ZEN . [This article treats the development of the Zen sect in Japan. The historical antecedents of this school, the practices and institutions of Chinese Chan Buddhism, are discussed in Chan.]
The Zen Buddhist sect in Japan consists of three main schools and several additional smaller movements. The largest denomination is the Sōtō school, founded by Dōgen Kigen (1200–1253), which has two head temples, Eiheiji in Fukui prefecture and Sōjiji in Kanagawa prefecture, and claims nearly fifteen thousand temples, over thirty monasteries and (six) nunneries, and more than eight million adherents, making it one of the largest of the traditional Japanese Buddhist schools. The second largest Zen denomination is the Rinzai school, founded by Myōan Eisai (1141–1215), which is divided into fifteen streams associated with different head temples and claims about six thousand temples, forty monasteries and (one) nunnery, and two million adherents. The largest of the streams is Myōshinji temple in Kyoto, which claims about half of the total Rinzai temples and monasteries and over one-third of the adherents. The third Zen school is the Ōbaku school, founded by Yinyuan Longqi (Jpn., Ingen Ryūki, 1592–1673), which has a head temple of Manpukuji in the town of Uji outside Kyoto and claims nearly five hundred temples, two monasteries, and under half a million adherents. In addition, there are several modern movements or "brotherhoods" (kyōdan ) based on Zen meditation or other training techniques that all together claim about one hundred temples and 200,000 adherents.
The Zen sect was first established in the early medieval period as a controversial form of "New Kamakura Buddhism," along with the fledgling Pure Land and Nichiren cults. Zen was proscribed in the 1190s for a few years, and for several decades thereafter it was vigorously opposed by the dominant Tendai sect at Enryakuji temple located on Mount Hiei to the northeast of Kyoto. During the 1240s and 1250s, major Rinzai and Sōtō Zen temples were built in Kyoto, Kamakura, and Echizen province, and by the beginning of the fourteenth century, Zen had become the leading religious institution in Japan with an ever-expanding network of temples and a wide-ranging, nearly all-pervasive influence on many different levels of society and culture.
During the late medieval and early modern eras, Zen underwent various periods of apparent decline and renewal, especially when it stood in competition with diverse forms of Japanese religiosity in other Buddhist, as well as Shintō and Confucian, movements during the Tokugawa era (1600–1868). In the modern period, Zen has spread to become a worldwide phenomenon greatly admired for its unique features of spiritual practice, including strict monastic discipline and contemplation of pedagogical riddles, or kōans, that have a resonance with contemporary spiritual and intellectual trends in psychotherapy, phenomenology, and environmentalism. At the same time, the Zen sect has received criticism both from within and outside of Japan for contributing to social ills ranging from nationalism and nativism to discrimination against women and outcastes.
Formative Period (Late Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries)
The origins of Zen in Japan stem from the Nara and early Heian eras, when sitting meditation and some representative early Chan texts were introduced by monks who had traveled to China, including Saichō (767–822), and were practiced or studied for several centuries under the auspices of the Tendai sect as one of several styles of training available to novices. Zen began to be established as a separate, autonomous sect by the end of the twelfth century (corresponding to the beginning of the Kamakura era) when several prominent Tendai monks made pilgrimages to the mainland in search of authentic Buddhism after a hiatus in exchange with China that lasted nearly two hundred years. These monks, including Eisai and Dōgen, returned with the newly fashioned Song dynasty (960–1279) approach to Chan. The style of Song Chan that was brought to Japan included an emphasis on monastic institutional structure and rules of conduct, as well as voluminous texts containing biographies of eminent monks and records of their sayings and dialogues, in addition to extensive poetic and prose commentaries on kōan cases.
The earliest Zen schools were created either by Japanese monks who went to China and returned to establish important temples and lineages or by Chinese monks who came to Japan and played a crucial role in the rapid development of Zen. Monks in the first category, in addition to Eisai and Dōgen, include: Enni Ben'en (1202–1280), who studied at Mount Jing, the leading temple of the Chinese Chan Five Mountains (Chin., Wushan ; Jpn., Gozan ) system and became abbot of Tōfukuji temple in Kyoto; Shinchi Kakushin (1207–1298), who introduced to Japan the most prominent kōan collection, the Wumen guan (Jpn., Mumonkan ); and Nampo Jōmin (also known as Daiō Kokushi, 1235–1308), who received transmission from the Chinese master Xutang (1185–1269) and created the lineage that founded Daitokuji temple in Kyoto.
Notable among Chinese monks who came to Japan are: Lanxi Daolong (Jpn., Rankei Dōryū, 1213–1278), who was the founding abbot of Kenchōji temple in Kamakura in 1253 with the support of regent Hōjō Tokiyori (1226–1263); Wuan Puning (Jpn., Gottan Run'ei, 1197–1276), who came at the request of Tokiyori but spent only four years in Japan trying to introduce authentic Chinese-style Zen, serving for a time as abbot of Kenninji temple, which Eisai had founded in Kyoto in 1202 as the first major Zen monastery in Japan; Daxiu Chengnian (Jpn., Daikyū Shōnen, 1214–1289), who founded Jōchiji temple in Kamakura; and Wuxu Zuyuan (Jpn., Mugaku Sogen, 1226–1286), who was the founding abbot of Engakuji temple in Kamakura with the support of regent Hōjō Tokimune (1251–1284).
Even before Eisai spent four years studying Chan during his second trip to China, which lasted from 1187 to 1191, a monk named Kakua (b. 1142) reached the Chinese mainland in 1171 and, on his return, had an audience with Emperor Takakura (1161–1181). In response to a question about the meaning of Zen, Kakua responded by simply playing his flute, while the emperor and his retainers looked on in puzzlement. This anecdote is contained in the valuable historical record of Buddhism in Japan, the Genkō shakusho, produced by the Zen monk, Kokan Shiren (1278–1345).
Around the time of Kakua's and Eisai's travels, an anomalous monk not mentioned in Kokan's record, Dainichi Nōnin (d. 1196?), started the first organized Zen movement, known as the Daruma school. Nōnin was not considered legitimate because he never traveled to China, but instead sent two of his disciples to receive transmission from Zhuan Deguang (1121–1203) of the Dahui Zonggao lineage. His movement was prohibited by imperial decree in 1194, and its temples were destroyed, although some followers persisted at Hajakuji, a Tendai temple in remote Echizen province (currently Fukui prefecture) until 1241 when they all joined Dōgen's upstart Sōtō school. Nōnin sought to create a pure Zen school free of Tendai esoteric ritualism, but by abandoning requirements to follow the precepts or practice meditation, his approach was accused of antinomian tendencies by both Eisai and Dōgen, as well as by Tendai leaders.
Early Rinzai school
Eisai, who is probably best known for introducing tea to Japan, received transmission in the Huanglong (Jpn., Ōryū) lineage of the Linji (Jpn., Rinzai) school of Chan and, like Nōnin, tried to create a pure Zen approach in Japan. However, to distinguish his role from Nōnin's and gain acceptance from the mainstream Buddhist institution, in the Kōzen gokokuron that was composed in 1198 Eisai repudiated the Daruma school's antinomianism and argued for the consistency of Zen meditation with established Tendai practices. Eisai also emphasized the importance of following the Chinese Chan way of administering the mixed precepts (that is, the 250 Hīnayāna and forty-eight Mahāyāna precepts), after several centuries in Japan during which only the bodhisattva vows were followed. In the two main temples Eisai established with the support of Hōjō Masako (1157–1225)—Kenninji and Jufukuji in Kamakura—there was an eclectic training known as Enmitsuzenkai that combined Tendai perfect practice (engyō) and esotericism (mitsu or mikkyō) with Zen-style sitting meditation (zazen ) and disciplinary rules (jukai).
The next major development in the spread of Rinzai Zen involved Enni Ben'en, who like Eisai and Dōgen started out studying Tendai Buddhism in Japan and traveled to China from 1235 to 1241 to gain transmission from the Five Mountains temple system. On his return, Enni was awarded the abbacy of Tōfukuji temple, constructed along the lines of a grand Song Chan compound. For the first time in the three-quarters of a century since Kakua, a major temple was built exclusively for Zen training with the support of Buddhist and imperial authorities. However, in the end, Tōfukuji also provided facilities for the observance of Shingon and Tendai rituals, in accord with the wishes of its patron, Fujiwara Michiie (1192–1252). Since it was located near Kenninji, Enni often made daily visits and tried to restore the authentic Zen practice that had declined somewhat following the death of Eisai. Tōfukuji was also situated near Dōgen's first temple, Kōshōji, in southeast Kyoto. In the following years, Shinchi, who traveled to China from 1249 to 1254, was frequently summoned to lecture on kōans and related Zen topics before the imperial court, which further legitimated the Rinzai school.
Based on the intense interest of Hōjō Tokiyori in promulgating Zen by building Song-style temples and lending other forms of patronage and support, Zen became firmly ensconced in Kamakura, which was the temporary capital for several decades in the thirteenth century. For Tokiyori, Zen was the ideal ideology for the emerging samurai class because of its focus on self-control and creative self-expression in a highly disciplined communal environment. Lanxi and the other monks who arrived from China tended to emphasize the importance of monastic discipline governing every aspect of the daily behavior of monks. Because of their Chinese provenance, the Kamakura temples became the most prominent ones in the Japanese version of the Five Mountains system, outranking Kyoto temples, with the exception of Nanzenji.
Early Sōtō school
Whereas numerous prominent Japanese and Chinese monks were involved in the establishment of the Rinzai school, the development of the Sōtō school was primarily based on the efforts of Dōgen, who traveled to China from 1223 to 1227 with one of Eisai's disciples, Myōzen (1184–1225). After an itinerant phase during which he traveled around several of the Five Mountains Chan temples in search of an authentic teacher, in the summer retreat of 1225 Dōgen gained enlightenment under the tutelage of Caodong (Jpn., Sōtō) school master Ju-ching through the experience of "casting off body-mind" (shinjin datsuraku ). On returning to Japan, Dōgen stayed for a few years at Kenninji before opening Kōshōji, which was the first Zen temple in Japan to have a Chan style monks' hall for zazen training, where Dōgen began delivering sermons and indoctrinating disciples in Chinese discipline. He preached a message of the universality of enlightenment for all those who practice "just sitting" (shikan taza), including women and laypersons.
At the peak of his career in the summer of 1243, Dōgen departed from his temple in Kyoto with a small, dedicated band of disciples and moved to Echizen province, where he established Eiheiji temple. The reasons for the move are obscure, but it seems to be connected with several factors that occurred in the couple of years previous. These include the rapid ascendancy to the Tōfukuji abbacy of Enni after his return from China, which may have intimidated Dōgen since the massive Rinzai temple dwarfed Kōshōji, and the conversion of former Daruma school monks at Hajakuji to Dōgen's movement, which may have given him an incentive to take up residence in Echizen. Dōgen's patron Hatano Yoshishige also owned land in the Echizen region, which was the vicinity of the sacred mountain Mount Hakusan, long a center of yamabushi activity affiliated with a branch of the Tendai sect centered at Onjōji (also known as Miidera) temple, east of Kyoto and near Lake Biwa.
During a transitional year, until he settled in the summer of 1244 in his new temple, Dōgen was extremely creative in producing over a third of the fascicles included in his major text, the Shōbōgenzō, which consists of informal sermons delivered in the vernacular (kana ) in the abbot's quarters. At Eiheiji, Dōgen turned to another style of literature that was included in the Eihei kōroku, which consists of formal sermons delivered in the dharma hall in Sino-Japanese (kanbun ), as prescribed by Chinese Chan monastic rules texts. During the Echizen/Eiheiji period, Dōgen stressed that enlightenment is available only for male monastics, but he also developed methods for evangelizing and administering precepts to the lay community. According to some reports, Dōgen visited Hōjō Tokiyori in Kamakura for half a year in 1247 to 1248, but he turned down an invitation to head a temple there due to misgivings about the mixing of Zen and the new samurai lifestyle. This would have occurred just a few years before Kenchōji was constructed and became a leading Rinzai center under Lanxi.
Zen Practice and Training
Much of the difference in the styles of theory and practice that has evolved between the Rinzai and Sōtō schools, such as the Rinzai emphasis on kōan training and the Sōtō emphasis on just-sitting meditation without a focus on kōan cases, reflects historical developments subsequent to the formative period of Zen in Japan. The differences tend to stem especially from the Tokugawa and early Meiji eras, periods when all forms of Buddhism had to define themselves in distinctive ways in a competitive religious environment strictly supervised by civil authorities. Discrepancies in style should not be imposed retrospectively, which might obscure the fact that the two schools are linked by fundamental similarities in approach.
On the level of doctrine, both schools stress the importance of post-enlightenment cultivation, as found in Dōgen's teaching of shushū ittō (oneness of practice and realization) and the doctrine proclaimed by Daitō Kokushi (Shūhō Myōchō, 1282–1337) of shōtaichōyō (sustained nurturing of the seed of truth). Genuine practice must not end at the time of realization, but should continue after the initial experience of enlightenment and be integrated with each aspect of daily life. This practice can take the form of meditation, performing daily chores on the monastic compound, collecting alms from the lay community (takuhatsu ), participating in the way (dō or michi ) of the arts, communing with nature during a mountain retreat (yamazato ), or residing in a secluded hermitage on or off the temple grounds.
For both schools, all aspects of monastery life are governed by the codes of discipline and ethics, as covered in detail in an extensive body of texts dealing with monastic regulations (shingi ). These codes were originally imported from China, most notably the 1103 text, Chanyuan qinggui (Jpn., Zen'en shingi ), which was derivative of early Buddhist Vinaya rules and supposedly based on a much shorter source text attributed to the Tang dynasty master Baizhang (749–814), known for his injunction, "a day without work is a day without food." The Chanyuan qinggui was adapted in Japanese texts and required for all monks by numerous thirteenth-century Rinzai and Sōtō leaders, including Eisai in 1195, Dōgen with several texts beginning in 1237, Lanxi in 1278, and Enni in 1280. The seminal source of Chan rules was also referenced in shingi texts by Sōtō master Keizan Jōkin (1264–1325) in 1325, Rinzai master Musō Sōseki (1275–1351) in 1339, and the Ōbaku shingi in 1672.
Whether or not it was literally followed, the spirit of "no work, no food" pervades the shingi collections, which include rules on the observance of precepts and ethical conduct, as well as on daily activities and annual ceremonies. These works depict a communal life of meditation, frugality, manual labor, and active debate between master and disciple, with regularly scheduled public assemblies and impromptu lectures and instruction. They also describe the functions of abbot, officers, stewards, rank-and-file monks, and novices, in addition to the management of kitchens, the dharma hall, and the larger monastery estate. The shingi rules provide requirements for the dharma transmission and awarding of seals (inka ), as well as commissioning portraits of masters (chinsō ) and selecting successors to the abbot. Topics such as quarreling and discipline, wandering, and the role of women are given careful consideration. Furthermore, the relation between a school's head temple (honji ) and branch temples (matsuji ) is delineated in both the shingi records and the laws of the civil society.
Zen monasteries in Japan follow the style of the "seven-hall compound" (shichi-dō garan ) originally developed in China. The schema below bears anthropomorphic symbolism in that each of the seven buildings is associated with a part of the Buddha's body, so that entering the temple grounds is considered the equivalent of communing directly with the Buddha. The halls include on the main axis: the mountain gate or entrance associated with the groin, the Buddha hall for displaying icons and hosting banquets associated with the heart, and the dharma hall for sermons before the assembly associated with the head. The right leg is associated with the bathhouse and the right arm with the kitchen, whereas the left leg is associated with the latrine and the left arm with the monks' hall.
Four additional mainstays of the structure of Zen temples are: the abbot's quarters, known as the "ten-foot square hut" (hōjō), following a passage in the Vimalakīrti Sūtra in which an informed layman holds forth in a humble abode with the ability to outsmart bodhisattvas; the hall to commemorate the local earth deity (dōjishin ) associated with protection of the temple grounds; a bell tower that houses a large Buddhist bronze bell rung at the New Year and other festivals, as well as purification ceremonies; and a reading room for the study of sūtras and related Buddhist and literary works. The abbot's quarters is usually located above the dharma hall, with the earth deity hall and bell tower to the right, and reading room to the left.
Zazen and kōan practice
Life in Zen monasteries is centered on zazen meditation, which is conducted at least four times daily, as well as for longer, more intensive weeklong sessions known as sesshin, especially on special occasions such as Rohatsu (December 8 celebration of the anniversary of the Buddha's enlightenment). During these special occasions, meditation may be prolonged for up to twenty hours a day, leaving time only for minimal sleeping and eating. In addition to the traditional seated posture, there is a form of meditation known as kinhin, which is a walking exercise developed in Japanese Zen.
Another main ingredient of Zen practice is the use of kōans as both a literary device and a tool for contemplative training. Diverse styles of commentary were developed during the medieval period (discussed below), involving the use of prose, poetic, and sometimes diagrammatic remarks on the inner meaning of case narratives found in a handful of collections preserved from China, such as the Wumen guan, Biyan lu (Jpn., Hekiganroku ), and Zongrong lu (Jpn., Shōyōroku ). A new kōan exercise developed in Japan is the brief face-to-face interview of the disciple by the master. This is known in the Rinzai school as dokusan (literally "individual study"), which is similar to the Sōtō school practice of nyūshitsu (literally "entering the room [of the abbot]"). Both terms refer to private instruction in which the teacher evaluates and motivates the aspiring student to attain a higher level of understanding.
Furthermore, nearly all Japanese Zen monasteries and temples have performed a myriad of functions related to the spirits of the dead, including funerary rites that bestow a posthumous ordination name (kaimyō ) to ensure that the deceased attains nirvāṇa (nehan ) in the afterlife. Zen temples are also involved in memorial services, as well as the annual Obon or Ghost Festival, held either on July 15 or August 15 (the ceremony was originally held at the time of the full moon of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar). It is believed that during this period the spirits of deceased ancestors visit the living, and Buddhist rituals play an important purification function. Despite an apparent emphasis on uniformity and ritualism, several of the most prominent masters of the medieval period were known for a rugged individuality and eccentricity in their commitment to a life of poverty and reclusion, as well as the creative expression of self-awareness.
Medieval Period (to 1600)
Beginning with the rise of the new political leadership of the Ashikaga government in 1338, which consolidated its power through alliances with Zen clergy and consciously emulated the Song way of propagating the religion, Zen became a dominant force affecting both the aristocratic elite in the urban centers and the rural population. Zen contributed to the fine, literary, applied, performing, and martial arts, ranging from calligraphy, poetry, gardening, tea ceremony, theater, and sword fighting, among numerous other forms, and also assimilated and domesticated many aspects of popular religion and folklore, including autochthonic gods, demons, and exorcistic rites. Furthermore, Zen began its involvement in constructing the bushidō code of honor and loyalty to the warlord by integrating and adapting traditional art of war strategies to monastic training. Nō theater, which is often based on plays dealing with ghosts of defeated samurai wrestling with demons in the afterlife, and which is written and performed with an uncannily studied contemplative simplicity, represents a realm of the arts where many of these cultural elements have converged.
The developments that took place in establishing Zen in the thirteenth century ensured that the Rinzai school would grow mainly in the Kyoto and Kamakura areas with the support of the shogunate, whereas the Sōtō school would spread in the northwestern region, as well as other outlying territories, based on proselytizing to an agrarian population. The two schools were separated by other factors in addition to geography and patterns of patronage and participation, yet there were underlying points of connection both institutionally and in terms of styles of religious practice disseminated through a network of temples known as the Rinka mon-asteries.
Five Mountains system
The Rinzai school formed the main hierarchical institutional structure known as the Five Mountains system, which was patterned after the Chinese Chan monastery system At its peak it claimed a network of over three hundred temples centered at Nanzenji in Kyoto under the protection of the military regime (bakufu ). The third Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimitsu (1358–1408), established in 1386 a definitive ranking of five temples each in Kyoto (Tenryūji, Shōkokuji, Kenninji, Tōfukuji, Majuji) and Kamakura (Kenchōji, Engakuji, Jufukuji, Jōchiji, Jōmyōji). A head administrative monk (sōroku ) was appointed superintendent or the supreme official ruling over the system.
The hallmark of the Five Mountains system was the creation of multiple artistic forms referred to collectively as Gozan bunka, with special emphasis on literature, especially kanbun poetry, known as the tradition of Gozan bungaku. Gozan poetry, which usually consists of four-line verses containing seven characters (kanji ) in each line, deals with Buddhist doctrines and practice, as well as themes that are more general and are used to articulate indirectly an understanding of Zen awareness. One of the main topoi is the contemplation of nature as perceived in secluded landscapes or mountain retreats, as in the following verse by one of the luminaries of the movement, Musō Sōseki (1275–1351):
Autumn's colors dropping from branches in masses of falling leaves, Cold clouds bringing rain into the crannies of the mountains: Everyone was born with the same sort of eyes—Why do mine keep seeing things as Zen kōans ? (Pollack, 1985, p. 37).
Musō, founder of Tenryūji temple in Kyoto, was immensely successful and popular with all factions as an abbot who gained the attention of Emperor Hanazono and political leaders, monks in training, and the general populace. His book Muchū mondō (Dialogues in a dream) explains Zen in everyday language in response to questions raised by the warrior Ashikaga Tadayoshi. He was said to have left ten thousand followers at the time of his death. However, Musō was also criticized by rivals such as Daitokuji master Daitō for not rising above a doctrinal understanding of Zen—that is, for failing to embody a genuinely creative Zen approach that was evident in some of the leading Rinka temple masters.
In addition to the Five Mountains temples of the Rinzai school, which were considered the leading rank in the Zen network, another series of temples that included representatives from both the Rinzai and Sōtō schools was known as Rinka or Sanrin temples; both designations refer to "forests" (rin ) of Zen monks. The term, which implies the legions of monasteries in the countryside or hinterlands that were outside, and probably resentful of, the domain of the shogun, is perhaps applied most accurately to Eiheiji and other Sōtō temples. But the term is at least in part a misnomer because this group also included prominent Rinzai temples in Kyoto that enjoyed imperial patronage, especially Daitokuji of the Daiō-Daitō line and Myōshinji temple. Myōshinji was impressively developed by Daitō's disciple, Kanzan Egen (1277–1360), and eventually it broke off to become an independent head temple that surpassed Daitokuji in the size and scope of its network.
Whereas the Five Mountains temples were known for their poetry, one of the main features of the Rinka temples was the formation of a curriculum of kōan studies that took on many different dimensions. Daitō is particularly notable for writing two commentaries on the Biyan lu collection of 100 kōan cases by using the style of capping phrases (jakugo ), originally developed by Chinese Chan commentators as ironic remarks that illuminate each line of the case narrative. In Sōtō Zen, there were various styles of commentary known as shōmono, which included formal/public and informal/private styles. One of the main examples of shōmono literature was the subgenre of kirigami (literally "strips of paper") commentaries, in which a master would write down quickly an esoteric comment, usually accompanied by a drawing or illustration, that was handed to a disciple as a training tool or an emblem of attaining transmission. Given the transitory quality and secretive nature of this style, the kirigami were left uncollected and were lost until recent scholarship rediscovered and interpreted numerous examples.
A prominent example of medieval Zen art is the famed rock garden at Ryōanji temple in Kyoto, which was perhaps designed by the painter Sōami (1472–1525). A classic of the kare-sansui (dry mountains-rivers) style that contains only rocks and sand constructed in patterns but no living form except moss, the Ryōanji garden is surrounded by earthen walls in three directions and faced with the corridor of the hōjō (abbot's quarters) building. In the rectangular space measuring thirty meters from east to west and ten meters from north to south, fifteen rocks of various sizes are arranged on white sand in five groups, each comprising five, two, three, two, and three rocks. The most popular explanation of this garden is that the rocks represent a mother tiger and her cubs, swimming in the river of the white sand toward a fearful dragon. The asymmetric composition achieves a certain balance and harmony that creates energy and rhythm in the midst of subtlety and simplicity.
Another important development of the Rinka period was the way creative Rinzai masters sought to recapture the iconoclasm and eccentricity of early Chinese Chan figures, as epitomized by Ikkyū (1394–1481), who was said to have destroyed his transmission seal for being an empty symbol devoid of significance and to have refused to award such a symbol to any of his disciples. Ikkyū became an acolyte at the age of five and excelled at Chinese poetry and calligraphy as well as painting. Throughout his life he railed against the corruption of priests and the meaningless formalities of Zen monastic life, yet he succeeded to the abbacy of Daitokuji and also won widespread acceptance by the common folk for his inventiveness and independence.
One of Ikkyū's noted calligraphies contains the saying, "Entering the realm of Buddha is easy, entering the realm of the demon [ma ] is difficult." On one level, this expression, along with Ikkyū's lifestyle, which included the celebration of visits to brothels and the "red thread" of passion, could be interpreted as endorsing the kind of antinomianism that was consistently rejected by Zen monastic leaders. However, another implication of the saying is that, for Ikkyū, asserting the priority of purity while occupying a state of transcendence is a relatively simple task that is not necessarily as demanding as maintaining a genuinely authentic state of mind while being tempted and tested in the midst of impurity. An underlying theme is that Buddha and demon are not distinct, but symbolize interior forces of wisdom and delusion that are inextricably and dialectically linked as complementary opposites embraced by a deeper level of nondual awareness.
Sōtō school assimilationism
Within the Sōtō school, the fourth generation patriarch Keizan maintained Dōgen's twin emphasis on continuing a commitment to rigorous meditation and adhering to monastic regulations, but he also assimilated many elements of Tendai esotericism, as well as folklore religiosity in his approach to Zen. Before joining Sōtō, Keizan had been a follower of the remnants of the Daruma school. Through Keizan's efforts, Sōtō Zen spread primarily northward from Echizen to the Noto peninsula, where Sōjiji temple was established. Long a rival with Eiheiji for the designation of the school's head temple—Eiheiji enjoyed the prestige of the founder's legacy, but Keizan's temple could claim more than nine times as many branch sites—Sōjiji was moved at the end of the nineteenth century. It was relocated in a neighborhood outside Yokohama in the Kanto region, which had become over the centuries a major center of Sōtō school activity.
A key to the success of this lineage was Keizan's evangelical disciple Gasan Jōseki (1275–1365), who was abbot of Sōjiji for forty years. Along with his followers, such as Tsūgen Jakurei (1322–1391), Gasan helped the rapid spread of Sōtō Zen in the countryside areas by taking over many abandoned Tendai and Shingon temples and assimilating folklore divinities, which were called upon to protect the welfare of the sacred sites. While greatly concerned with construction projects for bridges, dams, and irrigation canals to help win popular support, Gasan was also a scholastic monk who promulgated the dialectical doctrine of the "five ranks" (go-i) rooted in Chinese texts.
One of the legacies of the popularization campaign is that some of the most prominent Sōtō temples are associated with shamanistic and esoteric practices. They are best known to their congregations of lay followers for espousing a syncretic approach to attaining worldly benefits (genze riyaku ), such as prosperity, fertility, or safety during travels, rather than for traditional Zen practices of meditation and monastic discipline. A prime example is Saijōji temple near the town of Odawara, which was founded by Ryōan Emyō (1337–1411), who was said to have transformed into a winged tengu (the mountain goblin of Japanese lore) to enhance his powers for protection of the temple grounds.
Another such example is Myōgonji temple in the town of Toyokawa in Aichi prefecture, anomalously affiliated with Eiheiji rather than Sōjiji, which is also called Toyakawa Inari because the main icons on the compound are not images of Buddha but rather the fox deity (Inari), originally a Shintō fertility symbol that became a force spiritually protecting the Buddhist teachings. Followers who flood these prayer temples (kitō jiin ) for New Year's Day or other annual festivals may not even be aware that rituals and chants are being performed by monks trained at head temples or monasteries, where the primary training is in meditation with the aim of overcoming worldly attachments.
One of the features of medieval Sōtō Zen was the role played by female monastics at several nunneries who sought to keep alive the integrity of the tradition of clerical discipline espoused by Dōgen, and who also developed unique rituals for healing and purification. It is unclear, however, whether and to what extent Dōgen himself endorsed the equality of women, as there are several seemingly contradictory passages in his writings on this topic.
Early Modern Period (1600–1868)
Zen Buddhism during the Tokugawa era was affected by several trends that influenced all Buddhist schools, including the rise of Confucianism and the return to prominence of Shintō under the banner of National Learning (kokugaku ) thought. Both ideologies were taught at academies that helped support the rule of the shogunate. The danka (loosely "parish") system in which all families were assigned to a Buddhist temple strengthened the numbers of Buddhist affiliates but tended to weaken the spirituality and integrity of Zen monastic life. It has long been said that Zen apparently entered a prolonged period of decline (daraku ), but the early modern period was actually characterized by many important luminary figures and elements of revitalization.
One of the new developments was the formation of a third movement, the Ōbaku school, which was based on the teachings of Chan masters of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The reintroduction of Chinese religion and culture was an anomalous event, since the Tokugawa regime restricted all foreign travel, but Yinyuan and his followers were able to enter Japan after receiving an invitation from Sōfukuji in Kyushu and exert great influence. This school emphasizes the preservation of the sūtras, as well as the combination of zazen meditation with Pure Land, other-power (tariki ) practices for the veneration of Amida (Skt., Amitābha) Buddha, and the recitation of the nembutsu chant, which is generally thought to stand in contrast with the Zen self-power (jiriki ) approach.
The Rinzai school of this period featured several prominent monks, including Takuan Sōhō (1573–1645), whose writings synthesize Zen principles of mental cultivation and swordsmanship. This is a form of training in which a warrior must be able to respond to a rival or threat spontaneously and with an unclouded and imperturbable mind that can be attained through meditation. According to Takuan, controlling the battleground and the sense of winning and losing is a matter of mastering the impulses of the mind and casting off fetters and delusions. While Takuan found the Zen mind in the highly specialized world of the warrior, another key monk of the day, Bankei Yōtaku (1622–1693), stressed the role of the mind manifested in ordinary activity, such as walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, which are all exemplary of the imperishable "unborn" Zen state of awareness.
The most important monk of the Tokugawa era was Hakuin Ekaku (1686–1768), who single-handedly reformed Rinzai school practice in a way that has persisted for over three centuries. Hakuin was known for both his appropriation of the strict training style of the Chinese masters of the Tang and Song periods and his appeal to the common folk, who found him a charismatic spiritual leader. Hakuin perfected a new system of kōan study by cataloging and rating the challenging quality of several hundred cases available in the primary collections, as well as creating one of the most famous riddles, "We know the sound of two hands clapping, what is the sound of one hand?" Hakuin gave form to a training method that integrates the techniques of practice sessions (sesshin ) and master-disciple pedagogy (dokusan ), along with public sermons (teishō) and capping phrase (jakugo ) commentary provided by the master.
Hakuin also emphasized the role of intense mystical experience in developing Zen awareness. The experience begins with the Great Doubt, in which all perceptions are called into question and stripped away of conventional attitudes. The Great Doubt may seem to lead to a nihilistic state of perpetual anxiety, and this condition is identified by Hakuin as the Zen Sickness, which can affect enlightened and unenlightened alike. However, the goal of the spiritual path is to move beyond debilitating anxiety and attain a more advanced level of insight through experiences that are sudden and dramatic. Hakuin had several instances of subitaneous awakening; for example, it is recorded in his biography, "One night, he sat up in complete absorption until dawn. Suddenly, he heard the bell from a far off temple. As soon as this distant sound entered his ears, it penetrated to the core and made all perceptions of the external world fall away. It was like the ringing of a magnificent bell resounding in his ears."
The Sōtō school underwent a significant revival of scholastic studies, producing many new editions and interpretations of the seminal works by and about Dōgen's life and thought. Manzan Dōhaku (1636–1714) was the originator of this movement and was responsible for acquiring a new rule of transmission and succession for the post of temple superior from the shogun government. Tenkei Denson (1648–1735) developed a novel, if idiosyncratic, view of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō by favoring the controversial 60-fascicle edition, and Menzan Zuihō (1683–1769) was the premier cataloger and revisionist of the writings and biographies of Dōgen. The Sōtō school also published a comprehensive 95-fascicle edition of the Shōbōgenzō in 1690, which was reissued in the early nineteenth century, although the authenticity of this version has been questioned by modern scholars.
The Tokugawa era also saw several highly creative Zen spirits, including the lay practitioner and humanist thinker Suzuki Shōsan (1579–1655), who practiced an unorthodox style of meditation that owed to both samurai culture and Buddhist chanting rituals; the great haiku poet Bashō (1644–1694), who followed a Zen lifestyle as a lay disciple that influenced the inspiration and manner of his verse; and Ryōkan (1758–1831), a Sōtō monk affectionately called the Great Fool (Daigu) for the childlike innocence expressed in deceptively simple poems that celebrated the Zen values of poverty and nonattachment. Like other early modern Zen leaders who paid obeisance to Chan and early medieval Zen heroes and icons, Ryōkan expressed his gratitude for Dōgen in some of his poetry.
Modern Period (1868–Present)
Zen Buddhism in the Meiji era (1868–1912) was greatly affected by the response of Japanese society to modernization and westernization that resulted in the emerging of a nationalistic, pro-Shintō stance and the suppression or modification of traditional Buddhist institutions in several campaigns. These included the persecution of haibustu kishaku, which led to the destruction of Buddhist iconography, the new regulations of shinbutsu bunri, or the separation of Buddhist temples from Shintō shrines that had long been amalgamated; and the legislation of nikujiki saitai, forcing marriages and meat-eating upon Buddhist clergy and nearly ending centuries of celibacy and pacifism.
Reactions to modernity
One reaction to the disturbing trends was embodied by Ōtori Sessō (1814–1904), a Sōtō monk who worked for the Ministry of Doctrine to modernize Buddhism and eliminate the dissonance between traditional monasticism and secularized, industrialized society. Ōtori was also active in creating linkages between monks and laypersons, and in 1891, the Sōtō sect produced an abbreviated version of Dōgen's Shōbōgenzō as a source of guidance for lay practitioners. This very short text, the Shushōgi, does not even mention the need for zazen but instead emphasizes a life of gratitude and penitence. Several lay or kyōdan organizations became established as autonomous movements.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Zen had begun to emerge out of the cocoon of the Asia/Pacific cultural context to become a religious phenomenon that was spreading worldwide. Several factors influenced this development. One factor was that immigrant communities in Hawaiʻi, the American West Coast, and Brazil were serviced by missionaries and international outreach components of Zen temple institutions, especially for funerals and memorials.
Another factor was that non-Japanese were introduced to and became fascinated with the philosophy and practice of Zen. A key turning point was the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, an interreligious congress that was attended by the widely traveled Shaku Sōen (1859–1919), a disciple of the eminent Rinzai monk, Imakita Kōsen (1816–1892), who was abbot of Engakuji temple in Kamakura. The parliament was also attended by the young D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966), who served as Sōen's interpreter. Suzuki went on to stay for long periods in the United States and have a lengthy career as the main exponent of Zen Buddhism in the West. He published dozens of books in English on various dimensions of Zen in relation to Japanese culture as seen from comparative theoretical perspectives. He also greatly influenced the famous 1956 essay by Alan Watts (1915–1973) on different styles of the appropriation of Zen practice in the West, "Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen." Famous American Beat poets were indebted to Suzuki, whose role was inherited by Masao Abe (b. 1915), who specialized in interfaith dialogue involving various Western religious traditions.
In the post–World War II period, historical accounts of Chan and Zen were significantly improved through the scholarship of Yanagida Seizan (b. 1922), a professor of Kyoto University, who was associated with scholars at Komazawa University in Tokyo, which specialized in Sōtō studies. Yanagida established an institute for international studies of Zen, as well as mentoring a number of influential Western scholars.
In addition to the efforts of Suzuki, Yanagida, and Abe, among others the spread of international interest in Zen was enhanced by the comparative philosophy of the Kyoto school led by Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945) and his main follower, Nishitani Keiji (1900–1990). Their works explicating the notion of "absolute nothingness" (zettai mu ) as the key to understanding the Zen experience of enlightenment have been analyzed in relation to leading Western philosophers from ancient to modern times. The significance of Zen thought is now frequently examined in conjunction with the main trends of Western thought.
Social Criticisms of Zen
At the same time, since the 1970s a social criticism of Zen's role in relation to political and cultural affairs has been taken up by commentators in Japan and the West. Ichikawa Hakugen (1902–1986) was a Rinzai monk writing during the Vietnam War era. Ichikawa reflected on the role of Japan as an aggressor against China in World War II and argued that leaders of Zen, including Kyoto school thinkers who treated the theme of national polity in their works during the 1930s, when they were under considerable political pressure, needed to accept responsibility for contributing to prewar nationalism and imperialism. A movement that began within the Sōtō school in 1985 known as Critical Buddhism (Hihan Bukkyō ) has demanded that Zen temples reform the practice of distributing posthumous ordination names because it discriminates against the outcaste (burakumin ) community. In a related development, Sōtō nuns have criticized the misogynist aspect of Zen rules and customs as part of a broader gender criticism of Japanese Buddhism.
A wave of books published in the West beginning in the 1990s, including Brian Victoria's Zen at War (1997), James W. Heisig and John C. Maraldo's Rude Awakenings (1995), Jamie Hubbard and Paul L. Swanson's Pruning the Bodhi Tree (1997), Christopher Ives's Zen Awakening and Society (1992), and Bernard Faure's Chan Insights and Oversights (1993), has called attention to apparent limitations in the Zen view of transcendence. In striving to rise above the pettiness of worldly strife and conflict, Zen may overlook—and therefore implicitly sanction—problematic issues in everyday society. Some elements of this critique were anticipated in the famous novel Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji, 1956) by Yukio Mishima (1925–1970), which is based on the true story of an acolyte who burned down the most elegant temple in Kyoto. In that sense, the charge of antinomianism leveled at the fledgling Zen movements at the end of the twelfth century has resurfaced in a contemporary context.
To cite some representative examples of the voluminous literature on Zen in Japanese, important reference works include Zengaku daijiten (Tokyo, 1978); Ōbaku bunka jinmei jiten, edited by Ōtsuki Mikio, Katō Shōshun, and Hayashi Yukimitsu (Kyoto, 1988); and Zengo jiten, compiled by Koga Hidehiko (Kyoto, 1991). Also, Kōza Zen, edited by Nishitani Keiji (Tokyo, 1974) is an important collection of essays, and two historical studies by Tekenuki Genshō are Nihon shushūshi (Tokyo, 1989) and Nihon Zenshūshi no kenkyū (Tokyo, 1993). Collections of original sources include Nihon no Zen goroku, 20 vols. (Tokyo, 1977), and two collections edited by Yanagida Seizan, Zengaku sōsho, 13 vols. (Kyoto, 1973–1980), and Zen no goroku, 17 vols. (Tokyo, 1969–1981).
Information on Zen demographics is included in T. Griffith Foulk, "The Zen Institution in Modern Japan," and in Kenneth Kraft, ed., Zen Tradition and Transition: A Sourcebook by Contemporary Zen Masters and Scholars (New York, 1988), pp. 157–177. Standard historical studies in English include Heinrich Dumoulin, Zen Buddhism: A History, Vol. 2: Japan, translated by James W. Heisig and Paul Knitter (New York, 1989), and Daigan Matsunaga and Alicia Matsunaga, Foundation of Japanese Buddhism, Vol. 2: The Mass Movement (Los Angeles, 1978). Cultural criticism of Zen is explored in Bernard Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism (Princeton, 1991).
Illustrated materials on the early history of the Rinzai school are contained in a partially bilingual catalogue prepared for an exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum of Art on Kamakura Zen no genryū (The Art of Zen Buddhism ; Tokyo, 2003). An analysis of the interactions among early Zen movements is discussed in Bernard Faure, "The Daruma-shū, Dōgen, and Sōtō Zen," Monumenta Nipponica 42, no. 1 (1987): 25–55. Works on Dōgen include Hee-Jin Kim, Dōgen Kigen—Mystical Realist (Tucson, Ariz., 1975); Carl Bielefeldt, Dōgen's Manuals of Zen Meditation (Berkeley, 1988); and Steven Heine, Dōgen and the Kōan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shōbōgenzō Texts (Albany, N.Y., 1994). A selection of Dōgen's writings in translation is found in Kazuaki Tanahashi, ed., Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dōgen, translated by Robert Aitken et al. (San Francisco, 1985).
Institutional practices are discussed in Martin Collcutt, Five Mountains: The Rinzai Zen Monastic Institution in Medieval Japan (Cambridge, Mass., 1981). Intellectual practices of Zen are discussed in T. P. Kasulis, Zen Action/Zen Person (Honolulu, 1980); Miura Isshū and Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Zen Dust: The History of Kōan Study in Rinzai (Lin-chi) Zen (New York, 1966); Robert Aitken, trans. and ed., The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-men kuan (Mumonkan) (New York, 1991); and Ishikawa Rikizan, "Transmission of Kirigami (Secret Initiation Documents): A Sōtō Practice in Medieval Japan," in The Kōan: Texts and Contexts in Zen Buddhism, edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright (New York, 2000), pp. 233–243. Syncretic practices are discussed in a book dedicated to the 500th anniversary of Saijōji, a Sōtō temple, Daiyūzan: Saijōji kaisō roppyakunen hōzan (Kanagawa-ken, Japan, 1994), and Karen Smyers, The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship (Honolulu, 1998).
The poem by Musō is cited from David Pollack, Zen Poems of the Five Mountains (New York, 1985). Muchū mondō is translated by Thomas Cleary in Dream Conversations (New York, 1994). Other works on this period of Rinzai Zen include Joseph Parker, Zen Buddhist Landscape Arts of Early Muromachi Japan (1336–1573) (Albany, N.Y., 1999); Kenneth Kraft, Eloquent Zen: Daitō and Early Japanese Zen (Honolulu, 1993); and Sonja Arntzen, Ikkyū and the Crazy Cloud Anthology: A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan (Tokyo, 1987). For an examination of the Sōtō school, see William M. Bodiford, Sōtō Zen in Medieval Japan (Honolulu, 1993).
An analysis of the development of the Ōbaku school is in Helen Baroni, Ōbaku Zen: The Emergence of the Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa Japan (Honolulu, 1998). Zen's relation to samurai culture is discussed in Takuan Sōhō, The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master, translated by William Scott Wilson (New York, 1988), and Winston L. King, Zen and The Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche (New York, 1993). Translations of Hakuin's writings are contained in Philip B. Yampolsky, Zen Master Hakuin: Selected Writings (New York, 1971), and Norman Waddell, Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin (New York, 1994). William M. Bodiford's article treats changes in the transmission process in the Sōtō school, "Dharma Transmission in Sōtō Zen: Manzan Dōhaku's Reform Movement," Monumenta Nipponica 46, no. 4 (1991): 423–451. A translation of Ryōkan is found in Great Fool: Zen Master Ryōkan: Poems, Letters, and Other Writings, translated by Ryūichi Abe and Peter Haskel (Honolulu, 1999).
On changes in Meiji era Zen, see Richard Jaffe, Neither Monk Nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism (Princeton, 2001), and Steven Heine, "Abbreviation or Aberration? The Role of the Shushōgi in Modern Sōtō Zen Buddhism," in Buddhism and the Modern World: Adaptations of an Ancient Tradition (New York, 2003). The advent of Zen in the West is discussed in Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America, rev. ed. (New York, 1986). The outlook of modern Zen in a comparative religious context is expressed in Masao Abe, Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue: Part One of a Two-Volume Sequel to Zen and Western Thought (Honolulu, 1995). For Kyoto school philosophy, see James W. Heisig, Philosophers of Nothingness: An Essay on the Kyoto School (Honolulu, 2002), and Michiko Yusa, Zen and Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitarō (Honolulu, 2002).
On social criticism, see Ichikawa Hakugen, Bukkyōsha no sensō-sekinin (Tokyo, 1970), and a special (tokushō ) issue of the journal Bukkyō 14, no. 5 (1994). Some of the recent works on a social criticism of Zen in English include Brian A. Victoria, Zen at War (New York, 1997); James W. Heisig and John C. Maraldo, eds., Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (Honolulu, 1995); Jamie Hubbard and Paul L. Swanson, eds., Pruning the Bodhi Tree: The Storm over Critical Buddhism (Honolulu, 1997); Christopher Ives, Zen Awakening and Society (Honolulu, 1992); and Bernard Faure, Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (Princeton, 1993). Also, a translation of Mishima's novel Kinkakuji (Tokyo, 1956) is by Ivan Morris, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (New York, 1959; reprint, 1994).
Steven Heine (2005)
"Zen." Encyclopedia of Religion. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/zen
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