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Mountain on the island of Iwo Jima made famous in the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, between the defenders Lt. General Kuribayashi Tadamichi and his 22,000 troops and the American invaders consisting of a massive armada and over 160,000 troops.

Why didn't General Kuribayashi and his troops surrender when they knew in their rational minds that they faced certain destruction, down to the last man?!?

Perhaps this quotation from the writings of Hakuin 1686-1769, a Tokugawa period Soto Zen monk provides part of the answer. Zen Buddhism, as practised in Japan, is anything but a pacifist religion!

"A warrior must from the beginning to the end be physically strong. In his attendance on his duties and in his relationships with others the most rigid punctiliousness and propriety are required. His hair must be properly dressed, his garments in the strictest order, and his swords must be fastened at his side. With this exact and proper deportment, the true meditation stands forth with an overflowing splendor. Mounted on a sturdy horse, the warrior can ride forth to face an uncountable horde of enemies as though he were riding into a place empty of people. The valiant, undaunted expression on his face reflects his practise of the peerless, true, uninterrupted meditation sitting. Meditationg this way, the warrior can accomplish in one month what it takes the monk a year to do; in three days he can open up for himself benefits that would take a monk a hundred days"

Translated by Philip B. Yampolsky in his book The Zen Master Hakuin, Selected Writings, Columbia University Press

 
 
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