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Shunryu Suzuki's College Thesis or Dissertation


The Religion of the Great Ancestor
(Focusing on the fascicle Raihai Tokuzui)

"II was wondering if there is any copy of the thesis (or paper) that Suzuki-roshi wrote on Dogen's Raihaitokusui. It is an interesting fascicle to me in particular because Dogen lambastes the custom of excluding women from the sacred mountain of Mt. Hiei and  other discriminating practices. I thought it would be very interesting to read what Suzuki-roshi's commentary on this was."

- From an email sent by Eiju Linda Cutts on Wed, 29 Mar 2000

DC Reply: As I recall, Carl Bielefeldt obtained a copy o Suzuki’s thesis from Komazawa University in Tokyo years ago, and Gil Fronsdal and Carl have been working on getting it translated. I remember Gil telling me a few years ago it was an expensive project. Not sure about the details of this. I'll write to Gil and see what's up.

Here's the outline of it got from Gil Fronsdal - reproduced below

Draft of Carl's 1998 excellent talk at Stanford Sati Foundation Shunryu Suzuki conference on Suzuki's historical and teaching background. It begins with a discussion of Suzuki's dissertation


From Crooked Cucumber, Ch. 3, Higher Education, p. 61

At the late age of twenty-five, on April 10, 1930, Shunryu graduated from Komazawa University, second in his class, in Buddhist and Zen philosophy, with a minor in English. His graduate thesis, written under his academic advisor and the school's president, Nukariya Kaiten, focused on the relationship between master and disciple, as discussed by Dogen in an essay of the Shobogenzo emphasizing submission to the master. (It is called the Raihai Tokozui, a chapter in which Dogen also forcefully asserts the equality of women.) In his thesis Shunryu leaned toward Nukariya's "religious experience" point of view rather than Buddhism as philosophy. Another key professor whose instruction influenced Shunryu's thesis was Sokuo Eto, an eminent Shobogenzo scholar who emphasized an open-minded approach to study integrated with zazen and Buddhist practice. Eto had been a classmate of So-on's, and they had studied together with Oka Sotan. Like many of Shunryu's professors, he was also a priest with a temple back home, and, like Nukariya, he emphasized religion over philosophy, direct experience over systemization.

 Read the whole chapter

Don't know where the idea that it was on bowing came from. Maybe there's something on bowing in it and maybe Suzuki said that. He could be cryptic. - dc