101 of 106 people found the following review helpful
A comprehensive, but clear, introduction to Zen,
This review is from: An Introduction to Zen Buddhism (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.
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2006 12:07:05 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 28, 2006 12:09:47 AM PDT]
Posted on Oct 28, 2006 12:08:31 AM PDT
Ian Andrews says:
"D.T. Suzuki was a professor of Buddhist studies, and not a Zen adept himself. . ." This statement is not true. D.T. Suzuki practiced Zen meditation in his early years and is said to have achieved satori sometime in his twenty-seventh year after years of effortful practice.
Suzuki studied at Tokyo University and simultaneously took up Zen practice at Engakuji in Kamakura studying with Shaku Soen (1859 - 1919). Under Shaku Soen, Suzuki's studies were essentially internal and non-verbal, including long periods of sitting meditation (zazen). The task involved what Suzuki described as four years of mental, physical, moral, and intellectual struggle. During training periods at Engaku-ji, Suzuki lived a monk's life. He described this life and his own experience at Kamakura in his book The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2008 3:18:15 AM PST
Doug M says:
I am not even sure if that is true either. In his last years, Suzuki turned to Jodo Shinshu Pure Land Buddhism instead. He published translations of Jodo Shinshu texts and studied the works of certain followers (myokonin) extensively. His last disciple was a Pure Land Buddhist whom I've met in person.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›