The Way

02024-02-03 | Buddhism, History, Zen | 6 comments

The word Buddhism was only coined by Europeans in the last few hundred years. For two millennia Buddhists were simply known as people who followed the Dharma. The word Dharma, like many Sanskrit words, has a wide range of meanings and can’t be translated into a single English word. However, a general description that works well enough for this purpose is path. It’s a path or prescription that can be followed. 

This meaning led to an interesting story when the Dharma arrived in China, because Tao means The Way. Some Taoists believed a story (early conspiracy theory!?) that claimed Laozi traveled east after writing the Tao Te Ching and taught a young man named Siddhartha about the Tao, which later came to be called the Dharma. It was suggested that the Dharma was built on the Tao or, to take the image of a path or road further, that the Dharma connected to the Tao. This is not at all likely but, like all good conspiracy theories, remotely possible. Siddhartha Gautama is said to have been born between 563 and 480 BCE and Laozi was born sometime between the 4th and 6th century BCE. 

Something else happened, however… Dharma met Tao in China and became Chan and then Zen. Instead of extending the path into India, a new path was forged. 


  1. anne

    yeah..the new path lead to kamikaze fighters

  2. Steve

    Zen Buddhism, like any other religion or philosophy is diverse, and not all adherents interpret its teachings in the same way.

    While there may have been Japanese pilots who were influenced by Zen principles, it is essential to recognize that the motivations for Kamikaze missions were multifaceted.

    Factors such as extreme nationalism, loyalty to the emperor, and a sense of duty to defend Japan played significant roles in the decision-making of Kamikaze pilots.

    The historical and political context of Japan during World War II, including the militaristic government’s influence, also played a crucial role in shaping the actions of Kamikaze pilots.

    It might be unnecessarily reductive to draw a straight line between Zen —> Kamikaze pilots as an aggregate.

    • anne

      only Zen would end up with Kamikaze pilots

      Zen teaches one thing only

      other paths of Buddhism stand by the vow ….do not kill

  3. anne

    Buddhism is just like any other spiritual path….full of contradictions and worse

    just been reading a book written by a Buddhist nun – omg – what she had to endure – still endures by a bunch of misogynistic monks. Disgraceful.

    • anne

      buddhism /zen is full of controversial teachers ..same goes for the integral movement

      (when teachers find a naive eager student, they do everything they can to f – k them up – imo.)

      Saddest thing about this is the damage it does, not just to the student and their families but to the POTENTIAL.

      Senior leader’s take advise from people they trust – they vet.
      Very unlikely they will listen deeply… – teachers / advise /insights will be simply dismissed.

  4. Y.

    Many beautiful lives are lost to wars. I disagree with that opinion on Zen and the kamikaze. I do not wish to explore that singular theory.

    I do wish to know about the history of origin of the word, Buddhism. I found that interesting. Thank you.
    How we coin the unknown and set an image with a name to it is always fascinating.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Concert Dates

Thu, May 30 2024 in Phoenix, AZ

Fri, May 31 2024 in Tucson, AZ
@ Rialto Theater

Sat, Jun 1 2024 in Sedona, AZ
@ Sound Bites

Sun, Jun 2 2024 in Sedona, AZ
@ Sound Bites


@Mastodon (the Un-Twitter)