Top critical review
Classic introduction book to Zen Buddhism
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on April 4, 2001
I first read this book (as a German translation) over 20 years ago and was impressed by Zen philosophy that from then on slowly crept into my life. At that time I did not understand very much about Zen--there was very little literature available. So this book was exactly what I was looking for after I got interested in the subject from reading Jack Kerouac's "Dharma Bums". The copy I had got lost over the years after borrowing it to a number of friends, so I finally bought a new copy.
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.