Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In this thesis, I address the popular idea that Buddhism is a religion of nonviolence through the case study of a Sōtō Zen Buddhist group in Montréal, Canada. I focus on the following question: Is nonviolence a major concern for practitioners at the Association Zen de Montréal (AZM), and, if yes, why? I first examine Zen Buddhist violence and nonviolence scripturally and historically to show that both trends are present in the tradition. I also address the way in which the founder of the AZM, Deshimaru Taisen, presented his actions during the Fifteen-Year War to his Western followers. After providing ethnographic details about the group and its mother organization, the Association Zen Internationale (AZI), I turn to a discussion of the possible models of nonviolence in Deshlmaru's writings. I then turn to practitioners' own views of the relation between their Zen practice and nonviolence.
I demonstrate that although nonviolence is not a defining characteristic of the AZM, practitioners do not hesitate to advance that Zen has a nonviolence impact on their lives. Furthermore, I argue that the variety of responses to the topic of nonviolence in this group is best explained by looking at the different discourses present in their views. These are the Western traditions such as analytic psychology, Romanticism, and Enlightenment thinking, the modern discourse on Zen produced in the post-Meiji years, and Deshimaru's own personality and behaviour, still emulated by his close disciples. Finally, the fact that Deshimaru never articulated a clear stance on nonviolence also helps explain why individuals possess different views on nonviolence.
Robert, Brigitte, "The Association Zen de Montréal: A Case Study in Sōtō Zen Nonviolence" (2009). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4335.
McMaster University Library