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Zen and War

Price: $14.00

In the first half of the 20th Century Japan waged a number of wars in which it committed atrocities rivaling those of the Nazis during World War II. Brian Victoria’s book Zen At War was published in 1998, detailing how Japanese Buddhist monks and their religious organizations actively encouraged and participated in Japan’s expansionist wars. They donated money and materials, preached a doctrine of “Imperial Way Buddhism,” and even marched and fought alongside the military.

 Zen and War features contemporary Zen Buddhist teachers speaking of their wartime predecessors’ collaboration for the first time on film.  The impetus for this film came from Ina Buitendijk, a Dutch woman whose husband suffered severely under Japanese internment in Asia during the war.  As a Zen Buddhist practitioner she wrote letters to Zen monastic centers, asking how Buddhist monks could have been involved in warfare.  Leading Zen masters wrote back to her sympathetically, acknowledging the suffering at the heart of her question.