Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Zen at War

One of the many shibboleths of pop culture's take on spirituality is the image of Buddhism as the planet's most peaceful religion -- in contrast, naturally, to those oppressive, war-mongering Christian sects. But anyone with a little knowledge beyond the romanticised and sanitized New Agey portraits realizes that Buddhism has its own history of bloodshed and toadying to worldly power. This is especially true for Japan, where Zen in particular became intertwined with the samurai and later colonial militarism. A good overview of Buddhism's role in 19th and 20th Century Japanese militarism is provided by this book review: Zen at War.

(Via a commenter at The Jawa Report.)


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