True Person, Formless Self
Lay Zen Master Hisamatsu Shin’ichi
Renowned for clarifying the religious approach of Zen in relation to Western thought, criticizing traditional Zen institutions, and creating new forms of religious practice, lay Zen master Hisamatsu Shin’ichi (1889–1990) occupies an important place in modern Zen history. As a professor at Kyoto University, Hisamatsu set forth the “ultimate antinomy” to which Zen responded and the ways in which the Zen approach to sin and death, value and existence diverges from Western approaches. Hisamatsu was not a typical apologist as he criticized Zen for its exclusive focus on enlightenment (satori) and ritual praxis at the expense of due consideration of social and political issues, especially nationalism. This chapter outlines these features of Hisamatsu’s distinctive stature, while also offering critical evaluation of his standpoint relative to traditional Zen masters and their thought, practices, and institutions.
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