“Warriors who sacrifice their lives for the emperor will not die. They will live forever. Truly they should be called gods and Buddhas for whom there is no life or death. Where there is absolute loyalty there is no life or death.”
Sugimoto Goro, the posterboy of the Zen office.
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://isaacmeyer.net/2016/06/]
Lt. Col. Sugimoto Goro
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://apjjf.org/2013/11/30/Brian-Victoria/3973/article.html]
“Warriors who sacrifice their lives for the emperor will not die but live forever. Truly, they should be called gods and Buddhas for whom there is no life or death. . .. Where there is absolute loyalty there is no life or death. Where there is life and death there is no absolute loyalty. When a person talks of his view of life and death, that person has not yet become pure in heart. He has not yet abandoned body and mind. In pure loyalty there is no life or death. Simply live in pure loyalty!” – Sugimoto Goro
se army officer and Buddhist philosopher, he was killed in combat during the Battle of Taiyuan in sept 1937, Sugimoto was a very pure imperialist, when he was shot he moved his sword to the left hand and gave a salute to the direction of the imperial palace, after his dead his friends and family decided to publish a posthumous book called Great Duty (Taigi) and became especially popular among Japanese army officers and soldiers, 1,200,000 copies were sold from 1938 to 1945, in his book he said: The reason that Zen is necessary for soldiers is that all Japanese, especially soldiers, must live in the spirit of the unity of the sovereign and subjects, eliminating their ego and getting rid of their self. It is exactly the awakening to the nothingness (mu) of Zen that is the fundamental spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects. Through my practice of Zen I am able to get rid of myself. In facilitating the accomplishment of this, Zen becomes, as it is, the true spirit of the imperial military.
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.ww2incolor.com/japan/AA+_35_.html]
One can easily see how a belief in the transient unreality of the world could lead to an unsentimental attitude towards life. A seventh-century Chan (Chinese Buddhist) text, the Treatise on Absolute Contemplation, argued that killing is ethical if one recognizes that the victim is only empty and dream-like. A millennium later, the seventeenth-century Zen master Takuan Sōhō wrote that:
The uplifted sword has no will of its own, it is all of emptiness. It is like a flash of lightning. The man who is about to be struck down is also of emptiness, and so is the one who wields the sword. None of them are possessed of a mind that has any substantiality. As each of them is of emptiness and has no “mind,” the striking man is not a man, the sword in his hands is not a sword, and the “I” who is about to be struck down is like the splitting of the spring breeze in a flash of lightning.
The samurai appear to have had little difficulty in reconciling their Zen religion with their warrior ethos.
It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle. – Sun Tzu
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/539584]
In the twentieth century, the Imperial Japanese developed soldier-Zen as a particular spiritual ethos compatible with their nation and state. This was advocated in particular by Lieutenant Colonel Sugimoto Gorō (1900-1937), who died in battle in China, and was honored by the Zen orders as a “military god” (gunshin).
|Buddhist monks practice military drill in the 1930s under the gaze of an army officer. By the 1930s, Buddhism had effectively been militarized to support Japan’s wars abroad.|
The Zen that I do . . . is soldier-Zen. The reason that Zen is important for soldiers is that all Japanese, especially soldiers, must live in the spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects, eliminating their ego and getting rid of their self. It is exactly the awakening to the nothingness of Zen that is the fundamental spirit of the unity of sovereign and subjects. Through my practice of Zen I am able to get rid of my ego. In facilitating the accomplishment of this, Zen becomes, as it is, the true spirit of the Imperial military.* * *The emperor is identical with the Great [Sun] Goddess Amaterasu. He is the supreme and only God of the universe, the supreme sovereign of the universe. All of the many components [of a country] including such things as its laws and constitution, its religion, ethics, learning, art, etc. are expedient means by which to promote unity with the emperor. That is to say, the greatest mission of these components is to promote an awareness of the non-existence of the self and the absolute nature of the emperor. Because of the nonexistence of the self everything in the universe is a manifestation of the emperor . . . including even the insect chirping in the hedge, or the gentle spring breeze. . . .* * *If you wish to penetrate the true meaning of “Great Duty,” the first thing you should do is to embrace the teachings of Zen and discard self-attachment.* * *War is moral training for not only the individual but for the entire world. It consists of the extinction of self-seeking and the destruction of self-preservation. It is only those without self-attachment who are able to revere the emperor absolutely.* * *Life and death are identical. [Compare the Zen concept: “Unity of life and death” (shōji ichinyo)] . . . Warriors who sacrifice their lives for the emperor will not die, but live forever. Truly, they should be called gods and Buddhas for whom there is no life or death. . . . Where there is absolute loyalty there is no life or death. Where there is life and death there is no absolute loyalty. When a person talks of his view of life and death, that person has not yet become pure in heart. He has not yet abandoned body and mind. In pure loyalty there is no life or death. Simply live in pure loyalty!* * *In Buddhism, especially the Zen sect, there is repeated reference to the identity of body and mind. In order to realize this identity of the two it is necessary to undergo training with all one’s might and regardless of the sacrifice. Furthermore, the essence of the unity of body and mind is to be found in egolessness. Japan is a country where the Sovereign and the people are identical. When Imperial subjects meld themselves into one with the August Mind [of the emperor], their original countenance shines forth. The essence of the unity of the sovereign and the people is egolessness.
There is an almost “national-pagan” quality to soldier-Zen’s sublimation of the self into an assertive nation mystically united around a divine monarch.
Monks at Asakusa Temple, in Tokyo, perform air raid drills with gas masks in 1936
[PHOTO SOURCE: https://japandaily.jp/was-wwii-a-holy-war-1830/]
Following his death in battle, Sugimoto was honored as a national hero by Yamazaki Ekijū, the head of the Rinzai Zen school. This is unsurprising given that Yamazaki’s Zen was firmly national and self-sacrificing. He said, “Japanese Buddhism must be centered on the emperor; for were it not, it would have no place in Japan, it would not be living Buddhism. Even Buddhism must conform to the national structure of Japan. The same holds true for Shakyamuni [Buddha]’s teachings.” He claimed that the Japanese had so cultivated selflessness that, “[f]or Japanese there is no such thing as sacrifice.”
A grenade fragment hit him in the left shoulder. He seemed to have fallen down but then got up again. Although he was standing, one could not hear his commands. He was no longer able to issue commands with that husky voice of his. . . . Yet he was still standing, holding his sword in one hand as a prop. Both legs were slightly bent, and he was facing in an easterly direction [toward the imperial palace]. It appeared that he had saluted though his hand was now lowered to about the level of his mouth. The blood flowing from his mouth covered his watch.In the past it was considered to be the true appearance of a Zen priest to pass away while doing zazen [seated meditation]. Those who were completely and thoroughly enlightened, however, . . . could die calmly in a standing position. . . . The reason this was possible was due to samādhi [concentration] power.To the last second Sugimoto was a man whose speech and actions were at one with each other.When he saluted and faced the east, there is no doubt that he also shouted, “May His Majesty, the emperor, live for 10,000 years!” [Tennō-heika Banzai]. It is for this reason that his was the radiant ending of an Imperial soldier. Not only that, but his excellent appearance should be a model for future generations of someone who lived in Zen.
For Yamazaki, Sugimoto “demonstrated the action that derives from the unity of Zen and sword [zenken ichinyo].” Furthermore, “[t]hrough the awareness Sugimoto achieved in becoming one with death, there was, I think, nothing he couldn’t achieve.”
INTERNET SOURCE: https://www.counter-currents.com/2018/03/sugimoto-goro-soldier-zen/
Isoroku Yamamoto (山本 五十六 Yamamoto Isoroku, April 4, 1884 – April 18, 1943) was a Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Navy and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II until his death.
Yamamoto held several important posts in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), and undertook many of its changes and reorganizations, especially its development of naval aviation. He was the commander-in-chief during the decisive early years of the Pacific War and therefore responsible for major battles, such as Pearl Harbor and Midway. He died when American code breakers identified his flight plans and his plane was shot down. His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.
“The fiercest serpent may be overcome by a swarm of ants.” - Isoroku Yamamoto
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/752994]
Statement in opposition of the planned construction of the Yamato class battleships, as quoted in Scraps of paper: the disarmament treaties between the world wars (1989) by Harlow A. Hyde. In this statement, Yamamoto implies that even the most powerful battleships can be sunk by a huge swarm of carrier planes. This remark also proved prophetic as both Yamato and Musashi would be sunk by overwhelming air attacks.