• Zen and the Body: A Postmodern Ascetic? Bodily Awakening in the Zen Memoirs of Shozan Jack Haubner

      Ben Van Overmeire (MDPI AG, 2021-02-01)
      In this article, I examine two memoirs by the American Zen Buddhist author Shozan Jack Haubner. Within the contemporary genre of American Zen autobiographical literature, Haubner’s books are special in that they explore Zen awakening as driven by the body. Penetration, pregnancy and sickness are the main figures Haubner uses to show how his autobiographical protagonist accesses the Buddhist truth of no-self. Though these books can thus be said to map an ascetic quest for the erasure of individuality, this quest proceeds not through the imposition of will onto the body, but the body imposing its will on the self. Because this is somewhat different from how the ascetic self is usually theorized, I propose to call Haubner’s main character a “postmodern ascetic”.
    • Zen in Distress: Theorizing Gender Dysphoria and Traumatic Remembrance within Sōtō Zen Meditation

      Ray Buckner (MDPI AG, 2020-11-01)
      Gender dysphoria is considered a pronounced experience of distress in the bodies and minds of some transgender people. Examining the text <i>Zen Mind, Beginners Mind</i> by Shunryū Suzuki, I analyze some of the difficulties that may arise for transgender practitioners experiencing acutely strong gender dysphoria within the Sōtō Zen meditation experience. I seek to understand how physical and psychological gender distress may make concentration, and thereby realization, challenging and potentially harmful within a context of Sōtō Zen meditation. I consider how meditation can exacerbate the panic and traumatic remembrance of the body and mind, leading both to embodied struggles, as well as undoubtedly philosophical ones too. This paper theorizes gender dysphoria to exist beyond a state of unitary “distress” to include trauma. I put forward an understanding of gender dysphoria that is grounded in traumatic, gendered remembrances—what I call “sustained traumas.” Within the meditation experience, I argue trans, gender dysphoric people may experience heightened disconnect, separation, and deepening into their solid and suffering “self” rather than open to the fundamental nature of emptiness, non-duality, and an empty and move-able core. Ultimately, I argue meditation may lead to a deepening of traumatic remembrance, posing potential corporeal and philosophical problematics for gender dysphoric practitioners within Sōtō Zen meditation.
    • Zero Tolerance of Children’s Sexual Abuse from Interreligious Dialogue

      Cristina M. Pulido; Ana Vidu; Roseli Rodrigues de Mello; Esther Oliver (MDPI AG, 2021-07-01)
      Child sexual abuse is a social problem that concerns our societies. The sustainable development goals have highlighted the eradication of child sexual abuse as one of the highest-priority goals of this century. Breaking the silence within religious communities is an essential step going forward. Therefore, establishing a dialogue between people of different religions is crucial to achieving this goal. The purpose of this article is to explore whether there are current interreligious dialogue initiatives based on scientific recommendations to prevent child sexual abuse. The method used herein is a qualitative document analysis of the selected initiatives. The results indicate that interreligious dialogue initiatives include scientific recommendations in their prevention programs. Furthermore, these successful initiatives connect religious values and the need to support victims and to break their silence. Based on these results, it can be concluded that interreligious initiatives for child sexual abuse prevention programs based on scientific evidence are crucial in order to eradicate child sexual abuse.
    • Zhuangzi’s Theory on “Fate” and the Humanistic Spirit within

      Rongkun Zhang (MDPI AG, 2021-02-01)
      Conventional accounts of Zhuangzi’s concept of fate are limited to only a certain aspect of it. At the same time, they seem to be mutually contradictory. This essay investigates this concept afresh based on textual analysis and elucidates Zhuangzi’s real concerns about fate. This analysis reveals that Zhuangzi laid stress on the virtue demonstrated in confronting the unavoidable. More specifically, the important meaning of fate encompasses, on the one hand, a whole acceptance of the facts facing us by forgetting oneself, and on the other hand, responding positively to the facts by following the “Heavenly Way” until a spontaneous state is reached. We shall see as well how Zhuangzi’s views on the relation between Heaven and the Human, and on certain moral values, help to validate his theory on fate. Thus, through exploring his underlying thoughts and showing how their various aspects are logically connected, we shall show that Zhuangzi’s concept of fate is imbued with a humanistic spirit in the face of affairs in the real world.
    • Ziran: Authenticity or Authority?

      Misha Tadd (MDPI AG, 2019-03-01)
      This essay explores the core Daoist concept of ziran (commonly translated as spontaneity, naturalness, or self-so) and its relationship to authenticity and authority. Modern scholarship has often followed the interpretation of Guo Xiang (d. 312) in taking ziran as spontaneous individual authenticity completely unreliant on any external authority. This form of Daoism emphasizes natural transformations and egalitarian society. Here, the author draws on Heshanggong’s Commentary on the Daodejing to reveal a drastically dissimilar ziran conception based on the authority of the transcendent Way. The logic of this contrasting view of classical Daoism results not only in a vision of hierarchical society, but one where the ultimate state of human ziran becomes immortality. Expanding our sense of the Daodejing, this cosmology of authority helps unearths greater continuity of the text with Daoism’s later religious forms.
    • Þingeyrar Abbey in Northern Iceland: A Benedictine Powerhouse of Cultural Heritage

      Gottskálk Jensson (MDPI AG, 2021-06-01)
      Þingeyrar Abbey was founded in 1133 and dissolved in the wake of the Lutheran Reformation (1550), to virtually disappear with time from the face of the earth. Although highly promising archeological excavations are under way, our material points of access to this important monastic foundation are still only a handful of medieval artifacts. However, throughout its medieval existence Þingeyrar Abbey was an inordinately large producer of Latin and Icelandic literature. We have the names of monastic authors, poets, translators, compilators, and scribes, who engaged creatively with such diverse subjects as Christian hagiography, contemporary history, and Norse mythology, skillfully amalgamating all of this into a coherent, imaginative whole. Thus, Þingeyrar Abbey has a prominent place in the creation and preservation of the Icelandic Eddas and Sagas that have shaped the Northern European cultural memory. Despite the dissolution of monastic libraries and wholesale destruction of Icelandic-Latin manuscripts through a mixture of Protestant zealotry and parchment reuse, philologists have been able to trace a number of surviving codices and fragments back to Þingeyrar Abbey. Ultimately, however, our primary points of access to the fascinating world of this remote Benedictine community remain immaterial, a vast corpus of medieval texts edited on the basis of manuscript copies at unknown degrees of separation from the lost originals.