A Zen Life – D.T.Suzuki: Film and discussion on the man who introduced Zen Buddhism to the West

Date: Glasgow 23 November 2009 ; Manchester 24 November ; London 26 November
Glasgow, University Chapel
Venue: Manchester, Room A7, Main Faculty Bldg, University of ManchesterLondon, Brunei Lecture Theatre, SOAS
Tel: 020 7898 4775
Organiser: Centre of Buddhist Studies and Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, School of Oriental and African Studies, London ; with the participation of the University of Glasgow and the University of Manchester

The first ever public showings in the UK of the award-winning film “A Zen Life” about Daisetsu Suzuki (1870-1966), the influential Japanese philosopher, writer and teacher, followed by discussion with the film’s producer, Michael Goldberg, and leading academics. The effect Suzuki had on Western psychoanalysis, philosophy, religious thinking and the arts was profound. Many renowned Western philosophers, psychologists and cultural figures were affected by his writings and friendship, including Carl Jung, Erich Fromm, Father Thomas Merton, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, John Cage, Alan Ginsberg, and others. His numerous writings in English and Japanese serve as an inspiration even today as well as stimulating vigorous debate among scholars on some controversial issues. Although he later taught at Columbia University and is better known in America, his reputation was initially secured in England where he also inspired, among others, Christmas Humphreys, the founder of the Buddhist Society. As well as interpreting Suzuki’s philosophical work, the event will help to place Suzuki’s influence in the intellectual, social and political framework of a crucial period in Japan’s history and its interaction with the West. The film contains rare footage of interviews with Suzuki himself and therefore provides unique insights into the thinking of a man described by one commentator as “probably the most culturally significant Japanese person, in international terms, in all of history.”
The project is supported by grants from the GB Sasakawa Foundation and the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.

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