After a brief summary of major historical events during his life of almost a century, we introduce DT SUZUKI's life story. Intersperced with this is lively discussion about the contribution he made to the spread of Zen philosophy, and to helping Westerners understand the Japanese way of thinking and being.


Numerous interviews of people who knew DT Suzuki in person, many of them well-known in their own right, are edited together with archival recordings, for a lively discussion of themes related to Dr. Suzuki's thoughts.


The video starts with a very brief introduction to Zen and to DT Suzuki.
A three minute overview of significant world events during Dr. Suzuki's lifetime of 96 years, concentrating on the many wars which took place in the 20th Century.
A flowing, in-depth treatment of the life of Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, with numerous photographs and rare film footage.
Threaded in and out of the LIFE STORY are rare recordings of D.T. Suzuki himself, as well as numerous interviews of people who knew him in person, inspiring in their own right.
Satori ("Enlightenment")
Daisetz Suzuki attracted many Westerners to Zen Buddhism, and mystified many with his historical stories of Satori. He did not feel Zazen meditation was necessary to attain "enlightenment" - though it is a useful device in modern times. Some claim he overemphasised the Satori experience. As we will see, this indescribable enlightenment is not a sublime "state" of being, but a "way" of being truly free.
East & West
D.T. Suzuki excelled at explaining Eastern concepts and ways of thinking to Western intellectuals. He felt that Westerners, who view reality based on dichotomy and opposition, should learn from the East, where there is no "duality."
Christianity & Buddhism
Suzuki had a universal image of human beings. He was especially fond of the writings of Meister Eckhart. Fr. Thomas Merton and he greatly admired one another. Suzuki found common ground in Western tradition, and thanks to him, so too has the West been drawn to Eastern thought and practices. Now there are many Christians, including priests and nuns, who do Zazen.
Zen & Shin Buddhism ("Self power" & "Other Power")
Zen insists there is no almighty - you must understand the ultimate yourself and live life fully. Shin (Pure Land) Buddhism, like Christianity, believes you must look to a higher power to be "saved." Suzuki realised that these seemingly contradictory ways of thinking are actually one and the same.
Zen: Religion or Philosophy
There never was need for a word like "religion" in Japanese, until translation of the Western concept was needed. For Suzuki, both the intellect and the spirit are aspects of human expression. He was a lay Buddhist, and some Zen priests think he was too intellectual. Academics may claim he was too spiritual. The fact is he was widely respected by theologians and agnostics, intellectuals and plain folk alike.
Zen & Psychoanalysis
It is interesting to note that both psychoanalysis and Zen became popular in the West around the same time. Indeed, leading psychoanalysts were strongly attracted by Zen thinking, mainly through Suzuki's influence, and its way of dealing with the "self" and the unconscious.
Zen & the Arts (Freedom within Limitations)
The end product of Zen is freedom of the spirit, which is the very basis of creativity. Dr. Suzuki's writings and teaching had a ripple effect throughout Western culture, and strongly influenced contemporary Western artists such as John Cage and Gary Snyder.
Life & Death
One of the most difficult concepts to comprehend in Zen is that life and death are one and the same. Western philosophers from ancient times have grappled with the same problem. If you live the absolute moment, there is neither life nor death. As Suzuki explained it, the question is not "to be or not to be." It is "to be and not to be."
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