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spin13 11-15-2004 09:57 PM

Budo and Buddhism
 
I am currently enrolled in a Buddhism class and am currently seeking new directions to take my study of Buddhism and the martial arts. As of current, I have written one paper reconsiling the views of budo and buddhism, with the focus being military (ie, violence) and peace, the thesis being essentially:
Quote:

How could those who devoted their life to the destruction of others call themselves Buddhist and thereby spread the religion? How could Zen come to not only aid, but represent, the budo, or martial way, of the samurai class?
The full paper is available here:
http://www.rpi.edu/~spinee/Buddhism%20edit.doc

The main topics I touched on were:
Budo (definition)
Bushido
Shu Ha Ri
Mushin no Shin
Satsujinken/Katsujinken (swords that kills, sword that gives life)

I specificly stuck with the romanticized notion of Bushido (hey, I'm an engineering student, not a philosopher!) for the purposes of the first paper, though I am aware of the discrepencies in this model. I can always use this knowledge for further research and provide a counterpoint to my first paper, but I don't feel that this is quite enough material, nor exactly the direction I'd prefer to go in. I'm sure there are concepts that link budo and buddhism that I have missed, and I know there is the entire world of Chinese martial arts. While I am doing my own research, I see no harm in taking this one to the polls and using you guys as a focus group to at least point out a new direction. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Eric

SeiserL 11-16-2004 09:16 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
IMHO, making too much of a romancized and idealized connection between Budo and Buddhism may have you overlook the culture and the job a soldier has. Samurai were soldiers. Soldiers, "in service", follow orders to protect the people they love and serve. Their underlying motive is not the destruction of others. They are sent to do a job, for them to survive usually means others will die. Do no mistake Bujutsu for Budo or Buddhism. As with many things, the public theories or concepts do not always match the reality applications.

aikidoc 11-16-2004 11:54 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Interesting article Eric.

Kevin Leavitt 11-16-2004 12:16 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
I am both a soldier in th U.S. Army and A Buddhist. (In the Infantry none-the-less).

It is not a contradiction at all. Soldiers do not seek killing or war...as Lynn points out they are in service.

You might say that most soldiers abhor violence and killing so much that they embrace it and meet it head on. In a sense they are dealing with reality.

Karma also plays an interesting role. You must be careful here though because Karma is not an excuse to avoid accepting responsibility for your own actions.

I'd reccomend "The Bodhisattva Warriors" by Terence Dukes. It is not Japanese in nature but does explain quite a bit.

Some of the most fierce warriors you will find are buddhist or pacifist. Sgt Alvin York was a pacifist and a conscientious objector. In WWI he was one of the most decorated veterans earning the Medal of Honor.

It is a fascinating phoenomena. It is within the nature of Zen to walk both sides of the fence. It is honest. I could go on and on...(I love this subject since I meditate on it frequently).

I would also look at the "Book of Five Rings". It was very helpful many years ago when I first started having conflicting thoughts about my service and my spiritual path.

Kevin Leavitt 11-16-2004 12:19 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Here is a nice bio link on Alvin York.

http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/york.htm

Don_Modesto 11-16-2004 12:51 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Quote:

Eric Spinelli wrote:
I am currently enrolled in a Buddhism class and am currently seeking new directions to take my study of Buddhism and the martial arts.

http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/.../jjrs/jjrs.htm

Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1990 1714--Mushin, Morals, and Martial Arts- A Discussion of Keenan's YogZicara Critique -Stewart MCFARLANE

McFarlane discusses "Skilful Means" by which Buddhists justify killing.

Daniel Moore 11-26-2004 07:46 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
I read somewhere that in the earlier era of the samurai, that some were actually priests at Buddhist temples and during times of war, the Diamyo would call them up to fight for them. If this is true, surely it shows that Buddhism accepts violence and war, and that even a priest could be a deadly soldier.
Dan

aikidoc 11-26-2004 09:05 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
"If this is true, surely it shows that Buddhism accepts violence and war, and that even a priest could be a deadly soldier." There is an issue on your wording of "accepts violence and war". My understanding as a student that Buddhism sees no justification for killing anything. However, it recognizes that there may be situations where there is no choice. The person must, however, recognize the karmic implications of taking a life. Buddhism is based on reality-violence and war are realities. However, to say Buddhism accepts war and violence is inaccurate-it recognizes it is part of reality and does occur. To quote an old David Carradine (played a Buddhist monk) statement: To take the life of another does no one honor. (or something like that).

Although I found Terence Dukes book on the Bodhisattva Warriors interesting as well, some have called it and his credentials into question (I believe on E-Budo).

jitensha 11-26-2004 10:57 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Hi Eric,

nice paper!
i've often wrestled with the apparent contradictions between
the warrior and the buddhist and i guess i'm never really satisfied with the answers i come up with.

David Lowry wrote a couple essays in his book "Traditions", which describe in a historical context how zen and bujutsu merged together. He discusses how, for the most
part, samurai were never enthusiastic practitioners of zen. They
were into Shingon buddhism. Zen was introduced to
bujutsu, relatively late, through Yagyu Munenori in the 1600's.
He was friends with Takuan Soho who used analogies taken
from kenjutsu to explain zen ideas.

This was news to me. From such books as Suzuki's "Zen and Japanese Culture", i got the impression that zen and bujutsu were much more tightly knit together.

So maybe it is better to focus on the particular details of Shingon (very different from other sects) to see how buddhist ethics complimented bushido...

Just my 2 cents...
-chris

ian 11-26-2004 10:58 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Have you read:
Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche
Winston L. King

would be a good insight (good references, very factual), and it suggests pragmatic and political reasons for the interlationship between zen and budo.

ian 11-26-2004 11:02 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
P.S. When is there not a choice to avoid killing if you are a buddhist? Even if you are a soldier you can refuse to fight. (not that I'm a pacifist by any means)

Qatana 11-26-2004 11:03 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
"interlationship"

Great Word!!!!

Don_Modesto 11-26-2004 11:57 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Quote:

John Riggs wrote:
...an issue on your wording of "accepts violence and war". My understanding as a student that Buddhism sees no justification for killing anything. However, it recognizes that there may be situations where there is no choice. The person must, however, recognize the karmic implications of taking a life. Buddhism is based on reality-violence and war are realities. However, to say Buddhism accepts war and violence is inaccurate-it recognizes it is part of reality and does occur.

Contradictions abound. In Japan, devout Buddhists bought caged animals to release to gain merit, blithely ignoring the fact that they had been collected precisely for such a market. The Dalai Lama writes of the injustice of butchers bearing the taint of death selling animal meat to people who provide the market for it and regard said butchers as beneath them.

In the article I cite above (sorry for the double-byte infelicities), "Mushin, Morals, and Martial Arts", MacFarlane writes:

"The active operation of compassion by buddhas and bodhi- sattvas is achieved by "skillful means" (upayakausalya, ??@! fang pien /hoben). I t is clear from many Mahayana texts that, in applying compassion and skillful means, buddhas and bodhisattvas may be obliged to set aside moral and doctrinal norms in order to effectively teach beings and lead them out of suffering. The Lotus Sutra (Sad- dharmapundarika-sutra / MybhB-renge-kyb) contains many examples or paradigm cases of the operation of skillful means in such contexts (PYE 1978, chs. 2, 3, 4). A famous one in chapter three of the siitra is where the rich householder "lies" to his children to tempt them out of the burning house, promising toy carts which he does not have....Some texts use ethical or karmic dilemmas to illustrate the notion of skillful means and its ethical adaptability. The Ta ch'eng fang pien hui k;583@@ (Skillful means in the Maha- yana) in the Chinese Maharatnakata collection describes how the Buddha, in a previous life, kills a bandit with a spear to save five hundred traders, and to save the man from the consequences of his intended actions (T 310, 11.604~; see CHANG 1983, pp. 456-57). The same text uses the vivid image of concealed sword mastery (used to protect a caravan of traders) as an illustration of the bodhi- sattva's use of skillful means and the "sword of wisdom" (T 310, 11.597b; see CHANG 1983, pp. 435-36).2 The Mahayana Maha- parinirvd?za-satra offers some even more extreme cases. The Buddha in a previous life kills some Brahmins who defame the Dharma, to save them from a worse fate in hell. Earlier, the same stitra approves the principle of taking up arms in defense of the Dharma (T 374, 12.459a460b & 383b-384a; see also DEMIEVILLE 1973, pp. 292-98).

Quote:

Christopher Rogers wrote:
From such books as Suzuki's "Zen and Japanese Culture", i got the impression that zen and bujutsu were much more tightly knit together.

So maybe it is better to focus on the particular details of Shingon (very different from other sects) to see how buddhist ethics complimented bushido...

I think you're on the right track. Karl Friday (on Iaido-L) also cite's Saicho's influence (Tendai).

Suzuki gets a hiding from Robert Sharf:

"The paper entitled "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism," which I presented to the symposium on which this volume is based, is to appear in Donald S. Lopez, Jr., ed., Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). An earlier version appeared in History of Religions 33/1 (1993): 1--43. I offer below some further reflections on the topic, stimulated by the often intense exchanges at the symposium." (See also http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...ings/Sharf.pdf which this citation is copied from.)

Also of interest: The Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery by Yamada Shoji (Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, Spring 2001, 28/1. http://www.nanzan-u.ac.jp/SHUBUNKEN/...rs/pdf/586.pdf)

What they say about not watching sausages and law made if you like them fits here. Yamada exposes Herrigel as farce. In sum, Awa, Herrigel's vaunted Zen master, didn't even practice Zen—or pretend to. He was such an odd bird that even his students criticized him, extraordinary in hierarchy-conscious Japan. Also, Herrigel didn't speak Japanese, Awa didn't speak German, and the translator lied. I am not making this up.


Quote:

Ian Dodkins wrote:
Have you read:
Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche
Winston L. King

I've seen this slammed wholeheartedly for passing on received--and wrong--wisdom. Caveat emptor.

jitensha 11-27-2004 08:16 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Nice references, Don. Thanks for the links.
-chris

Charles Hill 11-27-2004 11:42 PM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Hi Eric,

I thought your paper was well written. I really think that Thomas Cleary`s The Japanese art of War is required reading for the subject. Cleary, too, has things to say about DT Suzuki that are not so complementary. He discusses Musashi and Takuan/Yagyu as well as Suzuki Shosan, who is a very interesting person that I think you`d really enjoy reading about.

I also recommend Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master by Hosokawa Dogen. Omori Sogen was a Buddhist priest, calligrapher and sword teacher. Also good is John Stevens` The Sword of No Sword, which is a biography of Yamaoka Tesshu.

To learn about Shingon, I recommend Taiko Yamazaki`s book, Shingon. The samurai, like all other pre-modern warriors, were generally very superstitious and Shingon as well as neo-Confucianism and Taoism provided a lot of magic spells and clearcut formulas for them to follow.

I have a few comments/questions about your article.
I have never heard of shu ha ri being applied to Zazen. It is originally a Ikebana teaching as I understand it. Where did you read it as something related to Zazen?
Takuan was a priest, never a swordsman.
Satsujinken and katsujinken refer to sword principles and both were used to kill opponents. Karl Friday`s book on Kashima Shin Ryu elucidates the principle clearly (as well as being an awesome book.) The idea that they refer to saving an opponent is taught by Mitsugi Saotome Sensei in his Principles book, right? I would love to hear what Dr. Friday has to say about this.
The Takamura Sensei quote was interesting. However, does that make Gandhi not a pacifist?

Thanks
Charles Hill

bryce_montgomery 11-29-2004 09:05 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
To simply make the relationship between budo and buddhism make more since, one must remember that the Japanese people are a people of contradictions...

George S. Ledyard 11-29-2004 10:24 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
In Japan the lines between different religions aren't distinctly drawn in ones life. A samurai's spiritual life could easily include elements and practices from Shingon, Zen, Shinto etc. While interesting from an historical standpoint, I think it is important for us as contemporary martial artists to reflect on the function that spirituality had for a professional warrior.

Michael Ryabko, of the Systema, said that his Orthodox Christian beliefs are crucial in balancing off the fact that they spend their time training to kill. Without a solid spiritual base behind their practice it would be too easy to fall prey to the "Dark Side" so to speak.

Toby Threadgill Sensei's teacher, Takamura Sensei placed a lot of stress on proper ettiquette and comportment when doing training such as Iai jutsu or tameshigiri. Failure to do so left ones spirit open to influence by various demons or malevolent influences which float around looking for human victims. He might actually perform a purification on someone whom he felt had not trained correctly before he'd allow them in his dojo.

In my opinion this is important for Aikidoka as well. Some sort of interior practice is important if the practice is to be something more than mechanical. I don't thnk this has to be erligious though. Even a serious internal practice such as those we would lump together as "therapy" could fill the bill.

If you read the threads on the various Aikido and even other martial arts websites, there is a difference in tone between the "secularists" who just focus on technique and don't care about anything else other than being able to defeat another fighter and those who look at their practice as a form of internal training and/or have done or are doing some other form of internal practice. I have met some very tough fighters who are incrdibly knowledgeable about combat related techniques and issues whom I wouldn't want to use for a role model in any way. They are just tough guys. In some cases, pretty nasty tough guys.

It is the spiritual component of ones practice which keeps one from devolving into just some fighter whose claim to faim is that he can demolish other human beings.

Bronson 11-29-2004 11:11 AM

Re: Budo and Buddhism
 
Quote:

Charles Hill wrote:
I also recommend Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master by Hosokawa Dogen. Omori Sogen was a Buddhist priest, calligrapher and sword teacher. Also good is John Stevens` The Sword of No Sword, which is a biography of Yamaoka Tesshu.

WOOHOO!! found a new first edition of Omori Sogen... on Half.com for $25!! Barnes and Noble wants something like $90. Was also able to pick up The Sword of No-sword for $4.99....I love web shopping.

Bronson


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