Born in 1870, D.T. Suzuki is probably the prime motivator for the spread of Zen Buddhism in Western Culture. It was the death of Suzuki's father at age six and a year later the passing of his brother that turned his mind toward religion for answers. As he came of age he sought out Zen Monks, Christian Missionaries and anyone with which he could discuss his spiritual interests. The death of Suzuki's mother prompted a move to Tokyo, where he studied with master Kosen Imagita at a nearby Zen Temple.
For the next 4 years, Suzuki endured intense emotional and physical struggle as a zen lay-disciple. Suzuki finally achieved enlightenment after solving a difficult Zen Koan, wherein he was given the name Daisetsu ("Great Simplicity"). It was during these pre-war years that Suzuki's life went in many directions and his english writting career blossomed; he traveled to the United States, married, and became a lecturer and Proffessor at Otani University in Kyoto.
Suzuki became firmly established as a major voice of Zen Buddhism in the west after he and his wife began releasing the "Eastern Buddhist", a quarterly publication of essays and other zen-related material that was designed expressly for western readers. After the untimely death of his wife during the war, Suzuki set up residence in the United States and taught seminars on Zen in New York at Columbia University.
During the last two decades of his life, Suzuki's influence on prominent western minds was undeniable. His introductions and examinations of Zen became seminal texts on the subject for western observers. Indeed, Alan Watts, Carl Jung, Allen Ginsberg and countless others openly claimed the influence of his teachings.
Upon his death at the age of 95, the fate of Suzuki's ongoing legacy was never in doubt. He is one of the most important elements in the popular spread of Zen Buddhism to the west during the early 20th century. If you are looking for a good introduction to the main tenants of Zen and don't know where to start, look no further: Suzuki's work is quite simply the most accessible entry point for the Zen novice.
The major works by Suzuki are well represented in audio format. The most obvious place to begin is with "What is Zen"; easily one of the most accessible audio titles available for anyone interested in the philosophy and concepts of Zen Buddhism. Suzuki describes in engaging detail what Zen is, it's origins, how it has developed and how it has shaped Japanese culture in general.
The next audio book we reccomend is Zen and the Samurai. Here Suzuki helps you decide when it is appropriate to use either the sword of life or the sword of death and why the way of the warrior is intrinsically linked with that of the monk.
To round things out there is also Zen and the Love of Nature", which focuses on cultivating Zen within your soul. Consider the intricate detail of the lotus flower, the beauty of a mountain and the joy derived from examination of the natural world. Suzuki offers you a guide to Zen at it's most quiet, a world where you connect with your surroundings to the point of becoming one with it. Whether you wish to develop a budding interest in Zen or want to clarify what you already know, these audio books by D.T. Suzuki offer the clearest teaching on what Zen is and where it came from.