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Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  486 ratings  ·  23 reviews
In this collection of his most important essays, Suzuki explores a variety of topics, including the history of Buddhism, the daily life of a Zen monk, and the path to enlightenment. At once a critical explication of the facets of Zen and a meditation on the meaning of existence, Essays in Zen Buddhism is an indispensable document to the student of Eastern religion.
Paperback, 388 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1925)
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Chris Edward
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recommend this book to those interested in zen

A book on Zen is only valuable if it gets you closer to the path to enlightenment (satori). There's little intellectualizing one can do on the topic of zen before the logic becomes circuitous, and indeed all intellectualizing, however little, moves you farther away from the point into contradiction and confusion. Herein lies the intrinsic irony in Zen literature and highlights the author's suffering in bringing this book to us. Historical dialogue
...more
Dean Summers
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: healing, religion
As a pioneering work, D. T. Suzuki’s Essays in Zen Buddhism (First Series) deserves a five. I’ve rated it a couple rungs lower because I found it tough to plow through. First published in London in 1927, it contributed to Suzuki’s well-deserved reputation as the foremost exponent of Zen Buddhism in the West. It’s been on my “to read” list since 1969. At that time, I found it impenetrable. But I hoped these many years later to approach it with a greater depth of funded experience, and to take my ...more
Serdar
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Good for its time, although I feel a lot of this material is now covered better (and in a less windy style) elsewhere. Still useful for completists, though.
Matthew
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really interesting in that it combines the high-minded and sanitized view of academic rigor with a deep and personal experience as it relates to a religion, in this case, Zen. Suzuki delves deeply into this Eastern religion that evades definite explanation in a way that scientific, Western, Christian-oriented minds can most easily grasp. I found that in Suzuki's recounting of the many snapshots of the life of Zen monks and the development of the religion that he himself was attempti ...more
Kyle
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phd-studies
When I first found out that one of the essays in this collection (the first one, it turns out) refers to the paradoxical "mountain is a mountain... not a mountain... is a mountain..." claim, I was all over this book as it would reveal some insight into a tradition I knew more by intuition than by practice. Perhaps I had the right idea in the first place, where so many of the examples Suzuki writes about rely on not knowing, unpracticing, or at least not holding on to one objective truth but incl ...more
Jackson Hager
A beautifully written case for Zen, however, some prior knowledge of terms and ideas is recommended.
C Settles
Good introductory read for those not familiar with Zen Buddhism. Recommend followup with The Buddhist Bible for in depth look.
Doug
May 08, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"A contentment gleaned from idleness or from a laissez=faire attitude of mind is a thing most to be abhorred. There is no Zen in this, but sloth and mere vegetation. The battle must rage in its full vigour and masculinity. Without it, whatever peace that obtains is a simulacrum, and it has no deep foundation; the first storm it may encounter will crush it to the ground. Zen is quite emphatic in this. Certainly, the moral virility to be found in Zen, apart from its mystic flight, comes from the f ...more
Kelly
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in eastern philosophy and approaches to daily life
Recommended to Kelly by: myself
DT Suzuki was the most erudite scholar of and at the same time initial popularizer of Zen Buddhism to the West. He traced the entire tradition from India through China and Japan all in the original languages/texts. Yet, his writing is completely accessible and down-to-earth (as long as you find yourself in a philosophical mindset).

I read one of his works when I was in college, though I can't remember which. We had a prof. fresh out of grad. school who was crazy for imparting EVERYTHING about the
...more
Rahmat Romadon
Jul 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-other-library
Pernah baca edisi asli buku ini, cetakan pas masa PD II, isinya sebenarnya menarik cuman krn bgitu implisitnya dan butuh pisau analisis yg sgt tajam utk membedah buku ini. Salah satu yg tersulit adalah memaknai karya seni Zen (lukisan, puisi, pahatan kayu, dll) guna menangkap makna tersembunyi di dalamnya. Lieur oge deh pokoknya.
Amer Cuca
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nice collection of essays. Worth reading but it requires previous knowledge and understanding of some of the concepts and terms used in it. It seems like a beginners guide to Zen, but it's not. It's quite raw.
Nikolaus
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It took me two times through, but after the second time, I felt like I finally understand what Zen is, and why. Which, as Suzuki constantly points out, is very different from practicing Zen, or finding Satori.
Martina
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Master Suzuki interprets Zen Buddhism with intellectual rigor and profound spirituality. It is not an easy read, and he makes no attempt to "dumb down" complex teachings in the manner commonly found in many Western texts on the subject. It's well worth the effort!
Tom
Aug 25, 2009 added it
Fairly informative, but quite heavy going. On the other hand, Zen isn't really the sort of thing that can be learned from books...
Jenny G
Aug 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: insomniacs
Shelves: bed-time-stories
honk shu, grasshoppper
Carolynf
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good book, subject matter slow reading
Tony
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Raed this many year ago; it shaped much of my subsequent thinking, but a difficult read, just like much of Suzuki's works.
Kenneth Gentry
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Long and Slow

A tough book to digest. It is deep and thorough but drags a bit with repetitive themes. Worth the read for one looking for a text book style presentation.
Lefruitbat
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: yes, if its your thing
i started this book and am still reading it. dense and powerful. not so easy for me to wrap my brain or self around.
Lysergius
Nov 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zen
Full of fascinating detail but can be confusing since the Japanese names of the Chinese patriarchs are used thoughout.
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Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki (鈴木 大拙 貞太郎 Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō; rendered "Daisetz" after 1893) was Professor of Buddhist philosophies at Ōtani University. As a translator and writer on Buddhism and Eastern philosophy, he greatly helped to popularize Japanese Zen in the West.

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“No amount of wordy explanations will ever lead us into the nature of our own selves. The more you explain, the further it runs away from you. It is like trying to get hold of your own shadow. You run after it and it runs with you at the identical rate of speed.” 3 likes
“While the founder [of any religious or spiritual system] was still walking among his followers and disciples, the latter did not distinguish between the person of their leader and his teaching; for the teaching was realized in the person and the person was livingly explained in the teaching. To embrace the teaching was to follow his steps - that is, to believe in him. His presence among them was enough to inspire them and convince them of the truth of his teaching... So long as he lived among them and spoke to them his teaching and his person appealed to them as an individual unity.

But things went differently when his stately and inspiring personality was no more seen in the flesh... The similarities that were, either consciously or unconsciously, recognized as existing in various forms between leader and disciple gradually vanished, and as they vanished, the other side - that is, that which made him so distinctly different from his followers - came to assert itself all the more emphatically and irresistibly. The result was the conviction that he must have come from quite a unique spiritual source.

The process of deification thus constantly went on until, some centuries after the death of the Master, he became a direct manifestation of the Supreme Being himself - in fact, he was the Highest One in the flesh, in him there was a divine humanity in perfect realization... Indeed, the teaching is to be interpreted in the light of the teacher's divine personality. The latter now predominates over the whole system; he is the centre whence radiate the rays of Enlightenment, salvation is only possible in believing in him as saviour.”
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