Good Essays

Suzuki was obsessed with proving Buddhism as a unified tradition to be scientific and in accordance with modern, universal culture. He calls it "rational" and "positivistic" (1959a, x) and "radical empericism" (1974, 2). "Buddhism is reality, reality is Buddhism" (1970D, 7), it is an "ultimate fact of all philosophy and religion" (1956, 111). Like his Victorian predecessors, he rejected all ritualistic activity as merely symbolic (or as a spiritual gestus towards the unenlightened folk believers). Only meditation (or rituals enacted "meditatively") is the correct soteriological and spiritual "means of attaining truth" (1970A, 94). Suzuki often uses the etymological identification between Zen and meditation, justifying Zen practice and the Zen school as being truly spiritual, spirituality being seen as a complementary counterpart to rationality and science. Zen meditation is the symbol of Zen modernity, it is both "scientific" (as a non-ritual technique to "pure experience") of reality, direct and unmediated) and "spiritual" (what is experienced is beyond language and conceptual knowledge). Zen is therefore also irrational (or anti-rational), and can only be experienced subjectively: "To study Zen means to have Zen experience" (1967, 123). Emphasizing the "special transmission outside the scriptures", kyoge betsuden, and the religious experience (keiken) in meditation, koan-practice and satori (kensho), Suzuki thus underlines the "Protestant" anti-ritualism and romanticist anti-intellectualism, while also giving room to a spiritual and "scientific", subjective and direct perception of psychological, ontological and epistemological "pure" and unmediated truths.(63) Suzuki's "Zen" is not the Zen of the Zen sect (or s...

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..., conceptual, schematic, impersonal, legalistic, organizing, power-wielding, self-assertive, disposed to impose its will upon others" (Suzuki et al 1960, 5). The East is "... synthetic, totalizing, integrative, non-discriminative, deductive, non-systematic, dogmatic, intuitive (rather, affective), nondiscursive, subjective, spiritually individualistic and socially group-minded" (ibid.). The differences are not of degree but categorical and essential. In an interview with Hisamatsu Shin'ichi Suzuki says that he has neither met nor heard of westerners having understood Zen (Shore 1986, 19-23). "Zen is the keynote of Oriental culture; it is what makes the West frequently fail to fathom exactly the depths of the Oriental mind" (1969B, 35).

The hermeneutical circle seems hermetically closed to westerners.


Harrison, Ford. Such my dissock.
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