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Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics (review)

Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics (review) BOOK REVIEWS Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics. By Christopher Ives. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2009. $52.00. ReviewedbyJames Mark Shields BucknellUniversity While there has been a surge in scholarship on Imperial Way Buddhism (kd Bukky) in the past several decades, little attention has been paid, particularly in Western scholarship, to the life and work of Ichikawa Hakugen (1902­1986), the mostprominentandsophisticatedpostwarcriticoftheroleofBuddhism,andpar ticularlyZen,inmodernJapanesemilitarism.Bywayofathoroughandcriticalin vestigationofIchikawa'scritique,Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics by Christopher Ives seeks to provide answers to a number of important questions regarding Zen ethics in the context of modern Japan. Particularly fruitful is Ives' discussion, in chapter 7, of the re sourceswithinZenforacontemporaryZenethicbasedinwhathecalls"prophetic critique." Thefirstchapter,somewhatsardonicallytitled"UsefulBuddhism,"providesthe contextinwhichImperialWayZenemergedinthedecadesfollowingtheMeijiRes toration.Whileitservesitspurposeinthisregard,myconcernisthatitpaintsapic turethatisratherunidirectional.AlthoughIdonotthinkitwastheauthor'sintentto collapseallformsof"modern"or"new"BuddhismofthelateMeijiintothebroader "ImperialWay"stream,thisishowtherapidfirenarrativeinthefirsthalfofthechap tersometimesreads.Partoftheproblemhereistheapplicationofbroadtermslike "nationalism,""loyalty,"and"patriotism,"theprecisemeaningandimplicationsof which are notoriously vague and, at any rate, had certainly changed between the MeijiandShwaperiods.Evenwiththisreservation,thechapterprovidesauseful capsulesummaryofthehistoryofJapaneseBuddhismfromtheearlyMeijiperiod throughtheearlyShwa. Chapters2and3bringthereadertotheheartofIchikawaHakugen'sanalysis and critique of ImperialWay Zen. Here, Ives does the reader a favor by breaking downIchikawa'scomplexandmanysidedargumentintofourfoci:"theepistemo logical,metaphysical,sociological,andhistoricaldimensionsofZen."Insum,Ichi kawapresentstheoriginsandearlydevelopmentofZen(Chan)inChinaintermsof asortof"escape"fromthetensionsandfragilitiesofthechaosanduncertaintyof theworld.Overthecenturies,viadoctrinesespousing"nondiscrimination,""non duality,""noncontention,"and"nonchoosing,"Zenwouldbecome,formanyChi nese(andlaterJapanese)"elites,"awayoffinding"peaceofmind"(Chin.anxin;Jpn. anshin)(p.60).Assuch,Ichikawaargues,theZenawakeningorsatori experience, inflected with Chinese Daoist principles of adaptability, emerges as a "peaceful" afirmationofthewaythingsare,bereftofanyneedforchangeorcriticism(p.62). f PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number1January2012128­130 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress Moreover,asIvescomments,intherhetoricof"becomingone"withthings,the "epistemologicaldistance"necessaryforcriticismisnonexistent(p.68).(Theargu ment here is virtually identical to the Critical Buddhist discussion and critique of "topicalism"inthe1990s.)IchikawaextendsthiscritiquefrommedievalChinato modern Japan, where it lands squarely http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 62 (1) – Jan 1, 2012

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Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics. By Christopher Ives. Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2009. $52.00. ReviewedbyJames Mark Shields BucknellUniversity While there has been a surge in scholarship on Imperial Way Buddhism (kd Bukky) in the past several decades, little attention has been paid, particularly in Western scholarship, to the life and work of Ichikawa Hakugen (1902­1986), the mostprominentandsophisticatedpostwarcriticoftheroleofBuddhism,andpar ticularlyZen,inmodernJapanesemilitarism.Bywayofathoroughandcriticalin vestigationofIchikawa'scritique,Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics by Christopher Ives seeks to provide answers to a number of important questions regarding Zen ethics in the context of modern Japan. Particularly fruitful is Ives' discussion, in chapter 7, of the re sourceswithinZenforacontemporaryZenethicbasedinwhathecalls"prophetic critique." Thefirstchapter,somewhatsardonicallytitled"UsefulBuddhism,"providesthe contextinwhichImperialWayZenemergedinthedecadesfollowingtheMeijiRes toration.Whileitservesitspurposeinthisregard,myconcernisthatitpaintsapic turethatisratherunidirectional.AlthoughIdonotthinkitwastheauthor'sintentto collapseallformsof"modern"or"new"BuddhismofthelateMeijiintothebroader "ImperialWay"stream,thisishowtherapidfirenarrativeinthefirsthalfofthechap tersometimesreads.Partoftheproblemhereistheapplicationofbroadtermslike "nationalism,""loyalty,"and"patriotism,"theprecisemeaningandimplicationsof which are notoriously vague and, at any rate, had certainly changed between the MeijiandShwaperiods.Evenwiththisreservation,thechapterprovidesauseful capsulesummaryofthehistoryofJapaneseBuddhismfromtheearlyMeijiperiod throughtheearlyShwa. Chapters2and3bringthereadertotheheartofIchikawaHakugen'sanalysis and critique of ImperialWay Zen. Here, Ives does the reader a favor by breaking downIchikawa'scomplexandmanysidedargumentintofourfoci:"theepistemo logical,metaphysical,sociological,andhistoricaldimensionsofZen."Insum,Ichi kawapresentstheoriginsandearlydevelopmentofZen(Chan)inChinaintermsof asortof"escape"fromthetensionsandfragilitiesofthechaosanduncertaintyof theworld.Overthecenturies,viadoctrinesespousing"nondiscrimination,""non duality,""noncontention,"and"nonchoosing,"Zenwouldbecome,formanyChi nese(andlaterJapanese)"elites,"awayoffinding"peaceofmind"(Chin.anxin;Jpn. anshin)(p.60).Assuch,Ichikawaargues,theZenawakeningorsatori experience, inflected with Chinese Daoist principles of adaptability, emerges as a "peaceful" afirmationofthewaythingsare,bereftofanyneedforchangeorcriticism(p.62). f PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number1January2012128­130 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress Moreover,asIvescomments,intherhetoricof"becomingone"withthings,the "epistemologicaldistance"necessaryforcriticismisnonexistent(p.68).(Theargu ment here is virtually identical to the Critical Buddhist discussion and critique of "topicalism"inthe1990s.)IchikawaextendsthiscritiquefrommedievalChinato modern Japan, where it lands squarely

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 1, 2012

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