Non-Fiction Books:

Zen War Stories


Paperback / softback

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Zen War Stories by Victoria
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In 1997 Brian Victoria's book Zen at War sent shock waves through Zen circles in the West, for it revealed how Japan's leading Zen masters and scholars had supported militarism, claiming that the killing of millions was a manifestation of Buddhist compassion' and the true Buddha Dharma'. Unlike the broad survey approach used earlier, Victoria's new book focuses on discrete events and persons to demonstrate the close relationship that existed between Zen and Japanese militarism. Chapter Four, for example, looks at the career of S=gen Oomori, founder of the Chozenji International Zen D=j= in Hawaii, and an early advocate of the unity of Zen and the sword', while Chapter Five explores Zen Master Haku'un Yasutani's connection to leading a Nazi residing in Japan. Zen War Stories encompasses everything from depictions of enlightened' Zen warrior-priests on the battlefield to the influence of Zen monasteries on the organizational structure of the Imperial military. It clarifies the way in which Buddhist doctrine was employed to console the war bereaved and describes the daily life of Buddhist chaplains on the battlefield. The heretofore unknown connection between some of Japan's top war criminals and Zen is also included. Finally, this book depicts the Imperial military's deliberate incorporation of such classic Zen teachings as the non-self', non-attachment', and the unity of life and death' into its program of morale-building spiritual education'. Newly discovered documents in Imperial Army archives show how these teachings produced a fanatical willingness to die on the part of Japanese soldiers and civilians alike. Controversially, Victoria maintains that in light of this Zen-inspired fanaticism, the use of atomic weapons actually saved the lives of countless Japanese who would otherwise have sacrificed themselves at the time of an Allied invasion. The book will be of interest not only to scholars and students of Zen Buddhism and Japanese studies, but also to anyone interested in Buddhism generally, in the history of the 2nd World War and in the relationship of religion to violence, war and fanaticism.

Author Biography

Brian Daizen Victoria holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Soto Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University. Brian entered the Soto Zen priesthood in 1964 and. following training at Daihonzan Eiheiji, pursued graduate studies in Buddhism at Soto Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo. At present, Brian is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Asian Studies at the University of Adelaide in South Australia
Release date NZ
December 19th, 2002
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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