D. T. Suzuki

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Enlightenment is like everyday consciousness but two inches above the ground.

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (鈴木 大拙 Suzuki Daisetsu, October 18, 1870July 12, 1966) was a famous Japanese author of books and essays on Buddhism, Zen and Shin that were instrumental in spreading interest in both Zen and Shin (and Far Eastern philosophy in general) to the West. Suzuki was also a prolific translator of Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit literature.


  • We may sometimes ignore the claims of reason and rest satisfied, though usually unconsciously, with assertions which are conflicting when critically examined, but we cannot disregard by any means those of the religious sentiment which finds satisfaction only in the very fact of things. If it ever harboured some flagrant contradiction in the name of faith it was because its ever pressing demands had to be met with even at the expense of reason.
  • Enlightenment is like everyday consciousness but two inches above the ground.
    • As quoted in Root (2001)

Quotes about D. T. Suzuki

  • In the literature on Zen Buddhism, there are writers such as Suzuki, whose authenticity is beyond doubt--he speaks of what he has experienced. The very fact of this authenticity makes his books often difficult to read, because it is of the essence of Zen not to give answers that are rationally satisfying. There are some other books which seem to portray the thoughts of Zen properly, but whose authors are mere intellectuals whose experience is shallow. Their books are easier to understand, but they do not convey the essential quality of Zen.
    • Erich Fromm, The Art of Being. Continuum International Publishing Group, Chapter 1. (1994)
  • 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 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.
    • Christmas Humphreys, Editor's Foreword to DT Suzuki. Essays in Zen Buddhism. Second Series. Rider and Company. London 1970 p 11.
  • Suzuki's works on Zen Buddhism are among the best contributions to the knowledge of living Buddhism… We cannot be sufficiently grateful to the author, first for the fact of his having brought Zen closer to Western understanding, and secondly for the manner in which he has achieved this task.
    • Carl Jung, An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, Foreword by C. Jung. New York: Grove Press, p. 9. (1964)
  • It was not merely a sense of mission… or even scholarly drive which provided Suzuki Sensei with his real internal motivation. I believe that behind his activities resided a religious Awakening. As a youth, under the guidance of Zen Master Soyen Shaku, he had become deeply realized through penetrating into the root-source of the universe of life-and-death. His "motivation" derived from no other than this realization… This Awakening functioned within Suzuki Sensei as an overwhelming Buddhist spirit of 'vow', aimed at bringing everyone to awaken to the same Reality. His scholarly study of Buddhism was undertaken in order to further this work, it was not the other way around.[citation needed]
    • Abe Masao. in: "Introduction" at xiii-xix, xiii, to The Emptying God. A Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation (New York: Orbis Press 1990), edited by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Christopher Ives: Prof. Abe was said to have succeeded to the rôle of Suzuki following his death. Christopher Ives,
  • Though perhaps less universally known than such figures as Einstein or Gandhi (who became symbols of our time) Daisetz Suzuki was no less remarkable a man than these. And though his work may not have had such resounding and public effect, he contributed no little to the spiritual and intellectual revolution of our time.
  • That there are today Zen training centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and South America is a tribute to the comprehensive and illuminating works of D.T. Suzuki. And that there is scarcely an educated person in the West today that has not heard of Zen or who hasn't some acquaintance with its tenets is also due to the prodigious labors of this man who, at the age of eighty, came to America to explain this arcane philosophy. In this he evokes the spirit of the redoubtable Bodhidharma.[citation needed]
    • Philip Kapleau. Actually Kapleau compares Yasutani Roshi, not D. T. Suzuki, with the redoubtable Bodhidharma (see The Three Pillars of Zen, p. 29, 35th Anniversary Edition). Kapleau was in fact a little critical of Suzuki whom he perceived as having intellectualized Zen too much: on page 29 of the 35th Anniversary Edition, under the heading A Biographical Note on Yasutani Roshi, Kapleau states: "At the age of eighty zen master Hakuun Yasutani undertook an extended stay in America to expound the Buddha's Dharma. In so doing he evoked the spirit of the redoubtable Bodhidharma, who in the latter years of his life turned his back on his native land and went forth to distant shores to plant the living seed of Buddhism". On p. 96 of the same edition, Kapleau says about D. T. Suzuki "This espousal of the philosophical, theoretical approach to Zen is all too apparent from the index to a recent anthology of Professor Suzuki's writings. In this book of almost 550 pages, only two references to zazen can be found, one a footnote and the other barely three lines in the text".
  • Prophecy is rash, but it may be that the publication of D.T. Suzuki's first Essays in Zen Buddhism in 1927 will seem to future generations as great an intellectual event as William of Moerbeke's Latin translations of Aristotle in the thirteenth century or Marsiglio Ficino's of Plato in the fifteenth.
    • Lynn Townsend White, Jr., "The Changing Canons of our Culture," in Lynn White, Jr., ed. Frontiers of Knowledge in the Study of Man. New York: Harper & Bros., pp. 304-305. 1956
Wikipedia has an article about:
Modern Buddhist writers 19th century to date
Theravada / Vipassana movement B. R. AmbedkarṬhānissaro BhikkhuAjahn ChahAnagarika DharmapalaJoseph GoldsteinHenepola GunaratanaNoah LevineNyanaponika Thera
Mahayana Daisaku IkedaYin ShunAlfred Bloom
Vajrayana Pema ChödrönKelsang GyatsoTenzin GyatsoMatthieu RicardRobert ThurmanChögyam Trungpa
Zen Taisen DeshimaruThích Nhất HạnhPhilip KapleauD. T. SuzukiHan Yong-unHsing YunSheng Yen
Other and Secular Buddhism Stephen BatchelorRobert Wright
Scholars Lokesh ChandraWalter Evans-WentzRichard GombrichThomas Rhys Davids
Non-Buddhists influenced by Buddhism Edwin ArnoldHelena BlavatskyFritjof CapraLeonard CohenAlexandra David-NéelHermann HesseCarl JungJon Kabat-ZinnFriedrich NietzscheHenry Steel OlcottRajneeshHelena RoerichJ. D. SalingerArthur SchopenhauerGary SnyderAlan WattsAlfred North Whitehead