Talk:D. T. Suzuki

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John Cage?[edit]

The entry ends with a section on John Cage's musical work, why? LAWinans (talk) 02:13, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Kanji for Suzuki's name[edit]

What are the kanji for his name, and how is "Daisetz" properly spelled? (Japanese doesn't have a "tz" sound, and even if it did, it would be followed by a vowel. I'm guessing this spelling is either idiosyncratic or from a different transliteration system.) - Furrykef 03:50, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Did a couple minutes research, and it looks like "Daisetz" is an unusual transcription corresponding to "Daisetsu". Look like this is normally written in Japanese as Suzuki Daisetsu (except in characters, I mean), so I couldn't find kanji for Teitaro. - Nat Krause 13:07, 1 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Suzuki's Japanese name is 鈴木大拙貞太郎. See the article in Japanese Wikipedia at

Suggestions for modification of this page[edit]

I am new to Wikipedia and don't really understand the editing protocols, but I would venture to suggest that this article is uncritical of a vision of Suzuki and his life which blends biography with hagiography. I think more balance could be added by including some of the information included on Suzuki in Brian Victoria's _Zen at War_, and also Robert Sharf's articles on the Sanbokyodan and "The Zen of Japanese Nationalism". - Fudaizhi, Sep. 5, 2006

Good suggestion.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 20:49, 13 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I also find the article is hagiography. Criticism of D.T. Suzuki dates back at least as early as Hu Shi, e.g. in the April 1953 edition of Philosophy East and West. (But I forget who it was who wrote that subsequently translated Dunhuang texts show that the Hu/Suzuki debate is now mooted, with both views now proven wrong?) Winston L. King's criticism of D.T.S. in 1993's Zen & The Way of the Sword seems to be similar to Brian Victoria's but I'd say King is more measured and philosophical. Similarly, John McRae may be a bit less intense along the same lines as Robert Sharf (but McRae also refers & maybe defers to Sharf). --Munge 08:03, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Copy-edit problem: a half quote - what is meant here?[edit]

There are some lines near the end of the article that gtive a sense of the criticism levelled at Suzuki by some scholars. I believe these should be explicitly qualified as the opinions of certain authorities.

However, more puzzling — there is the following, with a quote mark at the end but not at the beginning: That being said, it should be born in mind that Suzuki was not a Zen teacher in any sense of the term and that his work is riddled with inaccuracies, especially concerning the reality of Zen training. The West does indeed owe him an incalculable debt but he cannot be recommended as a source of clear and accurate information on Zen practice or history." [my italics]

Who is it who writes "That being said"? Is it Nishitani Keiji, who is quoted just previously in the paragraph? If so, this is not clear due to the punctuation (a quote is ended just previously).

Or is this the opinion of a Wiki writer? If this is the case, this also is not clear.

In either case, while the note of criticism (intended to round out the perspective on Suzuki) may be justified, the paragraph simply doesn't read properly at present. Thanks for having a look and/or for correcting the punctuation. Joel Russ 23:01, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

Since no one came forward to deal with this problem described above, today I've made an attempt to resolve it through copy editing. You can see what the change is by comparing the last two edits (to date). The text now does not indicate a quote of some authority, but states the position of some authroities. If this is off the mark, please improve the situation. Joel Russ 22:42, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Raise citation standards?[edit]

The concerns about "hagiography" on this page are legitimate, but we don't really accomplish anything if we simply add yet MORE unreferenced "evidence" that trashes Suzuki. There's something really, really riotously funny about "accuracy" concerns when you are talking about zen, so I have to question the understanding of whomever chose to judge D.T. Suzuki for his "inaccuracies." There is no "accurate" description of zen. If you think you've got the "accurate" definition, "you do not have the proper understanding," as the other Suzuki, (Sunryo) (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind) says. Instead, what you have is just a funny attachment to the idea of "accuracy."

D.T. Suzuki's important for how he helped grease the skids for the transmission of zen to 20th century America. He deserves the proper references and citations. Phoebe13 18:09, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

Accuracy of Kapleau quote in "Comments" section?[edit]

Here is the material I moved from the article page until we can check the quote. This seems to be more of a "talk" kind of statement. It's an extremely valuable point; can we have the quote on this with the citation? Can this post-person please re-write it as a direct quote from the source, and cite it:

(Actually Kapleau compares Yasutani Roshi, not D. T. Suzuki, with the redoubtable Bodhidharma (see The Three Pillars of Zen, p. 29). Kapleau was in fact a little critical of Suzuki whom he perceived as having intellectualized Zen too much)

I don't mean to offend anyone by moving it; I'm trying to get it noticed because it sounds important. Phoebe13 (talk) 18:59, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't know about Kapleau, but I do know Sokei-an did have real problems with Suzuki's approach. I'll insert a quote from a biography on Sokei-an's wife, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, when time permits. Basically, the gist was the two men were not friends. Suzuki looked down on Sokei-an for not being of the "temple Zen" tradition, and Sokei-an spoke often to his wife disparigingly about his writings and understanding of Zen. (Mind meal (talk) 03:07, 5 March 2008 (UTC))
That's really helpful, Mind-meal...I checked p. 29 of Kapleau's Pillars, and there is no direct comparison there either of D.T. Suzuki to Bodhidarma or of Yasutani Roshi to Bodhidarma. So unless the deleted quote above is based on some alternate edition of Pillars, it will create confusion about what Kapleau actually wrote in the book. Kapleau says Alan Watts acknowledges DTS's omissions on p. 89-90 of Pillars, saying mostly that "This espousal of the theoretical, philosophical approach is all too apparent from the index to a recent anthology" of DTS's writings. Kapleau is bothered that there is so little mention, only 2 entries of zazen, in the index. It's not exactly an indictment of DTS. Perhaps an indictment of Watss, or the editor of the anthology, or the indexer! Kapleau does not say which anthology. So it would be great if you can add a sourced quotation from Sokei-an or Ruth Fuller re. DTS to that "comments" section. Sometimes "right speech" is just to get things into the common record and let the chips fall.  :) Phoebe13 (talk) 20:31, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Hi Phoebe13, the edition of the Pillars I used is the 35th Anniversary Edition. On page 29 under the heading A Biographical Note on Yasutani Roshi one can read: "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". About my comment on Suzuki I based it on p.96 of the same edition, where Kapleau says "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". Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of D.T. Suzuki and I think his writings are very clear and inspiring especially for our Western minds. I only want to have the citations correct. --Zen Mind (talk) 15:24, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

This article has been renamed from Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki to D. T. Suzuki as the result of a move request.

The following is a closed discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was - unopposed move to common used name. Keith D (talk) 23:12, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Daisetz Teitaro SuzukiD. T. SuzukiWikipedia:Most_common_name and use in article itself. —-Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 18:14, 6 June 2008 (UTC)


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's naming conventions.


Any additional comments:

Support D. T. Suzuki is by far the most common usage, probably based on the fact that most of his books in the US were published with 'D. T. Suzuki' as the author. A quick search on amazon confirms this. Bertport (talk) 19:14, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

Support Thinman10 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 22:53, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The Sharf quote, out of the context of Sharf's book[edit]

In the later section in the article "Comments about D.T. Suzuki," the following is quoted:

[from] Robert H Sharf "The nihonjinron [cultural exceptionalism] polemic in Suzuki’s work—the grotesque caricatures of “East” versus “West”—is no doubt the most egregiously inane manifestation of his nationalist leanings.

Although I think the Sharf quote, when included without qualification, is kind of jarring and harsh, I refrained from editing this quote out of the Suzuki article. I just wanted to raise a point for consideration:

A virtue of this quote, perhaps, is that it balances out what might be viewed, by some, as a hagiographic article summing up Suzuki's life and work. I'd ask, is this 'balancing' what was intended? But even if this is the intention, the comment chosen strikes me as a bit odd. The word nihon in Sharf's "nihonjinron" means Japan; nihon is the Japanese pronunciation of the name for their own nation. So what is conveyed is that Suzuki was a Japanese nationalist in his writings about Zen. No one can deny that Suzuki looked quite a bit at the role of Zen in the life of Japan.

Yet in such books as Studies in Zen and Zen and Japanese Buddhism (and elsewhere) Suzuki over and again made it clear that Zen was imported into Japan. He again and again made the point that while its metaphysical philosophy (Kegon or Huan Yen) was developed in India, its monastic lifestyle and traditions of practice developed in China. He almost never stopped reminding us that Zen is a product of Chinese genius.

He also occasionally discussed how, during the centuries before Chan (Zen) came to Japan, the outlook, vocabulary, and everyday ways of thinking among the Zen masters was influenced by Daoism — and to a lesser extent, Confucianism. Both were of course Chinese.

Suzuki never considered Zen a product of Japan, but he did see it as a pervasive cultural influence in Japan's historical development and in the development of traditional Japanese character (the general character of the Japanese people prior to the many recent changes, in the last 50 years).

How the West appeared to Suzuki in contrast with his own Japanese culture and society — which is another facet of the assertion by Sharf, in the quote — seems to me to be a quite separate issue from the matter I'm mentioning above.Joel Russ (talk) 22:50, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Joel, I think you're right in what you say but there is quite a bit more to the Suzuki story than given in the article. You are right inasmuch as I entered the Sharf quote to give another aspect of, or, as you rightly say, a balancing of a somewhat hagiographic article. In all honesty, Sharf doesn't have much good to say about Suzuki. His Zen and Japanese Nationalism (available at: is very critical. I sense that we're in the midst of a reappraisal of Suzuki's work. John McRae in his Seeing Through Zen is also critical of Suzuki's nationalism (see p 5). Likewise, Brian Victoria is very critical of Suzuki's militaristic stance throughout his (Victoria's)book, Zen at War. There is a more sympathetic, although still with some criticisms, view of Suzuki's work in The Place of Chan in Post-Modern Europe by John Crook. (available at Kirita Kiyohide in his D T Suzuki on Society and the State (available at gives a very positive spin on Suzuki's nationalism. All of this is to point to the controversy that has developed around Suzuki's work. While no one denies his impact on bringing Zen to the West, what kind of Zen was it?
This issue Sharf points to is not that Suzuki denied the historicity of Zen/Chan, but that Suzuki believed, as did many other Japanese, that Zen Buddhism was never really understood until it became Japanese Zen Buddhism. Furthermore, Sharf quotes Suzuki as saying that Westerners would never "get it [Zen]" Sharf says
Yet all the while Suzuki held that the cultural and spiritual weaknesses of the Occident virtually precluded the possibility of Westerners' ever coming to truly comprehend Zen. One is led to suspect that Suzuki's lifelong effort to bring Buddhist enlightenment to the Occident had become inextricably bound to a studied contempt for the West, a West whose own cultural arrogance and imperialist inclinations Suzuki had come to know all too well.
I don't wish to get into a bun fight over the Sharf quote. If people think it inappropriate, then by all means remove it. I put it there just to give another side to the Suzuki story. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thinman10 (talkcontribs) 07:00, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure a list of quotes is such a good idea anyway. Sharf's opinion could be summarized and contextualized in the final paragraph of the "Career" section. That paragraph could become its own section, with maybe "legacy" or some such title, and all these quotes could be briefly referenced there, rather than quoted in a list. Bertport (talk) 14:26, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Bertport on this. I think there should be a paragraph or two about current scholarship on Suzuki to give a more balanced appraisal of Suzuki's work and impact. IMO it would improve the article and perhaps limit the hagiography charges made on this page. Thinman10 (talk) 07:26, 8 July 2008 (UTC)


I see that some of the external links point to documents which do spell his name as "Daisetz Teitaro", but I still feel the need to ask how standard this is within the literature on Suzuki. Did he himself spell his name that way? Are books written by him in English, or English translations of his books, consistently attributed to him in this way?

While WP:MOS-JA makes allowances for peculiar romanizations when they are "most common usage in English," but where that is not the case, it really is better to be correct and accurate and consistent in our romanization efforts, i.e. spelling his name "Daisetsu Teitarō" and thus correctly reflecting the kana spelling/pronunciation of the つ at the end of 大拙(だいせつ) as well as the long vowel sound at the end of ていたろう。 LordAmeth (talk) 14:55, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Daisetz Teitaro is established. I've never seen Diasetsu for this man before. Google finds 1080 pages for "Daisetsu Teitarō" (and many of these pages feature Daisetz more prominently), and 121,000 pages for "Daisetz Teitaro". Bertport (talk) 17:26, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

"New Buddhism" and "Buddhist Modernist" sections[edit]

Given the overall length and level of detail in this article on Suzuki, the amount of new material on "New Buddhism" and on Suzuki as a "Buddhist Modernist" seemed really disproportionate. Not to convey, by any means, that this is not interesting stuff. It is interesting, and I'm sure there is a lot of good scholarship behind it.

But the material seemed both lengthy and maybe a bit polemical. This is essentially a biographical article about a man's life and influence, and is not primarily concerned with a value judgement about his influence.

I believe there is still enough of the Sharf-derived (and similar) material left in the article to (probably) make the essential points. I did not want the work lost; therefore, I moved the added, detailed material to a new article on "Buddhist modernism." It's an article that could be further detailed, if one cared to do so.Joel Russ (talk) 02:51, 29 April 2009 (UTC)


a few of the hyperlinks aimed at this page were changed to "ching chong" just a heads up to the editors —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:00, 23 November 2009 (UTC)


Dumoulin, himself discredited by McRae, was ambigious about Suzuki's work. See McRae (2005), Introduction to A History of Zen Part II Joshua Jonathan (talk) 16:30, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Criticism of Suzuki and Buddhist Modernism[edit]

McRae is still friendly, compared to Koestler, who's being cited by Sharf in [The Zen of Japanese nationalism (1995)]:

108 After citing a rather convoluted argument by Suzuki on the relationship between Zen, swordsmanship, and tea, Koestler remarks: "There is one redeeming possibility: that all this drivel is deliberately intended to confuse the reader, since one of the avowed aims of Zen is to perplex and unhinge the rational mind. If this hypothesis were correct, Professor Suzuki's voluminous oeuvre of at least a million words, specially written for this purpose, would represent a hoax of truly heroic dimensions, and the laugh would be on the Western intellectuals who fell for it" (Arthur Koestler, "A Stink of Zen: The Lotus and the Robot (II)," in Encounter 15, no. 4 [1960]: 24; reproduced in Arthur Koestler, The Lotus and the Robot [London: Hutchinson and Co., 1961, p. 255). See also the replies by Christmas Humphreys ("No Stink of Zen: A Reply to Koestler," Encounter 15, no. 6 [1960]: 57-58); Carl Jung ("Yoga, Zen, and Koestler," Encounter 16, no. 2 [1961]: 56-58); and Suzuki ("A Reply from D. T. Suzuki" [n. 80 above], pp. 55-58).

Joshua Jonathan (talk) 09:27, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Hu Shih[edit]

Both McRae and Faure describe the Chinese nationalist leanings of Hu Shih, and the way het depicted Chán-history to support chinese nationalism

  • Faure, Bernard (1996), Chan Insights and Oversights: An Epistemological Critique of the Chan Tradition, Princeton University Press  pp 89-99
  • McRae, John (2001), Religion as Revolution in Chinese Historiography: Hu Shih (1891-1962) on Shen-hui (684-758). In: Cahiers d'Extreme-Asie 12: 59-102  pp 71-74

Joshua Jonathan (talk) 11:42, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

He surely did, but is that any reason to say so in this way in this article? These references and subject matter are fine for the article on Hu Shih, but they strike a jarring note here, as if to imply that anything Hu Shih had to say about Suzuki was inevitably distorted. I'd leave the clause out. Chiswick Chap (talk) 12:24, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Suzuki's approach to and description of Zen, following an essentialist approach, was not free from Japanese nationalism. Hu Shih's criticises Suzuki for this, but was himself not free from a nationalistic agenda either. Hu Shih's criticism was part of his own specific depiction of Chán, and not the kind of 'objective' & scientific criticism that westerners may expect when we use the word "criticism". It shows how religion is intermingled with other concerns, and that Zen is not as free from worldly concerns as we westerners might like, and that our western understanding of it is coloured by specific concerns we may not be aware of, from the persons we depend on for our knowledge. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 14:35, 22 October 2012 (UTC)


The section Involvement with Japanese nationalism has this sentence: "He defended the Japanese war-efforts[28], though Suzuki's thoughts on these must also be seen on the context of western supremacy in the first half of the 20th century, and the reaction against this supremacy in Asian countries.[17]". The article is clearly trying to redeem his misdeeds. That's a POV. Pikolas (talk) 14:12, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

So, that's a clever one! I'd expected an apologetic of Suzuki. Have a look at the change I've made diff. I'm looking forward to your opinion on the change. Greetings, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 15:10, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
Hmm. I'm still not sure the sentence even has a place in this paragraph. It's better, but it doesn't seem to completely fix it. Pikolas (talk) 00:57, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
I wrote it with Suzuki-apologists in mind, to appease those who might be offended by strong criticisms. Do you have a suggestion for another phrasing? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 12:05, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
I suppose the main reason this paragraph is unbalanced is because it fleetingly mentions his war support and then goes on for three lines to justify it. Perhaps a good compromise would be to explain in greater detail how exactly he supported the war and what was his vision on it. Pikolas (talk) 13:25, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

User Yworo's deletion[edit]

I have reverted the unexplained deletion of the Dharmic writers template by Yworo (talk · contribs). --Trphierth (talk) 04:40, 10 March 2013 (UTC)