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Zen and the Samurai | [D.T. Suzuki]

Zen and the Samurai

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.
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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.

©1959 by Bollingen Foundation, Inc. Copyright Renewed 1987, Princeton University Press; (P)1995 by Audio Rennaisance Tapes, A Division of Cassette Productions Unlimited, Inc.

What the Critics Say

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (95 )
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3.9 (36 )
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3.7 (36 )
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Performance
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  •  
    W. Wagoner 01-23-07
    W. Wagoner 01-23-07 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Calm Warfare"

    D.T. Suzuki is an excellent author - not so much for his technical, literary abilities but for his personal, experiential knowledge of his subject: Zen.

    Christopher Reeds performs articulately for the narration, with no complaints here.

    This wonderful, concise volume focuses on the marriage of the Zen mind and the Samurai warrior class, discussing the intimate relationship between love and war, conflict and peace, immovable movement. Suzuki weaves into his narrative many wonderful and relevant stories, such as the Samurai who practised the Way of No Sword, as well as poems and letters and myths from Zen masters and Samurai lords.

    As an aspiring martial artist, I appreciate the focus upon the paradox of Zen calm in the midst of combat, however, as all of life is a continuous struggle, the entirety of the volume relates ultimately to how we live our lives, no matter what profession we may have - for at bottom, a Zen mind is necessary not only for mastery of any art, but of life and death itself and for realizing our own intrinsic immortality.

    Cons? I could only wish the other essays in the series (Zen & the love of Nature, etc) were included in this one volume instead of having been split apart.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kane Idalia, Australia 03-30-13
    Kane Idalia, Australia 03-30-13
    ratings
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    "Fed my own meditation practice"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    This book gives some insight into Zen Buddhism as practiced by the Samurai and why this religion was adopted by the Japanese warrior class. Whilst covering this, the book gave me new ideas and insights for my own meditation practice which Ive appreciated much. That said, if someone is new to meditation and seeking a "how to" book, this is probably not the one to go for as its not an intro to meditation; but if you already practice, you may appreciate the pointers that come from Suzuki's exploration of the Samurai way of Zen.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The 3 Pillars of Zen


    What three words best describe Christopher Reed’s performance?

    fine


    Could you see Zen and the Samurai being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    A documentary only. The stars - unknown Japanese performers.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Sutherland Chico, CA, US 06-11-12
    David Sutherland Chico, CA, US 06-11-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Fantastic, Clear, Informative."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Zen and the Samurai?

    When the Samurai shaves his head and pretends to be a monk in order to apprehend the kidnapper.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Jersey City, NJ, United States 04-02-12
    N. Jersey City, NJ, United States 04-02-12
    ratings
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    "Good"
    Where does Zen and the Samurai rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Good reading of an essay from Suzuki's


    What did you like best about this story?

    The content.


    Which character – as performed by Christopher Reed – was your favorite?

    It's nonfiction, there were no fictional characters.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Donath LaFayette, NY USA 03-16-12
    K. Donath LaFayette, NY USA 03-16-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Fascinating!"

    This is a fascinating book that really gives insight into the mind of the Samurai. It does a good job of reconciling the violent life of the Samurai with the peace of Zen. For a westerner, this gives a glimpse into the eastern mind. The Mr. Reed does an outstanding job, but the sound quality is slightly lacking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terra Oregon House, CA, USA 11-15-09
    Terra Oregon House, CA, USA 11-15-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Zen and the Samurai"

    This book is deeply insightful. So often in the translation much is lost. Yet the author takes the time to explain the true meaning of the word, not just the easiest translation.

    Listen well there is much to learn.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos miami beach, FL, USA 10-13-07
    Carlos miami beach, FL, USA 10-13-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "a lot of rambling"

    Pretty boring and the material doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't make a lot of sense and it's hard to follow because the book just floats around from one random topic to another.

    0 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
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  • Anil
    Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
    12/8/09
    Overall
    "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

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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