Westernization of Zen - AHIS 126 Westernization of Zen Zen...

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AHIS 126 Westernization of Zen Zen, commonly perceived by most as a feeling of complete relaxation and exudation of thoughts from the otherwise chaotic psyche, first ensued fairly recently in regard to Japanese culture. As Buddhism lost its way, it became referred to as haibutsu kishaku (“abolishing Buddhism and destroying [the teachings of Śākymuni”]) (Sharf 109). This was primarily due to the need for scientific advances and modernization. Through fierce commitment, it was restored to what is referred to as shin bukkyō , or New Buddhism. It reinstated the original teachings of Buddha, and with it came about the idea of Zen. This new Buddhism was more modern and humanistic. The concept of Zen now began to spread throughout the Orient. Although quite spiritual, Zen was not in fact a religion, per se. It is believed that kōan (Zen awakening), can be achieved through a rigid process of studying Zen literature and knowledge of the Buddhist doctrine. Originated and practiced heavily in the Orient, some philosophers made it their goal to spread the knowledge of and appreciation for Zen to the West. In doing so, however, they manifested interesting assumptions about the western civilization. The sermons of a Buddhist Abbot , written by Shaku Sōen, was the first book that addressed the subject of Zen written in English. It attempted to reach a western audience and was unique in doing so. Sōen lectured copiously around the world, claiming this was a “universal religion” (Sharf 113). His bold actions of pioneering Zen into the West inspired such other philosophers as Suzuki Daisetsu.
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  • Spring '07
  • Reynolds
  • Zen, Zen Gardens

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