Re: Zen? Atheist? Is there such an animal?

From: Waldemar Ingdahl (
Date: Thu Jun 01 2000 - 11:43:14 MDT

Just a quick mail on a complicated subject.

I think there is a danger in that Westerners often romaniticize the Japanese
Zen school of Buddhism, or insert some of their pet theories in it. We must
remember that Zen was and is a rather small school in Japan. It has been
very influential thorugh its aestetics on the samurai class of Japan, but
has never been popular.

Quite often Zen presents itself in sightly different manners, focusing on
different subjects, to Westerners than it does to Japanese. It often
appears as an "atheist" school since the other Japanese schools seem very
theist in comparision (through the veneration of Amida Butsu, Kannon Butsu
or Hachiman Daibosatsu among others). The quite meditation of the Zen
Buddist b˘nze (buddist priest, in the West often reffered to as monk) seems
quite different from the Nenbutsu mantra chanting often the School of the
True Pure Land or the bizarre fire walking rituals of the Yamabushi school.
The contacts between Zen and Shinto are often not referred to in the West.

As always with Zen, I ask for reflection and a sceptical mind, and a deeper
understanding of the Japanese culture and Zen's position in that context.
Then one may better evaluate it is role and ideas.

At least not to fall into the same traps as Schopenhauer;-)

Namu Amida Butsu

Waldemar (^-^)
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