Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Zen

Episode 220 – The All Seeing Eye

This week, we investigate the great Zen master Dogen, who was something of an eccentric in his own time but remains one of the greatest Buddhist thinkers in Japanese history.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Heine, Stephen. Did Dogen Go to China?

Heine, Stephen. Dogen and Soto Zen

Images

Dogen Views the Moon, a roughly contemporary painting. It is usually dated to around 1250.

Rujing, the Zen master of Tiantong Mountain who would initiate Dogen into the esoteric Caodong lineage. Some doubt the veracity of his encounter with Dogen, or even Rujing’s own existence — though this latter position is rather extreme and unusual within the scholarly community.

An 1811 edition of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s most famous work on, well, everything.

Eiheiji, the Soto monastery founded by Dogen. It remains one of the chief Soto temples in Japan.

Episode 154 – Zen at War

This week: what happens when Buddhists go to war? We’ll explore the relationship between the Japanese Empire and the Zen Buddhist establishment.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Victoria, Brian. Zen at War

Victoria, Brian. Zen War Stories.

An excellent NYT article on Zen and war guilt.

Images

dtsuzuki3

Suzuki Daisetsu’s work would help popularize Buddhism in the US. However, his support for the Japanese Empire is less well-known than his later work (or his love of adorable kittens).

yasutani

Yasutani Hakuun promoted Japanese militarism (as well as anti-semitism) during the Second World War, and went on the record saying that Japan had to smash the US “for the peace of Asia.” After the war, he went on several speaking tours in the United States.

Kaiten_Nukariya

Kaiten Nukariya’s Zen: The Religion of the Samurai helped popularize the idea of a link between Zen, the samurai class, and warfare.

22

Sugimoto Goro, the posterboy of the Zen office.

Zen-at-War

Buddhist monks practice military drill in the 1930s under the gaze of an army officer. By the 1930s, Buddhism had effectively been militarized to support Japan’s wars abroad.

Episode 6 – A New Order

This week’s episode is on the structure of the Kamakura bakufu, its war against the Mongol Yuan dynasty of China, and its eventual destruction and replacement. We’re also going to discuss some cultural innovations of the period, in the form of new Buddhist sects (Zen and Pure Land Buddhism) and the creation of Noh theater.

It’s a bit eclectic, but I think the topics are interesting, and I hope you all agree!

Give it a listen here.

Sources

Totman, A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is Hojo Tokimune, the shikken who defied Kublai Khan's demand for submission and eventually defeated him.

This is Hojo Tokimune, the shikken who defied Kublai Khan’s demand for submission and eventually defeated him.

This is a portrait of Kublai Khan dating from his lifetime.

This is a portrait of Kublai Khan dating from his lifetime.

This is the original 1266 letter from Kublai Khan to Hojo Tokimune, whom he addresses as "the King of Japan." He demands Tokimune's submission in the letter, a demand which Tokimune ignored.

This is the original 1266 letter from Kublai Khan to Hojo Tokimune, whom he addresses as “the King of Japan.” He demands Tokimune’s submission in the letter, a demand which Tokimune ignored.

This image dates from the second Mongol invasion. On the left are a group of Mongol warriors; on the right is a charging samurai identified as Suenaga.

This image dates from the second Mongol invasion. On the left are a group of Mongol warriors; on the right is a charging samurai identified as Suenaga.

This is a period image of Go-Daigo, the Emperor who led the overthrow of the Kamakura bakufu. Three years later he would be defeated by his own lieutenant, Ashikaga Takauji.

This is a period image of Go-Daigo, the Emperor who led the overthrow of the Kamakura bakufu. Three years later he would be defeated by his own lieutenant, Ashikaga Takauji.

This is Ashikaga Takauji, the Hojo retainer turned Imperial supporter turned shogun, who betrayed his way to the top of the heap in the 1330s.

This is Ashikaga Takauji, the Hojo retainer turned Imperial supporter turned shogun, who betrayed his way to the top of the heap in the 1330s.

This is an image of a Noh actor; behind him is a group of stage musicians.

This is an image of a Noh actor; behind him is a group of stage musicians.

This shot show the 8-man chorus on the right side of the stage.

This shot show the 8-man chorus on the right side of the stage.

This is a "kojo," or old man mask, used in Noh performances.

This is a “kojo,” or old man mask, used in Noh performances.

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