What do you think of when you hear the word Zen? For most people, “organized religion” probably isn’t a phrase that pops up immediately. This can be a bit of a predicament for Zen Buddhist missionaries working in places like Europe and North America.
The word, which comes from a Japanese translation of the Chinese word chán, literally means meditation, and has developed a romantic sense of being purely in the moment and devoid of all thought. This concept has been focused on by various artists in Western culture like Jack Kerouac, with a diminished emphasis on the less sexy doctrines and worshiping of Buddha that are very much a part of the whole religion.
This image dichotomy is something that the Headquarters of Missionary Work for the Soto School of Buddhism in Europe has to deal with all the time.
Excite News Japan recently went to interview them on the state of modern Soto Zen Buddhism abroad. Check our rundown of their findings below!