Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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I am grateful for everything Pat Crosby and her staff at the University of Hawai‘i Press, as well as copy editor Drew Bryan, have done to bring this book to publication. While working on the manuscript I also benefited from a number of colleagues in Japan. For meeting with me there, answering my questions, or sending me materials, I thank Tom Kirchner, Tokiwa Gishin, Abe Masao, Ishii Kōsei, ...
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Preaching a gospel of non-violence, the Dalai Lama has presented Buddhism to his wide audience as a religion of peace. Jack Kerouac and other Beat writers imagined an East Asian Zen populated by poets, hermits, and eccentrics, defiantly extricated from conventional morality and political co-optation. While these representations may hold sway in the popular imagination, history presents a different Buddhism. ...
Chapter One: Useful Buddhism, 1868–1945
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Facing the threat of Western imperialism, Japanese leaders in the Meiji period dedicated themselves to what Joseph Kitagawa once termed “renovation” and “restoration”: renovating economic and political institutions while restoring the emperor, on paper at least, to his position as head of the body politic.1 They took steps to “open” Japan and promote “civilization and enlightenment” (bunmei kaika),2 ...
Chapter Two: Peace of Mind at Any Price
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Buddhists contributed actively to Japan’s attempts to forge itself into a modern nation-state and pursue imperialism throughout Asia. They lent their social status and homiletical skills to propaganda campaigns run by the state to cultivate obedient imperial subjects; pursued social welfare activities; organized and participated actively in patriotic groups; exhorted parishioners to “serve the public” in wartime ...
Chapter Three: Indebted in Our Proper Places
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Zen’s political stances cannot be attributed solely to the “accommodationism” deriving from Zen peace of mind or to metaphysical schemes that valorize the status quo. Ichikawa also criticized Zen’s approach to society and history, focusing on its view of equality, inequality, and karma; the notion that “differences are none other than equality”; “pan-moralism” in East Asia; Zen’s treatment of poverty, class, and ...
Chapter Four: Modern Buddhism for the Protection of the Realm
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In his arguments about the causes of Imperial-Way Zen, Ichikawa focuses on Zen’s epistemology, metaphysics, and views of society and history. He situates the first of these foci at the center of his critique, writing at length about the ethical pitfalls of Zen “peace of mind.” While critical of the political stances D. T. Suzuki took from the Meiji period onward, Ichikawa appropriated Suzuki’s privileging of Zen ...
Chapter Five: Quick Conversions and Slow Apologies in Postwar Japan
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Whether one views Imperial-Way Zen primarily as an inevitable outcome of an overemphasis on “peace of mind,” an extreme expression of the historical “unity of Zen and the sword,” or a modern instance of “Buddhism for the protection of the realm,” hovering over Zen and other sects of Japanese Buddhism is the issue of the extent to which their leaders and institutions should bear responsibility for Japan’s ...
Chapter Six: From Collaboration to Criticism
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The Zen leaders who responded to Ina Buitendijk’s letters and participated in the Road to Peace Symposium complemented their apologies with remarks about how Zen could promote peace and avoid mistakes in the future. In his letter to Buitendijk, Hirata Seikō calls on Zen Buddhists to follow the example of Pope John Paul II’s apology to Jews and begin “sincerely acknowledging the errors resulting from our ...
Chapter Seven: Absent Ethics, Present Ethics
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Hovering over the historical record is the question of the extent to which Buddhist ethical constructs and values may have checked Imperial-Way Zen and at present provide resources for the kind of ethic that Myōshinji clerics and Ichikawa Hakugen deem necessary for Zen. One might look to the precepts, especially the first precept with its proscription of harming. Another possible brake on Buddhist ...
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Bibliography of Ichikawa Hakugen’s Major Works
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Publication Year: 2009