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Document Details :

Title: Zen Spirituality in a Secular Age
Subtitle: Charles Taylor and Zen Buddhism in the West
Author(s): VAN DER BRAAK, André
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 18    Date: 2008   
Pages: 39-60
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.18.0.2033282

Abstract :
The Sino-Japanese religious tradition of Chan Buddhism, known in the West by its Japanese name Zen, has been surrounded by both mystique and skepticism in the Western mind. Recently, many controversies have come to the forefront regarding the nature of Zen Buddhism, and our Western interpretation of it. These days, Zen scholars and Zen practitioners are often at odds with each other regarding the true nature of Zen spirituality. This study attempts to elucidate the current controversies around Zen by taking a closer look at our Western selfunderstanding and relationship to spirituality, as described in the work of the contemporary Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. Taylor’s findings regarding what it means to be spiritual in our secular age are summarized under the headings of universalization, individualization and psychologization. These headings are subsequently used to critically review the reception of Zen Buddhism in the West. Taylor also identifies several questionable trends in our current approach to spirituality, such as excarnation, a therapeutization of religion, and a neglect of ordinary life. A more inclusive Zen spirituality could help to counterbalance those trends.

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