Lecture Zen as a Cult of Death



Room 14A-08, Main building VU University Amsterdam

ACCORD-Lecture Zen as a Cult of Death in the W.W. II Writings of D.T. Suzuki

prof. Brian Daizen Victoria

Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid

Theologie en wijsbegeerte


professor Brian Daizen Victoria, picture
prof. Brian Daizen Victoria
Prof. Brian Daizen Victoria will give an ACCORD-Lecture on the role of Buddhism and its engagement in war and violence. The lecture is organised by the Amsterdam Centre for the Study of Cultural and Religious Diversity (ACCORD) and the Zen Center Amsterdam and is free of cost.

Zen as a Cult of Death in the W.W. II Writings of D.T. Suzuki
In June 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army's premier journal for its officer corps published an article written by the famous D.T. Suzuki. Suzuki used a well-know Zen phrase, i.e., "Makujiki Kōzen" (Rush Forward Without Hisitation) as the title for his article, an article that has heretofore been unknown in the West.

The publication date, no less than its intended audience, was slightly less than six months before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. At that point Japanese forces held most major Chinese cities, they were unable, to their great frustration, to either pacify the countryside of defeat the Nationalist and Communicst forces deployed against them. The war was therefore effectively at a stalemate though the death toll, both Chinese and Japanese, continued to rise relentlessly from ongoing Japanese attacks.

What did Suzuki want his officer readers to understand about Zen's relevance to the war they were fighting? Why did he inform his readers that Zen was the shortcut to being prepared to die?

You may prepare yourself for the lecture by watchting the film Zen and War of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation: http://player.omroep.nl/?aflID=10207846 (Mostly in English with Dutch subtitles).

Brian Daizen Victoria
Brian Daizen Victoria is professor of Japanese Studies in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He studied at the Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and did his Ph.D. at Temple University. His books Zen War Stories (2003) and Zen At War (2006) were of great importance for the increasing self-criticim of Buddhism on its engagement in war and violence.

In the evening Brian Victoria will lead the meditation at the Zen Center Amsterdam, Binnenkant 30, 20-22 pm. Please register with a.vander.braak@vu.nl (Meditation experience mandatory).