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Affirmation via Negation: Zen, Philosophy of Life, Sexual Desire, and Infinite Love
- Michiko Yusa (Professor of Japanese Thought and Intercultural Philosophy at Western Washington University in Bellingham, in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Center for East Asian Studies)
Contrary to an ambiguous picture of Zen Buddhism to “deny” life, D. T. Suzuki, Hiratsuka Raichō, and Nishida Kitarō–all of whom practiced (Rinzai) Zen and attained “kenshō”–talked about life in the most affirmative way, but their discourse is mediated by the moment of the negation of what comes with the ego. Their discussion on sexual desire is illuminating in terms of their philosophy of life.
Professor of Japanese Thought and Intercultural Philosophy at Western Washington University in Bellingham, in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Center for East Asian Studies
Michiko Yusa is a professor of Japanese Thought and Intercultural Philosophy at Western Washington University in Bellingham, in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the Center for East Asian Studies. She received her Ph.D. in 1983 from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she worked closely with Raimon Panikkar and Ninian Smart.
She has published widely, including four books, Zen and Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitarō (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002); Japanese Religious Traditions (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), Denki Nishida Kitarō [A biography of Nishida Kitarō in Japanese] (Kyoto: Tōeisha, 1998), and Basic Kanji with Matsuo Soga, (Tokyo: Taishūkan, 1989, fifth printing 2007), and co-edited volumes, Isamu Noguchi and Skyviewing Sculpture: Proceedings of Japan Week 2003 (Bellingham: Western Washington University, 2004), and CIRPIT Review 5 (2014), a special issue of the symposium on Raimon Panikkar held in Baltimore in 2013 in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion. She has just completed her task of volume editor of The Bloomsbury Research Handbook on Contemporary Japanese Philosophy, forthcoming in 2017.
She is the past president of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, and is currently serving as its Program Chair for the American Academy of Religion. Her on-going research includes Nishida Kitarō’s thought, Women’s spirituality in Japanese Buddhism (a book project), philosophy of artistic creativity (such as the poet Matsuo Bashō), and the thought of Raimon Panikkar (the current book project), and the “theory of knowledge” that makes intercultural philosophy possible.
She currently holds the Roche Chair at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, of which she is Visiting Research Fellow, 2016-17.