Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen G. Covell

Second Advisor

Dr. Brian Wilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol Anderson

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


My research focused on the interpretation of "peace" in the Zen tradition and to what extent the tradition's adherents believe and participate in social action. The project first examines the relationship between the two primary definitions of "peace" used by Zen priests and practitioners: one being a tranquil "peace of mind" and the other being a peace between individual, groups and nations. All Zen adherents use the first definition. The second definition, although present, is not practiced by all in the Zen tradition and led to many debates throughout Zen's history. I examined these debates between the quietist and activist sides primarily through the lenses of how people in the Zen tradition view enlightenment, the primary goal of practice, and how they view meditation, the primary form of practice.

The project then focused on those believed active participation in the world to be a necessary part of the path, but whose opinions led to support of sexual or social discrimination, murder, and war.

The final part of the project showed Zen activist in Taiwan, Japan, and the United States whose activism had very positive impacts on the world. The final section also examined ways in which these efforts might be expanded in the future through analysis of various social structures.

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