Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist Paperback – Apr 17 2015
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'Read the books of D.T. Suzuki.' - Jack Kerouac --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki was Japan's foremost authority on Zen Buddhism, and the author of over 100 works on the subject. He was trained as a Buddhist disciple in the great Zen monastery at Kamakura. From 1897 to 1908 he worked in the United States as an editor and translator, and later became a lecturer at Tokyo Imperial University. In 1950, at 80, he returned to the United States and spent most of the decade teaching, lecturing, and writing, particularly at Columbia and Harvard. Returning to Japan, he died in Tokyo in 1966 at the age of 95.
Christopher Reed has been teaching Buddhism and Buddhist meditation for 15 years. He received transmission as a Dharma teacher from Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. He has been influenced by the tradition of socially/politically engaged Buddhism, and works toward the integration of traditional Buddhist teaching with the demands of everyday life. He is co-founder and director of the Ordinary Dharma Meditation Center in Los Angeles and the Manzanita Village Retreat Center in San Diego.
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In 1948 Suzuki studied some sermons of Meister Eckhart and wrote this little book, pointing out what he felt were the close connections between the Meister's ideas and those of Zen Buddhism.
Having studied both Christian and Buddhist spiritual traditions myself quite closely, I think Suzuki has tried but failed to find common ground between these two great world religions.
Nowhere in Eckhart's sermons or tracts for example, does Eckhart conceive of God as Buddhist 'emptiness' or 'shunyata.' While it is true Eckhart felt God was One, and this One was above being itself, Eckhart also believed this One was a Trinity and contained a super-richness or overflowing of being, rather than a void which mysteriously and transcendently is the source of all other things. The Buddhist ideas which Suzuki refers to have far more in common with those of Oriental mysticism, such as the Tao of Lao Tzu or the Brahman of the Upanishads. Eckhart's idea is closer to Gregory of Nyssa or Dionysius, who saw God as infinite, perfectly One, incomprehensible but also a Trinity.
However many of Eckhart's ideas do have paralells in Buddhism, especially those on 'detachment', imageless contemplation (something shared with Evagrius Ponticus, a 4th century Eastern Christian monk) and the ground of the soul, which may be compared with the Buddhist notion of the inherent 'Buddha nature' shared by all beings. Yet, I think Eckhart is best considered what he really was, a Catholic mystic who saw himself as an Orthodox Christian through and through, rather than a Zen master in disguise.