Zen and War

In the first half of the 20th Century Japan waged wars in which it committed atrocities rivaling those of the Nazis during World War II. Brian Victoria’s book Zen At War was published in 1998, detailing how Japanese Buddhist monks and their religious organizations actively encouraged and participated in Japan’s expansionist wars. They donated money and materials, preached a doctrine of “Imperial Way Buddhism,” and even marched and fought alongside the military.

 Zen and War features contemporary Zen Buddhist teachers speaking of their wartime predecessors’ collaboration for the first time on film.  The impetus for this film came from Ina Buitendijk, a Dutch woman whose husband suffered severely under Japanese internment in Asia during the war.  As a Zen Buddhist practitioner she wrote letters to Zen monastic centers, asking how Buddhist monks could have been involved in warfare.  Leading Zen masters wrote back to her sympathetically, acknowledging the suffering at the heart of her question.

I was asked by my friend, Zen teacher Mitra Bishop, along with Ina Buitendijk, and Shodo Harada Roshi to produce a U.S. dvd of the Dutch version from The Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation (BOS).  With their permission this video is now available from Clear View Project.  It is very well done by BOS, an excellent educational tool for study and discussion of how Buddhism can go astray and how we might prevent that from happening.  Proceeds support Clear View’s work in Burma and India.

It can be ordered, along with other books & cds, from Clear View’s new e-commerce page. Thanks for your support. 





About asenauke

Zen Buddhist priest, activist, writer, father, musician
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