Talk:Hakuun Yasutani

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Hello Friends,

I made some changes in this article to bring it more in line with NPOV. Articles about religious subjects and persons should be written from a neutral point of view, not from the viewpoint of an adherent of the sect in question or a follower of the person in question. I do not believe the word 'lineage' is neutral in this regard and have changed it to the more neutral 'sect' or 'religious order.' I also made some factual clarifications regarding this man's name. "Hakuun" is his religious name. His original name is as I've corrected it. Although characterizing him as the first 'abbot' of the SBKD is not, strictly speaking, inaccurate, I believe it is implied hagiography since the word carries the connotation of his being head of a large, widely recognized temple or denomination, which SBKD is not. The main dojo of this sect is, after all, still located at a private home. --Gunnermanz (talk) 06:51, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Add citations and more content[edit]

This biography needs more content, neutrality, citations and references. Please, help to improve it. Thanks. Spt51 (talk) 16:26, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

References to Sōtō School by Jaffe[edit]

Greetings everyone,

Some time ago I placed a tag requesting a source for the allegation that: " Japan Sōtō Zen practice had become rather methodical and ritualistic....' Thanks to whoever entered the Jaffe reference. I had questioned the relevancy of what I suspected was a bit of nitpicking of alleged Sōtō defects, but if I may I'd like to explain why I feel a bit exasperated at reading a comment like this. Yasutani was the founder of the Sanbō Kyōdan. But anyone, such as myself, who has been to the Sanbō Kyōdan 'house' in Kamakura and participated in Zen meetings there, will know that the activities there are by any measure comparatively ritualistic, and in my judgment, if anything more 'ritualistic' than the activities conducted at any other Zen meeting one might participate in here in Japan, whether the open Zazenkai at Zōji-ji Sōtō temple in Kawasaki or the Eiheji-betsuin temple in Tokyo.

This is by no means to criticize Sanbō Kyōdan. After all, while I'm a skeptic and adopt a strictly scientific view of the universe, I have no objection to ritual and fully understand the comfort which ceremonies and chanting provide for many people. Which is the second reason why I'm confused as to the relevance of this implication that Yasutani had heroically fought to root out some heresy in Japanese Zen and set it back on the right path. Since when is ritual per se a basis for being criticized, particularly for a religious school?

I rather suspect this statement attempts to convey a different and more serious implication, namely that Sōtō ritual indicated some kind of degeneration or corruption, but that the User in question could not find a more damning source for the charge. I say this because this allegation is suspiciously similar to a more serious one made by Philip Kapleau on page 271 of his book The Three Pillars of Zen (Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1965, hardback edition). In his biographical note on Harada Sōgaku preceding the section on Yaeko Iwasaki, he writes: "Probably more than anyone else in his time [Harada] revitalized, through his profound spiritual insight, the teachings of Dogen-zenji, which had been steadily drained of their vigor through the shallow understanding of priests and scholars of the Soto sect in whose hands their exposition had hitherto rested.'

But I submit to you, my friends, how do we know Kapleau's allegation is true? Are we to assume it is true merely because he said it and constitutes some kind of final authority on the issue? Or because Harada and Yasutani are themselves such final authorites? When seen against the background of what Brian Victoria has fully documented about these men, I am at somewhat befuddled by trivial allegations of 'ritual' and even 'incorrect' religious interpretation and implied heresy. Of course, if one wants so say that Yasutani believed this or that, fine. But I nevertheless find this statement suspiciously similar to that of Kapleau, a religious devotee clearly lionizing his 'masters.' Brian Victoria has clearly shown there were many more facts about these men that Kapleau was certainly aware of but chose to omit from his book. Kapleau's statement, incidentally, preceded a section on letters between Harada and Yaeko Iwasaki. Her life as described by Kapleau was deeply moving. Nevertheless, readers with some knowledge of Japanese history will remember that the Iwasaki family headed the Mitsubishi Zabatsu. Kapleau only mentioned that Yaeko was 'a scion of the founder of the wealthy Mitsubishi industrial combine' (p. 270). He does not mention that this 'combine,' otherwise known as Mitsubishi Zaibatsu, was a monopoly at that very time helping to build the industry and weapons of Japanese imperialism and employing forced Asian labor to do so. I think it no coincidence that the Harada which Victoria revealed should be a close friend of a family vigorously engaged in the promotion of colonialism, militarism and economic injustice.

Innocent sounding statements only sound innocent when presented outside of a deeper context which would otherwise give lay readers a fuller and, I submit, more balanced and sober understanding. When they are removed from this context, it is not always for some sinister agenda. But sometimes it is. We must be on our guard.

So, I submit to you, let us be critical of our sources. Books and authors must be read with a critical eye. Likewise, we must bear in mind that when it comes to issues such as art and above all religion, there is no final 'authority' for anyone but an adherent of the sect in question who accepts unquestioningly the interpretation of scriptural dogma, revelation or 'enlightenment' dictated by one 'master' or another.

--Gunnermanz (talk) 05:09, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

False Statements[edit]

This article has been amended to say: "At this time in Japan Sōtō Zen practice had become rather methodical and ritualistic." A footnote is provided as if to lend this false statement authority. No remarks have been made in the Discussion page to justify these changes. This article is no longer neutral and I will place an NPOV tag unless someone can explain these changes on the discussion page. --Gunnermanz (talk) 14:03, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Political views[edit]

Moved from User talk:Halfmonk

Hi Halfmonk. It's clear that you object the section on Yasutani's political views, but it would be appreciated if you would explain what your objections are, so they can be worked in, if necessary. So, what are your objections? Joshua Jonathan (talk) 15:46, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Joshua. I did not realize that it was possible and also required to leave an edit summary. I apologize for not understanding the process.
The accusations of extremist political views and anti-Semitism were made by Brian Victoria. Brian Victoria has been accused by the Sokka GakKai and other Japanese Buddhist institutions of selectively editing and misquoting original written sources in Japan for the purpose of his provocative and slanderous articles and books about Japanese Buddhist teachers. Many of Victoria's accusations have been refuted in Japan and Victoria has been discredited as an objective source on this subject.
Every American Zen Buddhist teacher of note has written articles and responses to Victoria accusations about Yasutani Roshi, setting the record straight in this country. If the negative and specious claims about Japanese Buddhists during WWII are going to be posted in Wikipedia, then the comments which refute those claims should also be included. Whoever is writing entries is clearly biased and not objective.
Through the 60s until his death, Yasutani Roshi was a pivotal figure in bringing the living practice of Zen Buddhism to the west. Without acknowledgement of his transformation, the Wikipedia entry is not only provocative, it borders on disingenuous. If Wikipedia intends to be a legitimate source of information, then a balanced and complete approach is paramount.
G.E. Stinson (User name: halfmonk)
I have been a practicing Zen Buddhist for over 35 years. Starting with Kongo Roshi at the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago. Moving to LA, I continued my practice with William Yoshin Jordan, successor of Jikyo Sensei. I am continuing my practice with William Nyogen Yeo, Roshi, Dharma successor of Maezumi Roshi.

Hi Halfmonk/Stinson. There has indeed been criticism of Brian Victoria's writings. Yet, the procedure on Wikipedia is not to remove sourced information, but to complement it with additional information, especially if there is dispute on the accuracy. In the case of Yasutani, there has been quite some dispute before yet. The section on his political views isn't neutral either; terms as "vitriol" are definately not neutral - and not sourced either. That's also a "rule of the game" at Wikipedia: not personal opinions, but summaries of sourced information. In the case of Yasutani, it is definately of interest for other readers to read about these various opinions. So would I like to ask you to reverse your own removals, and to complement it with counter-statements and sources. By the way, you're not this G. E. Stinson, are you? Friendly regards, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 20:26, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

I've been going through the article, adding info on Yasutani's political views, with "Zen at war" at hand and the thezensite standby. what I've added is, I hope, more neutral, yet factual and relevant. Most important is the statement by Kubota Ji'un; if he says so, who are we to doubt - let alone remove? Joshua Jonathan (talk) 22:03, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

Joshua, Thanks for that info. Now I understand. Still fumbling through the technical aspect of the process. I am not sure how to revert the entry to it's former state. Would it be possible for you to do that?

I am THAT G.E. Stinson. Are you familiar with my music? Unfortunately, my wikipedia entry is fairly meager. Also due to my lack of skills in Wiki world.
g.e. aka halfmonk — Preceding unsigned comment added by Halfmonk (talkcontribs) 23:49, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

I've added still more info, in a critical but hopefully balanced way, representing different views. I think it's important for us westerners to have access to this info, because it shows there is no simple "black or white" - nor the white of perfect Zen masters, nor the black of 100% "wrong" people. After all, we are all human, with all our human faults. It seems to me that Zen is not, or should not be, about creating perfect humans, but about trying to stay in control of our less-than-perfect sides, which we also embody. That's not a matter of working out unconscious forces et cetera and getting rid of them, but of seeing through the nice and neat stories we create, and the courage to live with the disappointments that come with this seeing through. Pffff, so far for the preaching. Peace to you too. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 11:28, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

  • thumbs up Great! to see both of you have handled the situation well and the article is in much better shape --ÐℬigXЯaɣ 18:35, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Excessively Harsh Accusations[edit]

The following comments are intended to help other users assess the objectivity of the present article.

User Halfmonk has made several personal accusations in the foregoing discussion about Professor Brian Victoria. He accuses Victoria of dishonesty, provocation and slander and goes on to claim that Victoria has been discredited as an objective source.

I believe the gentleman would be well served to consider that, quite apart from the fact that it is ethically questionable, making public personal accusations in such a tone against someone without providing evidence says more about the accuser than the accused. Indeed, in the present context, it arouses suspicion of religious fundamentalism.

What most disturbs me is that User Halfmonk seems all too ready to treat accusations as evidence of actual guilt. This is the kind of thinking that animates inquisitions and lynch mobs.

I invite the gentleman to visit the Talk page for the entry on Zen at War, where he will find evidence that I have provided regarding Victoria's alleged misquotation and/or mistranslation. I'm afraid, however, that the evidence shows that the charges against Professor Victoria are spurious.

User Halfmonk asks us to believe that Victoria has been discredited by "[e]very American Zen Buddhist teacher." Even if this remarkable claim were true, one then wonders why Sanbō Kyōdan itself issued an apology in direct response to Victoria's book. Anyone who has not read it may Google the following text in whole of part: "Apology for What the Founder of the Sanbo-Kyodan, Haku'un Yasutani Roshi, Said and Did During World War II."

This statement reveals Kubota Rōshi to be a sincere and honorable man indeed. It does not, by any means, show that Zen practitioners in Japan regard Victoria's book Zen at War as either false or slanderous. It shows the opposite.

I'm not going to chide User Halfmonk if he does not read Japanese. But he should be warned that he will earn no one's respect by making personal attacks on Victoria without learning Japanese so he can see for himself that Victoria is not lying. I came to Japan in 1976 to study at Waseda University and practice Zen with Sanbō Kyōdan. I became disillusioned with Zen not for anything the kind people at Sanbō Kyōdan did but for the appalling things I was reading in Japanese language books I found in used bookstores written by Zen and other Buddhist priests before and during the war. I know what Victoria says is true because I have read it with my own eyes. If no Japanese writers are accusing Victoria of lying, I suggest it is because they can read Japanese and know that he is not.

Yes, Victoria has ruffled some feathers, not because he is lying but because he has violated a taboo by exposing the wrongdoings of "sempai." But that is an issue of Japanese culture, not scholarly integrity. In fact, this aspect of Japanese culture, called "kūki" (空気 lit. "air," and meaning "don't make waves") is often lamented by Japanese themselves, Yamamoto Shichihei, for example. It has long hampered creativity in Japanese industry and research. That is only one reason the Japanese are not proud of it and don't really like it. But it is hard for them to escape from it, which is precisely why they often welcome "gaiatsu" (外圧) to cut through the kūki red-tape, whether in business, bureaucracy, and yes, scholarly research. I'll wager there are plenty of Japanese who are glad Victoria wrote his book but are keeping their mouths firmly shut. [One caveat: I don't mean to say kūki is unique to Japan. It is just as ubiquitous in the West. It exists anywhere that groups use the unstated, thinly veiled threat of recrimination against anyone who questions the dominant view, whether in the form of ideological doctrine (in politics or the academy), religious dogma or the utterances of the 'master' or hierarchy in control of one religious cult or another. Gunnermanz (talk) 05:34, 8 April 2013 (UTC)]

In 1937, Yasutani wrote a book called "The Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the Jewish Conspiracy" (「支那事変とユダヤ人の陰謀」 under the name Yasutani Sōgen or Sōken (安谷宗虔), published by Dōaikai (同愛会) . Anyone can find and read this book in the National Diet Library, and I think you can guess from the title what's in it. Anyone thinking of making further personal attacks against Professor Victoria ought to first consider reading this book—or any of the many others like it.

Professor Victoria organized and demonstrated in Japan against a cruel, immoral war being waged by his own country in Vietnam. Yasutani did the opposite—not because he was a devil but because, for all the nonsense we hear about "muga" or no-self in Zen, there is nothing in Zen practice which saves a person from being caught up in what many now call "we-go" or the fanatical collective self-delusion of social narcissism and extreme chauvinism and in the drunken stupor of that mentality to justify to himself and others the most atrocious barbarism. Zen 'masters' like to say smugly 'The world is one.' In one wartime book, Yasutani wrote 'Asia is One' in order to justify the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. That is the very definition of moral cynicism and the betrayal of everything good in Buddhism.

It is only in the _ethical_ teachings of the Buddha that one is armed against this delusion: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-Fold Path. Alas, in my experience, Japanese or for that matter Chinese Zen places little if any emphasis on this ethical side—even though the original question of the Buddha was _not_ the narcissistic "who am I" but rather the compassionate "why is there suffering?"

It should therefore come as no surprise that I do not believe thirty-five years of Zen practice qualifies a person for anything other than contemplating his navel, and it certainly is no substitute for evidence. Gunnermanz (talk) 17:43, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Rotten links: help a noob[edit]

Hello everyone! There are some rotten links in that {{Zen Lineage Hakuun Yasutani}} at ==Influence==. Could someone please advise a noob how to acces that one? :P Thanks! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 20:09, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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