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An Introduction to Zen Buddhism Format Kindle
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|Format Kindle, 1 décembre 2007||
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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.
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.
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.41] He provides chapters on "nihilistic zen", "illogical zen", and "zen a higher affirmation". Practical zen, koans, and acquiring '"satori" or a new viewpoint' are well documented with fine examples. For a book of *only* 132 pages the breadth, width and depth of detail is astonishing. The author proves to be a master of his subject, indeed, no one else can whet the appetite of a beginner and have them searching to know more. This is the best gift a writer can provide -- this author provides us his *very* *best*. Erika Borsos (erikab93)
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. - When Zen is throughly understood, absolute peace of mind is attained, and a man lives as he ought to live. - here is ..a pure experience, the very foundation of our being and thought. - Zen is a living fact...To come into contact with this living fact...is the aim of all Zen discipline.
Best wishes! Good day, good life!! Kio Suzaki
While reading this book, I suppressed the urge to "speed read" and took my time, reading as my last activity before bed. I would read until I got tired, or until something stopped me... something that demanded processing. Here's the best example: "Zen always seeks the ultimate truth that cannot be taken to the dissecting table of the intellect".
It took me three days to get past that one. This book puts forth the idea (this book is certainly not the only one) that not everything can be "figured out" by turning the gears of the brain. As a lifelong slave to my brain, I was challenged and fascinated by this idea.
In fact, I often had that sensation while reading this book. I recommend this wholeheartedly to intellectuals who suffer from their own minds. It cannot serve as an end, but very well as a beginning of the journey towards a more peaceful mind.
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