Prof. Brian Daizen Victoria, Antioch University, Ohio, USA

Zen as a Cult of Death in the W.W. II Writings of D.T. Suzuki

In June 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army's premier journal for its officer corps published an article written by D.T. Suzuki. Suzuki used a well-known Zen phrase, i.e.,"Makujiki Kōzen" (Rush Forward Without Hesitation) as the title for his article, an article that has heretofore been unknown in the West. The publication date, no less than its intended audience, is significant in that it was slightly less than six months before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. At that point Japan was in the fourth year of its full-scale invasion of China. While Japanese forces held most major Chinese cities, they were unable, to their great frustration, to either pacify the countryside or defeat the Nationalist and Communist forces deployed against them. The war was therefore effectively at a stalemate though the death toll, both Chinese and Japanese, continued to rise relentlessly from ongoing Japanese attacks. What did Suzuki want his officer readers to understand about Zen's relevance to the war they were fighting? Why did he inform his readers that "Zen was the shortcut to being prepared to die"? These and many other questions will be explored in this lecture.

Appr. 67 minutes, 62MB

Powerpoint presentation from the lecture

Published May 25, 2012 11:45 AM