Why Anarchists Like Zen?  A Libertarian Reading of Shinran (1173-1263) by Enrique Galvan-Alvarez

Most attempts to formulate a Buddhist anarchism in the West take Zen Buddhism as their reference point, often disregarding other Buddhist traditions and their anarchic/libertarian potential. In response to these early Western formulations I propose an alternative pathway for Buddhist anarchism based on a radically different Buddhist tradition, that of Shinran Shonin (1173–1263). Shinran’s thought can arguably contribute to contemporary Buddhist anarchism some of the elements that it seems to be lacking: a self-critique that is not devoid of social criticism, a deconstruction of Buddhist power and an historical awareness. For this purpose, I will first outline some of the anti-authoritarian traits in Shinran’s writings, which have so far not been read from an explicitly anarchist angle. Then I will look closely at Shinran’s critical view of humanity and human relations through his concept of mappo, drawing out the egalitarian and subversive implications of Buddhist eschatology. In so doing I show how Shinran’s radical re-reading of the Buddhist canon, and the self-understanding it yields, bring into question some important narratives that legitimize and construct the established, politico-religious order.

Full text can be found here http://www.stockholmuniversitypress.se/site/books/10.16993/bak/

 

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