Zen Encounters. Essays and Conversations
Wil (Switzerland) / Paris: UniversityMedia, 2022. xvi & 239 pages. ISBN 978-3-906000-22-0.
In Zen Buddhism, encounters are of paramount importance. Richard DeMartino, the author of this book, was singularly fortunate to meet and converse with some of the most outstanding Zen teachers of the twentieth century.
The front cover photograph—taken in 1952 at the Reiun-in subtemple of Myoshinji monastery (Kyoto) in front of the philosopher Kitaro Nishida’s grave—shows Dr. DeMartino (leftmost) with two of his main Zen teachers, Shin’ichi Hisamatsu and D. T. Suzuki (second and third from right). Standing next to DeMartino is Mumon Yamada Roshi.
Along with essays on “Zen Communication” and “The Human Situation and Zen,” this book contains DeMartino’s account of meeting D.T. Suzuki and Shin’ichi Hisamatsu. Also included are reflections on the thought of influential Zen philosophers such as Keiji Nishitani and Masao Abe.
UniversityMedia’s complete trilogy of DeMartino’s main writings:
Human Nature and Zen (2021). ISBN 978-3-906000-17-6
Zen Encounters (2022). ISBN 978-3-906000-22-0
The Zen Understanding of Man (2023). 978-3-906000-32-9
Richard DeMartino (1922–2013), Zen practitioner and thinker, long-time student of D.T. Suzuki, Shin’ichi Hisamatsu, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebuhr, and co-author (along with D.T. Suzuki and Erich Fromm) of the classic Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, was senior associate professor of religion at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
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With regard to publishing and many other things, Dr. Richard DeMartino (1922–2013)—a protagonist of the introduction of Zen Buddhism to the West—adhered to the old Roman motto: “Non multa sed multum”: what counts is not quantity but quality.
Instead of churning out reams of papers and books, he kept revising and fine-tuning seminal essays such as “The Human Situation and Zen Buddhism,” first published in Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis of 1960 (co-authored with D.T. Suzuki and Erich Fromm). The present volume contains DeMartino’s ultimate version of that essay, chiseled for decades, along with an essay on “Zen Communication” whose final typescript was equally teeming with handwritten corrections and thoughtful emendations.
Included are also essays about and conversations with some of the 20th century’s greatest Zen teachers and thinkers: a hitherto unpublished exchange with Daisetz T. Suzuki (“D.T. Suzuki, Oriental Thought, and the West”); accounts of DeMartino’s first meetings with D.T. Suzuki and with Shin’ichi Hisamatsu; and essays on the “Thought of Nishitani Keiji” and “The Zen Roots of Masao Abe’s Thought”. His discussion with Prof. Ken Kramer (San José State University) about “self-emptying” is a unique contribution to Buddhist thought and to Christian-Buddhist dialogue.
This is a companion volume to Dr. DeMartino’s Human Nature and Zen (ISBN 978-3-906000-17-6), published also at UniversityMedia in 2021.