Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up?

By Steven Heine | Go to book overview

4
Zen Rights
A Series of (Un)fortunate Social Events

Whom Do We Meet at Zen Temples?

Whom should we expect to meet at a Zen temple? Like-minded monks ranked by seniority and function who practice meditation with diligence and intensity in a group spirit and hold regular public meetings and occasional private sessions with the abbot, in addition to performing a daily routine of cooperative tasks and chores? Would not Zen monks known for their strict discipline and moral fortitude, as well as an irreverent, iconoclastic, tables-turning attitude, be assumed to have a strong commitment to social equity and a willingness to challenge authority when they find injustices being perpetrated? What would be the implications if it were shown that much of the organization of temple life from the time of the origins of the sect was greatly affected by revenue derived from the patronage of government officials and the stewardship of land holdings that included servants and/or slaves? What would be the impact of learning that the Zen sect and other Buddhist schools in modern Japan have continued to endorse the segregation of the outcast community (burakumin) and women1 and have participated in preWorld War II era militarist/nationalist ideology? The pervasiveness of practices infected with social discrimination (sabetsu mondai), particularly in the funerary rite of bestowing posthumous initiation names (kaimyō), in addition to widespread participation in the rhetoric of “Imperial Way Zen” (kōdō Zen), seems to indicate a

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Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • 1- Fore Play - The Relativity of Truth and Uncertainty of Method 3
  • 2- Zen Writes - Fun and Games with Words and Letters 37
  • 3- Zen Rites - The Eclipse of Buddha 73
  • 4- Zen Rights - A Series of (Un)Fortunate Social Events 115
  • Epilogue- the Real Zen Buddhism - Engaged, Enraged, or Disengaged? 155
  • Notes 173
  • Bibliography 201
  • Index 213
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