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Shunryu Suzuki's College Thesis or Dissertation


The Religion of the Great Ancestor
(Focusing on the fascicle Raihai Tokuzui)
with links to translations below

"II was wondering if there is any copy of the thesis (or paper) that Suzuki-roshi wrote on Dogen's Raihai Tokusui. 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 in March 2000

DC - I hear Suzuki concentrated on the master disciple relationship part of the fascicle.

DC Reply: Carl Bielefeldt obtained a copy of Suzuki’s thesis from Komazawa University in Tokyo in the prior century, and Gil Fronsdal and Carl have been working on getting it translated as a project of Gil's Sati Foundation I assume. I remember Gil telling me it was an expensive project. That was maybe 13 years ago. Don't know where it stands now. DC - 2021

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

Shōbōgenzō raihai tokuzui - 正法眼藏禮拜得髓

I used to hear that Suzuki's thesis was on bowing. That's part of the name of Raihai Tokusui. I bet he'd rather we read the Dogen than wonder what he wrote in college.

Here's a translation from the Stanford site - Getting the Marrow by Doing Obeisance
Translated by Stanley Weinstein

from the White Wind Zen Community - Bowing and Acquiring the Essence

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