Pu Shi Institute for Social Science: Moving beyond the Distortions of Modern Japanese Zen
Authors: Wang Zhihe (王治河) & Wu Yansheng (吴言生) LIGHTING THE WORLD WITH THE TRUTH! (Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Beijing: Japanese Officer exercising his - Zen Mind - c. 1900
Translator’s Note: Analysing Japanese Zen is not an attack upon Japanese culture. Christians, for instance, criticise one another’s lineages all the time usually upon points of theological interpretation and ecclesiastical history. This is the case despite Judeo-Christian history being strewn with massacres, pogroms and expulsions, etc. The scholars of modern China have an identical right to comment upon how one of their key religious forms has been appropriated and misinterpreted overseas. Of course, the Chinese-Japanese historical situation is problematic in that so much of the unique identity of the latter emerged from the ancient cultural milieu of the former – even though the latter has displayed a violent racial hatred toward the former during the 20th century. It has been estimated that between 1931 – 1945 the Imperial Japanese Forces killed around 60 million men, women and children (more than the population of the United Kingdom) throughout Asia with the bulk of these War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity occurring within the Mainland of China during a fourteen-year-period (this can be compared to the estimated 60 million men, women and children killed by the European invasion and settlement of the Americas between 1492-1610, the 40 million causalities suffered in the USSR between 1941-1945 and a recent academic study which states that the US military has killed between 20-30 million people around the globe between 1945-present in pursuit of its geo-political aims).
These comparative observations are important to consider when taking into account the fact that the fascistic teachings of such War Criminals as DT Suzuki are not only still available in the West (having been historically emphasised by such British intellectuals as ‘Christmas Humphreys’ and ‘Alan Watts’, and the American celebrities Steve Jobs, Richard Aplert and Leonard Cohen amongst many others, and unquestionably pursued as Zen ‘lineages’ in the United States) and often in formats aimed directly at children! To date, the Japanese government refuses to acknowledge the historical crimes committed in its name, despite an ever-growing number of Japanese individuals (and Zen groups) openly admitting the true extent of the past horror and personally travelling to China to apologise and make amends. The Imperial Japanese Government, along with certain right-wing and far-right elements of the Japanese intelligentsia since 1868 (the Meiji Restoration) deliberately engaged in the systematic distortion and misrepresentation of ’Chan’ Buddhism so as to purge it of any obvious ‘Chinese’ elements and make it (as ‘Japanese Zen’) into a highly effective ‘brain-washing’ device designed to create mindless killers throughout the Japanese military.
This was part of a plan to recruit millions of poorly educated peasants into a rapidly expanding Japanese Army and to train these men to view themselves as being racially superior to every non-Japanese person – with the Chinese people being the lowest representation of an ‘inferior’ race. This ‘new’ Zen taught that killing the racially inferior was nothing but a blameless act of good ethnic house-keeping, and the more it happened abroad – the stronger a Japanese homeland would become! Ironically, for the first-time in history this type of ‘racist’ attitude was aimed by an Asian people toward those of European descent (and explains the brutal treatment the Western POWs received at the hands of their Japanese captors during WWII – a brutality often justified in the War Crimes Trials that followed Japan’s defeat as being ‘Zen-like’ by those who perpetuated them!). Unbelievably, following WWII, the US government encouraged the retainment of this type of distorted Zen and its exportation to the West as a means to alienate China and the Chinese diaspora due to the Chinese Socialist Revolution of 1949.
Today, despite many Western academics joining an increasing number of Japanese scholars exposing this policy of Cold War misrepresentation – many Westerners still participate in this ‘false’ Zen that has no connection with the older and authentic (pre-1868) Japanese Zen, or any lineal association with authentic Chinese Chan. This is a type of extravagant ‘play’ involving one culture appropriating and mimicking the content of another. Many uninformed US scholars still perpetuate the racist lies that Buddhism was corrupted in China whilst dying-out a long time ago! Sensei Philip Kapleau (1812-2004) understood that there was a problem with Japanese Zen and did attempt to build bridges toward contemporary Chinese Chan. In this regard he fully recognised the value of Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) and Charles Luk (1898-1978) whilst teaching about the many other Chinese teachers – pointing-out the falsity of the idea that Chinese Buddhism died-out because it was corrupt. Master Xu Yun personally lived through the barbarism unleashed by the Imperial Japanese Army and was adamant that this behaviour was due to so-called Zen Buddhist ‘monks’ in Japan refusing to follow the Vinaya Discipline (a problem that historically pre-existed 1868) whilst donning robes and assuming the air of a monastic - when in fact they are nothing but lay-people in robes that do not even keep the first five precepts!
This is a false model of Zen Buddhism still replicated all over the world today. From a Buddhist perspective, this is the very foundation of ‘dishonesty’ which leads to all other moral deficiencies (even ‘killing’). Many Westerners are unaware that Japan exports another type of ‘modified’ distorted Zen that has been purged of its most obvious anti-Western ‘racism’! Whereas within domestic Japanese Zen Westerners are treated with the same disdain with which Chinese people are treated – this racism is ‘played-down’ on the international stage as it is considered bad for business. Genuine Chan and Zen training signals the end of ALL fantasy in the mind. For practical purposes the path toward enlightenment has three distinct stages a) chaos (ordinary mind), b) stillness (Hinayana Enlightenment) and c) expanded awareness (Mahayana Enlightenment). When the turmoil of the surface mind is ‘stilled’ all this pointless and self-deluding verbiage comes to an immediate end. This is the enlightenment of the Hinayana School. Whilst effectively looking into the psychic fabric of this realised state - the bottom of the barrel will eventually drop-out and the perceptual awareness will expand and become ‘all-embracing’. When ‘form’ and ‘emptiness’ are properly understood and thoroughly integrated, then all contradictions are reconciled into ‘not one’ and ‘not two’ (the fourth and fifth roundel positions found in the Caodong schematic) - and an enlightened being exists neither attached to the state of profound emptiness nor hindered by material phenomena. This is the enlightenment of the Mahayana School. Master Xu Yun warns that a Chan practitioner must not fall into the non-descript state of ‘dull emptiness’, or the state of the ‘dead void’ - which is exactly the one-sided void advocated by the teaching of the distorted Japanese Zen and which is the subject of the following (translated) scholarly article from Mainland China. ACW (9.12.2021)
Keywords: Japanese Zen, Chinese Chan, Zen Methodology, Process Philosophy, Japanese Militarism, Moral Nihilism
Summary: Although most Japanese Zen masters choose to remain silent, and a considerable number of Japanese Zen masters conceal or even deny it in every possible way, it is an indisputable fact that Japanese Zen became a supporter and even an accomplice of Japanese imperialism during World War II. Why did Buddhism, which advocates compassion, degenerate into a "religion of killing" in Japan, and why did Zen become an avid supporter of (and accomplice to) the crimes of Japanese militarism? This article believes that it is because of the Japanese Zen masters’ misunderstanding of (Chinese) Chan, especially the equating the essence of Zen with a one-side and shallow "voidness" and "nothingness", together the obscuration of the compassionate dimension of Chan-Zen that has led to the inherent limitations of Japanese Zen, including a cultural chauvinism and cultural racist bias inherent within Japanese Zen. Furthermore, the mistaken emphasis upon moral nihilism led directly toward violence against harmony and balance within society and nature. It is these inherent flaws that enabled Japanese Zen to be a perfect accomplice of Japanese militarism. On the basis of analysing the flaws of Japanese Zen, this article starts from the perspective of Chinese Chan and proposes a way to surpass the historical and existential problems presented by Japanese Zen. These include: Chinese Chan’s emphasis upon an all-embracing non-discriminating mind as a means to the overcoming of Japanese Zen’s cultural chauvinism (and racism), Chinese Chan’s manifestation of an all-embracing compassionate mind as a means to transcend Japanese Zen’s moral nihilism, and Chinese Chan’s all-embracing (and all-reflecting) ‘mirror-samadhi’ awareness as a means to generate boundless acceptance (and tolerance) to transcend Japanese Zen’s tendency to embrace violence and militarism.
1. What happened to Japanese Zen?
The war of foreign aggression launched by Japanese militarism in the last century not only brought huge disasters to the people of Asia (including China), but also caused tens of millions of Asian people to lose their lives, countless families to lose loved ones, and the ordinary Japanese people themselves to become victims of war. According to Hirata's expression:
‘With the fall of Okinawa in April 1945, the Japanese people slowly awakened and realized how stupid it is to support the war! In order to end the war as soon as possible, many military academies did not hesitate to commit suicide in extreme forms to end their lives.’
The heart-breaking suicide notes left by these young people fully testify to their desire for peace. How did Japan embark on the road of militarism? What made historically simple and honest farmers transform into murderous demons? What role did Buddhism, especially Japanese Zen, play in this process? These are major issues that urgently require serious consideration. Although some Japanese Zen masters concealed or even denied it in every possible way, and most Japanese Zen masters chose to remain silent, it is an indisputable fact that Japanese Zen consciously or unconsciously became a shameful accomplice of Japanese militarism during World War II. Since the 1980s,
"Due to the exposure of the thinking of Heidegger in the West, the political meaning behind the thinking of Japanese Zen and depoliticized philosophers and scholars who have always been assumed to transcend the duality of good and evil - began to arouse the interest of Japanese and Western researchers alike. Attention in Japan as to the origins of World War II in the East, has brought the issue of the relationship between Buddhism and militarism to the forefront."
It is said that Heidegger admired the thinking of DT Suzuki, the main promoter of Japanese Zen in the West. He once said to his friend:
"If I understand this man correctly, this is exactly what all my writings have been trying to say."
World-renowned Zen scholars and Buddhist experts Brian Victoria, Christorpher Ives, and Ichikawa Shiraki, etc. in their "Zen in War", (which caused a sensation in the academic world) explain that a number of historical books - such as "Zen War Story", "Emperor’s Way of Zen", "Buddhist War Responsibilities" and other books - use a lot of detailed historical materials to prove to the world that as early as the 1920s it was the case that, "as a whole, Japanese Buddhism firmly supported Japan's Military and colonial policy". Among them, as the main manifestation of Japanese Buddhism, Japanese Zen played a very disgraceful role in Japan's foreign war of invasion and the Pacific War. This is because almost all the main leaders of Japanese Zen Buddhism become "enthusiastic supporters" of Japanese militarism and colonialism. Japanese Zen masters become popular with the military because of their emphasis upon militarism and their vigorous encouragement of killing. Some Japanese Zen masters went to the front line to personally encourage the killing. This involved ‘Japanese Army Zen Monks’ cheering for the Japanese army as its soldiers were driven to commit atrocities against unarmed civilians, some Zen masters prayed for the Japanese army and prayed for the well-being of the Empire in Japan, including "praying for the surrender of other countries." The Japanese Zen Temple also become the final shelter for many Class A war criminals.
At the same time, Zen theory became a powerful ideological weapon for Japanese militarism to mobilize for war, and the Zen training centre became a base camp for training Japanese samurai. Japanese Zen master Toshiaki Ishihara said that in essence "Zen and Bushido are the same thing." Let go and die without hesitation. Such a realm is the realm that Zen training is set to achieve. Japanese Major General Hiroichi Okubo completely agreed with Toshiaki Ishihara. He emphasized that “the samurai must be united with his superior, and he must actually become his superior. In the same way, he must become the order he accepts. In other words, his self must disappear". As early as before the Asia-Pacific War, all Japanese officers and soldiers were sent to receive this "spiritual education" of Bushido. This spiritual education was based on the metaphysics of the unity of Zen and the sword, and the unity of life and death. Once the training was completed, the Japanese soldiers were sent to the battlefield, where 3 million soldiers died "without self". At the same time, they also killed tens of millions of Chinese and other "selfless" enemies.
Even the high-profile Japanese cultural chauvinists and racists admit that Zen is a "product of China." During the Tang Dynasty (between 742-756 CE), the great Chinese monk Jianzhen (鉴真) travelled East to Japan and suffered tremendous hardships in the process. He did this to bring genuine Buddhism to Japan which he defined as advocating ‘compassion’. Many years later, the distorted Buddhism of a fascistic Japan was used to train sophisticated, fierce and brutal butchers, and in turn slaughter the people of China. "This is what the Chinese ancestors did not expect when they spread Buddhism to Japan." As Victoria asked: “Which doctrine of Buddha Shakyamuni made his followers a murderous warrior?” Indeed, so perverse did Japanese Zen become that even DT Suzuki's defender, Kemmyo Taira Sato had to admit: “Before and during the Second World War, the Japanese Zen and Buddhist groups as a whole deviated from the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, and acted to help the Japanese military and its brutality in China and other places.”
2. The theoretical limitations of Japanese Zen
Why did Buddhism, which advocates compassion, degenerate into a "killing religion" in Japan? Why did Zen become a supporter and accomplice of Japanese militarism? Some Japanese scholars blamed it on "Japanese Zen monks' ignorance of the international situation at the time"; some scholars believe it was "to counter the pressure and challenge of modernity since the enlightenment of the West"; some Western scholars blame it on Buddhism itself, claiming that Buddhism contains "structural violence". Although these analyses help us to fully analyse why Japanese Zen has become an accomplice of Japanese imperialism, it has not yet touched on the problems of Japanese Zen itself. As for some Western scholars who blame it on Buddhism itself, they cannot explain why this corruption involves both descendants of ‘Buddhism’ in general and ‘Zen’ in particular in Japan. Chinese Chan has not degenerated into a "killing religion", and Chinese Chan masters have not come to the point of becoming an accomplice of militarism – why is this? In our view, "If there is a problem in an era, it must be the philosophy of that era." It is the misinterpretation of Zen by modern Japanese Zen masters that made Japanese Zen an accomplice of Japanese militarism. From the perspective of Chinese Chan methodology, it is the Japanese Zen master's misinterpretation of Zen that caused the inherent limitations of Japanese Zen, which are mainly reflected in the following aspects.
(1) Japanese Cultural chauvinism and Racism are the foundation of Corrupt Zen: It should be pointed out that in introducing and promoting Zen to the Western world, some Japanese Zen masters, especially DT Suzuki, made great contributions, but the "cultural chauvinism" in their thoughts requires special vigilance. Because according to the Canadian scholar Schaff, DT Suzuki "never gave up his cultural chauvinism." In Suzuki's opinion, Chinese Chan Buddhism has long since died in Asia. It ceased to develop after the Song Dynasty, and pure Zen only exists in Japan today. Chinese Chan did not acquire its perfect form in Japanese Zen until it encountered the samurai culture of the Kamakura period. Japanese Zen "is the ultimate fact of all philosophies and religions. If any kind of intellectual effort is to bear any practical fruit, it must end with it, or it must begin with it." Based on this, Suzuki promoted the uniqueness and superiority of Japanese culture. He believed that Zen constitutes the basis of Japanese moral ethics, aesthetics and spiritual superiority, and emphasized that Japanese spirit is a more developed or refined pan-Asian spirit. "Only in Japan is the spirit of Asia fully realized". In his view, since Zen is the foundation of Asian spirit and the pure form of Zen is only preserved in Japan, Japan has the right and obligation to assume the role of Asian leader and "lead its backward brothers into the modern era." Suzuki's cultural chauvinism or Japanese centrism is not unique.
Many Japanese Buddhist leaders and Zen masters hold such a position. For example, a consensus among Japanese Buddhist circles is to divide the development of Buddhism into the India-China-Japan three stages, among which the Japanese stage is regarded as the "peak" of the development of Buddhism. According to the famous Zen master Nishitani, of the Kyoto School of Japan, traditional philosophies such as Buddhism and Confucianism are outdated, and they "leave us a complete emptiness of the spiritual base". According to another famous Japanese Zen master Harada Zuyue, "The spirit of Japan is the avenue of the gods. It is the main entity of the universe and the essence of truth. The Japanese are the chosen people and their mission is to control the world." People are "unruly pagans", so Japan should punish them "in the name of religion." In "What is Japanese and Chinese?" In the article, Linji scholar and Zen master Fukuba Baozhou believes: Chinese Chan masters have never fully realized the true meaning of Zen. That is to say, the understanding of Zen by the ancestors of Chinese Chan has always been fettered by the wrong cultural values of Chinese society. This erroneous cultural value has been unable to be overcome by the ancestors of Chinese Chan, and the social existence of Japanese society and its historical norms allow the nature of Zen to be "fully displayed." In the eyes of some Japanese Zen masters, the Japanese nation is the only true Buddhist nation among all nations in the world. For this reason, the burden of unifying Eastern and Western thinking and continuing to advance Eastern progress rests on the shoulders of this nation. According to Schaff, a well-known Canadian Buddhist expert, Japanese Zen emphasizes Zen as the foundation of Japanese culture with special intentions, because by emphasizing Zen as the foundation of Japanese culture, it cleverly "gives both a unique status and a unique direction to Japanese culture. "Universal status" can be described as killing two birds with one stone. However, "it is no coincidence that the Japanese Zen masters fully advocated how superior Japanese morality, aesthetics and spirituality are based on Zen. The 1930s were precisely the moment when the Japanese were preparing to expand their imperialism to East Asia and Southeast Asia." There is no doubt that Japanese Zen has been an accomplice of Japanese militarism here, intentionally or unintentionally.
(2) Moral nihilism: It is a major feature of Japanese Zen to equate the essence of Zen with one-sided "voidness" and dead "nothingness", which is also a fundamental limitation of it. This caused Japanese Zen to conceal the true essence of “compassion”, and to “de-moralize” it, leading to moral nihilism. In the eyes of many Japanese Zen leaders, a one-sided "voidness" is regarded as the "ultimate reality", as the "foundation" of Buddhism, the "basic principle of Zen", and "emptiness is the home of existence." The emphasis is upon a "voidness" that "provides the practical direction" for Japanese Zen. Masao Abe believes that this one-sided "voidness as the ultimate reality in Buddhism" and refers to "absolute nothingness" as the guiding moral (amoral) principle. According to the interpretation of Nishida, a benchmark figure of the Kyoto school, “it is called absolute nothingness, which means that it does not exist and all disappears within it. In this sense, it is opposed to the entire world of existence.” They emphasize that if "there is only voidness, then nothing can be produced", "only in the position of voidness, the bottomless position of every moment is realised and history can radically realize itself", and believe that "in absolute nothingness, existence and non-existence, value and non-value, rationality and irrationality, are all the same."
It is from this one-sided voidness ontology that Japanese Zen masters produced a "de-moralized understanding" of Zen, which led to the obscuration of the core value of Zen - which is compassion, and thus slipped into moral nihilism. The famous contemporary process philosopher Cobb once pointed out that his biggest dissatisfaction with Japanese Buddhism is its excessive emphasis on "voidness", equating Buddha nature with voidness, which undoubtedly should be viewed as a kind of wisdom and compassion, leading to "good and evil". The concept of "beyond" even developed to the point of directly defending war and the killing carried-out by Japanese soldiers. DT Suzuki clearly stated that Zen itself does not have any moral code of its own, nor does it have any moral bottom line. It is "extremely flexible" and can "adapt to almost any philosophy and moral doctrine." Therefore, "nothingness can serve as the foundation of any form of governance including fascism... Or any marriage of political or economic dogmatism." Obviously, Suzuki concealed the compassionate connotation of Zen either intentionally or unintentionally, and produced a "de-moralized" understanding of Zen.
According to another Japanese Zen master Ichikawa Shirato "Zen's 'non-attachment' leaves no room for responsibility." In other words, "to study the self is to forget the self", which means "not thinking of good or evil, thinking neither right nor wrong". Qin Luan also said: "I don't know what is good and what is evil." The famous contemporary Japanese Zen scholar Shigeo Kamada explained: Zen is really "non-emotional". It not only denies the difference between right and wrong, but also completely denies any form of morality within human relations. Following such a "de-moralized" interpretation of Zen, Japanese Zen has become a powerful "theoretical support" for Japanese militarism. A Japanese Zen master publicly defended the war of aggression against China. Master Nissan Jangshan claimed that the Sino-Japanese War was a self-sacrificing and just moral war. Through this war, we will rescue China from the danger of communism and economic enslavement, and we will help the Chinese people live. Therefore, I dare say that it is not unreasonable to call this war a holy war in the great practice of devoting yourself to the Bodhisattva. In Suzuki's eyes, Zen is "the religion of the samurai" because it does not care about justice or ethical behaviour, but is always ready by virtue of its own death instinct - even if the people do not receive formal samurai training, they can grasp its (killing) spirit at any time. Prepare to sacrifice for your ideals. Suzuki himself once admitted: “Whether it was before or after the September 18th Incident, all of us applauded and cheered for the growth of the empire. Although I heard that the incident itself was interspersed with intrigues, but to be honest, people like myself are not very interested in these.” Ironically, on the one hand, Japanese Zen masters such as Suzuki insisted that Zen "does not speak about right and wrong" is an absolute denial of good and evil, right or wrong, and advocates not to make judgments, but on the other hand, they openly express their love for some things. Hate, like their aversion to communism. For example, Suzuki wrote in 1948: I don't know where the word "red" comes from for communists, but it seems to come from the feeling that they are bloodthirsty. In the opinion of some Japanese Zen masters, unfairness or social injustice is not only justified, but also represents true equality. Therefore, in the eyes of these Japanese Zen masters, protecting a society with different social status is the most natural thing for Buddhism. This explains why they totally reject socialism and communism because it tries to smooth out these social differences. In their eyes, the supporters of communism and socialism are essentially supporters of "equality of evil" and therefore "must be rejected."
This also explains why Suzuki didn't say a word about the "great" Japan "snatching thousands of Korean and Chinese farmers to Japan to force them to participate in the holy war against communism." However, this non-judgmental position does not affect their worship of modern American culture in the least: People can't help being amazed at America's wealth and power. You might say that this does not go beyond material civilization or improve the level of survival, but even so, when we consider the importance of human effort, we don't need to belittle or despise this. We must fully realize the greatness of America. Regardless of whether this is affirmative or negative, good or bad, the United States is really great. Through its military, mechanical, economic, and scientific power, the United States alone is engaged in confrontation with the communist camp and countries in the world. Obviously, this is far away from the practice that Zen practitioners should have. Just as some Western scholars have asked: Why can Buddhists who advocate wisdom and compassion live in harmony with Japanese imperialism, while remaining silent about the atrocities it commits such as the Nanjing Massacre? The American process philosopher Ives called this the "moral bankruptcy" of Zen. What's more, the Japanese Zen Community has refused to admit its mistakes after the war. It wasn't until 1987 that a Japanese Buddhist group came out to confess, admitting that the war was a "mistake" and that calling it a "holy war" was a "double lie." Regarding the consequences of the war, as far as the Buddhist scripture stories passed down by Sakyamuni to this day, all we can do today is to bow our heads guiltily, and we are willing to bow our heads to the ground thirty times with humility to show repentance.
(3) Violence against harmony: The absence of compassion and the need to defend militarism made Japanese Zen adopt an almost total rejection of harmony and peace, and embark upon a path of anti-harmony violence. Japanese Zen master Hakamaya publicly opposed the concept of harmony and regarded it as the enemy of Buddhism. Because in his view, harmony inevitably encourages compromise and tolerance. A distinctive feature of Asia is the lack of mature personal self-awareness. This tendency is deepened by Lao Tzu and Buddhism's non-self and non-controversy, and embodies the "guihe" (贵和) or ‘valuing harmony’ creed found within Confucian ethics, leaving no room for this kind of personal self. In the view of some Japanese Zen masters: pacifist humanitarianism and its belief that all conflicts are inhumane crimes. This is the sentimentality of a moralist who does not understand the nature of life. On the contrary, we know a large number of examples that prove that peace is eviler than conflict. Nietzsche, who teaches the logic of war rather than the logic of peace in this regard, has a firmer grasp of the truth of survival than the pacifists. Obviously, the Japanese Zen master is defending Japanese militarism and war from another angle. The proponent of "War Zen" Harada Zuyue is another loyal supporter of Japanese militarism. As early as 1915, when Japan was involved in the First World War, he proposed the concept of "War Zen". In his opinion, there is nothing strange about Japan's participation in the war, because "the entire universe is in a state of war" and "if you observe all the phenomena in the universe, you will find that nothing is not in a state of war." For example, in the natural world, plum seeds try to conquer the world for plums and rice to conquer the world for rice; the same is true for the human world. Politicians fight each other to conquer the political world, and businessmen fight each other to conquer the business world. Buddhism is no exception. Shakyamuni himself conquered demons during the process of enlightenment. Therefore, "it is completely impossible to learn about Buddhism if you don't participate in the arena of war." Whether it is the ordinary world or the spiritual world, war is present. How can Zen be an exception? "A sword that kills is also a sword that gives life. The remarks against war are the stupid views of those who can only see the wood for the trees."
In the article "A Road Between Zen and War" published in 1939, Harada Zuyue wrote: "The military order says march, then march forward bravely; the military order says to shoot, then shoot bang. This is the embodiment of the supreme wisdom of insight." "If you see an enemy, you must kill him, you must destroy the fake and establish the truth. Yes. This is the most important point of Zen.” He also emphasized that the relationship between Zen and war “can be generalized to (Japan vs. China) holy war”. This kind of zealously advocating war directly justified the religion of Bushido is naturally the militarist's favourite, no wonder Hitler admired it so much. According to the textual research of the editor of Suzuki's "Zen and Japanese Culture": "The writings of Dr. Suzuki had a powerful influence on the military spirit of Nazi Germany." Beyond the misunderstandings of Japanese Zen, Japanese Zen masters’ misunderstanding of Zen has been challenged and criticized by many Western scholars in recent years. Professor Bernard Fall of Columbia University believes that Suzuki's interpretation of Zen "misled" Westerners. Some scholars also criticized the Western supporters of Japanese Zen for “losing to realize the nationalist ideology behind the modern Japanese construction of Zen”. In Victoria's view, Japanese Zen is a distortion of Buddhism, which he called "one of the most successful religious scams in the world." It is a pity that today, this distorted understanding of Zen has not been thoroughly reconsidered and liquidated, neither in the West nor in the non-Western world. According to Claire, "Militarism has distorted Japanese Zen and Japanese culture. Today, the Japanese people, like Westerners, are still deceived by this variant of Zen." In Japan, no one has made a deep reflection on Japanese Zen. They just converted loyalty to the empire into loyalty to the company, from serving the empire to serving the company. "Think of selfless dedication to the company as a form of enlightenment. The imperial Zen warrior becomes the company's salary man." That's it. This partly explains why Japan denies the Nanjing Massacre and its terrible wartime atrocities. In Victoria's view, the distortion of Zen by Suzuki and others and the defence of him by his followers prove in the negative how it is necessary to "reform Japanese Zen" fundamentally. To reform Japanese Zen, to lift it out of its misunderstandings, and to prevent historical tragedies from repeating itself, it is necessary to rectify the root.
In this respect, Chinese Chan, from the historical root of Zen, can provide extremely precious thought resources. The stern, broad and profound Chinese Chan not only inherits the high spirit of Dao (Way) of Mahayana Buddhism, the great compassion, the great aspirations, and great deeds, but also creatively absorbs the Confucian tradition’s “consciousness of benevolence” and the Daoist’s “unborn being”. "The kindness of life" is a shining treasure of Chinese culture, and its essence is the compassion that emphasizes the unity of the world in which people drown themselves. The emphasis on broad non-discrimination, the emphasis on broad compassion, and the standardization of the broad view of harmony that everything is one are the core values of Chinese Chan. This kind of ideology has a certain degree of consistency with the thought forms of process philosophy represented by Whitehead, so Chinese Chan can also be called Chinese process Chan in a sense. The following list of Chinese Chan values will undoubtedly help overcome the cultural chauvinism, moral nihilism and anti-harmony of Japanese Zen.
(a) Chinese Chan emphasises a broad and undifferentiated mind which helps overcome the cultural chauvinism of Japanese Zen. Chinese Chan is deeply ecological in its roots. It takes an ontological standpoint of equality, emphasizing that everything between divine sky and broad earth is equal in meaning, and that as a consequence, all sentient being possess their own value. The self and other, human beings and all living-beings and things throughout nature form an organic whole, and operate in an integrated relationship sharing weal and woe, losing and finding one other, and all continuously prospering. Within Chinese Chan, we can realize how we are both unique and at the same time how we are connected to each other. Our uniqueness stems from our mutual connection, and our mutual connection completes our uniqueness. "Divine is the sky, broad is the earth, high are the mountains, and deep are the waters." Within Chinese Chan, we both regard the other as the same and the same as the other. Within this ‘sameness’ is the essence of ‘equality’. This requires us to overcome the "attitude of arrogance to others". Chinese Chan’s "boundless way" provides a solid philosophical foundation for the all-embracing mind of Chinese Chan. In Huineng's words, the so-called "emptiness" is to remove the distinction between self and the other, "nothing is void? Nothing has no duality". In Huineng's view, "mindfulness is essence-awareness, and straightness of mind is virtue." If we can respect others, we can transform ourselves. His original words were: "Internally turn your mind’s awareness and respect others externally. This is self-transformation." The specific content of self-transformation includes uprooting unkindness, jealousy, contortion, and destructiveness. Seeing the empty-essence is the eradication of all unwholesome traits and deeds over-time, seeing and uprooting one's own faults, not to mention the discrimination that gives rise to the liking and disliking of others – all this contributes to the process of self-transformation. The core of this is to get rid of the shallow and arrogant mind. To cultivate a broad awareness of mind. That reflects all and rejects none. This broad and all-embracing mind will undoubtedly help overcome the cultural chauvinism of Japanese Zen - because when Japanese Zen masters started teaching from a Japan-centrism, exalted Japanese culture was devalued as were the civilizations this method was used to belittle and demean. By exalting Japanese Zen and despising Chinese Chan, whilst treating the Chinese people as "unruly and rebellious infidels" who need to be punished, they undoubtedly fell into the trap of ego. The misunderstanding of assuming an attitude of "arrogance and self-aggrandisement" the true essence of Buddhism has been obscured by the emphasis of the "discriminating mind". Whereas Chinese Chan purifies the mind – Japanese Zen distorts the mind.
(b) Chinese Chan’s emphasis upon an all-embracing compassion helps to overcome the moral nihilism of Japanese Zen. On the basis of the "non-discriminating mind", enlightenment within Chinese Chan manifests an equally "broad compassion." Compassion is the foundation of Buddhism and the foundation of Chinese Chan. The "Great Wisdom Treatise" states: "In all of Buddhism, compassion is the greatest." "The Altar Sutra" also says: "Compassion is the essence of Guanyin’s teaching. Joy and sacrifice are called the highest mastery." According to Chinese Chan, cultivating "kindness” and "happy" whilst uprooting "sorrow" all equates to "relieving suffering". Chinese Chan teaches people to be merciful and compassionate to all beings throughout their lives. The essence of compassion is to have empathy for others and not to indulge in self-deception - to sympathise with one another, and to place oneself in the position of others in all things. "Great mercy is to generate happiness for all sentient beings, and great compassion exhorts all sentient beings." This kind of Bodhisattva feeling of great compassion embracing the whole world is the essence of Chinese Chan, and it is here that Chinese Chan parted ideological ways with Japanese Zen. Chinese Chan practitioners cherish the ideals of "I will save all others before saving myself from going to hell", "All sentient beings will be fully enlightened before myself, and all the hells will be empty". Article 328 of "Zhaozhou Quotations" reveals this all-embracing state of mind: Save donkeys and horses, save all sentient beings. The scholar asked Zhao Zhou: "Are there any troubles with Dashan’s Knowledge?" Zhao Zhou said, "Yes. He is trying to save sentient beings all day long. There is no end to sentient beings, hell is not empty, and his troubles have no end." The Great Monk Minghai interprets "compassion" as "dedication to life". A compassionate person must have a mind that is easily moved, just like a compassionate Bodhisattva. He/she is ready to be moved by sentient beings anytime and anywhere, listening to the calling of sentient beings, listening to the voice of sentient beings, listening to their calls for help, helping them anytime and anywhere, giving them happiness and relieving their pain. This is a heart that is completely open and ready to be moved. The heart of Guanyin Bodhisattva, the heart of great compassion, is a heart that is always ready to be moved. Thousands of mountains are moistened by one rain. Nourish "all sentient beings, all vegetation", and all harmonise all "feeling and ruthlessness". To sympathize, to take responsibility, this is the core value of Chinese Chan. In the words of the famous process philosopher Jay Mike Daniel: "Infinite responsibilities to the past; infinite services to the present; infinite responsibilities to the future-this is the spirit of Chinese Chan." When the process philosopher Whitehead viewed the universe as an "emotional ocean," he actually provided cosmological support for compassion. According to the explanation of the constructive postmodern thinker Griffin, a core purpose of Whitehead’s cosmology is to remind us that in the depths of reason and perception, we are the existence of emotion and morality. An important task of philosophy is to transform rational insights into emotional power and correct sensory experience into a moral direction. For Whitehead, the most primitive factor in experience is "empathy", "that is, to experience the feelings of the others", and to bear the responsibility of the other. Chinese Chan's expression of the compassionate and wise Bodhisattva's feelings for the whole world is undoubtedly an effective antidote to the moral nihilism of Japanese Zen. When Japanese Zen masters regarded a one-sided "voidness" as the essence of Chan, and then made a "de-moralized understanding" of Chan, they had already made Japanese Zen abandon the essence of compassion, which led to Japanese Zen becoming one with Japanese militarism and an accomplice to murder, so that there are absurd arguments that "killing" and destroying the other side are regarded as "the most important point of Zen". According to Levinas, this kind of "self-to-otherness" premised on the elimination of the other, this so-called integration of the self and the other "is a kind of cruelty and injustice." This obviously deviates far from the true essence of Chinese Chan. From today's point of view, Japan's nihilism is not the result of the war. On the contrary, it is an important cause of the war. As some Western scholars have correctly pointed out, "war is the result of nihilism." Japanese Zen masters emphasised a dead “void” and one-sided “nothingness” to define Chan, a distortion which concealed the compassionate essence of Chinese Chan.
(c) The all-embracing enlightened mind of Chinese Chan is both simultaneously ‘empty’ and ‘full’ without contradiction. This properly realised emptiness is the basis of human perception in the past, present and future, and far from being ‘one-sided’ and ‘flat’ as in Japanese Zen – is three-dimensional, all-embracing of inclusive of all things. This exulted state of mind avoids the misreading of enlightenment often found within Japanese Zen. Chinese Chan, therefore, avoids all greed, hatred and delusion from manifesting in the mind as these three taints are thoroughly uprooted never to be seen again. This is very different to the ‘dead’ and ‘one-sided’ nihilism used within Japanese Zen to denote enlightenment and the cultivation of greed, hatred and delusion that Japanese Zen uses to justify its militarism, murder and mayhem in the physical world. Not only does Japanese Zen distort Chinese Chan, but Japanese Zen also deviates away from basic and foundation Indian Buddhist teaching. Japanese Zen is neither ‘Chan’ nor ‘Dhamma’. It is a cult of obscurity which knows nothing of the Dharmakaya (empty mind ground) or the ‘mirror samadhi’ that reflects all things in existence. When Huineng first taught Master Yinzong, he said: “We only talk about seeing nature and not meditation or liberation. The so-called ‘seeing nature’ is actually seeing the Buddha nature. It includes insight into the Buddha nature of oneself and the Buddha nature of others. The British historian Toynbee used Buddhism's essential nature and pointed out: The entire universe and everything in it have dignity, and it exists in this sense. In other words, inanimate and inorganic substances in nature also have dignity. The earth, air, water, rocks, springs, rivers, and seas all have dignity. If a person violates its dignity, it is tantamount to violating our own dignity. If process philosophy affirms the principle of "all things are the same" theoretically, then Chinese Chan has realized this principle in terms of survival. Chinese Chan emphasizes the interaction of all things, and it is in the realm of perfect harmony with the perfect reflection of all things. Japanese Zen's view of eliminating the other as a manifestation of "self-cultivation" and "a manifestation of the supreme wisdom of enlightenment." Chinese Chan, the realisation of "enlightenment" or achieving of "insight" means the ‘realisation’ of the harmonious state where everything is the reflection of itself and all things – whilst representing the unity of man and nature. The life of a Chan person is a life of wisdom. The life of wisdom is to live in harmony with others, to live in "harmony with nature", and to live in a state of harmony with all things. For this reason, Chinese Chan uproots greed, hatred and delusion and transcends the duality that lies at the heart of human suffering. Self and other is understood to be an illusion. Although true on the physical level – humanity is one in spiritual essence. This is the same for all things in existence and the Chinese Chan practitioner experiences this reality directly. Emptiness is not only full of physical form but it is defined by peace and compassion. According to Chinese Chan, the way to achieve such a vast harmony is to “cease to do evils and do only good things." Do not kill and maintain a friendly state of coexistence with the animal world. Do not steal, do not commit adultery, do not lie, and do not drink alcohol – in this way we can avoid hurting others intentionally or unintentionally, whilst maintain a good relationship with others and society. Chinese Chan advocates the realisation of the all-embracing and bright mind which is the true nature of the Buddha! All deluded attributes have been uprooted because they cause derision and conflict – and the Buddha demands this achievement. Sitting quietly and acting wisely is the essence of Chinese Chan. The true master heals with his or her presence. This is exactly what the distorted Japanese Zen lacks and acts in contradiction of. Whereas Chinese Chan builds harmony – Japanese Zen destroys harmony. This is opposed to the true nature of Buddhism but all is not lost as the Japanese people can certainly self-regulate and adjust their Zen practice back onto the correct path. A one-sided voidness (nihilism) can be transformed into an all-embracing emptiness that contains all things! Japanese Zen can be placed back onto the right spiritual and physical track by throwing off its distortions and re-aligning with the Chinese Chan from which it originates.
'Licchavi Vimalakirti came to the foot of that tree and said to me, ’Reverend Sariputra, this is not the way to absorb yourself in contemplation. You should absorb yourself in contemplation so that neither body nor mind appear anywhere in the triple world. You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest all ordinary behavior without forsaking cessation. You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest the nature of an ordinary person without abandoning your cultivated spiritual nature.' Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra