[Buddha-l] liturgical languages

Dan Lusthaus dlusthau at mailer.fsu.edu
Thu May 5 01:09:14 MDT 2005

Stuart wrote:

> I  found a pamphlet issued to G.I.'s being stationed in Japan
> in the early 50's that had in the first paragraph, " The Japanese are a
> gentle people..."

Agreed. The selling of the new image would not have taken root in the States
to the extent it did without the full complicity of the US propoganda
machine. It was the cold war, after all...

> I believe Kapleau was talking about the period of the Tokyo War Trials.

I carried the description beyond that, but the overt turn-around was very
quick -- from a justification for martial aggressiveness to promoting the
ideals of peace, sometimes merely rhetorically, sometimes with deep-felt
emotion. Fastening on a-bomb victimhood rather than being commiters of war
atrocities (and purging that in the trials) facilitated that quick
transition. That it also helped massive cultural avoidance of war
responsibility, to the present day, remains a problem. Ian Buruma's The
Wages of Guilt gives a good contrastive treatment of the very different (and
sometimes similar) ways Germany and Japan dealt, postwar, with their
activities during the War years.

> Back to the original discussion- Kapleau did not leave Yasutani. Yasutani
> cut- off their relationship for reasons that Kapleau has always kept

Here we only have the speculations -- not the actual details. Again, you'll
probably just call this spin, but my sense is that part of Kapleau's
reticence to publicly air the details possibly stemmed from a desire to
avoid degenerating to an ad hominem attack on Yasutani (the same can't be
said for the other side). Whether that reticence was purely noble (being
above all that), or emanated from a more complicated inner ambivalence -- 
not wanting to undermine the validity of his own transmission, not wanting
to get into the name calling that would also call into doubt his initial
judgements about Yasutani, etc. -- is another matter. Whether out of
embarrassment, self-protection, or nobility, he probably did the right thing
staying quiet rather than feeding our useless curiosities, and letting the
relatively mild rumors have their day.

> Kapleau could have cleared up much of the speculation as to the why of
> break, if he had shown the letter that Yasutani sent him ending the
> relation. He chose not to.

I speculated on some possible reasons above.

> I think the topic of antisemiticism is interesting and very important,
> however I do not think Buddha-L is the place to continue this.

When it's coming out of the mouths of high profile Buddhists, it is. But I
think we've already said what needs to be said for now.

Dan Lusthaus

More information about the buddha-l mailing list