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An Introduction to Zen Buddhism Paperback – January 13, 1994
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This is a knock-off with just three chapters instead of nine, and it looks like somebody made it at the local copy-shop.
Note: I saw the bad reviews for the kindle edition, but assumed that was a format issue and the paperback would be okay.
As Suzuki puts it, "...I am still fully aware that in the sense of satori what I say can only be useless. I could not resist, however, the attempt to maneuver our Western understanding at least into the proximity of an understanding - a task so difficult that in so doing one must take upon oneself certain crimes against the spirit of Zen."
But don't let that admission put you off, thinking that another writer may have done better to convey the meaning of Zen. Despite this barrier of words, Suzuki does a remarkable job of somehow making the concepts real. He does this by repeatedly working it over and giving many examples including historical dialogues and deeds of Zen masters. The same approach has been taken by other writers including our western brethren, Carl Jung (who wrote the intro) and Alan Watts. But such writers never really make the grade because a) they have apparently never achieved satori, and b) they are still trying to support Zen with philosophical reasoning.
To somehow circumnavigate the subject and make it accessible to us despite this barrier of language, Suzuki does a remarkable job of choosing just the right words, and even then he sometimes has to explain that a word or expression he has used is not really correct but is the closest available to the concept. Then, in the next few pages, attacking the subject from another angle and then another, until the reader, if he or she is not too dull, begins to see that there is a state there that just may be achievable, that the paradoxical statements (koans) are not as whacky as first perceived. Also, considering the essays are about 100 years old and can still be comprehended with reasonable clarity I have to compliment the translators.
Another aspect which makes this book very appealing for readers is simply that Suzuki loves Zen. And, despite the difficulty, he very much wants his readers to grasp its facets and values and, if at all possible, experience Zen in the deepest way.
Gary Judge - author of Understanding the Japanese: Insight into Japanese Culture and Thinking
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