Why did samurai follow Zen?

I’d always assumed it was the discipline of meditation, standing under waterfalls etc that was the main appeal to the militaristic samurai, but this passage on its appeal to the totally unmilitaristic Chinese aristocrats suggests the often idle Tokugawa-era samurai might have had other reasons:

“during the prosperous period of Tang China, the spontaneous, aesthetic spirit of Chan Buddhism appealed to the elite, who had ample leisure time to pursue sudden enlightenment, not necessarily through the monk’s strict regimen of meditation, but through experiencing art and poetry, or merely communing with nature”

Buddhism A History by Noble Ross Reat pg 157


1 Comment

  1. Dustin said,

    July 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Very insightful blog! I often noted the Japanese work ethic is rooted in Zen Buddhism in that the Japanese work hard for the sake of working hard. The work is an end in itself, not a means to an end. Which is why they passive-aggressively put down someone who leaves right at 5, even if he or she is the most productive person in the office, and praise someone who works four times as hard to accomplish the same thing.

    I’m definitely linking this blog on mine. Care to swap links?

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