Re: virus: Who evangelizes budhism?

Wed, 24 Feb 1999 11:33:56 -0800

Robin Faichney wrote:

> Umm, that's certainly not what I would think of as a
> "religious experience".

I agree. In fact, just after I sent the message I realized that mainstream Christianity insulates that practioner AGAINST what I would think of as a religious experience.

Perhaps I should have said that, in contrast to the old Buddhist establishment in Japan, the new religions provide more of an experience of communal religousity.

Here's a quote from Jonathan Ott that I'm sure will make the TOTD before too long; "We must repudiate religions which defend against religious experiences, wearily celebrating communion with a placebo sacrament, which requires faith and gives none!"

> I know that, I said "developed", not "originated"! How
> much of the Zen now in the West came directly from China?

Interesting claim. The central feature of Zen, seated meditation, was imported from China as was practice of using the koan as an aid to awakening. The classic collection of koans, called the Mumonkan in Japanese was was compiled in China.

It seems to me that the main Japanese contribution to Zen was asthetic in that Japanese practitioners applied the singular focus that Zazen facilitates to arts such as landscaping, architechture, poetry, tea, caligraphy, and combat. The combination of Zen and the Japanese arts resulted in a lot of the beautiful, but largely superficial, trappings of Zen.

Also, I think Zen has such a Japanese flavor for us in the West in large part due to the efforts of D.T. Suzuki and Mao Zetung. Suzuki was an incredibly prolific and articulate Japanese writer whose contribution to spreading Zen to the English speaking world was immense. Mao and his revolution on the other hand dealt a serious blow to Buddhist organizations in China, so if you want to see Zen monks in their "natural habitat" today, you look to Japan. I understand that you said "developed" rather than "originated," but your complete statement was:

> Probably the most important cultural contribution of Japan
> to the modern world is Zen, developed almost entirely
> within Japanese monasteries.

I see the Japanese contribution to Zen as the icing on the cake, but the oven from which that cake emerged was China. Still, I would welcome having some science dropped on my dillitante ass.

Take care, all.