My Article on "Zen At War" Brian Victoria and Kodo Sawaki

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  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39472

    My Article on "Zen At War" Brian Victoria and Kodo Sawaki

    The following is only if you are interested in the topic ...

    Many folks know the book "Zen At War" and other writings of Brian Victoria, implicating various Zen and other Buddhist Teachers and institutions in the years up to and during WW2 for their supposed militarism. In some cases, he is right. However, he has also implicated some people in ways, and to degrees, they certainly do not deserve, and Victoria has done so by a sometimes egregious manipulation and misuse of translations and other "evidence".

    I have written an earlier article pointing out critics of Victoria's methods in his treatment of D.T. Suzuki and others.

    “ZEN AT WAR” AUTHOR BRIAN VICTORIA’S WAR ON ZEN


    This time, I focus on Victoria's treatment and mistreatment of "Homeless" Kodo Sawaki. I have written a 38 page report examining Victoria’s use and misuse of quotes, original sources, translations and other materials in his writings regarding“Homeless” Kodo Sawaki. The following link contains a shorter summary of the content of my report that has been published at SweepingZen. Please have a look if interested.

    “ZEN AT WAR” BRIAN VICTORIA: THROWING BOMBS AT KODO


    I also deal frankly with many of Sawaki's wartime statements.

    [The] situation with Sawaki is complicated. On the one hand, there is no doubt that Sawaki was a patriotic Japanese who supported his country, its Emperor and its troops in battle during wartime and in no uncertain terms. He interpreted various Buddhist and Zen doctrines in order to do so in a way many of us (I am one) may find often wrong and shocking. On the other hand, we have a man who – even during the height of World War II – spoke out against war itself, its futility, and underlined the need for soldiers compelled into battle to act with compassion, honor, selflessness and mercy to their opponents as the situation will allow. … Sawaki also used Buddhist or Zen doctrines to counsel for the avoidance of war and, if there is to be a war nonetheless, the avoidance of excess and reckless violence. If Sawaki was supportive of Japan’s effort during the war, it seems reluctantly (if sometimes too passionately) and with a sense that Japan was fighting a war for its own survival and defense.

    ...

    Unfortunately, in his attempt to paint Kodo Sawaki black, Brian Victoria has confused loyalty to one’s country with rabid militarism, and has failed to sufficiently emphasize the anti-war aspects of Sawaki’s personality. Victoria has done this by neglecting or taking out of context quotes (to such a degree that one must sometimes consider the intentionality behind his doing so) which otherwise show that Sawaki had deep reservations about all war, including Japan’s wars throughout history. Victoria has surgically removed quotes so as to omit material showing that, even in writings most supportive of his country and its troops in times of war, Sawaki was frequently and simultaneously a strong and outspoken critic.
    In the future, if Victoria's criticisms of the Japanese Buddhist establishment and certain figures are ever mentioned, it will be necessary to also consider Victoria's motives and manipulations too.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 10-02-2014, 04:16 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE
  • Risho
    Member
    • May 2010
    • 3179

    #2
    Thank you! I can't wait to check this out.

    Gassho,

    Risho
    Email: risho.treeleaf@gmail.com

    Comment

    • Myosha
      Member
      • Mar 2013
      • 2974

      #3


      ". .
      uncover wrongs, reflect and atone. . ."

      Hear, hear!


      Gassho,
      Myosha
      Last edited by Myosha; 10-02-2014, 08:36 PM.
      "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

      Comment

      • Mp

        #4
        Thank you Jundo,

        This is going to be my bedtime reading. =)

        Gassho
        Shingen

        Comment

        • Kyonin
          Treeleaf Priest / Engineer
          • Oct 2010
          • 6742

          #5
          Thank you Jundo.

          Everything about WWII and Sawaki Roshi and zen is of my interest. I'll read it over the weekend.

          Gassho,

          Kyonin
          Hondō Kyōnin
          奔道 協忍

          Comment

          • Guest

            #6
            I will be reading it soon. Thank you Jundo.

            Gassho
            Bobby

            Comment

            • Shinzan
              Member
              • Nov 2013
              • 338

              #7
              I know little of Kodo Sawaki. What was that little book that included him among three biographies of zen masters?
              So I'll check out these links too. Thanks.
              Shinzan

              Comment

              • Geika
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Jan 2010
                • 4980

                #8
                I just got sucked into a lot of reading over at Sweeping Zen. Thank you for your effort, Jundo.

                Gassho
                求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
                I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

                Comment

                • Nindo

                  #9
                  Thank you, but I prefer to not dig into this whole topic.

                  Comment

                  • Ryumon
                    Member
                    • Apr 2007
                    • 1706

                    #10
                    There is a book due out soon, The Teachings of Homeless Kodo (not sure of the title).

                    Gassho,

                    Kirk


                    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
                    ---
                    Ryūmon (Kirk)
                    流文

                    SAT/LAH

                    I know nothing.

                    Comment

                    • Shinzan
                      Member
                      • Nov 2013
                      • 338

                      #11
                      Oh yeah, I found it. The earlier book about zen master biographies is,

                      Living and Dying in Zazen, Five Zen Masters of Modern Japan by Arthur Braverman

                      It includes Sodo Yokoyama, Kodo Sawaki, Kozan Kato, Motoko Idebe, Joshin Kasai (sewing teacher) and Kosho Uchiyama. A very interesting read. I have the new Sawaki book on order. Can't wait.

                      _/\_ Shinzan

                      Comment

                      • Jundo
                        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                        • Apr 2006
                        • 39472

                        #12
                        Yes, a wonderful book capturing the flavor of that circle of Teachers, and Kodo Sawaki who was so influential on Nishijima Roshi as a young man.

                        Gassho, J
                        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                        Comment

                        • Mp

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Shinzan
                          Oh yeah, I found it. The earlier book about zen master biographies is,

                          Living and Dying in Zazen, Five Zen Masters of Modern Japan by Arthur Braverman

                          It includes Sodo Yokoyama, Kodo Sawaki, Kozan Kato, Motoko Idebe, Joshin Kasai (sewing teacher) and Kosho Uchiyama. A very interesting read. I have the new Sawaki book on order. Can't wait.

                          _/\_ Shinzan
                          Thank you Shinzan, I have added this book to my list. =)

                          Gassho
                          Shingen

                          Comment

                          • Myosha
                            Member
                            • Mar 2013
                            • 2974

                            #14
                            Hello,

                            Originally posted by Jundo
                            . . . and Kodo Sawaki who was so influential on Nishijima Roshi as a young man.

                            Gassho, J
                            Excerpt from upcoming book - http://antaiji.org/?page_id=4084&lang=en


                            Gassho,
                            Myosha
                            "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

                            Comment

                            • Myoku
                              Member
                              • Jul 2010
                              • 1487

                              #15
                              Thank you Jundo,
                              its always difficult to write on history, so many sources, so many different views and things are never clear. What is of same importance, so it seems to me, is to not write about someone in a way that makes a good story but forgets about what really happened. Thank you for having a look at this and repairing what others broke,
                              Gassho
                              Myoku

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