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Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume II

Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume II: Pure Land

Volume Editor James C. Dobbins
General Editor Richard M. Jaffe
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki, Volume II
    Book Description:

    Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki was a key figure in the introduction of Buddhism to the non-Asian world. Many outside Japan encountered Buddhism for the first time through his writings and teaching, and for nearly a century his work and legacy have contributed to the ongoing religious and cultural interchange between Japan and the rest of the world, particularly the United States and Europe. This second volume ofSelected Works of D. T. Suzukibrings together Suzuki's writings on Pure Land Buddhism. At the center of the Pure Land tradition is the Buddha Amida and his miraculous realm known as paradise or "the land of bliss," where sentient beings should aspire to be born in their next life and where liberation and enlightenment are assured. Suzuki, by highlighting certain themes in Pure Land Buddhism and deemphasizing others, shifted its focus from a future, otherworldly goal to religious experience in the present, wherein one realizes the nonduality between the Buddha and oneself and between paradise and this world. An introduction by James C. Dobbins analyzes Suzuki's cogent, distinctive, and thought-provoking interpretations, which helped stimulate new understandings of Pure Land Buddhism quite different from traditional doctrine.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95962-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
    James C. Dobbins

    Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō (1870–1966), known popularly in the West as D.T. Suzuki, is famous for his writings on Zen, but he also had a long and abiding interest in Pure Land Buddhism, particularly Jōdo Shinshū, or Shin Buddhism. This interest arose from a combination of circumstances—his upbringing in Kanazawa, his encounter with various Pure Land adherents and thinkers, and his appointment at Otani, a Shin Buddhist university—but it also stemmed from his own curiosity, both intellectual and religious. From the time he began writing and throughout his publishing life, Suzuki wrote about Pure Land repeatedly, and during...

    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  6. 1 The Development of the Pure Land Doctrine in Buddhism
    (pp. 1-27)

    This essay is one of Suzuki’s earliest detailed treatments of Pure Land Buddhism. It gives a brief overview of its core concepts and themes: Amida Buddha, Pure Land paradise, vows of Amida to deliver all beings to enlightenment, karmic wrongdoing or sin that hinders humans from attaining enlightenment, nembutsu practice of invoking the Buddha’s name, and the religious life of relying on the power of the Buddha, tariki, instead of one’s own power, jiriki. Suzuki presents these ideas as fundamental to the Jōdo school of Hōnen (1133–1212), the Shin school of Shinran (1173–1262), and the Ji school of...

  7. 2 Zen and Jōdo, Two Types of Buddhist Experience
    (pp. 28-47)

    The two forms of Buddhism that Suzuki most frequently expounded upon were Zen and Pure Land (Jōdo). Though his commitment was first and foremost to Zen, arising from his monastic training as a young adult, he nonetheless felt a lifelong sympathy to Pure Land, fostered first in childhood and deepened during his career at Otani University. This essay is an attempt to compare and contrast these two types of Buddhism.

    Underlying Suzuki’s elucidation of them is his conviction that the highest form of Pure Land is mystical, rather than devotional, and that in this mysticism Pure Land and Zen merge....

  8. 3 Selection from The Koan Exercise
    (pp. 48-74)

    This essay is a long excerpt from Suzuki’s monograph-length study of the Zen koan published in his renowned three-volume series Essays in Zen Buddhism. Though the primary focus of this work is the koan, Suzuki dedicates almost a third of it to the nembutsu, thus reflecting his fascination with Pure Land Buddhism as well. He uses Buddhological methodology to examine the nembutsu: identifying its origins in Buddhist texts going back to India, tracing its evolution across China and Japan, analyzing its terminology, parsing its meaning and uses in various traditions, elucidating the views of important Japanese Buddhists, and suggesting what...

  9. 4 The Shin Sect of Buddhism
    (pp. 75-114)

    This is the longest single essay that Suzuki wrote in English on Shin Buddhism, the Pure Land tradition attributed to Shinran (1173–1262). Certainly, Shin was the form of Pure Land Buddhism with which Suzuki had the greatest contact. This essay is extensive, but it is not necessarily systematic or conventional. It comprises several mini- and even micro-essays on different facets of Shin Buddhism. Some are largely descriptive, explaining the content and themes of Pure Land scriptures and doctrines. Others are highly interpretive, framing Shin ideas in the context of psychological dynamics and Suzuki’s own theories about religion. Some sections...

  10. 5 Selections from Japanese Spirituality
    (pp. 115-129)

    This collection of excerpts, translated and updated by Norman Waddell (NW), is from Suzuki’s bookNihon teki reisei(Japanese Spirituality). The book is a highly speculative, conceptual work dealing with the nature of religious awareness—specifically, what Suzuki proposes as its highest and most sophisticated expression, which he callsreisei,translated here as “spirituality.” The ideas in this text are rather abstruse and difficult to understand, both in their Japanese original and in translation. Suzuki first propounds his concept ofreiseiand then attempts to explain it through a wide variety of examples, which he explicates in a somewhat subjective...

  11. 6 Sayings of a Modern Tariki Mystic
    (pp. 130-146)

    One of Suzuki’s contributions to Buddhist Studies was the introduction of themyōkōnininto scholarly discourse.Myōkōnin,which Suzuki once translated as “the wondrous good man,” is a term used for pious Shin Buddhists of very humble origins who display in word and deed a deep and inspiring faith even though they are often illiterate. They stand in contrast to learned and highly trained priests who are respected for their erudition and mastery of Buddhist texts. Stories and sayings ofmyōkōnincirculated in Shin Buddhist circles in the Tokugawa period (1603–1867), and they gradually came to be viewed as...

  12. 7 The Myōkōnin
    (pp. 147-185)

    This essay, translated and updated by Norman Waddell (NW), comprises chapter 4 of Suzuki’s bookNihon teki reisei(Japanese Spirituality). In it he examines the sayings of two Shin Buddhist believers, Dōshū (d. 1516) of Akao and Asahara Saichi (1850–1932), both presented asmyōkōnin,simple but inspiring examples of Shin piety. Suzuki’s purpose in considering them is to illustrate and expand upon his idea of Japanese spirituality. He treats Dōshū and Saichi as models of thereiseispiritual outlook. Both were from humble origins and were only marginally literate. But they lived a rich and satisfying religious life. Each...

  13. 8 From Saichi’s Journals
    (pp. 186-213)

    This essay is a collection of religious poems by themyōkōninAsahara Saichi (1850–1932), which Suzuki assembled and translated into English as an appendix to his bookMysticism: Christian and Buddhist.The study of the myōkōnin as a religious archetype in Shin Buddhism has undergone two stages of development. The first was in the Tokugawa period (1603–1867) when the religious ideal was originally articulated. Collections ofmyōkōnin den,“accounts ofmyōkōnin,” were compiled and circulated mostly at the popular level, and they continued to be produced into modern times. The figures appearing in them were mostly ordinary and...

  14. 9 Infinite Light
    (pp. 214-235)

    This essay, which developed from presentations that Suzuki gave in California in 1950 and 1952, was edited and published after his death. In it Suzuki explicates the imagery of light in the Pure Land sutras, specifically the infinite light of Amida Buddha. Though ubiquitous in the sutras, the theme of light was not as prominent in the Shin Buddhist exegetical tradition as Amida’s vows and name were. Suzuki singles out light as a symbol for various Buddhist ideals—for example, the Buddha’s wisdom, love, and power—and employs it to convey his own nondualistic understanding of Pure Land Buddhism.


  15. 10 The Spirit of Shinran Shōnin
    (pp. 236-240)

    This brief essay is an address that Suzuki gave during the installation ceremony of a large bronze statue of Shinran (1173–1262) at the American Buddhist Academy in New York on September 11, 1955. Shinran was the celebrated proponent of Pure Land teachings of the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and the founder of Shin Buddhism in Japan. Suzuki was residing in New York at the time, lecturing at Columbia University. He was invited by Rev. Hōzen Seki (1903–1991), the founder of the Academy, to offer the address at the ceremony. The statue that was installed depicts Shinran in the...

  16. NOTES
    (pp. 241-260)
    (pp. 261-272)
    (pp. 273-280)
  19. Index
    (pp. 281-295)