconnect.forumotion.net
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:47 pm

@ Isan "Can the traditional Zen system produce autonomous
individuals?"
*******************************************

I speculate there has never been an example in history when a religious tradition has not been co-opted by the social-political structures in place. And in many instances that co-option has been done under the threat of death.

That said, it is unfortunate that Zen came to this country through the militaristic, authoritarian, misogynistic vehicle that it did. One might also say the same about the Christian and other traditions that have come to the U.S. However, the entire validity of mystic spiritual practice is the potential that it offers for true spiritual adulthood and interior autonomy. The Flame the burns is within and not the property of any master or institution. Institutions can preserve a tradition (assuming it is worth preserving) but they cannot transmit Reality. In the case of the OBC spiritual maturity came to be defined as an enduring personal link and immutable loyalty to the "Master," rather than the growth and development of persons whose own spiritual life emanates from a solid grounding in an interior communion with true nature and who are capable of standing alone and bearing their own fruit in the lives they lead. I have stated it before on this forum, but there is great irony in the fact that Shasta Abbey took great pains to be licensed as a seminary in the state of California, a seminary from which one could never really graduate.

In order to "be a Light" there must also be an affirmation of the sacredness of the human vessel and personhood of the vessel of the light. And my experience of Zen as it has been taught at times is that there is no room for reverencing the humanity and personhood of those who actually train to bring forth the inner light of true nature. I witnessed at Shasta Abbey the rather ruthless "ripping into" the humanity of persons as if it were an obstacle to be stripped away so that this surrender to transcendence could take place. And I confess when I watched the beatings at Sojiji monastery, including the beatings administered to Jiyu Kennett, I was repulsed the violence of it, the utter disregard and contempt for the human person and the state of their own psyche. I have to think that the warrior class influence on Zen is utterly pervasive. And it is this attitude of authoritarian contempt that has led to the kinds of cases, like that of Amalia, that have been spoken of on this site. I did not witness physical beatings at Shasta, but I certainly witness verbal, emotional, battering and public humiliation as a teaching technique.

Persons do not come to the exquisite trust and refuge in the Light within by being battered or surrendering one's internal autonomy to another equally wounded and flawed human being. The analogy often articulated by mystics across many traditions is that it comes rather from a freedom and release into the arms of a Beloved who is Life itself present to us in an inviolate inner sanctuary.
Blessings,
Bill
Back to top Go down
Stu



Posts : 21
Join date : 2010-08-06
Age : 45
Location : Scotland (Edinburgh/Inverness)

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:42 pm

Hi Bill,

You've obviously had the experience, but I was wondering if you'd read Nonomura's 'Eat Sleep Sit', a relatively recent book about his year as a monk at Eiheiji? What seems curiously absent, though to what degree this is due to various cultural refractions, is a sense of interior spirituality. Anyway, the physical violence he describes is rather shocking..

I think the same points could also no doubt be made regarding Christian religious orders, even until relatively recently.

What I think would be interesting for many interested in Zen in the west, is to look a good deal more closely at the Nun/female monastics in Japan. Paula Arai's book 'Women Living Zen', also Shundo Aoyama's 'Zen Seeds' give a wonderful sense of how Zen monasticism could be without the macho culture, the military-style micro-managed 'boot camp'. Obviously often overlooked as most Western converts/seekers go first to the male monastics/priests, holding as they do the most (historically/socially) prestigious positions. I wonder how different things would have turned out if RM Jiyu had instead studied at one of the female training monasteries, e.g. Aichi Senmon Nisodo, Nagoya; I think a lot more healthy, balanced and spiritually nourished. Just speculation I guess...

Cheers,

Stu
Back to top Go down
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Thu Feb 24, 2011 7:47 pm

@ Stu

No, I have not read the books you mention. They sound informative.
I believe as Zen is assimilated into American culture the feminine and egalitarian dimension that is present will be more integrated into the life and teaching of Zen Sanghas. I see it happening already. I am beginning to see a model of spiritual community as sanctuary of practice and spiritual healing rather than a place where you go to get beat up until you get enlightened.

I have had a foot in both worlds of Zen Buddhist and Christian monasticism, and my practice for the past 25 years has been in the paradigm of Christian mysticism. My mentor for ten years was an abbot of a Christian contemplative monastery. (But he was never more than a companion and soul-friend who I knew by his first name.) I have spent time around both men and women's Christian monasteries including some tenure as a spiritual director for some Christian monastics.

My view of monasteries in general is pretty dismal based on what I've seen. I much prefer community based, laity based sanghas, whether they are Buddhist or Christian. Like Zen monasteries, Christian monasteries can be quite abusive emotionally and psychologically. I have not personally witnessed physical abuse. At an earlier time in my life I was sexually abused by a monk/priest in a Benedictine monastic seminary setting. So it's the human condition raising its ugly head again and again masquerading as spirituality. I would say that in the Christian monasteries it's done in the name of institutional authority, in the Zen monastery it's the personal authority of "Master" who is somehow channeling the Absolute in a way that the rest of us yokels can't. But there's nothing to compare with the macho Samurai psychology of Japanese Zen. Frankly I've just had it with any form of religious authority that insists on exercising abusive control and power over others. It's totally antithetical to the life of inner communion.
Thanks for your comments.
Blessings,
Bill
Back to top Go down
Stu



Posts : 21
Join date : 2010-08-06
Age : 45
Location : Scotland (Edinburgh/Inverness)

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:52 am

Thanks Bill,

My thoughts on the matter are heading that way too. I think at the moment, my preference would also be for a lay-based sangha, one with minimal 'leadership' (more experienced members could help to structure meditation sessions and discussion) simply an opportunity to engage in group practice, discussion and mutual support. There are a few around, just none near me at the moment... :-p

Best wishes,

Stuart
Back to top Go down
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 2:11 pm

Thanks for the comments, Stu. Practicing with a community needs to be a careful process of discernment, with gradualistic and progressive degrees of commitment. From where I sit in my 40 plus years as a contemplative practicing across traditions, I simply haven't met a monastic community that is safe. And too often what happens is that very trusting and open souls, in the first blush of zeal, enter these places that are governed by a deeply pathological culture and by individuals masquerading as spiritual authorities asking these poor souls to surrender their personal boundaries and their spiritual autonomy. What has saved me through the years is the conviction that I am responsible, I am the steward and guardian of my own spirit and practice, and turning that over to somebody else leads simply to trauma and harm. Too often those who are successfully assimilated into monastery life remain stunted and dependent persons who are unable to function in real life and relationships unless they reach outside of the monastery to find purposeful forms of service and friendship. My spiritual friends have been my best human teachers, beginning with my wife.

I recall a statement by Thomas Merton (although far from being infallible) on the occasion of a visit to the East and a talk he gave to an inter-religious monastic conference in Bangkok. "From now on, everyone stands on their own two feet." Thomas Merton was in constant conflict with his monastic superiors precisely because he tried to live and to teach that spiritual maturity meant being responsible and accountable for one's own spiritual state and to be distrustful of institutional and individual authorities who want to transgress that boundary. In the end he ended up living as a hermit on the grounds of the monastery where he was a member until his untimely death.
Back to top Go down
breljo

avatar

Posts : 217
Join date : 2010-12-03

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 6:34 pm

This reminds me of a joke which possibly came from J. Krishnamurti, that went something like this: The devil and his friend were going down the street and they saw a man in front of them pick up a piece of paper and the friend said to the devil, " I wonder what that man just picked up?" and the devil replied, "He picked up a piece of the Truth", and the devils friend then said, " That can't be good for you then", to which the Devil replied, "On the contrary, I am going to help him organize it."
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 73
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:25 pm

Bill, yes I quite agree. It is unfortunately the ambitious and the charismatic that rise in all organisations, not the most qualified. By the way it took Thomas Merton years of nagging his monastic authorities to be allowed to become a hermit.
Back to top Go down
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:51 pm

@ Mark "By the way it took Thomas Merton years of nagging his monastic
authorities to be allowed to become a hermit."
*********************************

Yup.. he was a thorn in their side. And he was always in trouble because of his activities on civil rights and being against the war in Viet Nam. But they put up with him in large part because he was such a cash cow in the sale of his books. He died at just age 58, tripped over an electric fan in Bangkok in Dec. 1968 at the inter-monastic conference with the Buddhists. I was very sad about that at the time. 1968 was a sad year.
Back to top Go down
Peggy



Posts : 10
Join date : 2011-04-13

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:21 pm

Hi, new here. Just a thought on Thomas Merton in light of the recent leaving of the RM EKO: Thomas Merton snuck around the monastery requesting his outside friends to help him so he could carry on a relationship with a nurse he met in Louisville while in the hospital. Just a thought: had he not had such a tragic death, would he still be the cash cow and cult that he has become and still is? Just a thought to add to the discussion. Peggy
Back to top Go down
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Wed Apr 13, 2011 4:41 pm

@ Peggy

You pose an interesting question. For those who are fans of Thomas Merton the widely disclosed revelation of his love affair with "Margie" seemed to have only made him more human and more attractive. The conservative Catholics have long since denounced and renounced him for his pecadillos and his theological liberalism. His older words continue to make money for Gethsemane Abbey. He left his unpublished works with friends to see they got published and I'm not sure where that money is going. But there are Thomas Merton study groups around the world, and an international Thomas Merton Society. It has been said that Thomas Merton never had a thought that he didn't write about. Undoubtedly he would have continued to be a prolific writer and would have written about mysticism and the contemplative life in a manner that made it accessible to lay people. Undoubtedly he would have continued to be a force in the interspiritual dialogue and maintained his friendship with the Dalai Lama. And I am nearly certain he would have either been ejected or voluntarily left the Cistercian(Trappist) Order in the Catholic Church as it had been increasingly confining. And the reactionary movement of the Roman Church under John Paul II and now Benedict would certainly not have tolerated Thomas Merton, or anyone like him. So he would have befallen a fate something like that of Mathew Fox.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Wed May 23, 2012 10:14 pm

Anders Behring Breivik used meditation to kill – he's not the first

The Norwegian mass murderer meditated to numb his emotions. The effect of any practice depends on our values

Vishvapani Blomfield - guardian, Tuesday 22 May 2012


Japanese ancient martial arts master Yoshinori Kouno demonstrates his skills in Tokyo.'Samurai used meditation to develop their skills and overcome fear of death.' Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

Meditation makes you calmer and clearer and encourages empathy and kindness … right? Not if you are Anders Behring Breivik who has told psychiatrists that he used meditation to "numb the full spectrum of human emotion – happiness to sorrow, despair, hopelessness, and fear". He still practises it behind bars to deaden the impact of his actions.

Breivik uses meditation as a form of mind control – a way to focus the mind and exclude responses that get in his way. You could argue that he is meditating wrongly, but I think his testimony shows that the effect of any practice, meditation included, depends on the ends to which it is recruited. Breivik's aims were determined by his racist beliefs and meditation didn't challenge them.

We've been here before. Breivik likened himself to a Japanese banzai warrior seeking satori – Japanese Zen enlightenment – to harden his heart. Samurai, inspired by Zen teachings, often used meditation to develop their skills and overcome fear of death. Zen's long association with the samurai bushido ethos culminated, after the Meiji restoration of 1868, in the support of virtually the whole Zen establishment for the military expansion that culminated in the second world war. Japanese Buddhists rejoiced that the Pearl Harbor attacks had occurred on 8 December, the day when they mark the Buddha's enlightenment; and leaders insisted that fighting was a patriotic and a Buddhist duty.

Established religions commonly support a nation's war effort, but the Zen enthusiasm for Japanese militarism strayed so far from the Buddha's nonviolent teachings that it raises more fundamental questions. After the war a group of Japanese Zen scholar-priests (the Critical Buddhism school) investigated how their branch of a seemingly pacifist tradition had ended up affirming war. They concluded that Zen's reinterpretations of early Buddhism had obscured its fundamental tenets.

The first Buddhist precept is not killing living beings. As the Buddha says: "All men tremble at punishment, all men fear death; remembering that you are like them, do not kill" (Dhammapada 119). But Mahayana Buddhism, from which Zen evolved, teaches that all phenomena are mysterious and ungraspable – empty of any fixed essence. So what should we relate to everyday reality in which, the Buddha stressed, actions have consequences and ethical considerations apply? The various Mahayana schools have different answers, but Zen teaches that the ultimate perspective should inform everything.

That elevates a non-dual state of mind over ethical distinctions. The 17th-century master Takuan told his samurai students: "The uplifted sword has no will of its own, it is all of emptiness. The man who is about to be struck down is also of emptiness, and so is the one who wields the sword." Later, the self-sacrifice of kamikaze pilots was hailed as an expression of enlightenment.

Westerners learned of Zen's tarnished history through Brian Victoria's Zen at War (1997), but few western Zen practitioners have seriously re-evaluated their tradition. Many like Zen's anti-intellectualism, feeling that doctrines and ethical precepts smack of rigidity, dogma and rules. But the Buddha made right understanding the first item in his eightfold path because he knew that everyone is guided by a worldview and underlying beliefs. His teachings seek to reshape those views so they eliminate attachment and support liberation. Ultimately, that includes attachment to doctrines, but discarding them too soon means that pre-existing beliefs and prevailing opinion go unchallenged.

Zen's non-dual philosophy obscured Buddhism's ethical teachings; Breivik used meditation to serve the murderous objectives of his racist ideology. Meditation, or any other practice, is just a technique. Its effects, for good or ill, depend on the system of values that guide how a person uses it.
Back to top Go down
cmpnwtr

avatar

Posts : 418
Join date : 2010-08-16

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Thu May 24, 2012 2:37 am

Can a person train the mind to objectify other beings, dissociate from any experience of empathy? Certainly. Is that Zen? Is that meditation, training yourself to be a sociopathic killer? Is that some kind of gedo Zen?

I have read this guy also spent an entire year, 16 hours a day playing a violent video game. So he was quite intentional in training his mind to be the mind of a violent mass murderer, without empathy, without regret, without a conscience.

This contamination of a great religious tradition with the Samurai culture and myth of the warrior was certainly a tragedy in Japan. I am of the opinion that any spiritual practice that is not firmly rooted in ethical training is bound to go astray and wreak great harm.
Back to top Go down
Ikuko



Posts : 70
Join date : 2012-02-08

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Thu May 24, 2012 4:42 am

Isan

Thank you.

Your responses to the topic of Zen at War were very well articulated and pertinent to concerns and flows in my current experience of meditation and groups.

Yesterday I met with a Quaker friend.She is an elder,and committed to the spritual community of The Friends.

She asked my advice about how to approach zazen,as she is planning to sit her first sesshin at Throssel Hole.

This question was a challenge:not that there weren't a number of glib responses I could have made,but presently I feel I am on the cusp of a new development in my attitude to the received values of "commitment" ,"obedience","devotion" that I think we all associate with OBC culture.

I realise that for many years I have not really tackled this challenge.I have had a busy career and the responsibility of parenthood.

The discomfort I felt with the OBC culture was the least of my problems.I had a place to go meditate:that was the important thing.When I encontered a (metaphorical) brick wall in my understanding of my "karma",I went and studied psychoanalysis.Psychoanalysis has been the adventure of my later life.The "brick wall" was composed of bricks,and I found a method of examining what the bricks were made of.And I just ignored the more scary aspects of OBC.

I have good friends in the sanghas,I sit with my friends,I pray and sit with others,and I still precent with the local OBC group,lead dharma discussions ,have arguments etc.,etc.,.

.....................................................

Andi

I take your point about the need for structure .Yes,if there was ever a healthy wholesome group that you found ,with a structure that could be replicated at will by any other group,you would be sure to share the details with us wouldn't you?

If you have information about one here and now ,be sure to tell.....

I agree there is no such thing a "flat" organisation.The informal elite will always form,in my experience.Yet the modern turn is towards some egalitarian notion.Odd isn't it,with actual material inequality so rampant?Where does this double standard happen,are we in a hall of distorting mirrors?

...................................................................................

So,when my Quaker friend asked my advice about her first sesshin,I advised her to just listen,just sit.Honestly,I couldn't find any impetus from anywhere to try to explain my longstanding misgivings about the culture she was about to imbibe.We have had interesting conversations about group and organisational dynamics in the Society of Friends,and in OBC.That wasn't her concern in this conversation.She will I believe benefit from the sesshin.She is a mature practitioner,and at this point isn't interested in the wider issues.

But that is a weakness isn't it?

Because I ignored the wider issues for many years I appear to myself to be quite cowardly in this respect,although I know I was just too busy with other things, and, honestly, pretty sceptical about the scope for change.It is important to think,if only there were the time and space.....

Thank you everyone for a most well informed discussion which has made me feel better....Hooray!



in gassho



Ikuko
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:47 am



  • www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/.../Zen__Suzuki___​Nazis.ppt · PPT file It is clear that Zen was one of the “secrets” of Japanese power: ... Master Yasutani [Haku’un].
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 917
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:52 am

Jcbaran wrote:



  • www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/.../Zen__Suzuki___​Nazis.ppt

    PPT file It is clear that Zen was one of the “secrets” of Japanese power: ... Master Yasutani [Haku’un].

Josh, this link appears broken - can you try to post it again?


Last edited by Isan on Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Admin edit to fix link)
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:07 am

i tried a few times. it links to a powerpoint... if you include the words "nazi.ppt" in the full link, it works, but i couldn't see to get that to remain in the link? not sure how to fix it? or better to just delete it?
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 917
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:53 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
i tried a few times. it links to a powerpoint... if you include the words "nazi.ppt" in the full link, it works, but i couldn't see to get that to remain in the link? not sure how to fix it? or better to just delete it?

I tried fixing it - the problem seemed to be caused by the "bold" formatting of the word "nazi", but the link is still wrong. Maybe try again?
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:07 pm

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/129597758/Zen__Suzuki___Nazis
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Is Zen Still At War?   

Back to top Go down
 
Is Zen Still At War?
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: In Theory and Practice-
Jump to: