Meido wrote:Does the fact that the quote you provide does not have as its subject ethics or precepts make it in fact amoral, as you claim?
It certainly sounds amoral --meaning that it sounds neither moral nor immoral, but leaves its morality as something fairly ambiguous. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on one's point of view, but ambiguous Zen writing can be misinterpreted so easily. Classic texts shouldn't be rewritten, but modern Zen teachers might want to keep this in mind when they write articles so that fewer readers develop incorrect and immoral interpretations of their writings.
The way I read this article, it seems to celebrate the samurai--who kicked a lot of a##--therefore, it seems to imply that it might also be just fine for a modern person to fearlessly and confidently go and kick lots of a##. It leaves this question open, but it certainly doesn't imply the opposite!
Meido wrote:Again, Zen as universal samurai religion is a historical fallacy (not to deny the pervasive cultural impact of Zen in Japan).
I'm somewhat aware of that, but yet many foolish and incorrect articles continue to be written about Zen and the samurai, such as this one, which refers to the article I posted earlier (which is how I found it originally).http://suite101.com/article/how-zen-mad ... ss-a159718
But yet, I don't see modern Zen teachers making an active effort to tell people that Zen doesn't have much to do with the samurai. A lot of Zen teachers seem to truly enjoy being associated with the samurai and don't seem to mind the marketing they get from flawed samurai articles.
Meido wrote:But aside from that common misperception what exactly is wrong with what you quoted? I see no apologetics for any kind of immorality there at all.
What I object to is the worshipful, uncritical tone with which the roshi talks about samurai--it's as if the roshi believes that the samurai can do no wrong.
He also only writes about it from the perspective of harm which can befall the individual samurai in question and doesn't at all address the fact that the job of the samurai also involves killing lots of people in battles. He writes about it as if being a samurai is an activity like rock climbing which is only dangerous to the individual doing it and which doesn't harm others.
It would be the same thing if an American Zen teacher were always talking about how awesome American commandos are: yes, they have some impressive qualities, but it's a bit contradictory for Buddhist teachers to continually celebrate warriors, isn't it?
BTW, I started a new thread: "Are samurai good symbols of Zen Buddhism?"viewtopic.php?f=69&t=13802&p=180080#p180080
Meido wrote:Assuming we are not here engaging in a historical examination of the actual strengths and weaknesses of Japanese medieval and later feudal culture: the jump from the quote you cite to talk of modern serial killers is something I'm just not getting.
The point is how easily many Zen articles can be misinterpreted in immoral ways due to the fact that they focus on qualities which can seemingly
be developed without having any ethics at all.