Talk:Japanese Zen

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Copied from Talk:Zen#Proposal: separate pages for Chán and Zen[edit]

I'd like to re-open an old discussion: separate pages for Chán and Zen. There is a lot more to say on Japanese Zen then there is now on the page. Here is my proposal. Technically it would mean to move the Chán-information to the Chán-page, removing the specific Zen-information on this page (except for the 'Zen in Japan-section'), and copying my proposal to the Zenpage. Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 10:16, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion, there should be a general page that covers all traditions, similar to what we have now, and a separate page to cover details and extra information about Japanese Zen Buddhism. Just my two cents. That seems like what you have going so far, and the proposed page looks pretty good. Tengu800 13:15, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree, I think the Zen page should be the general page that covers the general topic as a summary regarding the subject, with separate articles (as necessary) devoted to the specifics of Chinese Chán, Japanese Zen, and other relevant additional information (because unless I'm misreading something, the Chinese Chán school would, at least in the English Wikipedia, very likely would be named Zen per WP:COMMONNAME anyways). - SudoGhost 07:12, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for mentioning the SPLIT-page! I'll read it, think it over once again, and apply the necessary templates. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 07:32, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Better distinction betweeen Soto and Rinzai?[edit]

Good start on this article! I just wanted to point out that it doesn't mention Nōnin, who actually introduced Zen before Dogen and Eisai. Nonin's article needs some work too! Also, the history bit doesn't really differentiate well between Rinzai and Soto. I can see, knowing the background already, that there is some intention to do this, but I think someone without prior knowledge would get confused by the Muromachi Period section, for example. I would propose treating them separately, because they have basically been separate since their introduction to Japan. Perhaps instead of just a "History" section, split it into "History of the Rinzai School" and "History of the Soto School", or alternatively, have a separate subsubsection for each school under each historical period subsection. Or perhaps the text could just be altered to make it clearer. DJLayton4 (talk) 02:20, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

Hi Djlayton4. I've added Nonin to the text. Thanks!
Concerning the difference between Soto and Rinzai: I would prefer to keep the various periods as main building blocks, to make it clear that Zen developed within a historical and societal context. As far as I know, it wasn't until the 17th century that Soto and Rinzai were seen as clearly separate schools and institutions, due to governemntal inference (McRae 2003).
The clear distinction is not so clear; this is maybe more like an ideal-picture painted by contemporary institutions:

Excessively concerned with seeing Soto Zen as a single, unified school, they [Japanese scholars] have been hesitant to consider any evidence that might question the uniqueness of Zen as a whole (Faure (2000), Visions of power, p.3)

There have also been influences of Pure Land, and even syncretistic forms! D.T. Suzuki himself turned to Pure Land in later life.
And to make it even more complicated: there have been more schools, which are extinct now. For this reason, there is a section on contemporary Zen organisations.
But, of course, providing more information on both schools would be good. Extensive information could also be given in the main articles on Soto and Rinzai.
Again a barrage of remarks, quotes and citations... Keep on pushing, that's good! It forces to think and write carefully, and to check sources. Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 08:14, 20 December 2011 (UTC)
Interesting! It doesn't surprise me that contemporary viewpoints have been distorted over time to suit a nice account of history. Is there anything to the oft cited claim that Rinzai was historically more associated with the samurai aristocracy and Soto with farmers? A book I've been reading by Albert Welter (2011), as well as some of his other work, suggests that, much like you say the distinction between Soto and Rinzai has been overemphasized, the historical record of Zen/Chan in general overemphasizes the Rinzai/Linji approach because of its close association with the aristocracy (i.e. the people writing history). He often refers to this as the "Chan orthodoxy". One of his essay, he problem with orthodoxy in Zen Buddhism: Yongming Yanshou’s notion of zong in the Zongjin lu (Records of the Source Mirror), is available online and worth a read. It deals with earlier Chinese history, but if Rinzai was, like people often say, associated with the wealthier classes, I wouldn't be surprised if Japanese Zen history too is Rinzai-biased. I'm of course not suggesting we add any original research, but I imagine some sources to this effect are possibly around. DJLayton4 (talk) 23:41, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

To be honest, I know very little of the institutional history of Rinzai and Soto. But I've also read that Rinzai was more associated with the upper classes. Tengu800, what do you know about this? But, I did read this morning (due to your previous comments) part of Dumoulin on the beginnings of the Edo-periode; the Zen-schools came under strict governmental rule then, and were forced to systematize themselves in schools. Should be intersting to add this information, though not now; my family requests their fair share of time and attention. Happy Christmas! Joshua Jonathan (talk) 07:40, 24 December 2011 (UTC)