An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D T Suzuki

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Information: 132 pages, paperback

They say: 'The basic idea of Zen is to touch the inner workings of our being, and to do this in the most direct way possible.' In this widely praised introduction, Dr D.T. Suzuki presents the nature, technique and practice of Zen with exceptional clarity, wisdom and frankness. A Japanese Zen master who was also a highly respected authority on Mahayana Buddhism and who regularly taught in the USA and Europe, Suzuki was uniquely qualified to explain Zen to an international readership. Zen is described by the author as the keystone of Oriental culture. This book is essential reading for all Zen students and for everyone who wishes to understand the psychology of the Far East.

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The desire to learn something of Zen Buddhism is the reason I decided to read this book. After I read the foreword, I felt even more mystified and confused as to what Zen Buddhism actually is. I persevered and began the main part of the book which felt refreshing and informative, compared to the foreword. I began to feel that I was achieving a glimmer of understanding. In subsequent chapters, my confusion and mystification returned, in some I felt I was missing the point completely! However, continuing on through the book, again in some chapters I felt I had fully understood and was much relieved to feel that I was starting to 'get my head around' the subject of Zen. The rest of the book continued in this 'see-saw' manner, in some chapters I felt I was gaining some insight, in others; I lost my grasp on understanding the essence of Zen.

After finishing the book, I felt frustrated that I had found such difficulty in understanding what I was reading. However, after pondering my feelings and reactions to the book for some time, I suddenly had a breakthrough. It is now my belief that this understanding/not understanding is probably the essence of Zen, once we have full understanding, Zen is no longer present.

I feel very much that it is actually almost impossible to put into the printed word an explanation of Zen which will be understood by everyone. Zen is within us and we each experience it in our own individual way. An interesting book which needs some dedication to complete.

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