Thich Nhat Hanh and Censorship

20/09/2014

An (abbreviated) reply to “Brian Victoria” that I wrote on September 23rd 2014 which might not appear here: http://sweepingzen.com/brian-victorias-war-on-zen/

Brian: “In truth, I had no doubt that you would embrace the violence-affirming wartime teachings of such Zen-related leaders as D.T. Suzuki, Omori Sogen, and Sawaki Kodo.”

I know that you became a persona non grata in Japan once, but I am now asking myself – considering your distorting logic (please read again: I embrace persons, not ideologies) – if you have ever studied with Saloth Sar.

“has ended up by finding excuses for killing . . . .” It’s hard to imagine that s.o. who does not kill needs excuses. What happened in the Mahayana is some input of common sense, thus it is indeed possible to say: “I abstain from killing if not in self-defense and defence of another person” – which is also the basis of common Western law. Of course nobody has to rephrase that, as in Zen – and therefore I quoted Pai-chang – we will be detached of dogma anyway and find a “truth” in ourselves, not in scriptures.

A funny thing about the Theravada school: Most soldiers in the Myanmar army have been novices for a couple of months in their life, as it is their tradition, but it obviously is no problem to turn them into soldiers. The army of Myanmar thus consists mainly of former robed Buddhists!

Finally, TNH is not a good example to me, the CIA has seen him active for Thich Tri Quang in Vietnam during the war, it was a militant clique, with the latter ocassionally “receiving afflux from the ARVN” (Army of the Repulic Vietnam, translation mine from the German Wiki). If I’d trust him, I’d suggest to rather compare him to Omori and Kodo, who had learned from their mistakes during the war, but I don’t (…)

(Surprising photo of TNH: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/5455501349/)

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A reply to “Caodemarte” that I wrote on September 15th 2014, has not appeared here: http://sweepingzen.com/the-non-self-as-a-killer/

Caodemarte: What you say is TNH’s official “hagiography”. If you want to know how information about him – that contradicts this hagiography – is suppressed, just watch the “history”-link in his German and English Wikipedia-entries. It starts with Prof. Prebish’s question how s.o. who was not a zen-master in Vietnam can give “transmission” and ends with TNH’s co-ownership of “EIAB” in Waldbröl/Germany. You may know that according to the Vinaya (in which TNH has traditionally ordained) neither suicide (self-immolation) nor the possession of money or investment in real estate is permitted. [If s.o. argues for suicide citing Channa of the Majjhima- and Samyutta-Nikaya, he will probably end in sophistic rhetorics very similar to those that Brian attributes to Buddhist warmongers]. I believe the difference to a guy like Sawaki is that he openly talked about his past and his failures (though perhaps not taking responsibility enough) whereas certain other teachers advise their sangha to better not watch TV and read too much (except their own books, of course). I have found that the Vietnamese in exile are on the average not as fond of TNH as his “official” reputation might suggest and that there are not just a few who subscribe to the view that some Buddhist monks have “played into the hands of the Vietcong” in a tragic way.

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