Release Date: November 5, 2008
Media Contact: Stephen King, External Relations
Phone: 306-585-5439
Mobile: 306-536-4312
Fax: 306-585-4997
Western versus Japanese Zen
Though the Japanese conception of "Zen" was introduced to the Western world around the turn of the twentieth century, it has since been romanticized and no longer reflects real Japanese traditions, says Kevin Bond, a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Regina.

Bond believes that Zen has been re-packaged in the West as a form of "Oriental mysticism," which has in turn led to various Zen-related commercial products. He will present the latest lecture in the Coffee House Controversies Series on Thurs., November 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Chapters bookstore behind the Southland Mall (2625 Gordon Road) where he will juxtapose the peace-loving spirituality commonly associated with Zen in the West with the tradition's intimate association with racist and militaristic colonialism in Japan.

"I identify how the popular Western conceptions of ‘classic' Zen such as meditation and tea ceremonies in fact played very different and often marginal roles in the institutional history of Japanese Zen," he says.      

Bond specializes in Buddhism and Japanese religion.  His current research explores the relationship between religion, material culture and entertainment in early modern Japan.  He has spent extensive time in Japan conducting research and participating with Buddhist organizations. 

Coffee House Controversies speakers give an informal 20-minute talk focusing on a controversial topic of interest to the general public. The talks are intended to encourage the open exchange of ideas. Twenty minutes of discussion follows each talk, during which members of the general public can ask questions or raise issues with the speaker or other audience members.

The events are free and open to the public. Contact the Faculty of Arts at 585-4226 for more information.