In this book the chief stress has been placed on the study of 'The Koan Exercise', which at present constitutes almost the alpha and omega of Zen discipline especially as it is practised in the Rinzai School of the Zen sect. The Koan technique is full of pitfalls, but its development was inevitable and without it Zen might not have survived. In this volume author has also included some Suiboku paintings by both Japanese and Chinese artists.
(Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki was Professor of Buddhist Philosophy at the Otani University, Kyoto)
Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, D.Litt., Professor of Buddhist Philosophy in the Otani University, Kyoto, was born in 1869. He is probably now the greatest living authority on Buddhist philosophy, and is certainly the greatest authority on Zen Buddhism. His major works in English on the subject of Buddhism number a dozen or more, and of his works in Japanese as yet unknown to the West there are at least eighteen. He is, moreover, as a chronological bibliography of books on Zen in English clearly shows, the pioneer teacher of the subject outside Japan, for except for Kaiten Nukariya's Religion of the Samurai (Luzac and Co., j 1913) nothing was known of Zen as a living experience, save to the readers of The Eastern Buddhist (1921-1939), until the publication of Essays in Zen Buddhism (First Series) in 1927.
Dr. Suzuki writes with authority. Not only has he studied original works in Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese and Japanese, but he has an up-to-date knowledge of Western thought in German and French as well as in the English which he speaks and writes so fluently. He is, moreover, more than a scholar; he is a Buddhist. Though not a priest of any Buddhist sect, he is honoured in every temple in Japan, for his knowledge of spiritual things, as all who have sat at his feet bear witness, is direct and profound. When he speaks of the higher stages of consciousness he speaks as a man who dwells therein, and the impression he makes on those who enter the fringes of his mind is that of a man who seeks for the intellectual symbols wherewith to describe a state of awareness which lies indeed 'beyond the intellect' .
To those unable to sit at the feet of the Master his writings must be a substitute. All these, however, were out of print in England by 1940, and all remaining stocks in Japan were destroyed in the fire which consumed three- quarters of Tokyo in 1945. When, therefore, I reached Japan in 1946, I arranged with the author for the Buddhist Society, London-my wife and myself as its nominees-to begin the publication of his Collected Works, reprinting the old favourites, and printing as fast as possible translations of the many new works which the Professor, self-immured in his house at Kyoto, had written during the war.
This undertaking, however, was beyond the powers of the Buddhist Society, and we therefore secured the assistance of Rider and Co., who, backed by the vast resources of the House of Hutchinson, can honour the needs of such a considerable task.
Of Zen itself I need say nothing here, but the increasing sale of books on the subject, such as The Spirit of Zen by Alan Watts (Murray), my own Zen Buddhism (Heinemann), and the series of original translations of Chinese Zen Scriptures and other works published by the Buddhist Society, prove that the interest of the West is rising rapidly. Zen, however, is a subject extremely easy to misunderstand, and it is therefore important that the words of a recognized expert should come readily to hand.
It is proposed to publish the works of Dr. Suzuki in groups of three, each group to contain, if possible, one of his larger works, a smaller work, and a work as yet un- published in English. The first three chosen were the First Series of his Essays in Zen Buddhism, his valuable Introduction to Zen Buddhism, with a translation by Miss Constance Rolfe of Dr. C. G. Jung's long Foreword to the German edition, and a new work which appears under the title of The Zen Doctrine of No-Mind (The Significance of the Sutra of Hui-ning [Wei Lang]). The Sutra itself is published for the Buddhist Society by Luzac and Co. as The Sutra of Wei Lang.
The second group, of which this is one, also includes another of the smaller works, The Manual of Zen Buddhism, and a completely new work, Living by Zen. The choice for later groups will be influenced by popular demand.
When the First Series of Zen Essays appeared in 1927, the author's intention was to write the Second Series soon after; but in the meantime the study of the Lankavatara as an important text of Zen Buddhism claimed his attention. The result appeared as Studies in the Lankavatara Sutra (1930), an English translation of the Sanskrit text of the Sutra itself (1932), and a Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan Index of the Sutra (1933).
In this Second Series of Zen Essays, the chief stress has been placed on the study of 'The Koan Exercise', which at present constitutes almost the alpha and omega of Zen discipline, especially as it is practised in the Rinzai School of the Zen sect. The koan technique is full of pitfalls, but its development was inevitable, and without it Zen might not have survived. My study of the koan exercise as presented in this Series is not a very complete one, but I hope I have given the reader a general idea of what it is. I further hope that the psychologist and the philosopher will take up this study as facts of experience specifically developed in the Far-eastern mind.
'The Secret Message of Bodhidharma', 'The Two Zen Text-books', and 'Passivity in the Buddhist Life' have already appeared in the Eastern Buddhist. But each of these articles has undergone a thorough revision, and new materials have been added.
Since the recent discovery of some valuable Zen documents which were kept buried at Tun-huang for more than one thousand years, we have much new light shed on the history of Zen Buddhism in China, especially around the time of Hui-neng (631-713). In the Fourth Series I intend to write a new history of Chinese Zen as can be gathered up from the documents thus made accessible to us. The Third Series is already prepared, and I hope it will see the light before long.
In this volume I have inserted some Suiboku paintings by Japanese and Chinese artists. To those who are used to Western objects of art, some of them may appear to be crazy specimens of oriental work. But we must remember that the Mind knows many avenues to reach and express Reality. Even among Western readers of this book there may be some who can approach these pictures with some- thing of artistic appreciation.
The name of my good friend (kalyanamitra), Yakichi Ataka, is to be deeply engraved in the heart of the reader who for whatever purpose happens to peruse this book; for without him it might never have appeared in this form before the world.
As before, the author owes much to his wife, Beatrice Lane Suzuki, who has been good enough to go over the entire MS. and read the proof-sheets.
In this intensely rationalistic age of science and machinery may not a little of the oriental philosophy of life prove to be a kind of gospel of relaxation and at the same time an opening to a world of spiritual irrationalities?
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