Zen Buddhism has been recently given a bad rap, due to the contradiction that despite being a religion deeply entrenched in compassion, inner peace and enlightenment; the ancient Japanese warriors were still able to use its teachings and philosophies in justifying and strengthening their fighting spirits. Fortunately, in Winston L. King’s study entitled Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche, Winston L. King has pointed out that the misappropriations and perversions of religious and moral ideals are not entirely exclusive to Japan.
Winston King has pointed out that Christianity, even if rooted in compassion and love for fellow mankind and its tenet of forgiveness and turning the other cheek, still inspired the Crusades, which included massive warfare that has killed numerous Saracens. Not to mention the fact that it is now divided into several feuding sects and churches. Yet, this observation still overshadows a glaring issue: of how the crusades are now frowned upon by many Christians except by the really fundamentalist, while the Zen samurai warriors are still held in high regard by majority of the Japanese people and some foreigners who was exposed to samurai culture by the mass media.
This disconnect in acceptance, according to the study, depends largely on the culture that surrounds it. Whereas the Japanese have glorified and even deified their past culture and its participants, western culture – who are predominantly Christian – tend to scrutinize past mistakes and questionable deeds done regardless of the religion being practiced by their ancestors.