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First published in Japan in 1938 and later in the USA in 1959, this 478 page Zen and Japanese Culture by Professor Suzuki is still worth reading for those interested in the inception and impact by Zen on Japanese culture and identity From its 11 chapters, it would elaborately inform us on this famous Buddhist cult generously supplemented by related ancient episodes, poems, characters, etc in various key topics, for instance, Swordmanship, Haiku, Love of Nature, etc Many scholars and readers, I think, have long since written and shared their learned reviews on this remarkable classic in books, journals and web pages mine might be possibly repetitive Therefore, I would present my review by means of three selected excerpts so that we can understand on the topic in question.Swordmanship The abbot s name was Ryuko he belonged to the Soto sect of Zen and was a renowned master of the day When Tesshin spoke to him regarding the enterprise, the abbot advised him against it, The young man, however, was obdurate against taking the advice kindly Ryuko continued Look at myself I also wanted to be better known in the world We each have to know where we are and be content with the situation This incensed Tesshin very much, so that he excitedly exclaimed Do you think my sword is of no worth Swordsmanship is not like your discipline Besides, I am firmly convinced of my attainment in swordsmanship I am not afraid of any encounter which may turn up in my tour Ryuko could not help smiling at his self conceit You had better start with the one who is right in front of you If you come out victorious, you may undertake the grand tour throughout the whole country In case, however, you lose, you must promise to become a monk and be my disciple At this Tesshin, laughing heartily, said, You may be great in your Zen, but surely you are no swordsman If you wish to try your luck, however, I am ready Ryuko gave him a bamboo stick that had been found nearby and then provided himself with a hossu Tesshin, full of confidence, tried to knock the Zen master down with one blow of his stick But the stick completely missed the opponent, who was no longer within reach Tesshin was exasperated and tried again and again to reach him, but all to no purpose Instead, he frequently felt the hossu gently sweeping over his face Ryuko finally remarked, What would you say now pp 130 131 Haiku The predecessor of Basho was Saigyo 1118 90 , of the Kamakura period He was also a traveler poet After quitting his official career as a warrior attached to the court, he devoted his life to traveling and poetry He was a Buddhist monk Whoever has traveled through Japan must have seen the picture of a monk in his traveling suit, all alone, looking at Mount Fuji the picture suggests many thoughts, especially about the mysterious loneliness of human life, which is, however, not the feeling of forlornness, nor the passive sense of solitariness, but a source of appreciation of the mystery of the Absolute The poem then composed by Saigyo runs The wind blown Smoke of Mount Fuji Vanishing far away Who knows the destiny Of my thought wafting with it p 256 Love of Nature The famous Nirvana picture of the Tofukuji Zen monastery, at Kyoto, was painted by one of its monks, Cho Densu 1352 1431 , one of the greatest painters of Japan It is one of the largest hanging pictures of this class in Japan, measuring about 39 by 26 feet When Cho Densu was engaged in this grand work, a cat used to visit him and sit by him watching the progress of the picture The artist, who wanted ultramarine in mental form, playfully remarked, If you are good enough to bring me the stuff I want, I will have your picture in this Nirvana The cat had been generally missing, for some unknown reason, in Nirvana pictures executed until then Hence Cho Densu s remark And, miraculously enough, the following day the cat brought him the painting ingredient he wanted, besides, led him to the place where it could be found in abundance The artist s delight was beyond measure, and to keep his word he painted the cat in his Nirvana picture, for which that cat has ever since had a nationwide reputation pp 380 381 In sum, this book may not be a page turner however it is still interestingly informative nowadays since we can start with any chapter we prefer, then we would find the author s writing style appropriate to common readers for his narrations supplemented by 64 black and white rare pictures with Japanese calligraphy belonging to that particular period One thing, I found his generous footnotes printed below innumerable pages helpful and delightful to read each topic and better understand. Oddly, I feel like I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that it was quite difficult to read and I m still fairly confused about the role of Zen in Japanese culture I suspect that Suzuki may have intended this as his goal doesn t seem to be understanding but rather discussion His explanation of Zen largely boils down to the fact that Zen cannot be explained as it is individual and must be experienced, therefore he gives many examples of Zen from Japanese history in the hopes that we catch a glance of its shape This doesn t provide a particularly satisfying literary structure, and he could use some serious editing, but it does keep the reader on their toes as you really have no idea what s coming up next plus his rambling style is somehow endearing As to how all of these examples and mini essays relate to Japanese culture, I m not entirely sure Suzuki s main argument appears to be Many famous and revered Japanese through history were Zen men, therefore Zen has shaped Japanese culture He complicates this by adding examples from pre Zen writers who he considers to have a Zen spirit On the whole I d say he fails to draw clear links between Zen and specific aspects of Japanese culture, which one would expect from such a book then again, since Zen apparently defies logic and rationalization, perhaps he succeeds perfectly PS It took me a year to read this book p6 we human beings cannot live without language, for we are so made that we can sustain our existence only in group life Love is the essence of humanity, love needs something to bestow itself upon human beings must live together in order to lead a life of love.p10 Satori must be the outgrowth of one s inner life and not a verbal implantation brought from the outside.p13 Tenno Dogo If you want to see, see right at once When you begin to think, you miss the point p23 To be poor, that is, not to be dependent on things worldly wealth, power, and reputation and yet to feel inwardly the presence of something of the highest value, above time and social position this is what essentially constitutes wabi.p23 24 Life itself is simple enough, but when it is surveyed by the analyzing intellect it presents unparalleled intricacies.p24 Very likely, the most characteristic thing in the temperament of the Eastern people is the ability to grasp life from within and not from without.p25 The idea of aloneness belongs to the East and is at home in the environment of its birth.p32 When we see the moon, we know that it is the moon, and that s enough Those who proceed to analyze the experience and try to establish a theory of knowledge are not students of Zen They cease to be so, if they ever were, at the very moment of their procedure as analysts Zen always upholds its experience as such and refuses to commit itself to any system of philosophy.p50 But as a social being man cannot remain content with mere experience he wants to communicate it to his fellow beings which means that intuition is to have its contents, its ideas, its intellectual reconstruction. D.T Suzuki is definitive of writing on Zen, so if you want to know about it on a conceptual level not that that s possible , then Suzuki s the man This book in particular is good to read if you want to understand Japanese culture as well. D.T Suzuki was easily one of the world s foremost historians on Zen Buddhism Several years ago I listened to an audiobook of the chapter called Zen and the Samurai It was only recently I discovered that was part of this entire volume.This book is certainly a scholarly work, and probably best suited to those with some background in Buddhism or Japanese culture But like all of Suzuki s writing, the tone is approachable and human I found the chapters on haiku particularly enlightening Suzuki explains the foundations of the art form in a way that helps a westerner fully appreciate it although I suspect to completely appreciate it one needs to read older haiku in their native Japanese Haiku is not something to be intellectualized In essence, it is meant to be a direct translation of a visceral experience into a verbal form.It was particularly interesting to read this book on the heels of finishing Charlotte Joko Beck s Everyday Zen Love and Work The two certainly represent the contrast between Suzuki s traditional Eastern Zen, and Joko Beck s modern, pragmatic Western Zen Together they are a brilliant example of how the same fundamental truths can be expressed through different lenses.I would be remiss if I didn t mention a hint of ethnocentrism that runs through the book Western concepts and ideals are often slighted in favor of their Japanese counterparts I admit I may be reading it as such because I am a Westerner myself The irony of course is that many of the Western ideals Suzuki downplays have now become engrained in modern Japan, perhaps to even of an extreme than in the west There is a beauty to the way of thought Suzuki describes in this book, and the tragedy may be that it is slowly disappearing But perhaps not, one can hardly deny that there still exists differences in Eastern and Western thought Perhaps Eastern thought is still grounded in the fundamentals Suzuki explains, it has just evolved. Lots of thoughts Review to follow. Anyone interested in Zen shouldn t miss this book Well, I think it should be a starter, even I prefer this book rather than Introduction to Zen Buddhism, also by the same author May be because it gives many real life examples into Japanese culture that I can easily picture along because I can relate to And it also contains many quotes of samurai in the past Read it even if you don t really want to know about Zen It could make you a understanding person in general simply because you know why this is this and that is that Even if you re not in a mood to read, just hold this very thick book in your hand and look at the front cover s photo and meditate on it It instantly gives you peace of mind &FREE DOWNLOAD ☔ Zen and Japanese Culture ☔ One Of The Leading Twentieth Century Works On Zen, This Book Is A Valuable Source For Those Wishing To Understand Zen Concepts In The Context Of Japanese Life And Art In Simple, Often Poetic, Language, Daisetz Suzuki Describes What Zen Is, How It Evolved, And How Its Emphasis On Primitive Simplicity And Self Effacement Have Helped To Shape An Aesthetics Found Throughout Japanese Culture He Explores The Surprising Role Of Zen In The Philosophy Of The Samurai, And Subtly Portrays The Relationship Between Zen And Swordsmanship, Haiku, Tea Ceremonies, And The Japanese Love Of Nature Suzuki S Contemplative Discussion Is Enhanced By Anecdotes, Poetry, And Illustrations Showing Silk Screens, Calligraphy, And Examples Of Architecture Not the good option to read for beginners in zen buddhism philosophy, but alluring option for people who already practice zen in daily life Especially, I d consider this book as a must read for artists interested in Eastern cultures and their influence in modern art I found this book when I was searching for Suzuki s books and eventually chose this one from my temptation to find out about samurais and what is the philosophy behind this culture Life of a samurai taught me not only what is behind it, but what is meditation and how it should be properly done Going further, I did not only understand that what I thought of as violence is actually peace, but what I thought is peace is actually a beautiful chaos of eternal movement Some parts of the book refer to Chinese Confucianist culture influence on Japanese zen and how a secluded land of Japan developed its own version of buddhism by combining Indian and Chinese buddhism Again, what I write here is a super generalization of what is in the book The book also mentions the buddhists gods and what they represent The last chapters are elaborating upon the Japanese love of nature and its symbolization on Japanese poems. I picked up this book because it isn t a translation, and I also confused him with another Suzuki who is famous for another zen book Shunryu I found most interesting Ch4 zen and Kendo art of swordsmanship Discusses the samurai spirit, the sword representing the elimination of all in the way, others and self So, he explained that they carried two swords a long one for combat and a short one for suicide Goes on to talk about Immovable intelligence where art merges with zen, where life and death merge.Ch6 zen and Sado art of tea There is a saying that zen and tea are the same and he elaborates that both aim at simplification, and the 4 observances harmony, reverence, purity, and tranquility Harmony gentleness of spirit which he explains is to not contradict anyone Reverence reflection of one s own unworthiness realization of limitations physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual which leads to sincerely not slight others, or simplicity of heart.Purity cleanliness, to free one s mind from the defilements of the senses.Tranquility fearlessness, unconscious mastery of creative possibilities.It reminds me of the four agreements by a christian author