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Zen at War

by Brian Victoria
1998, Weatherhill
ISBN 0834804050
227 pages.

From dust jacket
Zen at War offers a penetrating look at the close relationship that existed between Zen Buddhism and Japanese militarism prior to World War II. Using the actual words of leading Japanese Zen masters and scholars, the author shows that Zen served as a powerful spiritual and ideological foundation for the fanatic and suicidal spirit displayed by the imperial Japanese military. At the same time, the author tells the dramatic and tragic stories of the handful of Buddhist organizations and individuals that dared to oppose Japan’s march to war. He follows this history up to the recent apologies of several Zen sects for their support of the war, and the reemergence of what he calls corporate Zen in postwar Japan.

From the back cover
Zen at War is a stunning contribution to our understanding of Japanese militarism and the broader issue of war responsibility as it continues to be addressed (and ignored) in contemporary Japan. Brian Victoria’s great sensitivity to the perversion and betrayal of Buddhism’s teachings about compassion and non-violence makes his indictment of the role played by Imperial Way Buddhists in promoting ultranationalism and aggression all the more striking and all the more saddening.
Professor John W. Dower, Harvard University Author of War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War

Brian Daizen Victoria is a senior Lecturer at the Center for Asian Studies, the University of Adelaide.

“Zen Holy War?” review by Josh Baran [1]

THIS BOOK IS IN PRINT.
Available commercially. Learn more about Brian Victoria [2].