Daisetsu Suzuki Edit Profile
He attended the Fourth High School in the area, where he was friendly with Nishida Kitaro and Fujioka Sakutaro, both eminent scholars in later years. He also received instruction in Zen meditation from Setsu- mon, priest of a temple in the area called Kokutai-ji. In 1887 he withdrew from high school and for a time served as a substitute teacher in elementary school. In 1891 he went to Tokyo and entered Tokyo Semmon Gakko (present-day Waseda University). At the same time he received Zen instruction from the Zen master Imakita Kosen of the Rinzai Zen temple Engaku-ji in Kamakura. The following year he entered Tokyo Imperial University as a special student. After the death of Imakita Kosen, he continued Zen study under Shaku Soen.
In 1897, on the recommendation of Shaku Soon, he went to America to become assistant to the philosopher Paul Carus in La Salle, Illinois. He remained there until 1908, translating works of Taoism into English and helping to edit a scholarly journal. At the same time he published various works on Buddhism such as an English translation of Asvaghosa’s Discourse on the Awakening of Faith in Mahay ana Buddhism (1901) and Outline of Mahayana Buddhism (1907). He went to London in 1908, where he studied the thought of Swedenborg, and returned to Japan the following year. During the period 1910 to 1921 he served as a professor at the Peers’ School in Tokyo, and from 1921 on as professor of Otani University in Kyoto. In 1927 he published Essays in Zen Buddhism, a collection of articles in English, and this was followed by a number of subsequent works on Zen in English.
In 1949 he received a Cultural Medal.
In time he became known as the person most responsible for introducing Zen Buddhism to Europe and America. He was not a mere popularizer of the subject, however, nor did he treat it simply from an academic point of view'. Rather he W'ote in the light of his own profound experience and thinking on the subject, presenting Zen in a manner that possessed a wide intellectual appeal or this reason, he holds a place of importance in Japanese philosophical circles as well as those abroad. The core of his thinking is the so-called sokuhi no ronri or “logic of identity through difference,” which transcends formal logic and is the basis of Zen thought. It can be summed up in the formula: To say that A is A means that A is not A; therefore A is A; in other words, any truth must include its opposite. This type of thinking had a great influence on Suzuki’s friend, the philosopher Nishida Kitaro. Suzuki also published a study of the important Sanskrit work, Lankdvatara Sutra, and helped to draw attention to the Edo period Zen leader Bankei and the commoner devotees of nemhutsu practice known as myokonin. Thus, although somewhat removed for formal academic circles, he produced works that display a very high level of scholarship.