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An Introduction to Zen Buddhism Paperback – Abridged, Feb. 19 2021
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One of the world's leading authorities on Zen Buddhism, D. T. Suzuki was the author of more than a hundred works on the subject in both Japanese and English, and was most instrumental in bringing the teachings of Zen Buddhism to the attention of the Western world. Written in a lively, accessible, and straightforward manner, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism is illuminating for the serious student and layperson alike. This abridged reissued introduction presents the nature, technique and practice of Zen. A Japanese Zen master, Dr Suzuki taught regularly in the USA and Europe.
- Publisher : Must Have Books; Abridged edition (Feb. 19 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 54 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1774641461
- ISBN-13 : 978-1774641460
- Item weight : 90.7 g
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 0.33 x 22.86 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #120,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Buddha attacked the Hinduist concept of atman. Atman is similar to the Platonic forms, that is, all phenomenons have their substance. This way of thought is deeply ingrained in our language. For example, ¡®I¡¯ am always ¡®I¡¯. When I was 5 years old, when I was 20 years old, and when I will be 60 years. And that, we think, with no questioning, those ¡®I¡¯s should have the same identity. And our friends should be so. But those ¡®I¡¯ and she/he could not be the same ones. What always is there is only the name we give. You could know it with no being lost in thought. Buddha taught that the object that our attention is directed lacks the substance and what we really recognize is only the name. The enlightenment, the ultimate goal of Buddhism, is just breaking through the boundaries of that kind of mundane thought. But achieving such breaking is near-impossible. We could understand what Buddha said but knowing is not doing.
Mahayana Buddhism built up heady mountain of scriptures. By the 12 c., it amounted to 160 thousands pages in total. Zen suspected that the enlightenment couldn¡¯t be achieved with reading scripts and meditation. It is best reached not by the study of scripture, the practice of good deeds, rites and ceremonies, or worship of images, but by shaking up ordinary inertia. Zen Buddhism employed Koans to do it. Koan is a brief paradoxical statement or question used as a discipline in meditation. The effort to solve a koan is designed to exhaust the analytic intellect and the will, leaving the mind open for response on an intuitive level. There are about 1,700 traditional koans, which are based on anecdotes from ancient Zen masters. They include the well-known example "When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand clapping." This should sound the at best illogical at worst babble. But koan is the typical way to reach to the enlightenment in Zen Buddhism. And it is inevitable to write the history of Zen Buddhism is to write the list of koans. This book is no exception. But each koan had its own situation. So each koan should be introduced with its own locale. And this determines the writing style of the Zen primers: almost all Zen primers take the form of storytelling. And Zen master Suzuki is an excellent raconteur.
But Suzuki restrains himself to storyteller, not interpreter of each koan. So you should guess the meaning of koans by yourself. This is the very tradition of Zen-related books. Suzuki could put the meaning of koans in words. But such wording can¡¯t catch the very essence of koan. You should realize it by yourself. All the cues are in this book.
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)
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 20, 2017