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Introduction to FAS

The Guiding Principles for Attaining Awakening, April 8, 1944

We vow to attain our purpose: the flourishing of the awakened way.
1. We are determined to attain awakening to the ultimate, great way through critical study and struggling practice, and thereby to participate in the honored work of creatively revitalizing the world.
2. Determined to attain awakening, we will never fall into narrow conventionalism concerning religion and thought, nor turn to a facile and superficial following of others. Rather, we will penetrate to the depths of reality and give rise to free and spontaneous activity which is wondrously responsive to any need.
3. Determined to attain awakening, we will guard against the impotence of onesided academic study and the blindness of onesided struggling practice. Thus, with study and practice as one, we will directly proceed into the great way.
4. Under circumstances favorable or not, we will maintain an unswerving determination for awakening, and will expect make this awakening flourish by participating in its activities without fail.

The Vow of Humankind, January 22, 1951

Calm and composed,
awakening to our true self,
being fully compassionate humans,
making full use of our abilities according to our respective vocations,
discerning suffering both individual and social, and its source,
Recognizing the right direction in which history should proceed;
joining hands as kin beyond the differences of race, nation, and class.
With compassion, vowing to bring to realization humankind's deep desire for emancipation,
let us construct a world is true and happy.

What is FAS?

The acronymFAS in the name of our society refers to the three inseparable dimensions of our existence: self, world and history. "F" stands for the Formless self, "A" for taking the standpoint of All humankind, and "S" for creating Suprahistorical history. FAS is the expression of our ardent desire, prayer and vow to awaken to our true self, the original nature of every person. Based on this genuine self-awakening, we vow to discern the grave crisis in the modern world and its source, and thus without discrimination of any kind join hands together and recognize the right direction in which history should proceed, creating world history and constructing a world which is true and happy. To accomplish all this we take as our basis clarifying and solving problems without any one-sidedness, through a thorough uniting of study and actual practice.

What is the FAS Society?

The FAS Society traces its origin back to the awareness of the problem that confronted some students at Kyoto University during the Second World War. Dissatisfied with existing philosophies and religions, including Buddhism, they considered it necessary to take the standpoint of the fundamental self-awakening of man which should lead to a renewal of the world. Under the guidance of HISAMATSU Shin'ichi, then associate professor of Buddhist studies at Kyoto University, they established Gakudô Dôjô ("The Locus of Awakening Study and Practice") on April 8, 1944. "The Guiding Principles for Attaining Awakening" was formulated.

After the war, Gakudô Dôjô was opened to the public in the light of the desolation and confusion in the defeated Japan and responding to the needs of various people seeking the way. Around 1950 world conditions again worsened and we responded strongly with our "Appeal to All Humankind." The following year we established its standpoint clearly in the form of the Vow of Humankind (January 22, 1951). In 1957-58 Hisamatsu traveled to various parts of the world, giving lectures and holding talks with important thinkers. Upon his return, under his initiative Gakudô Dôjô was renamed the FAS Society in 1960.

In its efforts to develop FAS studies and practice, the FAS Society recognized the present times as the final phase of the modern era and discerned the fundamental illness that pervades it. In 1970, we established "The Postmodernist Manifesto" as guiding principles for transcending the modern age. Based on this postmodern awareness, we established a new standpoint for the construction of a new world in the postmodern age.

Outline of the Postmodernist Manifesto

1. Postmodernist Awakening.
2. Ultimate Sovereignty Rests with All Humankind:
Ethic, Polity, Economy and Culture of, by, and for All Humankind.
3. Communalization of All Material and Spiritual Wealth by All Humankind.

In recent years, an increasing number of seekers of the Way from various countries and regions join our activities, giving our society a more international outlook. Built out of the hearts and minds of all humankind by going beyond national and class boundaries, the FAS Society vows to continue constructing a new history.

Activities of the FAS Society

Who is Hisamatsu Shin'ichi?

Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, the most astute Zen-informed philosopher in this century, was born in 1889 in Gifu Prefecture. Hisamatsu was a student of the philosopher NISHIDA Kitarô at Kyoto University and later a professor at the same university and others. On the advice of Nishida, he practiced Zen under the instructions of Master IKEGAMI Shôzan at Myôshinji Zen monastery in Kyoto. Hisamatsu undertook a comparison of Eastern and Western culture from a penetrating religio-philosophical point of view based on the Formless Self. A collection of his works, Hisamatsu Shin'ichi Chosakushû,includes, among other things, Tôyôteki Mu(1939, Oriental Nothingness), Zettai Kiki to Fukkatsu (1969, Ultimate Crisis and Resurrection), a comprehensive series of talks about the Vow of Humankind (1951-53), and various articles relating to calligraphy and the tea ceremony.

What Makes FAS Different?

The Fundamental Koan

Since ancient times there have been innumerable koan, but the fundamental koan expresses the essence of them all. We are inextricably caught in ultimate contradiction (including the duality of being and non-being, value and anti-value, and reason and no-reason). Deprived of any means whatever to free ourselves, right at this ultimate extremity, our true self can awaken itself and break through this ultimate contradiction or antinomy at its very root and directly and freely work as this very self. We work together with this fundamental koan in every aspect of our lives. Hisamatsu says in Ultimate Crisis and Resurrection, one of his most important studies:
Our actual way of being, no matter what it may be, is a particular one, that is, it is something. So long as it is anything, it is a self that is under some kind of definition and bondage. Above all, we must be awakened to the Self that is not restricted by anything. Suppose that standing will not do nor will sitting; feeling will not do nor will thinking; dying will not do nor will living; then what do I do? Here is the final, Single Barrier against which one is pressed in order to be transformed, and through which, in being transformed, one penetrates. Zen has hitherto had innumerable ancient cases or koan, not only the traditional "1700 cases." All of them can be reduced to this Single Barrier. (Translated by TOKIWA Gishin, The Eastern Buddhist VIII, 2, October 1975)

Mutual Inquiry

Together with the practice of zazen we do mutual inquiry -- using rooms set aside for this purpose, with any other member as an equal, together we inquire into our problem in earnest. In its deeper meaning this is a matter of direct mutual inquiry at all times and places.