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An Introduction to Zen Buddhism Paperback – January 13, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (January 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130556
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“D.T. Suzuki’s works on Zen Buddhism are among the best contributions to the knowledge of living Buddhism that recent decades have produced . . . We cannot be sufficiently grateful to the author.”—Carl Jung, in his foreword to the book

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Customer Reviews

That is what has gone into it." When I read this book, I get the similar sense.
Zen is not for everyone, but if you are familiar with Buddhism, it will be the absolute best book to read about this esoteric side of Buddhism.
Jo Barnes
Despite this barrier of words, Suzuki does a remarkable job of somehow making the concepts real.
Gary Judge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
D.T. Suzuki (1870 - 1966) is usually credited with introducing Zen Buddhism to America, and in AN INTRODUCTION TO ZEN BUDDHISM he covers Zen in a scholastic and erudite fashion. Suzuki's use of English is extremely complex, but his style gets information across very well.
While expounding on the basics of Zen, Suzuki is always quick to respond to questions the reader might have. He dedicates an entire chapter to countering the oft-heard argument that Zen is nihilistic. The final chapter covers daily life for Zen monks, giving Westerners a glimpse of what is common knowledge for Japanese (or was several generations ago).
The book is not perfect, however. Suzuki covers only the Rinzai school of Japanese Buddhism, leaving the Soto school out in the cold. Also, like any Japanese Zen scholar, he tends to do a little Theravada bashing, claiming that it is "primitive" and unrefined.
D.T. Suzuki was a professor of Buddhist studies, and not a Zen adept himself, so it is important to also read an account of Zen from a personal and practical angle, to complement Suzuki's scholarly approach. For that, I recommend QUESTIONS TO A ZEN MASTER with Taisen Deshimaru.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By F. Neunemann on April 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book (as a German translation) over 20 years ago and was impressed by Zen philosophy that from then on slowly crept into my life. At that time I did not understand very much about Zen--there was very little literature available. So this book was exactly what I was looking for after I got interested in the subject from reading Jack Kerouac's "Dharma Bums". The copy I had got lost over the years after borrowing it to a number of friends, so I finally bought a new copy.
Suzuki's "Introduction to Zen Buddhism" helped a lot to open the door to Zen Buddhism and philosophy and to wet my appetite to learn more about it. To a westerner eastern philosophy can be pretty tough to digest, so I was always a bit suspicious about western authors explaining eastern philosophy. After learning about Suzuki's life he was definitely credible to me. Another important aspect about his books is that he wrote them in English himself. All too often excellent books from far eastern sources got messed up by mediocre or pretty bad translations.
The only things I did not like about this book, something also found in a number of other books of this kind, is the too lengthy introduction. However written by a famous and very knowledgeable man (from the west) it did not contribute lot to the book's subject.
Something else I missed after re-reading the book after more than 20 years is the fact that there is no real practical advice on how to get started with Zazen the proper way.
"Introduction to Zen Buddhism" is not an easy read (like many Zen books), but it has definitely become one of the more important Zen books in my library.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Erika Borsos VINE VOICE on February 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Amazingly my volume of this book was published in 1964 and looking at the preface, the book was created from articles written in Japan in 1914 ... The author states if he can lead the reader to study more of his work he has achieved his goal. This volume will serve to quench the thirst and hunger of any reader who is interested in Zen and it will lead one to try to understand more of the concepts associated with this experience.
The introduction is written by Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, who tells us, that the oriental concepts of Tao, satori, and the Buddhist concept of kamma are so different from Western ideas that it is difficult to translate. Yet he gives his highest recommendations to this volume -- no small matter, from one such as he is... a world famous psychiatrist and psychologist. The Zen texts say "enlightenment" is a natural occurence, and that it is a state of insight into the nature of self. Jung tells us it is a state of "spiritual reality", that 'satori' is a psychic occurence. It is a state of 'seeing things differently', a state of "consciousness of the consciousness" ... It is associated with "becoming whole" ... a spiritual experience that is part of consciousness ... but more expansive. Jung considers it is duty to tell Westerners -- it is "the longest of roads" -- "difficulties strew the path" -- "trodden by only a few of our great men" -- it remains for most -- "a beacon on a high mountain, shining out in a haze future". [p.27]
D.T. Suzuki in his "Preliminary" describes the two paths of Buddhism, the Lesser Vehicle and Higher Vehicle. "Personal experience is everything in Zen." [p.33]"No amount of meditation will keep Zen in one place." [p.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By suzakico on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Picasso said, "People don't realize what they have when they own a picture by me. Each picture is a phial with my blood. That is what has gone into it." When I read this book, I get the similar sense. The life jumps around. Creative energy flows as he indicates that Zen is the most important thing in life.
I read this book perhaps twenty years ago, and when I reread this now, it is as fresh if not much fresher than before. As we grow, our perspective in life changes. But because of that, I recommend any reader to "try" to get the essense of this book, keep this, and revisit this book later in his life. Perhaps, the light of awakening may strike us to reveal life's secret.
As Daisetz knows that it is like committing a crime to use words to write about Zen, we, readers, may well miss the mark to get the point for the first few readings. Yet, his compassion made him to spend his whole life dedicated to do this difficult job - to communicate the message. Personally, I have read more than thousands of pages of Daisetz both in Japanese and in English. Not just his writing, but his personality is revealed and attracted me as I talked with a person like Ms. Mihoko Okamura, Daisetz's personal secretary/companion in his later years. I hope that the essense of Zen, or for that matter, the essence of life is communicated throught this book for us to benefit from and for us to live the life as it is meant to be.
To help capture the point, here are few quotes collected from the book: - Zen is the spirit of a man. - The discipline of Zen consists in opening the mental eye..into the very reason of existence. - Zen wants to rise above logic. - Zen defies all concept-making.
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