Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? Book

Heine, S. (2008). Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? . 1-224. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326772.001.0001

cited authors

  • Heine, S



  • This book provides analyses of the many ways Japanese Zen Buddhism can be interpreted as either a cure-all for the world's problems as stated by the Traditional Zen Narrative (TZN) view or whether Zen is a contradictory, self-serving entity as offered by the Historical and Cultural Criticism (HCC) view. Through the concepts of Zen "writes, rites, and rights," the book examines the character of Zen. "Zen writes" describes the contradiction that although Zen is traditionally considered to be an esoteric religion based on personal transmissions between monks, it has created an extraordinary amount of written literature. The chapter considers whether the voluminous literature is a strength or a weak point for Zen. In the debate of "Zen rites," the critical view (HCC) points out the history of religious syncretism in Japan as a compromise by Zen to appeal to the general public by incorporating folk gods and rituals into monastic rites, while the traditional view maintains that there is a separation between the syncretic and the monastic sides of Zen. And finally, "Zen rights" deals with both the ethical benefits that Zen can provide in addition to the moral atrocities that Zen has committed in the past. Zen can be a powerful tool in environmental preservation and world peace, but has also been used to justify discrimination and extreme nationalism in Japan through the 20th century. The final chapter seeks to rectify the two views of TZN and HCC through an acknowledgment of both sides and a balanced recommendation for the future of Zen.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 224