Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki Criticism - Essay

The Monist (review date 1908)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Outlines of Mahâyâna Buddhism, in The Monist, Vol. 18, 1908, pp. 477-78.

[In the following review, the critic finds Outlines of Mahâyâna Buddhism to be a “very good introduction to a more comprehensive treatise of the subject.”]

[Outlines of Mahâyâna Buddhism] is the first book ever written on Mahâyâna Buddhism which makes any claim to a systematic presentation of the subject. Hitherto European scholars of Buddhism were wont to treat Mahâyânism as a mere degenerated form of “Primitive Buddhism,” which is to-day represented by the Buddhism prevailing in Ceylon, Burma, Siam, and other Asiatic countries, and which is...

(The entire section is 668 words.)

William Barrett (essay date 1956)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Zen for the West,” in Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings of D. T. Suzuki, edited by William Barrett, Doubleday, 1956, pp. vii-xx.

[In his introduction to Suzuki's Zen Buddhism, originally published in 1956, Barrett describes the relationship between Zen Buddhist philosophy and the philosophies of the West.]

Zen Buddhism1 presents a surface so bizarre and irrational, yet so colorful and striking, that some Westerners who approach it for the first time fail to make sense of it, while others, attracted by this surface, take it up in a purely frivolous and superficial spirit. Either response would be unfortunate. The fact is that Zen, as Dr....

(The entire section is 4971 words.)

G. Bownas (review date 1956)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of Studies in Zen, in Philosophy, Vol. XXXIII, No. 117, April, 1956, pp. 188-89.

[In the following review, Bownas finds Studies in Zen to be a “fairly broad picture of Suzuki's interpretations of Zen.”]

Studies in Zen is a collection of seven originally separate articles, the first of which was written in 1906, and the last in 1953; there is, inevitably, a certain degree of repetition, but, on the whole, the essays combine to give a fairly broad picture of Professor Suzuki's interpretations of Zen.

The book begins with a history of the school of Zen—sectarian history being a subject very near to the heart of...

(The entire section is 717 words.)

Gerald Doherty (essay date 1983)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The World That Shines and Sounds: W. B. Yeats and Daisetz Suzuki,” in Irish Renaissance Annual, Vol. IV, 1983, pp. 57-75.

[In this essay, Doherty discusses the influence of Zen Buddhism on the works of W. B. Yeats with particular emphasis on Suzuki's interpretations.]

Yeats's fascination with Japan and its culture had its origins in his study of the Noh drama under the auspices of Ezra Pound during the winter of 1913-14. Thereafter, references to the “noble plays” of Japan and to Japanese art float casually into his essays, often to highlight some contrast between such plays and the Western predilection for social realism and the intimate personal mode...

(The entire section is 6440 words.)

Masao Abe (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Influence of D. T. Suzuki in the West,” in A Zen Life: D. T. Suzuki Remembered, edited by Masao Abe, John Weatherhill, Inc., 1986, pp. 109-17.

[In the following essay, Abe examines the influence Suzuki's interpretation of Zen Buddhism had on the West.]

In the West, as well as in Japan, Suzuki Sensei has often been regarded exclusively as an exponent of Zen in the twentieth century. He was, however, a many-sided individual and a thinker of consummate synthesis rarely found in our times. One of his earliest books in English is entitled Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism, and the significance of Mahayana Buddhism was his major concern from the outset....

(The entire section is 3251 words.)

Larry A. Fader (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “D. T. Suzuki's Contribution to the West,” in A Zen Life: D. T. Suzuki Remembered, edited by Masao Abe, John Weatherhill, Inc., 1986, pp. 95–108.

[In the following essay, Fader discusses the influence Suzuki had on Western thought and art.]

Buddhism and Zen were introduced to the West during the episode of interreligious, intercultural encounter that started at the end of the nineteenth century. This time of sharing is unusual in the history of such contact insofar as it was accomplished more through genuine dialogue than by economic hegemony, political expansion, or displays of military might. Consequently, the West was able to consider Eastern teachings...

(The entire section is 5125 words.)

Torataro Shimomura (essay date 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “D. T. Suzuki's Place in the History of Human Thought,” in A Zen Life: D. T. Suzuki Remembered, edited by Masao Abe, John Weatherhill, Inc., 1986, pp. 65–80.

[In the following essay, Shimomura discusses the cultural thought patterns that make Zen Buddhist concepts difficult for Westerners, and Suzuki's importance in bridging that understanding.]

I think that one of D. T. Suzuki's great achievements, historically speaking, was the opening up of a path to the essential spirit of Mahayana Buddhist and especially Zen thought for the intellectual world of the West. In Oriental thought, especially in Buddhism, there is something which would have remained...

(The entire section is 6440 words.)

Robert Aitkin (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Openness and Engagement: Memories of Dr. D. T. Suzuki,” in Original Dwelling Place: Zen Buddhist Essays, Counterpoint, 1996, pp. 27-31.

[In the following essay, Aitkin—a student of Suzuki—reminisces about his personal encounters with his teacher.]

I first encountered Dr. Suzuki's name in R. H. Blyth's Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, which I read in an internment camp in Kobe, Japan, in the winter of 1942-43. Later on when our camps were combined, I met Professor Blyth in person, and he told me about his first conversation with Suzuki Sensei:

Blyth: I have just come from Korea, where I studied...

(The entire section is 1628 words.)