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What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?$
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Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190622596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190622596.001.0001

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Enlightenment and the Moral Dimension of Zen Training

Enlightenment and the Moral Dimension of Zen Training

Chapter:
(p.92) 5 Enlightenment and the Moral Dimension of Zen Training
Source:
What Is Buddhist Enlightenment?
Author(s):

Dale S. Wright

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190622596.003.0006

“Enlightenment and the Moral Dimension of Zen Training” responds to critical accusations that the roles played by some Japanese Zen masters in the Second World War were morally deficient. The criticism extends to the allegation that their enlightenment did not prevent these Zen leaders from active participation in the nation’s ruthless military aggression against neighboring countries and that after the war some Zen masters made public statements that expressed an inexcusable indifference to the pain and suffering their actions helped cause. This chapter thus inquires into the role of morality in Zen training and finds that concern for morality does not play a substantial role in Zen training. The chapter also evaluates what that realization implies about the character of enlightenment in Zen and concludes with open suggestions about how Zen practice might expand to more effectively encompass the moral sphere of human life central to the Buddhist tradition.

Keywords:   Second World War, Zen training, morality, military aggression, Japanese Zen

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