In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. One notable exception to this trend, however, was the Shinkō Bukkyō Seinen Dōmei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism), founded on 5 April 1931. Led by Nichiren Buddhist layman Seno’o Girō and made up of young social activists who were critical of capitalism, internationalist in outlook, and committed to a pan-sectarian and humanist form of Buddhism that would work for social justice and world peace, the league’s motto was “carry the Buddha on your backs and go out into the streets and villages.” This article analyzes the views of the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism as found in the religious writings of Seno’o Girō to situate the movement in its social and philosophical context, and to raise the question of the prospects of “radical Buddhism” in twenty-first century Japan and elsewhere.

James Mark Shields

Full Text: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260102711_A_Blueprint_for_Buddhist_Revolution_



By the time of the Russo-Japanese War it is fair to say that the clerical and scholarly leaders of Japan’s traditional Buddhist sects were firm supporters of the government’s policies, especially its war policies. But this does not mean that there was no Buddhist resistance to the government. There were, in fact, a few Buddhist priests who not only opposed what they believed to be their government’s increasingly repressive and imperialistic policies but actually sacrificed their lives in the process of doing so.

This chapter will focus on one such group of “radical” Buddhists. Because they were quite small in number, it might be argued that this attention is unwarranted, but few as they were, they had a significant impact on the Buddhist leaders of their time, especially as those leaders continued to formulate their individual and collective responses to Japan’s military expansion abroad and political repression at home.

Brian Victoria


Full Text: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzY_E1oGwDB4RjUxTkxXZ09lOHc/view?usp=sharing

Credit to the creator of https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/UchiyamaGudo.html

Can purchase the full book here: https://www.amazon.com/Zen-War-Brian-Daizen-Victoria/dp/0742539261


The late Meiji period (1868–1912) witnessed the birth of various forms of “progressive”
and “radical” Buddhism both within and beyond traditional Japanese Buddhist institutions. This paper examines several historical precedents for “Buddhist revolution” in East Asian—and particularly Japanese—peasant rebellions of the early modern period. I argue that these rebellions, or at least the received narratives of such, provided significant “root paradigms” for the thought and practice of early Buddhist socialists and radical Buddhists of early twentieth century Japan. Even if these narratives ended in “failure”—as, indeed, they often did—they can be understood as examples of what James White calls “expressionistic action,” in which figures act out of interests or on the basis of principle without concern for “success.” Although White argues that: “Such expressionistic action was not a significant component of popular contention in Tokugawa Japan”—that does not mean that the received tales were not interpreted in such a fashion by later Meiji, Taishō and Shōwa-era sympathizers.

James Mark Shields

Full Text: http://www.academia.edu/33751882/Peasant_Revolts_as_Anti-Authoritarian_Archetypes_for_Radical_Buddhism_in_Modern_Japan

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/


African-American and queer Buddhist teachers Rev. angel Kyodo williams and Lama Rod Owens, with Professor Jasmine Syedullah, have brought their brilliant minds and courageous hearts together in their book Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation (North Atlantic Books). They have also included the voices of other liberation-minded Buddhist practitioners, engaging them in conversations about what it should mean to practice Buddhism while bearing witness to police killings and mass incarcerations of Black people in the U.S. This combination of intersecting identities, talking in trialogue and in face-to-face conversations with complete strangers, makes Radical Dharma an unusual and fierce read.

Full Article http://www.lionsroar.com/guards-down-heart-opened-a-review-of-radical-dharma/

Book https://www.amazon.com/dp/1623170982/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3RHY4VICEUS8K&coliid=I1E4CGHN8GJSHB

Buddhist Global Relief

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

It was with feelings of shock and dismay that early this morning I woke up to learn that Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States. Although, as a monk, I do not endorse political candidates or align myself with political parties, I feel that as a human being inhabiting this fragile planet, I have an obligation to stand up for policies that promote economic and social justice, respect for the innate dignity of all human beings, and preservation of the earth’s delicate biosphere. By the same token, I must oppose policies detrimental to these ideals. I see politics, not merely as a naked contest for power and domination, but as a stage where great ethical contests are being waged, contests that determine the destiny—for good or for ill—of everyone in this country and on this planet.

Trump’s presidential campaign challenged each of the ethical…

View original post 654 more words

The topic of socially engaged Buddhism is complex and very important to the future of the dharma in our troubled, fast-moving and intensely competitive global world. Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor says that phrase “socially engaged Buddhism” was coined in the 1930s when some monks opposed France’s occupation in Viet Nam.

In his lucid historical study, The Awakening of the West: the encounter of Buddhism and Western culture (1994), he tells the story of Thich Quang Du who, while sitting in meditative calm repose on a street in Saigon, poured gas over his body and torched himself on June 1, 1963.

Images of monks aflame—“seated like a Buddha engulfed by fire in a country ravaged by war sears itself into the Western mind” (p. 353)—aroused incomprehension among those who imagined Buddhists as totally other-worldly.

But the practice of “engaged Buddhism” could really be said to begin with the Buddha himself. The Buddha didn’t remain silently seated under the Bodhi tree, keeping his awakening to himself, hidden in his soul’s depths. Rather, he went out into the world, and the dharma began to engage with its culture and society of 2500 years ago.

He created the sangha, a kind of community of resistance to the existing caste and hierarchical system. In itself, it was a model of community and community development. The Buddha also taught about worldly affairs. Yet we must recognize that the Buddha taught not only perennial truths about the human condition and the way to happiness. He also articulated his understanding of human suffering (dukkha) in the Iron Age world where society was viewed essentially as a collection of individuals (Stephen Batchelor, After Buddhism: rethinking the dharma for a secular age [2015], pp. 1-28).

Some Buddhist scholars argue that the socially engaged Buddhist movement is really the creation of modernity. That is, the central preoccupation of Buddhist Asian civilizations has not been the “saving of the world.”

Full Article here http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/15/can-buddhism-save-the-world/