Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brand-Name Zen

My book Brand-Name Zen: The Commodification of Zen in the West is now in print. Hooray! It's available as a Kindle ebook and in hard copy from Createspace or directly from Amazon.

Below is a synopsis. I hope you enjoy.

Modern American Zen is in a deplorable state: Zen Masters are now pseudo-celebrities; Dharma Transmission has been co-opted as a branding technique; and worst of all, Zen has degenerated into a lifestyle identity whose primary aim is no longer Buddhahood, but rather the perpetuation of the Zen institution itself. Zen is more interested in establishing orthodoxy and orthopraxy than it is in helping people realize their Buddha Nature.

Western Zen has become just as consumer-driven and celebrity-obsessed as the rest of American culture. And the worst part is that no one in the Zen community even seems to notice. Or to care.

Brand-Name Zen takes a bold and daring look at the current decadence of modern Western Zen. It poses very important questions regarding the entire Western Zen institution, such as what is the true function of Dharma Transmission? How has zazen become the signature Zen “pose”? How have kōans been appropriated as a means to establish and maintain authoritarian power structures?

Brand-Name Zen offers an invaluable mirror for Western Zen to evaluate itself. It is a must read for any serious Zen student.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading it. Prof. Jin Park has been doing study in articulating a Zen ethics for the West since Western ethics doesn't seem to have the categories that fit. Have you included that aspect of the Western acculturation of Zen? My favorite Zen commodification was the "Zen Cereal" sold at stores.