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Zen at War
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A compelling history of the contradictory, often militaristic, role of Zen Buddhism, this book meticulously documents the close and previously unknown support of a supposedly peaceful religion for Japanese militarism throughout World War II. Drawing on the writings and speeches of leading Zen masters and scholars, Brian Victoria shows that Zen served as a powerful foundation for the fanatical and suicidal spirit displayed by the imperial Japanese military. At the same time, the author recounts the dramatic and tragic stories of the handful of Buddhist organizations and individuals that dared to oppose Japan's march to war. He follows this history up through recent apologies by several Zen sects for their support of the war and the way support for militarism was transformed into 'corporate Zen' in postwar Japan. The second edition includes a substantive new chapter on the roots of Zen militarism and an epilogue that explores the potentially volatile mix of religion and war. With the increasing interest in Buddhism in the West, this book is as timely as it is certain to be controversial.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 THE MEIJI RESTORATION OF 1868 AND BUDDHISM Chapter 2 The Attempted Suppression of Buddhism Chapter 3 Early Buddhist Social Ferment Chapter 4 Uchiyama Gudo: Radical Soto Zen Priest Chapter 5 Institutional Buddhism's Rejection of Progressive Social Action Part 6 JAPANESE MILITARISM AND BUDDHISM Chapter 7 The Incorporation of Buddhism into the Japanese War Machine (1913-30) Chapter 8 Buddhist Resistance to Japanese Militarism Chapter 9 The Emergence of Imperial-Way Buddhism Chapter 10 The Emergence of Imperial-State Zen and Soldier Zen Chapter 11 Other Zen Masters and Scholars in the War Effort Part 12 POSTWAR TRENDS Chapter 13 The Postwar Japanese Responses to Imperial-Way Buddhism, Imperial-State Zen, and Soldier Zen Chapter 14 Corporate Zen in Postwar Japan Chapter 15 Was It Buddhism?

About the Author

Brian D. Victoria is a Soto Zen priest and director of the Buddhist Studies Program in Japan at Antioch College. He has published widely in both Japanese and English, including Zen Master Dogen, which he co-authored, and Zen War Stories.

Reviews

Praise for the first edition: Zen at War is a wake-up call for all Buddhists. Victoria has shown in a passionate and well documented way that Buddhism is not immune to the kind of distortions that have been used throughout human history by virtually all of the world's religions to justify so-called holy war... -- John Daido Loori, Roshi, Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery; author of The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism Praise for the first edition: In this carefully documented study, Brian Victoria discloses the incredible intellectual dishonesty of Japanese Buddhists who perverted their religion into a jingoistic doctrine of support for the emperor and imperial expansion during the period 1868-1945. Good job! We must face this dark side of our heritage squarely... -- Robert Aitken, retired Roshi, Honolulu Diamond Sangha Zen at War is an incendiary book and an essential cautionary tale for anyone wanting to apply Buddhist teachings. Brian Victoria is a genuinely radical historian who asks followers of Zen-and by extension all Buddhists-to look beyond the pristine, other-worldly image the tradition has presented and understand the deep compromises that came from its relationship with power. Much more than an expose, Zen at War challenges Buddhists to think through the ethical consequences of venerated doctrines and examine them in light of the Buddha's original teaching. Despite the efforts of some Zen apologists to minimize the significance of Brian Victoria's findings, the first edition lit a fire under Zen and the new edition adds fuel by extending the book's critique back into Buddhist history. It is an important contribution to western Buddhism. -- Vishvapani, editor of Dharma Life magazine An important and well-written work ... This new edition significantly expands the text ... Especially important is Victoria's well-documented contention that Buddhist involvement with buttressing political establishments is not new but can be traced to the time of King Ashoka in ancient India... Finally the author calls all Buddhists to thoughtful consideration and repudiation of "Nation-Protecting Buddhism" as a betrayal of the essential teachings ... Recommended. CHOICE Victoria's extensive research- along with translations of lengthy quotations- substantially adds to our knowledge of the relationship between Buddhism and Japanese nationalism and imperialism...the content is often very interesting... Journal of Asian Studies Praise for the first edition: Zen at War is a stunning contribution to our understanding of Japanese militarism and the broader issue of war responsibility as it continues to be addressed (and ignored) in contemporary Japan. Victoria's great sensitivity to the perversion and betrayal of Buddhism's teachings about compassion and nonviolence makes his indictment of the role played by Imperial War Buddhists in promoting ultranationalism and aggression all the more striking-and all the more saddening. -- John Dower, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War Praise for the first edition: Zen at War is a wake-up call for all Buddhists. Victoria has shown in a passionate and well documented way that Buddhism is not immune to the kind of distortions that have been used throughout human history by virtually all of the world's religions to justify so-called holy war. -- John Daido Loori, Roshi, Abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery; author of The Heart of Being: Moral and Ethical Teachings of Zen Buddhism Praise for the first edition: In this carefully documented study, Brian Victoria discloses the incredible intellectual dishonesty of Japanese Buddhists who perverted their religion into a jingoistic doctrine of support for the emperor and imperial expansion during the period 1868-1945. Good job! We must face this dark side of our heritage squarely. -- Robert Aitken, retired Roshi, Honolulu Diamond Sangha

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