Rebel Riot: Buddhist anarcho Punks?

Rebel Riot, first of all, is an incredible anarcho-punk band from Myanmar. But not only do they incorporate Buddhist themes into their music and activism, but they do not hesitate to criticize the ways mainstream Buddhist leaders and institutions in the country have supported the oppression of ethnic, religious, sexual, and gender minorities and have […]

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Fragments of a Buddhist Anarchism

Ichikawa Hakugen’s critique and reconstructive vision for Buddhism indicates the possibility of a practice, or a program of Buddhist Anarchism, but it raises far more questions than it answers. If, indeed, the root of the problem of Buddhist politics lies in the interpretation of Buddhist ideology rather than its basic philosophical identity, what can be […]

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Since the passing of bell hooks, I have been thinking about love. Throughout her work she tirelessly theorized and educated America on the importance of radical love, and warned of the perils of living a loveless life in a loveless society. Her masterpiece on the subject, All About Love, is a philosophical exploration of the […]

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Hakugen’s Dimensions of Freedom

Hakugen was particularly interested in the contradiction between the forms of freedom espoused by Chinese Zen master Linji (Rinzai), the founder of Hakugen’s sect, and the socialist tradition, as represented by the thought of Karl Marx. It was, in a sense, a koan which he worked with throughout his career.  Linji famously exhorted students of […]

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Rebirth and Class Struggle

I am an agnostic on the question of rebirth. It is fun to think about, but I don’t see how, from my perspective, I could come to have any certainty about it without putting my faith in the words of others. It does, of course, matter greatly to many Buddhists whether or not there is […]

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Hakugen’s Critique of Zen

Another excerpt from a work-in-progress on Ichikawa Hakugen Hakugen’s critique of Zen primarily focuses on conservative interpretations of Zen Buddhist ideology which were common in Japanese society in the Meiji and early Showa era; these interpretations were used to support the security of Buddhist institutions by justifying socioeconomic discrimination in society, exploitation of the working […]

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Biography of Ichikawa Hakugen

Excerpt from a longer essay about Hakugen I’m working on which explains and expands on his political-religious thought. Ichikawa Hakugen (1902-1986) was an important but poorly-known contributor to the theory of Buddhist anarchism, particularly to anarchism in the Zen tradition. Following in the footsteps of anarchist Buddhist priests Uchiyama Gudo and Taixu, he drew on […]

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I’m currently working on a longer essay about the political and religious philosophy of Ichikawa Hakugen. It’s taking longer than I expected, but I hope to make it worth the wait. After that’s done I plan to return to the third part of the Buddhist-anarchist history essay. In the meantime, if you are interested in […]

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An Anarchist History of Buddhism from the 1800’s to the 1920’s

Following an inquiry into anarchic elements of pre-modern Buddhist history we arrive in the 19th century, where “anarchism” first moves beyond philosophy and becomes a self-identified force driving social movements. As the primary ideology within the worker’s movement in the 1870’s-1910’s (Gradually becoming eclipsed by Bolshevism and social democracy by the mid 20th century), anarchism […]

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