Dr. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu's "Postmodernist Age"

Gishin Tokiwa

It is a great honor and pleasure to be with you, Zen practitioners in Europe, here at de Tiltenberg. Together, let us think on what the Japanese Zen philosopher Dr. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu (1889-1980) meant by his "Postmodernist age."1 We can do this by examining two talks he had in 1976: one in March with Ryôji Watanabe, M. D., and the other in October with Professor of Philosophy Seishi Ishii.2

I. Random Talk by a Postmodernist

Transcendental Conclusions & The Method to Know Them

Dr. Hisamatsu began his talk 3 with Dr. Watanabe by referring to the importance of the kind of conclusion which is transzendental, a conclusion that precedes experience. Ordinary conclusions are reached after experiences, and that is the kind of method that has been used in modern times, that is, the inductive method. Hisamatsu's so-called transzendentaler Schluß, the kind of conclusion that does not depend on experiences, that which is pre-experiential, also becomes a method for creating new things. It is the deductive method, or transzendentale Methode, which has been neglected in the Modern Age as groundless and unscientific. But from Hisamatsu's point of view, such a method actually exists, and neglecting it is rather unscientific.

Hisamatsu admits that it may be difficult for ordinary people to think of such a method consciously, but one must admit there are human beings equipped with such a transzendentale Methode. He says people who are gifted for discovery are so equipped, and they go on interpreting or understanding what is experiential according to it. He also says that when one creates something, one must necessarily start with a conclusion; without a conclusion, one cannot go on creating anything new or interpreting things anew. Hisamatsu gives an example:

When Isaac Newton [1642-1727] discovered the law of universal gravitation, it was not that he came to the law as a conclusion after examining various cases experientially. He had very limited experience. He reached the conclusion only when he noticed an apple fall to the ground. In terms of his experiences he reached his conclusion through very scarce resources -- an apple fell to the ground. One might say it was quite groundless. But things were different. His realization, which came like an inspiration, that the earth has a pulling force, was not just subjective. He interpreted various phenomena or experiences through his apparently subjective conclusion, that is, the law of universal gravitation....

Creation of the Postmodernist Age

This is important in connection with creating the Postmodernist age, the central concern of his. He says that creating the Postmodernist age is quite a new thing, and creating a new world should be not by following things we have hitherto had but by "turning them over." Besides, it require s objectivity; it should be no mere casual idea.

The Experience-Centered Modern Age

Hisamatsu insists that the Modern Age has already come to its end. The Modern Age has certainly completed a world different from that of the Middle Ages and achieved what had been impossible in the Middle Ages. And central to those achievements has been the inductive method or experiential laws. Science, social systems, and learning, i.e., experiential sciences, have been the main streams of the Modern Age. Their experiential method or experiential conclusion was a new one that had been beyond thought in the Middle Ages, and that has brought the Modern Age into being.

Modern Age in Disunity

But, he says, the Modern Age has come to develop endlessly to "mannigfaltig" or to "differenzieren," towards various directions. According to Hisamatsu, this has been the case with politics, economy, philosophy, and religion as well -- for which unity should be of utmost importance. Everything has gone in the direction of dis-unity. Although it has been an important direction that has built up the Modern Age, it has gone to the extreme.

Hisamatsu maintains that is how science has lost unity. Fields of science have lost sight of mutual, horizontal relations, and have been split up into different directions. Hisamatsu does not think science can rightly remain like this. He thinks that at the bottom of science there should be unity, oneness, and that having lost oneness is a terrible fault of present-day science.

Science and Ethics

Hisamatsu says that science has developed all by itself, and has separated itself, for example, from ethics. Neglecting ethics has led to the problems we encounter now, such as the use of atomic energy. Atomic energy, which Hisamatsu admits is a great discovery, would lead to a "runaway science" when used for wars, homicide, and crimes. Human beings cannot live only with science; ethics plays a very important part in human life, so that when science works, it must work ethically. If it becomes harmful for human beings, progress of science will go against ethics.

Hisamatsu thinks that now scientists have come to be aware of the problem, but that they don't seem to have any drastic method. The reason is that the y go on with that kind of scientific standpoint which has no basic connection with ethics.

The Necessity for Unity

Hisamatsu says that human beings, as we originally are, cannot well remain split up in that way; ultimately there must be unity for human beings in every field of our activities -- in science, ethics, art, religion, politics, economy, and so on.

Splitting of Nations

In order to emphasize the necessity for unity and a new world-history, Hisamatsu analyzes the disruption of things in the Modern Age and the disruptive character of the Modern Age itself. To quote:

First, national policy will be impossible if the nation is broken up. Nowadays nations tend to be broken up more and more. New nations come into being yearly, and from the modern point of view this may be justified; more nations should become independent. As a result, the world goes on being split into many nations, which is a modern tendency. But that means there being no end to wars or skirmishes among nations. All independent nations have their own absolute sovereignty, which is how a nation-state is. Wars occur incessantly since nations insist on their egos. That means the modern way of being is already in a deadlock.

SALT and the UN
Disruption of Human Beings

According to Hisamatsu the Modern Age has been moving towards disruption, and the more nation-states come into being the more disrupted the age becomes; that is the mode of being of the Modern Age. Even a single nation-state shows disruption in itself. Now think of a single human being, he says. Nothing is more split than that. No oneness or unity is seen in an individual. No wonder so-called "split personality" is becoming more common. But that is only a phenomenal matter. Actually, human beings have been disrupted in various aspects and have no unity in themselves. For example, no unity between science and ethics exists in individuals. Thus, he says, what is lacking in the world is also lacking in individuals; disruption and dissociation is the mode of being of modern human beings.

Disruption of Religions

Hisamatsu says that the presence of unity means the presence of religion in the true sense of the term. But, insofar as religions are concerned, they are also broken up. "Freedom of religion" has been insisted on, an insistence peculiar to the Modern Age. Thus, religions have claimed what suited their own convenience, and show disruption. In every religion, among their denominations, there is division and each insists on its own way.

Medieval Religions

He says there are surviving medieval religions that have not shown disruption as yet since they are not yet steeped in the Modern Age; but they will die out as religions in the Middle Ages did. Medieval religions perished because they lacked plurality. Such medieval religions had better leap into the Postmodern age, for that will provide them with a true mode of being. Considered from the perspective of the whole world, the Modern Age is finished. That means, even if surviving medieval religions became modern-age-like, they would still be out of date.


Modern-age disruptions or contradictions, Hisamatsu says, are very serious. Philosophies of such contradictions have become Marxism and the like. Dialectics are of such a nature. Their insistence that two opposed points get resolved into one, that is, go throughaufheben, means the endlessness of a vicious circle. At one stage of unification there takes place another opposition, and repetition of this process is a dialectic method. No true and absolute conclusion, which could provide a basis for the creation of a new era, can come out of such a Modern-age philosophy.

Their ultimate unity, the so-called "an und für sich" comes at the final stage, which lies beyond the eternal future. That always remains something ideal instead of real. He says that such an ideal has been sought after more and more today because that is the kind of unification that disruptions demand from within -- internal unity.

The Postmodernist Declaration

Aiming at oneness while being split, intending for unity in the midst of disruption, Hisamatsu says, makes its appearance today in the world in various fields. International conferences also seek for "unity," which will never become "real," for it is still sought after on the extension of the Modern Age. Unless one cuts off the line of the Modern Age and builds up the world on a new standpoint, there will be no emancipation from the ruin of the Modern Age.

Thus Hisamatsu advocates "transzendentaler Schluß," as the method for this emancipation, instead of anything modern-age-like. What he presents as " Schluß" or conclusion is the "Postmodernist Manifesto":

The Postmodernist Manifesto 4

  1. Postmodernist Awakening:
    Through the Postmodernist Self-Realization based on the F.A.S. philosophy of Awakening we shall reconstruct the independence of all humankind, which has collapsed through the intrinsic contradictions and phenomenal dilemmas of the modern age.

  2. Ultimate Sovereignty Rests with All Humankind:
    Departing radically from the structure of pluralistic national egoism which has been fatally deadlocked, we shall establish one united and universal sovereignty of all humankind, and develop ethics, polity, economy, and culture of, by, and for all humankind.

  3. The Communalization of All Material and Spiritual Wealth by All Humankind:
    Liberating all material and spiritual wealth from the monopoly of nationalistic control, we shall commmunalize them for the service and benefit of all humankind.

Hisamatsu says this is not anything that derives from experience. He presented it, he says, but it goes beyond himself as an individual; it is presented as the kind of conclusion that is not personal, that precedes experience, that goes beyond experience. On the basis of this conclusion the world is put in order; the method precedes putting the world in order. The method used is not the inductive one but the deductive method. To quote Hisamatsu:

Science, religion, philosophy, ethics, politics, economy, and all are unified according to this method, and a new system is to be created. Politically seen, hitherto we have had a state system. The so-called international system is, after all, a state system. What we are to have anew is a world system, instead of a state system or an international system, a system in which the whole world is one.

Creation from the Conclusion

Hisamatsu emphasizes the importance and urgency of basing ourselves on the conclusion and actually going forward to create and practice -- going out into practice instead of giving way to discussion. Otherwise, he says, the Modern Age will continue with disruption, which means leading to a deadlock. According to him, uniting the present world has been insisted upon by those who are also in a deadlock. Thus, while the necessity is insisted on, there has been no method presented. While it is said that something must be done, no idea comes out on what to do. And that reveals how out of date modern ideas already are. Besides, what is creative that is modern-age-like is not truly or ultimately creative, he says. By presenting his idea, Hisamatsu means that one should change one's way of thinking from that of the Modern Age to that according to which "unity," "creative unity" of the world, comes first, where a conclusion precedes, and from which creation is made.

The Time for Revolution

In this way Hisamatsu insists that the time for discussion about what to do has gone; it is the time for changing our old way of thinking and revolutionizing the world according to the Postmodernist method; it is the time for a revolution from the Modern Age. Decisively standing up and continually revolutionizing the world according to the law of the Postmodernist age is the best way to save the modern world from ruin. Creating a new age leads to saving humankind from the ruin of modern times. In this case the savior is true religion, which, different from ordinary religions, has come out of the inner demand of human beings. He says, philosophy, ethics, and culture should be of the same kind, i.e., that which has come out of the inner demand of human beings.

Postmodernist Life A Historical Necessity

Hisamatsu announces the downfall of the Modern Age to be a historical necessity, far from his personal view. He says history now has no other way but to go in that direction. He also announces that, speaking from his Postmodernist life, his age is six years, though he is in his eighty-seventh year (as of 1976). He says, even if he dies then, his Postmodernist life is alive. By that he seems to mean the creation of the Postmodernist age by those who share the significance of his "Postmodernist Manifesto."

Postmodernist Philosophy

Then Hisamatsu speaks of Postmodernist philosophy, a philosophy that is one with and inseparable from religion. It is the kind of philosophy that contains manyness in oneness, a manyness based on oneness. In the Middle Ages there was false oneness, for it excluded manyness. In the Modern Age there is manyness alone, without oneness. According to Postmodernist philosophy, Hisamatsu says, oneness contains manyness in it, and manyness has oneness as its basis; that is the kind of philosophy which did not exist either in the Middle Ages or in modern times. Thus, in the Postmodernist age, oneness comes first -- transcendental oneness. This oneness contains manyness, and manyness is the functioning of oneness. Besides, this manyness is not just manyness; it has oneness as its basis. That is how the Postmodernist age differs from both the Middle Ages and the Modern Age. It covers the defects of both ages. Hisamatsu says that is what the Postmodernist age is, and that is why it is inevitable.

The Downfall of the Modern Age

Dr. Watanabe agrees with Dr. Hisamatsu about the inevitability of a change concerning the way things are, but he wonders how they can be changed. Hisamatsu says this is an important problem now facing us. Hisamatsu repeats the reason for the difficulty -- that people are still in the rut of the Modern Age and have not got free from it. There has been no Postmodernist conclusion from the Modern Age; people don't know what to do; they are lost.

Hisamatsu says he pities people for their being at a loss. They are at a loss because they -- young and old -- feel the downfall of the Modern Age in t heir bones, though they may not clearly realize it. And that is why Hisamatsu believes some concrete idea must be presented that may clear away their bewilderment.

World Masses

Then Watanabe asks if Hisamatsu means that we need a political genius who may appeal to the masses. Hisamatsu responds:

What we need is something whole, rather than some individual(s) as it was considered hitherto; we need something like the power of the masses.

Hisamatsu says that by the masses he means "world masses" instead of "nation al masses." He says he believes that conclusions embraced by such masses will become what matters most of all hereafter. Quite naturally Watanabe expresses doubt whether the world-masses could embrace Hisamatsu's so-called transcendental conclusion. Watanabe says it will be only particular people who have transcendental capabilities who can be aware of such conclusions.

Hisamatsu does not think as Watanabe does. Hisamatsu believes that the masses will surely become aware of such a conclusion when it is presented, since the conclusion is genuine. He believes that the masses will move according to such a conclusion necessarily, because the world becoming that way is a historical necessity. He says, it is the whole that has built up the Modern Age and not any particular person, like Kepler (Johannes, 1571-1630, German astronomer) or Descartes (René, 1596-1650, French mathematician & philosopher).

Physical Time and Historical Time,
Time of Labor Pains for a New Era

Hisamatsu, then, refers to "historical time" distinct from "physical time." In the Modern Age, people think of time as clock time, i.e., physical time, and consider this as authentic time. But historical time exists as something that destroys physical time. For example, a hundred years of physical time can pass in one year of historical time. He says, a revolution in which the Postmodernist world is established will come unexpectedly early whereas modern-age people may be wondering when it will be. It will break out since internally historical time is moving, although it may need some stimulus. And, given that stimulus, it will burst forth and give birth to a new period. Now is a period of labor pains; by breaking out of this a new era will suddenly emerge.

Historical Time and Postmodernist Revolution

Hisamatsu emphasizes the importance of historical time for human beings. In the case of individual reformation or repentance, a person who had been evil for the past twenty or thirty years is suddenly transformed into a person of virtue. Concerning the transformation of the world, people should embrace the way of thinking that is historical time. People should realize that thinking of the human world as regulated by physical time is rather superfluous. People should change their way of thinking which wonders when this Postmodernist revolution will happen. If they want, people can do so in an instant, and that is historical time, creative time. Hisamatsu always seem to address the so-called world masses, through each of us, to be sure.

A Leap from a Polygon to a Circle

To explain the urgency for people to change their way of thinking in connection with his transcendental conclusion, Hisamatsu asks how a polygon can be transformed into a circle. Watanabe is quick to grasp Hisamatsu's intention: It is impossible for a polygon to become a circle, however many times the sides are increased. Hisamatsu explains:

Never will they become a circle; it is just like what I call the experiential method. By infinitely increasing the sides of a polygon, people insist that they will finally have a circle. In this case one could say a polygon aims at oneness. The polygon, as it were, believes that it can reach the circle by infinitely increasing its own sides. The oneness as its objective, in this case, is nothing but an ideal oneness. It is far from anything real. From that way of thinking there will arise no action to go beyond the polygon. Seeking after oneness endlessly, without realizing oneness, also means the impossibility of arriving at a conclusion. Then there will be no possibility of acting from a conclusion. There will be no acting from the circle. Human beings have a method different from that. That is, leaping out of it, leaping out of the polygon and going to the circle. Even when one insists on aiming at a circle by increasing the polygonal sides, after all, at the final stage where the sides are infinite, there will be no other way to reach the circle but to leap out. Otherwise, the circle would never become real. Unless one leaps out, the circle forever remains an ideal. The method of increasing the polygonal sides has such a destiny. Leaping out, on the other hand, is a method different from that, or rather a contrary method. A triangle, the simplest form of a polygon, is enough as an example. By leaping out of the sides of a triangle one reaches a circle. A leap, a flying jump it is, but not a subjective jump. It is a radical criticism of the method of increasing the sides. By a different method one reaches a circle. That is the transzendentale Methode.

Watanabe sees Hisamatsu's point and says the problem is what that method is. Hisamatsu says that those who want to reach a circle by increasing the sides are modernists, whereas those who leap out are Postmodernists. Hisamatsu adds that leaping out of a polygon from whichever side and reaching a circle means attaining the true objective, and after the objective is attained the circle can function. The circle can have itself function either as a triangle or as a square -- namely in infinite forms. Thus, oneness can contain manyness in itself.

Simultaneous Attainment and Gradual Attainment

To clarify the nature of his so-called "leap," Hisamatsu contrasts two ways of Zen practice: simultaneous attainment and gradual attainment. Gradual attainment is what practitioners in present-day Zen monasteries pursue, that is, they complete their practice by spending a long time in going through the 1,700 koan cases, one after another. Thinking that one attains satori only after examining all the koan is rather a modernist way of thinking. That is how Shenxiu was said to practice Chan/Zen in China, contrary to what Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen, advocated: "Im-mediate Awakening" or "Awakening Simultaneously [with Practice]" (Ch. dunwu ; J. tongo). Hisamatsu says "dun" [Skt. yugapad; "being in the same yoke," "simultaneously"] is Postmodern as the manner of attaining Awakening. Thus, even Zen practitioners are criticized as have fallen victim to the modernist way of thinking.

Body and Mind Cast Off; the Cast-Off Body and
Mind -- Postmodernist Being

Watanabe comments that the way of thinking Hisamatsu has been talking about does not seem to negate the method of natural science which Watanabe and others have been pursuing. Hisamatsu agrees and says that even when the Postmodernist age comes, the method of natural science may well develop; but being human itself will become the problem. Hisamatsu explains what he means by this problem and the way to overcome it:

Human beings usually consider themselves to have body and mind, and, in terms of the disruption of the Modern Age, this common understanding which lacks unity about their own being reveals the modernists' characteristic fault. Meanwhile, Zen speaks of the casting off of body and mind. Having body and mind refers to ordinary humans, and such body and mind are cast off. But this does not mean that there is no human being any more. A human being whose body and mind are cast off exists, as a true human being, a human being that has transcended body and mind.
But having body and mind cast off alone does not mean a true human being; it would leave the being without any functioning. A human being whose body and mind have been cast off works with body and mind, and this resuscitated human being is the true human being, the Postmodernist being.

Postmodernist Politics & Economy -- Communalism

Hisamatsu says:

Politics also should become something like Postmodernist politics. Then there will be no need for nations to be at odds with one another. Instead, everyone's wants will be supplied throughout the world. Needs may freely be fulfilled, for that is economy. Being mutually complementary is true economy, although nowadays that is not the case. Rather, there are conflicting attempts to autocratically fulfill one's own needs with force.

Hisamatsu analyzes the actual situation: Insofar as nation-states are separated from one another, unjust and unfair situations arise; in some places there are ample resources whereas in other places there are none at all. Hisamatsu says that is the inevitability of nation-states. He takes up the case of the former Soviet Union:

Soviet Russia is a far cry from communism; it has nothing to do with communism, at least seen from the world viewpoint. It possesses that vast land for itself. Not only that, it monopolizes all the massive resources contained in the land. It makes technology and so on its exclusive property. It is ridiculous to call this communism.

Hisamatsu uses the term "communalism," and says, a true communism should be communalism. Communalism means communalization of not only material but spiritual wealth of the world. If people fill each other's needs on the standpoint of communalism, problems like the oil crisis would not occur, and small countries would not need to try and contain their overflowing population. There is much space on the planet for people to go and live; they can develop lands not yet developed, and aid in joint ownership and fair distribution of resources, both economic and cultural.

The United Nations and the World Federation of Nations

Hisamatsu criticizes the UN as a gathering of national egos, and says that what is required is not that kind of joint meeting but a world-political society. From Hisamatsu's viewpoint, no mere combination of nations of the world, either the UN or the WFN, the latter having been promoted by Dr. Hideki Yukawa and others, will do. He says, nations ought to be dissolved to return to oneness.

Abolishing States and Establishing Continents --
Postmodernist World

According to Hisamatsu's idea, nation-states are to be abolished and continents established -- six in all: the continents of Europe, Asia, India, Africa, South America, and North America. He names the world as the source of the nation-states abolished and the six continents newly established, because in any system oneness must be the source. The world is oneness, and the six continents exist for the world to function. They are limbs of the world as oneness. This new, Postmodernist world, will have a center, whose location, Hisamatsu thinks, may be decided in its relation to the six continents. He says, there will be various ways of dividing the six continents, and deciding the extent of each continent.

Watanabe suggests that the EC in Europe and the ASEAN in Asia represent a move like the one Hisamatsu suggests. The latter agrees, and says that there are various ways to move towards unifying nations, and that such a move seems inevitable.

We Must Be in a Hurry

Hisamatsu expresses hope for, and dissatisfaction with, the present F.A.S. Society, an association for critical study of religion and for Zen practice. It was started by several students and Hisamatsu when he was associate professor of Buddhism and Religious Studies at Kyoto University in 1944. It has been promoted by nearly one hundred members at home and many more abroad. He hopes that members will stand together on his so-called transzendentaler Schluß and make public their decision to go on thinking how to deal with the future world. But he feels impatient with the actual direction, which is towards increasing sides of a polygon. Watanabe says that this kind of thing requires one to first become such a person.

Hisamatsu responds:

Actually, that is something we must be in a hurry to do, though I don't welcome undue haste. We need to be composed and hasty at once.

The reason Hisamatsu says that we need to be composed and hasty at once is that everything now is in a downfall and the world is in a deadlock; without improving this situation there is no way out.

Hisamatsu refers to an expression in the "Vow of Humankind": "discerning suffering both individual and social, and its sources," and concludes, "As a matter of fact, discerning the sources has not been done yet."

Genuine Philosophy and Religion

Hisamatsu says that he doesn't see true philosophy nowadays; what he sees is only histories of philosophy. Studying various philosophies, ancient, medieval, or modern, has become philosophy. He thinks philosophy must be realizing the mode of being of human beings, and in that respect it is connected or rather identical with religion. Religion without philosophy is dogma; philosophy without religion is nothing but idealism. Today's philosophy must emerge from here.

Things are the same with religion. Christianity and Buddhism are nothing but histories; they are nothing of the kind that will renovate the world. Among Buddhist sects, Pure Land and Zen included, there is nothing but antagonism.

In the above I have roughly introduced Dr. Hisamatsu's talk with Dr. Watanabe on the Postmodernist age. Next I shall paraphrase and quote from his talk with Prof. Ishii.

II. Postmodernist Art and Society

The first part on art is omitted, and the second part on society is introduced in summary.

Total "Unity" as the Basis of Society
The Essence of the Postmodernist Society -- One and
Many, Many and One

Professor Ishii asks Hisamatsu's view on systems, for according to Ishii, in the modern world when we think of politics or economy, systems turn out to be a very important factor, and that must also be the case when we think of Hisamatsu's so-called Postmodernist society. While that is the problem of "species," not of individuals, Ishii says, he has the impression that Hisamatsu has scarcely referred to this point in his writings. Hisamatsu agrees, but says that, as for Awakening, it is not his individual Awakening; rather it is everyone's Awakening. In that sense it ought to be the original way of being, common to everybody. Thus Hisamatsu maintains that Awakening common to everybody constitutes true Gemeinde or unity. He says:

Only such a Gemeinde can be true Gemeinde. In the kind of Gemeinde which has penetrated to that point, that is, in which self is the same for everyone, in which everyone's self is one and the same, lies the ground of m y so-called society or world. Society is not a mere gathering of individuals. It is far more basic; it can be called total unity.

Hisamatsu says that the ordinary meaning of society is just a gathering, a collection, a union, or a community in which the greatest happiness of the greatest number is an ideal. It is not the kind of unity that comes from the base.

Ishii explains the common meaning of society, saying it is an agreement or identity of demands of each individual. Hisamatsu says that will mean the greatest number of demands, "commonness" -- there would be no room for a more concrete One. That is where his idea differs, for Oneness is present at the base, as the way of being of every individual, and there all is One. He says that is very different from the decision of the majority or ordinary commonness, for Oneness is not something partially "shared" by everyone. Oneness in the ultimate sense is the "F,"Formless self of F.A.S. From "F," All humankind or "A" comes out, for it is not the sum total of all humankind but qualitatively One. The limits of the social sciences prevent such an idea from being realized in these sciences.

Nowadays "the world" means the sum total of nation-states, so the United Nat ions as a gathering of nation-states cannot be free from the limitations of nation-states, and is operated out of their self-interests. Hisamatsu wants to reinterpret the "U" of "UN" as One and Many, Many and One at the same time, and that is where something like the world government is to be located. Otherwise the new government would be something local or a particular entity separate from reality, far from being a world government.

Communalization by Humankind of Property both Spiritual and Material

Hisamatsu explains how his so-called "communalization" is different from communism in terms of property possession, as well as quality, contents, and Methode. To this, Ishii emphasizes the necessity for clarification of the qualitative difference between "communalization" and "communism." Ishii says:

In Marx's case, where opposition of classes takes place, he saw its utmost cause, the chief instigator of social misery, in privately appropriating the means of production. By the means of production he meant the labor power of the worker, machinery, factories, and land. Marx thought that since a particular group of people appropriated them as their private possessions, there occurred the social structure of governing and governed.
Marx intended to overcome this basic contradiction innate in capitalist societies by means of proletariat revolutions. He intended to have the appropriated means of production brought into public possession by violence.

Ishii then asks how in the Postmodernist world the private property in industrial society should be treated. He guesses Hisamatsu may mean in concrete terms the means of production should belong to humankind as common property.

Hisamatsu agrees, and says that it is the common property of humankind that determines itself as private possession on the basis of humankind's communalization. Ishii expresses doubt on this controversial point. Hisamatsu responds:

But, if that were not the case, those contradictions would never cease to exist. I mean, property both spiritual and material are communal to humankind, instead of material property alone as with Marx.
It is on the basis of this communalization by humankind that individuals and organizations come to have property. Their possessing property will be inevitable. Anyone, either an individual or an organization, will have property on the basis of communalization by humankind, but it is not then their exclusive possession. As for property-appropriation, in that case, it is applied to all humankind.

Here Ishii offers an example: this body of Ishii's is something entrusted to him by God, as Christians would say, or by humankind, in Hisamatsu's case. Then Ishii would handle his body with utmost care, and want to use it for the benefit of humankind, for his body belongs not only to himself but also to humankind, and it is precious in that sense. It would be otherwise if it were just his. In the same way, Ishii says, he won't cling to things such as the tape-recorder, his fountain-pen, and so on; instead he will try to make full use of them for humankind as something temporarily entrusted to him by them. Ishii asks if that rightly conveys his understanding of Hisamatsu's view of personal possession on the basis of communalization by humankind.

Hisamatsu agrees, except for Ishii's expression "temporarily entrusted," which would mean the relationship between master and subject. What matters, says Hisamatsu, is that the relationship suggested by Ishii is far from that of subordination or dependence, and that Ishii should consider it to be the true mode of being, what things originally are.

The World in Which There is
No Hindrance among Particulars

Then Hisamatsu explains the principle upon which relations of possession and communalization are based: the "Non-Hindrance among Particulars" (J. jiji-muge) expounded in theHuayan(J. Kegon) thought of Buddhism. This clarifies the authentic relationship between individuals and the whole. Since "particulars" by themselves would not bring about "non-hindrance" among themselves, the "universal" is indispensable.

According to Hisamatsu, that means that without harming the independent nature of individuals, i.e., "particulars," there is established the "universal," and without preventing the independent nature of the "universal" there are established "particulars": that is the "Non-Hindrance among Particulars. " What matters most here is the "universal" in the utmost depths. The "universal" is present, inseparably one with "particulars." "Particulars" are no t simply independent of the "universal." The relationship between individuals and the whole is also like that: individuals and the whole are inseparably one yet distinct from each other. Hisamatsu says that is the principle upon which relations of possession and communalization are based.

Ishii asks if there would then be any attachment to wealth. Hisamatsu says it depends on the meaning of "attachment." There cannot be any attachment if individuals are considered inseparably one with the whole; but when individuals as such are considered as something separated from the whole, there is attachment. Where the whole is taken into consideration there can be no attachment, no monopolization; and the absence of monopolization on the part of individuals is based on all humankind. This is the original nature of things: it is not that particular individuals possess property, but that what belongs to the whole belongs to individuals while what belongs to individuals belongs to the whole. Without this kind of awareness, communism or something like it is inevitable.

Ishii says there doesn't seem to be any other way than standing on that kind of self-awareness, and that Marxists, for example, have to be persuaded that unless one stands on that kind of self-awareness there will be no realization of a truly free and peaceful society. But Hisamatsu doesn't like to tell people to stand on such self-awareness, since, according to him, it is something original to human beings. It is no mere individual self-awareness, but the original self-awareness of all human beings. In that sense it includes systems, is not anything apart from systems; since it includes systems, they become the kind of systems in which there is "Non- Hindrance among Particulars."

Here Ishii poses a question: When we think of the present-day world, our social mode of being is far from that kind of original way of being. For example, it will be a long way to go for such capitalist countries as the United States and Japan as well as communist countries like the [former] Soviet Union and those in Eastern Europe to become societies that have such self-awareness. Hisamatsu agrees, and says that it is a long way to go, and aSollen ("what one should do") comes into being: there should be such a system. Ishii quickly grasps Hisamatsu's point and says that such Sollen seems to be at once social and religious, for it means that all human beings come to be as their original way of being.

Then Ishii points out the following problem: In our possessing some property and even our own bodies, there already is the individual aspect connected with the whole, so that what ultimately contradicts each other are established, connected as one. Ishii adds that Hisamatsu's so-called ultimate antinomy is revealed here.

Humankind Facing the Ultimate Antinomy
of World-Existence: the Fundamental Koan

Hisamatsu agrees and says that in common usage ultimate antinomy is of the nature of logic or value, but what he means is the ultimate antinomy of existence, the kind of ultimate antinomy which includes that of value. It is rather the ultimate antinomy of all that has come to this deadlock, or what in Zen is called "the Great Death." This is the method of Zen practice with koan to drive oneself into a corner. That is why he advocates a "fundamental koan." By "fundamental koan" he means this ultimate antinomy of existence.

There are many kinds of koan, and all of them, in a way, can be reduced to the ultimate antinomy of existence. Their being reduced to the ultimate antinomy of existence is what he calls the "fundamental koan." Then Hisamatsu criticizes the prevailing manner of Zen practice, in which "The Great Matter is Finished" as the final stage in some future-oriented process, as a ludicrous thing. According to him, if one has solved the "fundamental koan," one will be able to solve all the others. "Finishing the Great Matter" comes at the beginning, and that is the end, for, Hisamatsu says, "The Great Death " should naturally be followed by "Reviving after Total Exhaustion." According to Hisamatsu, Hakuin's koan, "the Sound of the Single Hand" cannot be on e particular; it has value because listening to the sound of the single hand comes to be the "fundamental koan." The manner of practice in which on e must first go through Zhao-zhou's "Wu" (J. Jôshû's "Mu") and Hakuin's "the Sound of the Single Hand," and then go through many other koan cases, is basically wrong. He agrees with Soto Zen practitioners who criticize Rinzai Zen practice as "Up-the-ladder Zen."

But Hisamatsu criticizes Soto Zen practice as well. So-called "Simply Just Sitting" must be where the ultimate antinomy is passed through, but usually that is not the case. From Hisamatsu's viewpoint, either physical sitting or mental sitting is still of an individual nature.

Ishii again grasps Hisamatsu's point and asks if he wants to emphasize that the ultimate antinomy constitutes the basic factor of religion. Hisamatsu agrees, and adds that for the same reason he insists that Christianity also must penetrate to that point to become true religion.

Hisamatsu returns to the topic of societies and the world, and continues his critical comments. He says that the world that has Many alone but lacks One cannot help being driven into a corner; individuals or groups which privately own and monopolize property are untenable. But the crisis of the modern world which lacks One cannot truly be solved with the oneness of communism; the reason is that the common sharing of what is material alone would leave the world with the kind of oneness which lacks manyness, and that means lack of freedom. Hisamatsu says that humankind has been facing the ultimate antinomy of world-existence. He states:

The true world is at once One and Many, Many and One, that in which One and Many are inseparably one. In other words, it is the world in which there is "Non-Hindrance among Particulars," in which individuals are absolutely in dependent and work for the whole, and while working for the whole they are never bound by the whole but completely free. It is the world which is penetrated by the philosophical principle of existence as I have described; "a world which is true and happy," as mentioned in the "Vow of Humankind." Such a world is possible because it is at once One and Many, Many and One.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Hisamatsu's "Postmodernist Manifesto" has found only a few responses: One was from Masao Abe, professor emeritus at Nara University of Education and one of the founding members of the F.A.S. Society. His "Sovereignty Rests with Humankind" appeared in the same number of the FAS in which the "Postmodernist Manifesto" first appeared. Abe asks the question how to realize the shift of sovereignty from nation-states to All humankind. Abe suggests what is indispensable is the inner realization that sovereign powers are the product of karma rooted in the original nature of humankind; thus we must shoulder historical evil instead of externally blaming national egoism. We can do this by building up the solidarity of self-awareness as humankind beyond the distinctions of races and nationalities through realizing the root-source of social-historical evil deep within; in other words, by getting Awakened to our original self that is free from ego at the one root-source of self, world, and history, and basing ourselves on the cosmological expansion of self-awareness that is opened up through this Awakening.

Masamichi Kitayama, former professor of Japanese literature at Nara Women's College and one of the long-standing editors of F.A.S. Society publications, wrote an editor's postscript for the 1970 issue of FAS, in which he stated:

The present proposal by Dr. Hisamatsu is a conclusion which derives from the question, "What is the greatest of all social hardships that undermines the course of human history?" It can be called one aspect of the manner of historical unfolding of F.A.S. Self-awakening, which has come into being through an encounter with the faults of the modern age and through self-awareness of the truth of humanity.

Shifting to "communalization by all humankind" as well as returning state-sovereignty to humankind, according to Kitayama, should be considered a matter of course in terms of the logic of F.A.S. Self-awareness. The problem is the manner and timing of its realization. Behind this proposal, Kitayama says, is the insight that society will not have any means of saving itself unless society, instead of individuals, stands on this Self-awareness; it is a religious prediction which is very social. Dr. Hisamatsu's proposal is presented from the ground of history and developed out of his sense of history; it is a proposal in which the realities of history seek their own self-unfolding.

"Postmodernist consciousness," according to Kitayama, is active behind this proposal, a consciousness which has been awakened to the wholeness named "al l humankind." It is a great, historical move that negates struggles for power which have resulted in modern revolutions.

Kitayama also says that this proposal by Dr. Hisamatsu is an utterance from his Formless self, that is, from the Self-awareness of All humankind. Kitayama concludes by saying that this proposal is of the character of a monologue uttered from Dr. Hisamatsu's religious Self-awareness, i.e., from the Self-awareness of the ground of being that regards all historical actualities as one's own problems.

The late Christian theologian Katsumi Takizawa, former professor of ethics at Kyushu University, contributed an article to the F.A.S. Society magazine, POSTMODERNIST, No. 1, 1972, in which he applauded Dr. Hisamatsu's proposal for a shift from the modern political-economic systems to the Postmodern system. Takizawa even suggests the expression "F.A.S. Jesus."

In this way I see some people close to Dr. Hisamatsu who expressed their hearty support for his proposal as well as the later "Postmodernist Manifest o." I am ashamed to say this, but, to tell the truth, I did not understand their significance; I just looked them over as brief messages. Only recently, when I tried to translate the talks of Watanabe and Ishii into English to introduce to you, I have come to see how important are the proposal, the Manifesto, and Hisamatsu's elucidation of them through such talks. His "Postmodernist Manifesto" had sounded too abrupt to me. How foolish I am! In his talk with Watanabe he announced that he presented his "Manifesto" to the modern world as his so-called "transzendentaler Schluß" or transcendental conclusion, simultaneously attained by the Formless self. As far as he is concerned, it ought to sound natural to us, far from seeming abrupt.

In his talk with Prof. Ishii, Dr. Hisamatsu declared that nowadays humankind, not just individuals, is facing its ultimate antinomy. This helped me understand how religion is deeply related to the problem of politics and economy in his view. Before, I had difficulty understanding the relationship between the F. or Formless self, A. or All humankind, and S or Supra-historical history. Three years before his death he offered chances to explicitly publicize his view on their relationship. Still, it took me more than twenty years to approach his idea of the Postmodernist age. In that sense I really appreciate having this chance to introduce his ideas to you.

When I showed my tentative translation of these talks and brief texts by Dr. Hisamatsu to Prof. Jeff Shore, asking him to improve the English expression, the latter made a remark to the effect: "It's twenty years after Dr. Hisamatsu said or wrote them; I wonder if there has been any shift toward the Postmodernist age in the world." I don't think Prof. Shore had time enough to think about the situation in which those expressions have found themselves. Now I understand that those 1976 documents left by Dr. Hisamatsu are worthy of consideration not only in Europe but by the F.A.S. Society in Japan as well. I want to appeal to people back in Japan hereafter so that we may newly concentrate on what Dr. Hisamatsu meant by these documents.

As Prof. Shore said, twenty years have passed without any substantial improvement of the situation analyzed by Dr. Hisamatsu, who felt impatient at the delay in responding to his "Manifesto" by members of the F.A.S. Society. But in actuality there ought to be various ways of response; it won't b e easy to pass judgment of any sort on such a matter. I hope the present introduction will be an important occasion for new dialogues to begin among people in response to Dr. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu's announcement of the Postmodernist Manifesto, so that the true voice of the world-masses will become louder and clearer.

Let me close this presentation with two remarks by Dr. Hisamatsu:

Creating a new age leads to saving humankind from the ruin of modern times. In this case the savior is true religion, which, different from ordinary religions, has come out of the inner demand of human beings.
The masses will surely become aware of such a conclusion when it is presented, since the conclusion is genuine. The masses will move according to such a conclusion necessarily, because the world becoming that way is a historical necessity. This is an utterance not of a particular person but what history insists, an historical utterance. What I insist is not an utterance by an individual Hisamatsu, but what historical necessity is uttering, you see.

1 His "Postmodernist Manifesto" was made public in the 1971 issue of the Japanese publication F.A.S., and in English in the First F.A.S. Society Newsletter, published in 1976. Before this, in 1970, Hisamatsu made public "An 'A' Proposal -- for Changing the Clothes -- by F. Hoseki" ('Hoseki' is Dr. Hisamatsu's Zen name), in the Japanese publication FAS. It states:
It has become impossible for modern state sovereignty with its ethics, politics, and economy, to cope with the strain of increasing problems in world history.
Nation-states should radically shift their sovereignty to All humankind for the latter to create and establish a Postmodernist Polity, Economy, of, by, and for All humankind.
For half a century, modern clothing has been worn out; Let us change our garments to Postmodern ones.
October 1970

2 Both talks are included in the revised Collected Works of Shin'ichi Hisamatsu in Japanese, Vol. 9 (Hôzôkan, Kyoto, 1996).[see below -- site maintainer]
Dr. Watanabe was then head of the first internal department of Wakayama Red Cross Hospital and senior member of the Kyoto University Shincha-kai (an association of Zen-based practice for tea appreciation founded by Dr. Hisamatsu in 1941). Mr. Seishi Ishii, a member of the F.A.S. Society, is professor of philosophy at the Hyogo Prefectural College of Nursing.

3Hereafter Hisamatsu's own words will mostly be presented in expressions summarized by Tokiwa.

4 "The Postmodernist Manifesto" was printed on the back of the frontispiece and his pen name "Postmodernist" printed on the front with the background design of raging billows, in the Japanese publication FAS, Nos. 69/70, 1971. Later, he called that year "the First Year of the Postmodernist."

"A Postmodernist's Talk by Dr. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu Questioned and Listened to by Dr. Ryoji Watanabe on March 26, 1976," translated by TOKIWA Gishin, from "Postmodernist H?an"
"A Talk by Dr. Shin'ichi Hisamatsu With Prof. Seishi Ishii (October 31, 1976)," abridged translation by TOKIWA Gishin, from "Sôzô eno Soseki,"

February 6, 1997