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Zen RitualStudies of Zen Theory in Practice$
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Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304671

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.001.0001

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 Ritual in Japanese Zen Buddhism

 Ritual in Japanese Zen Buddhism

Chapter:
(p.21) 1 Ritual in Japanese Zen Buddhism
Source:
Zen Ritual
Author(s):

T. Griffith Foulk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304671.003.0002

Chapter 1 summarizes the modern scholarly opinion that throughout its history, the Zen tradition rejected religious ritual as a legitimate means of carrying out its unique Buddhist mission, and subjects this view to a contemporary historical critique. The author's thesis is that modern Japanese Zen scholars constructed the anti‐ritual theme in Zen in order to make Zen more relevant to the modern age in the eyes of both the ruling elite in Meiji/Taisho Japan and Western intellectuals who tended to be dismissive of religious ritual. Pushed in this direction by their own historical circumstances, modern Zen scholars portrayed the entire Zen tradition as anti‐ritual in basic intent and practice in spite of the historical record that belies this view. The author proceeds to describe the history of Zen ritual and presents a catalog description of ritual activities that are practiced in contemporary Sōtō Zen.

Keywords:   Sōtō Zen, anti‐ritual, ritual studies, modern Zen Buddhism, Meiji/Taisho Japan

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