Zen and the Samurai

  • by D.T. Suzuki
  • Narrated by Christopher Reed
  • 2 hrs and 53 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Examine the paradox of Zen as a philosophy of both compassion and combat. Explore Zen Buddhism as it applies to the warrior, sustaining him both morally and philosophically. Learn how a great Zen Master must be familiar with both the sword of life and the sword of death, and know when and how to wield either of them. Grasp the meaning and symbolism of the sword and the code of bushido, the way of the warrior. D.T. Suzuki was Japan's foremost authority on Zen Buddhism prior to his death in 1966. Zen and the Samurai is part of a series of programs taken from Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture.

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What the Critics Say

"There is something incredibly soothing in the old Japanese virtues...as Mr. Suzuki describes them." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Misconception!

This book (together with 'Zen and the Art of Archery' and Takuan Soho's 'Unfettered Mind') are probably the sources of the misconception that Samurai were enthusiastic practitioners of Zen Buddhism! DT Suzuki was neither a Zen priest nor was he schooled in the martial arts of the Samurai. Samurai never embraced Zen to any great extent because Zen requires the one thing the samurai never had-TIME. Zen requires long, tedious periods of sitting meditation to be able to realise that suffering is a consequence of illusion. However, Samurai could be called upon to die at any instant and were also busily involved in many other time sapping activities for their Lords. Thus years of sitting meditation were simply out of the question and could not provided the samurai with the spiritual 'quick fix' they needed to face death with equanimity. Samurai mainly followed Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyo/Shingon) with its large pantheon of Buddhist deities which were called upon with what are essentially magic spells ('finger weaving' signs, mantras etc) in times of psychological upheaval. Further evidence for few Samurai being Zen Buddhist comes from the many teaching scrolls handed down within martial arts schools (many of which are translated into English now) from master to /master/pupil. Very few, if any, mention Zen but many do talk about, and have illustrations of, Shingon deities and the incantations required to gain their help, within them. If Zen was so important to the Samurai you'd think they'd mention it in their writings. So where does this place this (audio) book based upon the above? I think that's fairly obvious. Its a pandering to romantic Western ideas of Samurai meditating on mountain tops before facing their enemies but it is not a reflection of the true religion of the Samurai
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- Anil

Book Details

  • Release Date: 18-02-2000
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio