No Selves, No Masters

Another excerpt from a work-in-progress

Hakugen’s critique of Zen primarily focuses on conservative interpretations of Zen Buddhist ideology which were common in Japanese society in the Meiji and early Showa era; these interpretations were used to support the security of Buddhist institutions by justifying socioeconomic discrimination in society, exploitation of the working class, and the militaristic actions of the state. In my reading of Hakugen’s critique, the majority of the problems in Zen ideology he points out are those which lead Buddhists to take a stance of “accommodation-ism”, or “actuality-ism”, in which Buddhists either take an aloof or actively supportive relation to state politics, seeking the good of an enlightened “peace of mind” (anshin; equanimity) — and the material security (anzen) needed to pursue it — at all costs, rather than seeking a worldly, “peace on earth” available to all, which must eventually require opposition to the state…

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