More than a few Occidental scholars have criticized the English-language essays of D.T. Suzuki on Zen Buddhism. Suzuki often says, “Zen claims to be above logic and verbal interpretation,” as if he regarded “Zen” as a mystical and irrational secret. This is why Suzuki’s way of thinking has been considered as a sort of empiricism or nativism. In fact, Suzuki’s treatment of Zen includes a great number of Zen documents found in Dunhuang, in particular in his Japanese essays titled Study of the Intellectual History of Zen Buddhism（『禅思想史研究』）. Thus, it is necessary to illustrate the real aspect of what Suzuki discusses in his Japanese essays, in order to characterize his study on the intellectual history of Zen Buddhism. This essay first examines the polemic between Suzuki and Hu Shih to ascertain whether Suzuki really accentuates Zen’s “irrationality.” Suzuki does not ignore Zen’s historicity and rationality, but he plays up the role of Prajñā as “transcendental wisdom” in Zen historical documents, painstakingly scrutinizing issues related to satori. Next, it reviews Suzuki’s Japanese essays written in the 1930s and 40s to outline his comprehensive understanding of the reciprocal and mutual evolution between subitism (tongo 頓悟) and gradualism (zengo 漸悟) or between kōan practice (kanna 看話) and “silent illumination” (mokusho 黙照). These readings help to explain how Suzuki presented quite a new view of Zen Buddhism’s intellectual history apart from conventional Zen histories, and to demonstrate the originality of his Zen thought.論文/Article
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