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Tuesday, March 5 • 14:30 - 17:00
#5/353 – Reimagining Zen in a Secular Age

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Panel organized on behalf of the European Network of Buddhist Christian Studies (ENBCS)

The papers in this panel discuss various aspects of the transformation of Zen in the context of Secularism and its encounter with the West. André van der Braak shows how a form of Zen modernism has arisen that combines Buddhist doctrines with a Western secular framework. Given that this type of Zen modernism is widely felt to be inadequate, he asks for alternative imaginings of Zen that would fit with Western secular modernity. Raquel Bouso deals with the modern presentation of Zen as “non-religion” by Japanese and Western Zen-Buddhists. The paper will discuss the relation between such concepts of Zen and Keiji Nishitani’s view of “nonreligion” (非宗教 hishūkyō) or John Caputo’s idea of “religion without religion”. Kurt Krammer discusses why European Zen practitioners in their majority would abhor to have their practice be called “religious”. Against this background he will characterize different types of Zen practitioners regarding their engagement in interreligious dialogue. Anne Vroom draws out the tensions in the semantic field that has grown around the term ‘ego’ in modern Zen thought, where ‘ego’ is used as a translation of the traditional conceptuality of ‘(an)ātman’ but also connects with European and American psychological and philosophical uses of the term. From a feminist perspective, the (d)evaluation of ‘ego’ will be critically examined. Sybille Fritsch-Oppermann discusses how Zen, taken up by modern art (installations and music) - functions as a bridge builder between secular art and religion. In her paper she will show that in this process Zen is partly received as non-religion whilst art discovers its spiritual roots.

• Perry Schmidt-Leukel (WWU Münster)

• André van der Braak (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) - Beyond Zen Modernism 
• Raquel Bouso (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) - Zen as Nonreligion
• Kurt Krammer (Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Dialogue between Religions and Worldviews, Salzburg) - Zen, a Religion – What Else?
• Anne Vroom (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) - Ego matters. Uses of the Concept 'ego' in Modern Zen Thought
• Sybille Clara Fritsch-Oppermann (TU Clausthal) - Lessons Learned? Reception and Variations of Zen Philosophy in Modern Art


Anne Vroom

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

André van der Braak

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Raquel Bouso

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Kurt Krammer

Institute for the Study of Buddhism and Dialogue between Religions and Worldviews, Salzburg


Tuesday March 5, 2019 14:30 - 17:00 GMT
Sala Arancio – Fscire Via S. Vitale, 114, 40125 Bologna BO
  • Language English
  • Language English

Attendees (1)