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date: 30 September 2022

D. T. Suzuki: Ideas and Influencesfree

D. T. Suzuki: Ideas and Influencesfree

  • James C. DobbinsJames C. DobbinsDepartment of Religion, Oberlin College


D. T. Suzuki (1870–1966) was a scholar who published extensively in Japanese and English and achieved international recognition as an authority and proponent of Buddhism in the 20th century. He was one of a generation of young progressive Buddhists in Japan seeking to rehabilitate the religion and ensure its survival by interpreting it in a modern idiom. Suzuki grew up in humble circumstances but managed to attend Tokyo Imperial University for several years. At the same time, he received Zen training as a lay practitioner at Engakuji monastery in Kamakura. Through an introduction by his Zen master, who had international connections, Suzuki was able to travel to America in 1897 to assist in English translation projects on Asian religions. There he lived for eleven years working for Open Court Publishing in Illinois, all the while absorbing Western scholarship on religion and philosophy. During this time, Suzuki began to publish his own works on Buddhism and Asian religions. He returned to Japan in 1909 and took a position as an English professor in the preparatory school of Gakushūin in Tokyo. In 1921 Suzuki moved to Ōtani University in Kyoto as a professor of English and Buddhist studies. Over the next twenty years, he published some of his most influential works in English, many of which introduced Europeans and Americans to Zen. After living in semi-retirement in Kamakura during the war years, Suzuki again had the opportunity to travel overseas in 1949. He spent almost a decade in America, affiliated first with the University of Hawai‘i, then with Claremont Graduate School in California, and, finally, most prominently, with Columbia University in New York. During this period Buddhism, particularly Zen, became wildly popular in America and Europe, and Suzuki quickly rose to the status of a celebrity intellectual. After retiring to Japan in 1958, he continued to write and make appearances. When he died in 1966 at the age of ninety-five, Suzuki was renowned worldwide for his advancement of Zen and Buddhism generally.

Suzuki’s scholarship on Buddhism focused particularly on Zen, Mahayana, and Pure Land. In Zen, he singled out satori, or Zen enlightenment, as the pivotal element in its religious life and practice. In Mahayana, he emphasized the ideas of nonduality and the interpenetration of all things and sought to spread knowledge of Mahayana in Western circles to counterbalance the better-known Theravada tradition. In Pure Land, he shifted the focus from enlightenment after death in Amida Buddha’s paradise to religious fulfillment in the present world and present life. In all these forms of Buddhism, Suzuki applied the concepts of religious experience and mysticism, which were widely recognized in Western scholarship. His success in presenting Buddhism to Western readers resulted in the widespread adoption of his interpretations by mainstream thinkers and counterculture movements alike in America and Europe. His ideas also commanded great respect in mid-20th-century Japan as part of Buddhism’s modern revitalization.


  • Buddhism

Zen Buddhism

Of all the forms of Buddhism propounded by Suzuki Daisetsu (Daisetz) Teitarō 鈴木大拙貞太郎‎ (1870–1966)—or, more commonly, D. T. Suzuki—he is best known for his writings on Zen ‎. It is the type of Buddhism he himself practiced and the one that made the deepest impression on him. His primary exposure to it occurred at the Engakuji 円覚寺‎ monastery in Kamakura 鎌倉‎ after he came to Tokyo as a university student in the early 1890s. He practiced meditation and koan there assiduously for five years and, shortly before departing for America in 1897, had a Zen satori ‎り awakening. Throughout this period Suzuki also studied religion and Buddhism in a scholarly way and received not only Zen training but also intellectual mentoring from his master, Shaku Sōen 釈宗演‎ (1859–1919), who had his own views on how Buddhism should be presented and received in modern educated circles. The fruit of their collaboration was Suzuki’s English translation of Sōen’s address to the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago and Suzuki’s 1895 Japanese translation of The Gospel of Buddha (Budda no fukuin 仏陀‎の福音‎) by Paul Carus (1852–1919)—an acquaintance of Sōen’s from the parliament who was an important scholar of religion and the editor in chief of Open Court Publishing in LaSalle, Illinois, under whom Suzuki would work for over a decade.1 Simultaneously, in 1896, Suzuki published his own long theoretical work on religion. Ultimately Suzuki became famous as a thinker, scholar, and author, producing hundreds of essays, books, and translations over his career. But it was his original practice of Zen and the personal meaning he derived from it that triggered this lifelong intellectual outpouring.

Suzuki’s most momentous works on Zen appeared in the 1920s and 1930s after he became a professor at Ōtani 大谷‎ University in Kyoto. His three-volume Essays in Zen Buddhism, Series One, Two, and Three were published in London in 1927, 1933, and 1934 successively. Some of their chapters were revised articles that had appeared in The Eastern Buddhist, the scholarly journal that he launched at Ōtani, but others were original to these volumes. In them he covered standard Zen topics—meditation, satori, koan, sayings of Zen masters, monastery life—all presented according to Suzuki’s distinctive interpretation, which was shaped as much by Western scholarship as by traditional Japanese sectarian dogmatics. Some essays were not about Zen per se, but on themes and texts in Mahayana Buddhism that Suzuki related to Zen. In 1934 he followed these volumes with An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, arguably his most widely read publication, and The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk, offering an idealized portrait of Zen monastic life. In 1935, he added the Manual of Zen Buddhism, providing English renderings of texts, verses, chants, sutra excerpts, and sayings of masters used in Zen monasteries. Finally, in 1938, he published Zen and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, attributing a Zen meaning to many of Japan’s artistic and literary traditions.2 This profusion of works, appearing in just over a decade, played a monumental role in introducing Zen in an accessible way to English readers and in establishing Suzuki as Zen’s foremost authority in their eyes. Suzuki continued to publish on Zen in both Japanese and English during the next thirty years, and he sought to elucidate new topics and themes—for instance, the ideas of obscure Zen masters such as Bankei 盤珪‎ (1622–1693) and Sengai 仙厓‎ (1750–1837), and Zen texts discovered in Dunhuang 敦煌‎, China, which he did not have access to previously. But the main contours of Suzuki’s teachings on Zen were set in this early wave of publications.

The key to Suzuki’s presentation of Zen is his emphasis on satori, Zen awakening or enlightenment. He tended to interpret it using the language and conceptualizations of early 20th-century scholarship on religious experience, particularly that of the psychologist and philosopher William James (1842–1910) in The Varieties of Religious Experience published in 1902. Just as James sought to uncouple religious experience from doctrine and ecclesiastical organizations, likewise Suzuki portrayed satori as transcending sectarian structures and divisions.3 He identified it as an intuitive and spiritual breakthrough resulting in a changed awareness or consciousness where things that were unseen before become clear and where discontents, perplexities, and dichotomies are resolved. This awakening has a noetic quality to it but does not lend itself easily to verbal description or rational explanation. Suzuki considered satori to be the essence of Zen, so that even if Zen texts, monasteries, and rituals all disappeared, Zen would endure as long as enlightenment could be found.4 He also extended this rationale to claim that wherever such an enlightened awareness arises—even in the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)—Zen is present.5 By defining Zen in this way, Suzuki detached it from its historical moorings and elevated it to a universal and ideal state of human consciousness.

Within this framework, Suzuki went on to explain the particular characteristics most commonly associated with Zen. First, he argued that Zen meditation is not merely to calm or pacify the mind, nor is it to induce visions of the Buddha. Rather, it is simply the activity wherein Zen monks wrestle with their koan. It is thus the koan that gives Zen meditation its value. Suzuki wrote extensively on koan, the perplexing phrases and vignettes—such as “nothingness” (mu ‎) or “the sound of one hand” (sekishu no onjō 隻手音声‎) or “one’s original face” (honrai no menmoku 本来面目‎)—that, when engaged intensively under the guidance of a Zen master and especially in the context of meditation, have the capacity to trigger a satori experience. Suzuki considered the koan’s illogical and enigmatic quality to be a catalyst for disrupting dualistic and rational thinking and thereby provoking a profound and sudden awakening. Although he described koan as an expedient mechanism devised by Chinese masters for this purpose, and although he regretted that satori might be less spontaneous within this regimen, Suzuki nonetheless embraced and endorsed the koan path to satori. In the abstract, however, he believed enlightenment to be independent of all causal conditions and therefore possible anytime and anywhere—whether situated in meditation and koan and Zen monasteries or not.6

Suzuki likewise construed the vast body of sayings of Zen masters, all Zen literature and imagery, and life in a Zen monastery to be geared toward the actualization of satori. And, once actualized, continued practice of koan and monastery life were thought to heighten or deepen it. In fact, one could reside in a steady state of enlightened living—inured to dichotomies and conflict, egoless, harmonious with the world, and living in suchness or “as-it-is-ness” (sono mama そのまま or kono mama このまま).7 In this way Suzuki wedded traditional Zen ideas about practice and enlightenment—especially drawn from the teachings of Linji 臨済‎ (d. 866) and Dahui 大慧‎ (1089–1163) in China and Hakuin 白隠‎ (1685–1768) in Japan—with modern analyses of religious experience to portray Zen satori as a profound and even mystical experience with a transformational effect on one’s life. Critics of Suzuki have pointed out that his model of Zen is based almost exclusively on the Rinzai tradition in Japan, replete with koan practice, and that it virtually ignores the Sōtō 曹洞‎ tradition of the master Dōgen 道元‎ (1200–1253), which emphasizes quiet sitting in meditation as the embodiment of satori.8 Critics also argue that Suzuki’s Zen is overly dependent on Western concepts of religious experience, thereby recasting the old and complex Zen tradition to fit a Western model.9 Whatever the case, Suzuki’s interpretation has emerged as a dominant view of Zen in the West and has widely influenced the Japanese view as well.

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana (Daijō 大乗‎) is the branch of Buddhism most prevalent in Japan and East Asia. It coalesced around a host of sutras and other texts originating in India and Central Asia that were transmitted to China, translated into Chinese, and dispersed throughout East Asia. There, in contrast to India, Mahayana became the banner under which the vast majority of Buddhist traditions, philosophies, institutions, and systems of practice defined themselves. These included the Zen and Pure Land traditions of Japan. As academic research on Buddhism emerged among Western scholars in the 19th century, they tended to treat the Buddhism of Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, specifically Theravada, as the earliest and most authoritative form of the religion, whereas they considered the Mahayana traditions in other parts of Asia to be later derivations and a corrupted form. This was the state of Western scholarship on Buddhism when Suzuki first encountered it in the 1890s. Under Shaku Sōen’s influence and in step with other young Buddhists of the period, Suzuki committed himself not only to reforming Buddhism in Japan but also to enhancing Mahayana’s reputation abroad and introducing Westerners to its sophisticated systems of thought.10 Many of his early publications while living for eleven years in America at the turn of the 20th century should be understood in that context, and even his founding of The Eastern Buddhist journal at Ōtani University in 1921 was inspired by that goal. Although Zen is what Suzuki is best remembered for, Mahayana was the focus of his early writings.

Suzuki’s presentation of Mahayana to the English-reading public was done through translations, essays, and books. Soon after he finished assisting Paul Carus with a translation of the Daoist classic Daodejing 道徳経‎, he translated the Daijō kishinron 大乗起信論‎, published in 1900 as Aśvaghoṣa’s Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana. This text, although obscure in origins, had wide circulation in East Asia. Suzuki considered it an excellent introduction for Westerners to the grand vision and philosophical subtleties of Mahayana thought. The text is built around a Buddhist exegesis of mind (shin ‎), which Suzuki translated as “soul” (perhaps under the influence of Carus). This “soul” does not refer to that of an individual person but to something ontological and all-encompassing. It is said to have two aspects, “suchness” and “birth-and-death” (i.e., samsara), and hence, it spans both the oneness of all things and their separate individuated existence, that is, their unity and their plurality. At the level of “birth-and-death,” the text indicates that the “soul” emerges from the so-called Tathāgata womb (Tathāgatagarbha), and it introduces elements of Yogācāra philosophy to explain how the so-called all-conserving mind (ālaya-vijñāna), considered synonymous with the Dharmakāya of all the buddhas, is the oceanic base on which the waves of confused subjective thinking occur, manifested in the form of “ego-consciousness” (manovijñāna). There can be a two-way “perfuming” effect whereby, on the one hand, confused assumptions may perpetuate confusion but, on the other, enlightening thoughts may attenuate confusion. In all these states, the mind is the same whether it is in an enlightened or disturbed mode.11 Suzuki’s explanations of classical Buddhist texts and Yogācāra philosophy at this early stage in his career were tenuous, derived fragmentarily from both Western and Japanese scholarship and intermixed with Western philosophical terminology. He also had an insufficient knowledge of the latest text-criticism of the Awakening of Faith, which suggested it might be a Chinese compilation rather than an Indian work. But an important theme that Suzuki distilled from this text was that enlightenment is both a timeless pervasive reality and an experiential this-worldly process. Over the years, Suzuki never abandoned this formula and sought to apply it to Zen, Pure Land, Kegon 華厳‎, and all other forms of Buddhism that he explicated.

Suzuki sought to promote Mahayana in yet other publications during his early years in America. He wrote short essays on Mādhyamika (1898) and Yogācāra (1904), which were published in India and Europe, respectively. But his treatment of these topics was cursory and not completely reliable—especially Sanskrit references—for he did not have in-depth training in them and relied on limited sources.12 Subsequently, the publication of Suzuki’s Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism in 1907 had a great impact on Western readers. It introduced them, first of all, to the classification of Buddhism into the Mahayana and Hinayana branches, polemical categories that had originated in Mahayana texts. This division was roughly parallel to the prevailing classification of Northern and Southern Buddhism, although Suzuki argued that the Mahayana/Hinayana designation conveyed better the nature of the two. He further subdivided Mahayana into Northern and Eastern branches, thereby giving a separate and special place to China and Japan as major sites of Buddhism’s efflorescence. This new classification familiarized and acclimatized readers to East Asia’s view of its Buddhist identity and legitimacy. Second, Suzuki situated his discussion of Mahayana within the general issues about religion that were debated in the West at the beginning of the 20th century: questions about intellect versus feeling, reason versus faith, and philosophy versus religion. Moreover, he occasionally cited well-known thinkers or literary figures such as Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) and Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-92) to make his points, thereby drawing on idioms and a vocabulary that English readers were accustomed to. Third, Suzuki explained an extensive array of Mahayana themes in easy-to-understand summaries: absolute and relative knowledge, suchness, Tathāgatagarbha, emptiness, Dharmakāya, three-body theory of the buddha, bodhisattvas and their ten stages, and the nonduality of nirvana and samsara. These succinct explanations made Suzuki’s work a virtual handbook for novices interested in Mahayana.13 As in the case of his other publications of this period, various points in the book were not quite accurate. In later decades, Suzuki never produced a revised edition and was hesitant to allow the work to be translated into Japanese.14 But because there were no other introductions to Mahayana of this type in English and because of its readability, Suzuki’s book had a strong impact on the image of Buddhism in the West and helped enhance the reputation of Mahayana and East Asia Buddhism.

Suzuki’s promotion of Mahayana Buddhism extended well beyond his early career. In the 1920s and 1930s, after becoming a professor at Ōtani University and after Mahayana had received recognition among many Western readers, he continued to produce important works to make its extensive literature and systems of thought better known. In the first issues of The Eastern Buddhist, for instance, he presented a digest in excerpts of the Kegon or Avatamsaka Sutra in four installments, as well as his own brief explanation of the idea of the interpenetration of all things, a theme that he emphasized repeatedly in his writings.15 More important, he published his widely praised Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra in 1930 and an English translation of the Sanskrit scripture, The Lankavatara Sutra, A Mahayana Text, in 1932. In it, Suzuki focused on themes and concepts that were closely associated with Yogācāra philosophy (illusory, conventional, and enlightened knowledge; dimensions of thought, consciousness, and mind; the theory of mind-only), with Prajñāparamitā thought (no-birth, emptiness, nonduality, no-substance), and with the Mahayana ideal (three-body theory of the buddha, the meaning of Tathāgata). He sought in particular to apply the Lankavatara’s ideas to Zen, since the two had a semi-legendary connection through the Zen patriarch Bodhidharma.16 Although Suzuki was never proficient as a Sanskritist (relying on the help of others such as his colleague at Ōtani, Izumi Hōkei 泉芳環‎ [1884–1947]), he made available in English a large selection of Mahayana texts from Sanskrit.17

In old age, Suzuki focused his attention on the presentation and explication of Zen, since interest in it was soaring in the West. But in doing so he frequently drew from his previous Mahayana studies to frame Zen philosophically and to offer a more intellectual interpretation of it. The primary setting in which this occurred was the lectures and seminars he gave as a professor at Columbia University in the 1950s. While in America, he began assembling and editing these presentations in the hope of publishing a major interpretive work on Zen, drawing from Buddhist thought, Mahayana philosophy, and Western religious comparisons. Unfortunately, Suzuki died before this project was complete, but his unfinished manuscript was eventually published in 2016 by the Matsugaoka Bunko ‎ヶ岡文庫‎, the research library he had established in Kamakura. It consists of revised versions of his Columbia lectures from the fall of 1952 and the spring of 1953. In content, this work is wide-ranging and full of digressions, representing a kind of free-form Buddhist theologizing about Zen. It is noteworthy, however, that there are many references to Mahayana texts in it: Awakening of Faith, Lankavatara, Prajñāparamitā, Kegon, and other materials that Suzuki had presented in earlier publications. But unlike the work at the beginning of his career when his goal was to defend and legitimize Mahayana Buddhism, he treated Mahayana at this point as a philosophical mirror of Zen and as an intellectual articulation of its wordless teaching.18

Pure Land Buddhism

It is a commonplace belief that Pure Land Buddhism (jōdokyō 浄土教‎), most notably the Shin ‎ tradition of Japan, is the diametric opposite of Zen. For its part, Zen is considered a rigorous religious path involving meditation, monastic discipline, and inner struggle culminating in the realization that one’s true nature is identical to the buddha’s. Individuals must exert great effort in their practices and take responsibility for their religious fate. Pure Land Buddhism, on the other hand, entails relying on the buddha, specifically the all-pervasive Buddha Amida 阿弥陀‎, for the power, wisdom, and compassion whereby enlightenment occurs. Traditionally, it has been regarded as an otherworldly religious path in which people put their faith (shinjin 信心‎) in Amida during this life and intone his name earnestly with the words Namu Amida Butsu 南無阿弥陀仏‎, which, known as the nenbutsu 念仏‎, is its principal practice. Then after death, they are reborn in Amida’s transcendent and resplendent paradise called the Pure Land (jōdo 浄土‎) or “Ultimate Bliss” (Gokuraku 極楽‎, Skt. Sukhāvatī), which is considered synonymous with and tantamount to enlightenment. Frequently, Pure Land Buddhism has been likened to traditional Christianity—structured around an all-powerful God, a life of faith, and salvation in heaven after death. Suzuki, however, beginning in mid-career, came to regard Pure Land as an important form of Mahayana and as a this-worldly Buddhist path parallel to, though different from, Zen.19

Suzuki was exposed to Pure Land Buddhism as a child through initiation into a secret nenbutsu group that his mother belonged to, but he turned his back on it as a young adult once he was exposed to Western thought and Zen Buddhism, treating it as an inferior and superstitious religion.20 Two decades later, when appointed as an English professor in the preparatory division of Gakushūin 学習院‎, the Peers School, in Tokyo, he began to reconsider it after meeting Sasaki Gesshō ‎々木月樵‎ (1875–1926), a prominent figure in the Seishinshugi 精神主義‎ (“Spirituality”) intellectual movement of Shin Buddhism and a professor at Shinshū (soon to be Ōtani) University. He had been introduced to Sasaki by his close friend, philosopher Nishida Kitarō 西田幾多郎‎ (1870–1945), who himself had great respect for this movement. Sasaki and his fellow Seishinshugi proponents sought to highlight people’s inner subjective encounter with Amida Buddha in the present life instead of their aspiration for salvation in Pure Land after death.21 Suzuki’s reassessment of Pure Land Buddhism resulted in a few short articles in the 1910s but led to a steady, lifelong stream of publications after he became a professor at Ōtani in 1921. There he found sympathetic and like-minded colleagues from the Seishinshugi movement, especially members of The Eastern Buddhist editorial board. The presuppositions of Suzuki’s interpretation of Pure Land, however, did not originate in Seishinshugi but rather came from the modern theories of religious experience that he used to explain Zen. Nonetheless, his innovative approach to Pure Land had strong resonances with Seishinshugi in that both emphasized religious life in the here and now.

Suzuki published several long and important articles on Pure Land in The Eastern Buddhist during his active years at Ōtani, most notably “The Development of the Pure Land Doctrine in Buddhism” (1925) and “The Shin Sect of Buddhism” (1939).22 In them, he introduced English readers to the basic concepts and vocabulary of Pure Land and portrayed it as an expression of the spirit of Śākyamuni Buddha and as the type of mystical awakening found in other forms of Buddhism. He also interpreted the Pure Land paradise as an immanent reality in this world rather than as a separate realm encountered after death. Then during the war years he published his book Jōdokei shisōron 浄土系思想論‎ (Interpretations of Pure Land thought, 1942) and discussed Shin Buddhism extensively in his next book Nihon teki reisei日本的霊性‎ (Japanese spirituality, 1944).23 In those works, Suzuki explicated the ideas of Shinran 親鸞‎ (1173–1262), the founder of Shin Buddhism, from his Tannishō 歎異抄‎ collection of sayings and from his doctrinal masterpiece Kyōgyōshinshō教行信証‎. In particular, Suzuki highlighted Shinran’s conviction that Amida made his vow of bringing sentient beings to enlightenment specifically for one individual person, Shinran himself—thereby treating Shinran’s belief as a personal existential realization.24 In addition, Suzuki elucidated Shinran’s idea of faith—referred to also in the Kyōgyōshinshō as the “one mind” (isshin 一心‎) and the “diamond-like true mind” (kongō no shinshin 金剛‎の真心‎)—to be an experience of oneness with Amida.25 This interpretation suggests a parallel between the Pure Land experience and Zen’s realization of one’s own nature as the buddha’s nature. Overall the major themes found in Suzuki’s writings on Shin Buddhism revolve around (a) the present world—that Pure Land’s true meaning is found in this life, not the next; (b) religious experience—that the place where religious meaning arises is an internal and personal experience often described as faith or relying on Amida’s “other-power” (tariki 他力‎); and (c) nonduality—that in this experience the differentiation between oneself and Amida and between this world and the Pure Land falls away.26 With these interpretations, Suzuki helped recast the image of Pure Land Buddhism from a religion preaching salvation in the afterlife to an experience of religious fulfillment in this life.

Another subject that Suzuki explored extensively in Pure Land Buddhism was the religious life of myōkōnin 妙好人‎, which he sometimes translated as the “wondrous good man.” This term refers to lowly and sometimes illiterate believers who came to be seen as models of Shin Buddhist religiosity based on the feelings and convictions they expressed in popular sayings. Suzuki first encountered stories about them in the 1920s and published essays and translations on various myōkōnin from that time on. Some of the figures he presented expressed the full range of Shin Buddhist beliefs—from immediate fulfillment in the here and now to anticipation of birth in the Pure Land after death, as well as platitudes about conventional morality. But the sayings of one particular myōkōnin, Asahara Saichi 浅原才市‎ (1850–1932), introduced to Suzuki by the Kyoto philosopher Nishitani Keiji 西谷啓治‎ (1900–1990), fit perfectly with Suzuki’s exposition of Shin Buddhism. Saichi’s sayings, preserved mostly in short pithy verses, focus on his personal practice of the nenbutsu, chanting the Buddha’s name with the words Namu Amida Butsu. His verses express in one way or another Saichi’s feeling of oneness with the Buddha as he intoned the nenbutsu—in which his identity, as an unworthy sentient being, merges with the Buddha’s identity, as the true embodiment of enlightenment. This sense of nonduality was one of Suzuki’s signature themes in interpreting Shin Buddhism. As a result of his decades-long work on myōkōnin, Suzuki almost single-handedly lifted their collections of sayings from the realm of popular Shin homilies to the plane of great religious literature. Suzuki no doubt found a power in their simplicity, perhaps akin to the earthy sayings of fabled Zen masters in China.27

Suzuki’s final contribution to the study of Pure Land Buddhism, undertaken near the end of his life, was the English translation of Shinran’s longest work, Kyōgyōshinshō. This was a project that Suzuki had not intended to undertake. In fact, earlier in his career he considered the text too abstract and obtuse to convey Shinran’s ideas effectively, and less representative of his thinking than the Tannishō.28 But the Higashi Honganji 東本願寺‎ branch of Shin Buddhism, to which Ōtani University belonged, urged Suzuki to do the translation. In the end, he managed to complete the first four of the work’s six fascicles, which contain the crux of Shinran’s teachings. In his translation, Suzuki presupposed the basic themes that he attributed to Shin Buddhism in his earlier writings—an emphasis on fulfillment in this life, the primacy of religious experience, and nonduality—but he also introduced new and innovative translations of some key Pure Land terms. Specifically, he rendered gyō ‎, which is typically translated “religious practice,” as “living,” suggesting that a person’s day-to-day life with Amida is tantamount to religious practice. He also translated the term gan ‎, which usually refers to Amida’s vow to bring all living beings to enlightenment, as “prayer,” intimating that the primordial will of the Buddha and the religious hopes of ordinary beings are inseparable from each other.29 Thus, Suzuki’s parting gift to the international community of Shinran scholars was these interpretive brainteasers, challenging them to a more immanental and nondualistic understanding of Shinran’s teachings.

Theory of Religion

Suzuki is usually remembered as a transmitter of Buddhism to the West, particularly Zen, and as an interpreter of Buddhism for modern living. In his own day, he was also considered an insightful observer and theorist of religion generally. Suzuki’s interest in theoretical questions began early in his career with the publication of his Shin shūkyō ron新宗教論‎ (A new interpretation of religion) in 1896, before he ever traveled abroad.30 It was written only decades after the term religion (shūkyō 宗教‎) entered the Japanese vocabulary and while its meaning and semantic boundaries were still unstable.31 By then Suzuki had read various works by 18th- and 19th-century Western philosophers and literary figures while attending university, and he was in correspondence with the Open Court editor Paul Carus, a noted turn-of-the-century proponent of the “religion of science,” that is, of a rational religion compatible with science. Suzuki in his book adopted a similar rationalist stance, exploring religions with a critical eye, East and West, to discern what in them was empirically plausible and what problematic. A subtext to his study was the belief that, among the various religions of the world, Buddhism could easily be reconciled to reason and science, a view that Carus and other Western scholars had previously advanced. Although this rational depiction of Buddhism was important to Suzuki in his early thinking, and although he continued to apply a rational analysis to aspects of religion throughout his career, his interpretation of Buddhism began to shift after he traveled to America and encountered other theories.32

The interpretation of religion that Suzuki soon embraced in America revolved around the idea of religious experience. The underlying assumption was that religion arises from an inner, personal “feeling” rather than from the “intellect.”33 This emphasis on nonrational spirituality had roots in European Romanticism and American Transcendentalism, which Suzuki was familiar with, and had parallels in Zen’s idealization of “sudden awakening.” For Suzuki, the most insightful articulation of this approach was found in William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, which Suzuki read soon after it was published in 1902. By focusing on a person’s internal psychological state, which itself is a real phenomenon, James reoriented the idea of religion away from external texts, doctrines, rituals, moral injunctions, and institutions that were typically considered the locus of religion.34 From this time, Suzuki also used the concept of religious experience to elucidate Buddhism in all its forms—Zen, Pure Land, Mahayana, and Hinayana—and to make comparisons to religions worldwide.

In conjunction with the idea of religious experience Suzuki also adopted the widely recognized category of mysticism to explain Buddhism and other religions. He was influenced, first of all, by William James’s analysis of mystical experience—which he characterized as ineffable, noetic, transient, and passive.35 Suzuki himself maintained an interest in mysticism throughout his life. During his early years in America, he was attracted, for instance, to Swedenborgianism, the 19th-century theological and mystical movement inspired by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), partly because of its mystical visions. He also applied the idea of mysticism to the Shin Buddhist myōkōnin Shichiri Gōjun 七里恒順‎ (1835–1900) in his early article, “Sayings of a Modern Tariki Mystic,” published in 1924.36 Suzuki’s explanation of Zen satori, or enlightenment experience, likewise bore a resemblance to William James’s analysis of mysticism; specifically, Suzuki identified its characteristics as irrationality, intuitive insight, authoritativeness, affirmation, sense of the beyond, impersonal tone, feelings of exaltation, and momentariness (and added passivity in other writings).37 Suzuki’s most sustained treatment of mysticism appeared late in life in his book, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (1957), in which he juxtaposed the Christian theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1328) and the Shin Buddhist myōkōnin Asahara Saichi. Thus, the themes of mysticism and religious experience provided Suzuki with a vocabulary to analyze Buddhism in a modern conceptual framework, to convey it intelligibly to Western readers, and to discuss religion as a phenomenon with Western scholars.38 Although near the end of his life, he expressed misgivings about describing Buddhism in terms of mysticism, the idea was so pervasive in all his writings that such regret in old age could hardly invalidate his lifelong use of it.39

Suzuki’s scholarly engagement with Buddhism and the interpretation of religion gave him high visibility in many scholarly venues throughout his life. His early model for such venues was the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, which his Zen master and mentor Shaku Sōen had attended. Suzuki himself participated in the World Congress of Faiths in London in 1936 to great acclaim, and from that time, his international profile steadily rose. Soon afterward, he was invited to the First East-West Philosophers’ Conference in Honolulu in 1939 (which he could not attend because of his wife’s illness and death) and then to each subsequent East-West Conference—the Second in 1949, the Third in 1959, and the Fourth in 1964—all of which he attended as a featured speaker. One other prestigious venue in which Suzuki appeared was the Eranos Conferences of 1953 and 1954 in Switzerland, an assembly of world-class scholars who presented and discussed their latest humanistic scholarship. Finally, two years before his death Suzuki participated in a famous interreligious dialogue with the Catholic monk Thomas Merton in New York, exchanging views about continuities and discontinuities between Buddhism and Christianity. By this time, Suzuki’s reputation as an international expert on Buddhism was at its zenith. Although Suzuki always felt a particular affinity to philosophy, ironically his ideas did not gain traction with many philosophers in America, perhaps because analytic philosophy was well established at that point—the very type of logical thought that Suzuki often criticized. Instead, his ideas drew a positive response more from psychoanalysts, poets, writers, musicians, artists, religionists, theologians, clerics, and spiritual seekers of all types.

Popular Influences

With the emergence of Suzuki as a public intellectual in 1950s America, his celebrity soon crossed over to the popular domain as well. Because he was willing to give talks and presentations to all kinds of groups and to receive casual auditors into his lectures at Columbia University, his reputation began to spread beyond academic and professional circles. His congenial air and his habit of speaking in paradoxes only amplified people’s curiosity. Moreover, he seemed to fit, both visually and behaviorally, the pervasive Western stereotype of the “wise old Oriental sage”—weathered, enigmatic, lively, gentle, and sporting flamboyant eyebrows and a balding pate.40 All these factors converged to make Suzuki the talk of the town within a few years of moving to New York. His fame is best exemplified in a twenty-page feature article about him published in the mass-circulation magazine The New Yorker in 1957, which profiled him in the following way:

Dr. Suzuki is as impressive personally as he is through the medium of his writing and scholarship. As a personality, he radiates not only the general glamour that attaches to aging Oriental men of wisdom but a special serenity that makes him a magnificent living example of the doctrine he preaches . . . even the most skeptical visitor, when under the spell of Dr. Suzuki’s words, is apt to find himself believing—for a moment, at least—that zero is in fact equal to infinity, that the timeless and eternal instant of perception is all there is to the real world, and that “emptiness” is a thing.41

Suzuki’s spell, described here, swept over countless people, both mainstream and marginal, who read his works or saw him in person.

It is difficult to enumerate all the people in popular culture that Suzuki inspired, but a few will demonstrate the range of his influence. The first is Erich Fromm (1900–1980), the well-known psychoanalyst of the Neo-Freudian school. He invited Suzuki to a weeklong workshop in Mexico for psychoanalysts and psychologists in August 1957 and, based on it, co-authored with him the book Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (1960).42 The second is Alan Watts (1915–1973), the mass-market author and speaker on Asian religions. Born in England and familiar with Suzuki’s writings from his teenage years, he helped integrate Buddhism, Daoism, and Hinduism into the emerging counterculture of California. In the 1960s and 1970s, his writings—which were always dependent on Suzuki’s scholarship—became for a time the most widely read works on Zen.43 The third figure is the experimental music composer John Cage (1912–1992). After dropping out of college, he explored the arts widely in Europe, California, and Seattle and aligned himself mostly with the avant-garde Dada movement. By the time he moved to New York in 1942, he had established a reputation in experimental music. There he attended Suzuki’s lectures on Zen at Columbia University and, from that time, cited Zen as an important influence on his work. He is famous for his 1952 piece titled 4′33″ (a three-movement, four-and-a-half-minute work consisting of silence by a musician on stage, which was inspired in part by Robert Rauschenberg’s “White Paintings”) and for introducing the idea of “indeterminacy” into his compositions derived from the Chinese divination classic Yijing 易經‎. Cage paid courtesy visits to Suzuki when he traveled to Japan in 1962 and 1964.44 The fourth person is Jack Kerouac (1922–1969), the counterculture novelist who became a clarion voice for the Beat Generation. He, along with such friends as poets Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997) and Gary Snyder (b. 1930), was proactively exploring Buddhism in the 1950s, including the writings of Suzuki. As a fictionalized account of these explorations, Kerouac published the novel Dharma Bums in 1958—permanently enshrining a place for Buddhism in the beatnik movement alongside anti-consumerism, itinerant life, sexual promiscuity, alcohol, and drugs. Kerouac had great admiration for Suzuki, and in October 1958, the very month that Dharma Bums was published (and just weeks before Suzuki moved back to Japan), he, Ginsberg, and their friend Peter Orlovsky (1933–2010) made an impromptu visit to Suzuki’s residence in New York. He welcomed them in and served them thick, green matcha tea, urging them not to forget it. Upon leaving, Kerouac professed his desire to spend the rest of his life with Suzuki, to which Suzuki cryptically replied, “Sometime.”45

Suzuki was fully aware of the ways his ideas were being appropriated, combined with other trends, and integrated into American culture. It is true that he had personal contact with all these figures—Fromm, Watts, Cage, and Kerouac—and that his interactions with them were cordial. But at the same time, Suzuki had questions or misgivings about their interpretations, and he particularly lamented that Zen might be blamed for the beatnik craze and the Beat Generation.46 In contrast to these developments in America, Suzuki’s reputation in Japan was generally more dignified and mainstream. He frequently interacted, for instance, with the philosopher Nishitani Keiji, perhaps the most prominent intellectual heir of Nishida Kitarō in the Kyoto School of philosophy; and with the aesthetician Yanagi Sōetsu 柳宗悦‎ (1889–1961), the co-founder of the mingei 民芸‎ folk crafts movement in Japan. Suzuki also was a major influence on Ruth Fuller Everett Sasaki (1892–1967), teaching her the rudiments of Buddhist meditation when she traveled through Japan with her family in 1930 and later introducing her to the abbot of Nanzenji 南禅寺‎ monastery in Kyoto, where she underwent four months of intensive Zen training in 1932. Sasaki went on to become an important bridge figure between America and Japan in the formation of American Buddhism. She headed the First Zen Institute in New York in the late 1940s and then established an outpost for it at the Daitokuji大徳寺‎monastery in Kyoto where Americans could receive Rinzai training and study Zen texts. During the 1950s and 1960s, Sasaki lived mostly in Japan and developed a reputation as a Zen traditionalist with little sympathy for America’s indulgent modifications of Zen. Suzuki maintained warm ties with Sasaki throughout his career.47 From these examples, it is clear Suzuki’s influence ran wide and deep, far beyond the Zen boom of the 1950s.

For all his celebrity and scholarly stature, Suzuki was not without his critics. Perhaps the most noteworthy one during his lifetime was the renowned Chinese scholar and thinker Hu Shih 胡適‎ (1891–1962), who expressed reservations about the historical objectivity of Suzuki’s work on Chinese Zen.48 Another harsh critic was the popular Hungarian British author Arthur Koestler (1905–1983), who treated Suzuki’s Zen as the abandonment of reason and moral values in favor of a vague and elusive religious ideal.49 In addition, another important wave of criticism occurred in the 1990s long after Suzuki’s death. Robert Sharf depicted him as a Japanese cultural chauvinist who simply recast Buddhism by applying Western ideas of religious experience to it.50 Bernard Faure, for his part, faulted Suzuki for his skewed image of Zen—championing Rinzai over Sōtō—and for deploying Orientalist stereotypes to claim, inversely, Asia’s spiritual superiority over the West.51 Finally, Brian Victoria characterized Suzuki as a nationalistic supporter of Japan’s military incursions in Asia prior to its war with the United States.52

These criticisms have done much to dim the glow that surrounded Suzuki after his death, but at the same time, they have inspired new rebuttals and defenses of him.53 Whatever his shortcomings may have been, Suzuki’s imprint was indelible on his generation and the construction of Buddhism then. Moreover, his ideas continue to reverberate among contemporary Buddhists through the enormous corpus of writings he left behind. Suzuki thus remains one of the most consequential thinkers and cultural icons of Buddhism in modern times.

Review of the Literature

The vast majority of writings by or about Suzuki are in Japanese. The most extensive collection of his own writings is his so-called complete works, Suzuki Daisetsu zenshū, comprising forty volumes. But it does not contain any of his major English works. Those are published elsewhere in a variety of formats, outlets, and venues, some of which are out of print. One representative collection is the four-volume Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, edited by Jaffe. For Suzuki’s best-known studies of Zen, see his three-volume Essays in Zen Buddhism and his Introduction to Zen Buddhism. For his most influential works on Mahayana Buddhism, see his Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism and his Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra. For his principal studies of Pure Land Buddhism, see his Collected Writings on Shin Buddhism and his translation of Shinran’s Kyōgyōshinshō.

The majority of the secondary literature on Suzuki is also written in Japanese. An invaluable resource is Kirita, Suzuki Daisetsu kenkyū kiso shiryō, which contains a comprehensive chronology of Suzuki’s life and a near-exhaustive list of his publications. Many studies of Suzuki’s ideas and writings can be found in two journals: The Eastern Buddhist and Matsugaoka Bunko kenkyū nenpō. For a popular profile of Suzuki during the Zen boom of 1950s’ America, see Sargeant, “Great Simplicity.”

Primary Sources

  • Suzuki, Daisetsu (Daisetz) Teitarō 鈴木大拙貞太郎‎. Suzuki Daisetsu zenshū 鈴木大拙全集‎. 40 vols. Edited by Hisamatsu Shin’ichi 久松真一‎, Yamaguchi Susumu 山口益‎, and Furuta Shōkin 古田紹欽‎. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1999–2003.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki. 4 vols. Edited by Richard M. Jaffe. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014–2021.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Essays in Zen Buddhism, First, Second, and Third Series. London: Rider, 1949–1953.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō, trans. Aśvaghoṣa’s Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana. Chicago: Open Court, 1900.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra. London: Routledge and Sons, 1930.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō, Erich Fromm, and Richard DeMartino. Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis. New York: Harper, 1960.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism. New York: Schocken, 1963.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Introduction to Zen Buddhism. New York: Grove, 1964.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. The Field of Zen. New York: Perennial Library, Harper and Rowe, 1970.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Collected Writings on Shin Buddhism. Edited by the Eastern Buddhist Society. Kyoto: Shinshū Ōtaniha, 1973.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Swedenborg, Buddha of the North. Translated by Andrew Bernstein. West Chester, PA: Swedenborg Foundation, 1996.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Sengai: The Zen of Ink and Paper. Boston and London: Shambhala, 1999.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō, trans., Shinran’s Kyōgyōshinshō, The Collection of Passages Expounding the True Teaching, Living, Faith, and Realizing of the Pure Land. Edited by the Center for Shin Buddhist Studies. Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Japanese Spirituality. Translated by Norman Waddell. Tokyo: Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, 1972.
  • Suzuki, Daisetz (Daisetsu) Teitarō. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki’s Columbia University Seminar Lectures. Edited by Sōiku Shigematsu and Gishin Tokiwa. Kamakura: Matsugaoka Bunko, 2016.

Secondary Sources

  • Akizuki Ryōmin 秋月龍珉‎. Suzuki Daisetsu 鈴木大拙‎. Tokyo: Kōdansha, 2004.
  • The Eastern Buddhist, First Series. Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society, Otani University, 1921–1958; and New Series. Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society, Otani University, 1965–2018.
  • Hisamatsu Shin’ichi 久松真一‎, Yamaguchi Susumu 山口益‎, and Furuta Shōkin 古田紹欽‎, eds. Suzuki Daisetsu: Hito to shisō 鈴木大拙‎: 人と思想‎. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1971.
  • Kirita Kiyohide 桐田清秀‎, comp. Suzuki Daisetsu kenkyū kiso shiryō 鈴木大拙研究基礎資料‎. Kamakura, Japan: Matsugaoka Bunko, 2005.
  • Matsugaoka Bunko kenkyū nenpō 松ヶ岡文庫研究年報‎. Kamakura, Japan: Matsugaoka Bunko, 1987–present.
  • Nishimura Eshin 西村恵信‎. Suzuki Daisetsu no genfūkei 鈴木大拙の原風景‎. Tokyo: Daitō Shuppan, 1993.
  • Sargeant, Winthrop. “Great Simplicity.” New Yorker, August 31, 1957, 34–53.

Further Readings

  • Breen, John, Sueki Fumihiko, and Yamada Shōji, eds. Beyond Zen: D. T. Suzuki and the Modern Transformation of Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2022.
  • Dobbins, James C.D. T. Suzuki.” In Oxford Bibliographies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2022.
  • Dobbins, James C. “D. T. Suzuki: A Brief Account of His Life.” Eastern Buddhist (Third Series) 2, no. 2 (2022), forthcoming.
  • Dobbins, James C. “D. T. Suzuki in Transition, 1949–53.” Matsugaoka Bunko kenkyū nenpō 30 (2016): 47–61.
  • Faure, Bernard. Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Fields, Rick. How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America. Boston: Shambhala, 1992.
  • Hu Shih. “Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method.” Philosophy East and West 3, no. 1 (1953): 3–24.
  • Iwamura, Jane Naomi. Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture. Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Jaffe, Richard M. “Introduction to the 2010 Edition.” In Zen and Japanese Culture. Edited by Daisetz T. Suzuki, vii–xxviii. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010.
  • Koestler, Arthur. The Lotus and the Robot. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1960.
  • Moriya Tomoe 守屋友江‎, ed. and trans. Zen ni ikiru: Suzuki Daisetsu korekushon 禅に生きる‎: 鈴木大拙コレクション‎. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 2012.
  • Satō, Kemmyō Taira. “D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War.” Eastern Buddhist (New Series) 39, no. 1 (2008): 61–120.
  • Sharf, Robert H. “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism.” In Curators of the Buddha. Edited by Donald S. Lopez Jr., 107–160. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1995.
  • Snodgrass, Judith. Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
  • Tweed, Thomas A. “American Occultism and Japanese Buddhism: Albert J. Edmunds, D. T. Suzuki, and Translocative History.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 32, no. 2 (2005): 249–281.
  • Victoria, Brian. Zen at War. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006.


  • 1. Suzuki Daisetsu 鈴木大拙‎, trans., “Budda no fukuin 仏陀‎の福音Budda no fukuin 仏陀‎の福音‎,” in Suzuki Daisetsu 鈴木大拙‎, Suzuki Daisetsu zenshū 鈴木大拙全集‎, 40 vols., ed. Hisamatsu Shin’ichi 久松真一‎, Yamaguchi Susumu 山口晋‎, and Furuta Shōkin 古田紹欽‎ (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1999–2003), 25:275–509. Hereafter, Suzuki Daisetsu zenshū is cited as SDZ.

  • 2. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Series One, Two, and Three (London: Rider, 1949–1953); Introduction to Zen Buddhism (New York: Grove Press, 1964); The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk (New York: Grove Press, 1962) ; Manual of Zen Buddhism (New York: Grove Press, 1960) ; and Zen and Its Influence on Japanese Culture (Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society, 1938).

  • 3. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (London: Longmans, Green, 1902), 31.

  • 4. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “On Satori—The Revelation of a New Truth in Zen Buddhism,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume 1: Zen, ed. Richard M. Jaffe (Oakland: University of California Press, 2014), 14–38.

  • 5. Richard M. Jaffe, ed., Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume I: Zen, xxvi (Oakland: University of California Press, 2014), 113; Jeff Wilson and Tomoe Moriya, eds., Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume III: Comparative Religion (Oakland: University of California Press, 2016), 4; and “Emaason no Zengakuron” エマーソンの禅学論‎, SDZ 30:42–50.

  • 6. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “The Koan and The Five Steps,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume I, ed. Richard M. Jaffe, 164188.

  • 7. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “Dōgen, Hakuin, Bankei: Three Types of Thought in Japanese Zen,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume I, ed. Richard M. Jaffe, 7172; and Daisetz T. Suzuki, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (New York: Macmillan, 1957), 109–119.

  • 8. Bernard Faure, “Suzuki’s Zen,” in Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 53–74.

  • 9. Robert H. Sharf, “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism,” in Curators of the Buddha, ed. Donald S. Lopez Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 112–131, 139–146.

  • 10. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, trans., Aśvaghoṣa’s Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Chicago: Open Court, 1900), x–xiv; and Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (London: Luzac and Company, 1907), v–vii, 16–22.

  • 11. Suzuki, trans., Aśvaghoṣa’s Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, 55–106.

  • 12. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “The Mādhyamika School in China” and “Philosophy of the Yogācāra,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume IV: Buddhist Studies, ed. Mark L. Blum (Oakland: University of California Press, 2021), 3–10, 44–57.

  • 13. Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism.

  • 14. Sasaki Shizuka ‎々木閑‎, “Yakusha kōki” 訳者後記‎, in Daijō Bukkyō gairon 大乗仏教概論‎, ed. Suzuki Daisetsu 鈴木大拙‎ (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2004), 419–437.

  • 15. Blum, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume IV, xv, 88–91.

  • 16. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra (London: Routledge and Sons, 1930).

  • 17. Blum, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume IV, xx–xxii.

  • 18. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki’s Columbia University Seminar Lectures, ed. Sōiku Shigematsu and Gishin Tokiwa (Kamakura, Japan: Matsugaoka Bunko, 2016).

  • 19. James C. Dobbins, ed., Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II: Pure Land (Oakland: University of California Press, 2015), ix–x, xx–xxi.

  • 20. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xxi–xxii.

  • 21. Concerning the Seishinshugi movement, see Mark L. Blum and Robert F. Rhodes, eds., Cultivating Spirituality: A Modern Shin Buddhist Anthology (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2011).

  • 22. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xx–xxvii, 1–27, 48–114.

  • 23. Jōdokei shisōron 浄土系思想論‎, SDZ 6:1–320; and Nihon teki reisei 日本的霊性‎, SDZ 8:1–223.

  • 24. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “Selections from Japanese Spirituality,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, ed. James C. Dobbins, 126–127.

  • 25. Jōdokei shisōron, SDZ 6:213, 225, 228.

  • 26. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xxiii–xxiv.

  • 27. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xx, xxiv–xxv, xxvii–xxviii, 130–146, 147–185, 186–213.

  • 28. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xxiii, 117, 127–129; and “Shinshū zakkan” 真宗雑観‎, SDZ 31:385–388.

  • 29. Daisetz Teitarō Suzuki, trans., Gutoku Shaku Shinran, The Kyōgyōshinshō, The Collection of Passages Expounding the True Teaching, Living, Faith, and Realizing of the Pure Land, ed. Eastern Buddhist Society (Kyoto: Shinshū Ōtaniha, 1973). See also Mark L. Blum, “Standing Alone in the Faith of Non-Obedience: Suzuki Daisetsu and Pure Land Buddhism,” Eastern Buddhist (New Series) 39, no. 2 (2008): 27–68.

  • 30. Shin shūkyō ron 新宗教論‎, SDZ 23:1–147.

  • 31. Jason Ananda Josephson, The Invention of Religion in Japan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).

  • 32. Shin shūkyō ron, SDZ 23:1–147; and Wilson and Moriya, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume III, xv–xxi, 3–28.

  • 33. Letter 141 (1902.9.23), SDZ 36:222.

  • 34. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, 31.

  • 35. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, 379–382.

  • 36. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “Sayings of a Modern Tariki Mystic,” in Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, ed. James C. Dobbins, 130–146.

  • 37. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “The Koan Exercise,” in Essays in Zen Buddhism, Second Series, 28–34; and “Passivity in the Buddhist Life,” 267–276.

  • 38. Dobbins, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume II, xviii–xix; and Wilson and Moriya, Selected Works of D. T. Suzuki, Volume III, xxi–xxvi.

  • 39. Daisetz T. Suzuki, “Book Review: A History of Zen Buddhism by Heinrich Dumoulin,” Eastern Buddhist (New Series) 1, no. 1 (1965): 123–126.

  • 40. Jane Naomi Iwamura, Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture (Oxford, UK, and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 23–62.

  • 41. Winthrop Sargeant, “Great Simplicity,” The New Yorker, August 31, 1957, 34–53.

  • 42. Daisetz T. Suzuki, Erich Fromm, and Richard DeMartino, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (New York: Harper, 1960).

  • 43. Monica Furlong, Zen Effects: The Life of Alan Watts (Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths, 2001); Alan Watts, The Spirit of Zen (New York: Grove Press, 1958), and The Way of Zen (New York: Vintage Books, 1989).

  • 44. John Cage, “An Autobiographical Statement,”; Kay Larson, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists (New York: Penguin, 2012); and Allan Kozinn, “John Cage, 79, a Minimalist Enchanted with Sound, Dies,” New York Times, August 13, 1992.

  • 45. Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums (New York: Viking Press, 1958); Jack Kerouac, “I rang Mr. Suzuki’s door . . . ,” in Berkeley Bussei (Berkeley: Berkeley Young Buddhist Association, 1960), n.p. Ann Charters, Kerouac—A Biography (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994); and Ellis Amburn, Subterranean Kerouac—The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin Press, 1998).

  • 46. Letter 1743 (1956.4.3), SDZ 38:330–331; Letter 1971 (1957.6.8), SDZ 38:533–534; Letter 2278 (1959.12.16), SDZ 39:183–184; Letter 2285 (1960.1.29), SDZ 39:190–192; Letter 2286 (1960.1.29), SDZ 39:192–194; and Letter 2437 (1962.3.25), SDZ 39:304–306.

  • 47. Isabel Stirling, Zen Pioneer: The Life and Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki (Emeryville, CA: Shoemaker and Hoard, 2006); and Janica Anderson and Steven Zahavi Schwartz, Zen Odyssey: The Story of Sokei-an, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, and the Birth of Zen in America (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018).

  • 48. Hu Shih, “Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in China: Its History and Method,” Philosophy East and West 3, no. 1 (1953): 3–24.

  • 49. Arthur Koestler, The Lotus and the Robot (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1960), 227–275.

  • 50. Sharf, “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism,” 112–131, 139–146.

  • 51. Faure, “Suzuki’s Zen,” 53–74.

  • 52. Brian Victoria, Zen at War, 2nd ed. (Oxford, UK: Rowman and Littlefield, 2006), 22–29, 105–112, 147–152, 177–178, 208–209.

  • 53. Kemmyō Taira Satō, “D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War,” Eastern Buddhist (New Series) 39, no. 1 (2008): 61–120; and Nelson Foster and Gary Snyder, “The Fog of World War II: Setting the Record Straight on D. T. Suzuki,” Tricycle 19, no. 4 (Summer 2010).