D. T. Suzuki (Suzuki Daisetz)'s presentation of “Zen” should be viewed as an attempt to give a prescription for illnesses caused by our modern living. In this sense, he uses the term “Zen” from a new and modern viewpoint, and so it is necessary to draw a line between his “Zen” and traditional Zen Buddhism. In this article, I examine his early work Môzô-Roku (妄想録) in order to demonstrate that he was driven by this motive from early on in his career, that is, from the time he had his first opportunity to stay in the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century.
In Môzô-Roku, Suzuki defines religion as an attempt to rediscover and return to an original unitary activity underlying our common dualistic distinctions such as subject/object and good/evil. Moreover, he maintains that “Zen” is an immediate expression of this original unitary activity.
In his discussions of “Zen” and religion in Môzô-Roku, Suzuki emphasizes the importance of recovering an insight into the original unitary activity, and of our continuous efforts to keep a passage open to it in our modern lives.
In this article, I demonstrate that Suzuki's late vocation, namely, to communicate an Eastern unitary way of living to those caught up in Western dualistic ways of living, was in fact a maturation of his thoughts in this early work.