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Long Strange JourneyOn Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments$
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Gregory P. A. Levine

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824858056

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824858056.001.0001

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Zen-Boom “Culture Wars”

Zen-Boom “Culture Wars”

(p.97) 5 Zen-Boom “Culture Wars”
Long Strange Journey

Gregory P. A. Levine

University of Hawai'i Press

Chapter Five traces a postwar history of Zen as it emerged as a compelling and useful matrix for a Cold War era spiritual, social, political, and artistic conditions. Our present-day “Zenny Zeitgeist,” as I call it, developed in large measure from this period. But careful examination of the postwar Zen boom—in its varied manifestations, including serious Zen teaching and practice, Beat Zen and various countercultural Zen creative movements—reveals that Zen was by no means singular (if it ever was), solely related to religion, strictly serious, and exclusive to Japan or East Asia. Moreover, Zen and Zen inspired art became the focus of debate and even venomous attack. Public intellectuals and Zen teachers including D. T. Suzuki, Hu Shih, Philip Kapleau, Arthur Koestler, and Ruth Fuller Sasaki wrestled with each others representations of Zen and sought to resolve questions of authenticity and value, history and practice.

Keywords:   Arthur Koestler, authenticity, Beat Zen, Cold War, counterculture, Hu Shih, Philip Kapleau, Ruth Fuller Sasaki

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