authority and corruption

Dear all, I hope this message finds you in good health and peace of mind.

I was reading through the notes and the Japanese Buddhism book and one question came to my mind;
- how much you think the relationship of the clergy and authority (shogun, emperor, etc) might have changed or corrupted the teachings and the way it was transmitted throughout Asia?
It has been recorded how much it affected other traditions when it comes to privilege and benefits....
any thoughts?

Earl Hardie Karges's picture

Changes to Japanese Buddhism?

Changes? That would seem probable, though maybe difficult to define and explain. Corruption? That implies a value judgment, that any changes would have been bad ones, so maybe subjective. Privileges and benefits seem to be the main sphere of influence, though, as it seems that the official monks were there mostly to reinforce the authority in power at the time, and the societal status quo.

Because of that, of course, there were many people at the fringes of society left out, and many unofficial monks rose to serve them, thus creating dynamic new systems in the process. So was the Zen that was transmitted to the West not so long ago a 'corruption' of the Ch'an Buddhism that Japan received many centuries before? Good question. And was that a 'corruption' of the 'dhyana' that came from India before that? Again, good question, and no definitive answer comes to mind. But I think it's important to note that not all changes are necessarily bad ones.