Buddhist Terrorism: Killing Compassionately?

Prof. Brian Victoria (Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies), asks: Is it possible for a Buddhist, acting in accordance with Buddhist teachings, to take the lives of others out of compassion?

Friday, May 14, 2021
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (Pacific Time)
by Zoom

Image for RSVP ButtonImage for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button

Religious terrorism is today almost exclusively associated with Islam in the popular mind. Yet, though little known in the West, there was a major terrorist incident in early 1930s Japan related to the Zen school of Buddhism, both Rinzai and Sōtō sects. The incident consisted of a series of three assassinations which directly contributed to Japan’s emergence as a totalitarian society, thereby facilitating Japan’s subsequent attack on Pearl Harbor. Popularly known as the “Blood Oath Corps Incident” (J. Ketsumeidan Jiken), Inoue Nisshō, a lay disciple of Rinzai Zen Master Yamamoto Gempō, headed a band of some twenty Zen-trained terrorists. While introducing the historical significance of this incident, the presentation will focus on the Buddhist justification for these terrorist acts.

Brian Victoria is a native of Omaha, Nebraska and graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University. He holds a M.A. in Buddhist Studies from Sōtō Zen sect-affiliated Komazawa University in Tokyo, and a Ph.D. from the Department of Religious Studies at Temple University. Brian’s major writings include Zen Terror in Prewar Japan: Portrait of an Assassin (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), a 2nd, enlarged edition of Zen At War (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); Zen War Stories (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003); Zen Master Dōgen, coauthored with Prof. Yokoi Yūhō of Aichi-gakuin University (Weatherhill, 1976); and a translation of The Zen Life by Sato Koji (Weatherhill, 1972). Brian is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and fully ordained Buddhist priest in the Sōtō Zen sect.  

Cost : Free and open to the public, but RSVP and Zoom account required


Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies, Center for the Study of Religion