Document Type

Contribution to Book

Source Publication


Publication Date

Fall 10-1-2020


Shoji Yamada and John Breen







First Page


Last Page



Comparative Humanities


In modern Western thought, pantheism remains a powerful if controversial undercurrent. Recent re-evaluations of the work of Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) point to pantheism’s radical implications for metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics. Pantheism (Jp. hanshinron 汎神論) also has significant valence within Japanese Buddhist modernism, particularly in the work of scholars and lay activists who articulated the outlines of a New Buddhism (shin bukkyō 新仏教) from the 1880s through the 1940s. For these thinkers, pantheism provided a “middle way” between materialism and idealism, as well as between theism and atheism. In the postwar period, lapsed radical turned Buddhist Sano Manabu further developed these connections between pantheism, Buddhism and Marxism, but Sano himself got caught in the “Hegelian trap” of attempting to dissolve contradictions and distinctions in the name of harmony, rendering his Marxist-infused Buddhist pantheism ineffective as a basis for critical resistance against the status quo. In early works such as A New Interpretation of Religion (Shin shūkyōron 新宗教論, 1896), New Buddhist Suzuki Daisetsu 鈴木大拙 (1870–1962) developed a particular interpretation of “post-pantheism” as an ideal form of or approach to religion. However, while Suzuki’s post-pantheism, which can be interpreted as a phenomenological approach to religion, struggles to avoid the danger of a static, and potentially nihilistic “materialism,” it ultimately falls prey to Hegelian and Spencerian assumptions about change and “evolution.” This chapter employs Suzuki’s early work as a portal through which to dig further into the problems and possibilities of pantheism as an archetypal catchword—but frustratingly vague principle—of Japanese Buddhist modernism.


This is a Japanese translation of James Mark Shields: "From Post-Pantheism to Trans-materialism: D. T. Suzuki and New Buddhism,” in Beyond Zen: D. T. Suzuki and the Modern Transformation of Buddhism, edited by John Breen, Fumihiko Sueki and Shōji Yamada, p. 15–32., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2022.