In the fourteenth century when the kamakura shogunate

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Unformatted text preview: ; now I feel hungry again.”16 The kòan is especially favored by what the Japanese call the Rinzai sect of Zen, which is also known as the school of “sudden enlightenment” because of its belief that satori, if it is attained, will come to the individual in an instantaneous flash of insight or awareness. The other major sect of Zen, Sòtò, rejects this idea of sudden enlightenment and instead holds that satori is a gradual process to be attained primarily through seated meditation. Because of its stress on self-discipline and control, Zen seemed particularly appropriate as a creed for the warriors of medieval Japan, and eventually it did exert a strong influence on the molding of the samurai way of life. But there is danger in overestimating the degree to which Zen was embraced as a religion by the medieval samurai. For all its anti-intellectual claims to simplicity and directness of communication, Zen was more attractive to the sophisticated than to the uncultivated mind. The vast majority of medieval samurai were rough, unlettered men engaged in a brutal profession, and they sought their religious solace chiefly in the salvationist sects. Zen appealed primarily to the ruling members of samurai society. The influence of Zen spread far beyond the realm of religion in medieval times; indeed, it can be argued that its principal role was not in religion but in aesthetics and the arts. In China during the Sung period, Zen (Ch’an) priests had become prominent figures in literature, painting, and the other arts, even though such activity was contradictory to their religious beliefs, especially the conviction that language is the main cause of delusion. In any case, the Zen that was brought to Japan in its medieval age became the carrier for a new wave of borrowing from China that included poetry and prose in Chinese and painting in the Sung monochromatic ink style (sumi-e). In addition, Zen priests imported many works of art and calligraphy as well as articles of craft, such as ceramics and lacquerware. Medieval Zen priests also became the main agents, as we will see in Chapter 7, for transmission of the tenets of Neo-Confucianism, which had been developing in China throughout the Sung period. The H...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.

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