Zen has exerted a magnetic attraction on the West for over 100 years. Zen authority D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966) was a primary catalyst for this interest, writing over 100 books, such as the seminal “An Introduction to Zen Buddhism” (1934), on the topic.

Inspired by Suzuki, Western writers like Christmas Humphreys (1901-83) and Alan Watts (1915-73) further popularized Zen. Humphreys’ book “Zen Buddhism” (1949) was name-dropped by Van Morrison in his song “Cleaning Windows,” while Watts influenced Beat Generation writers like Jack Kerouac (1922-69). Kerouac was hailed as “the first patriarch of Buddhism in America” by Tricycle magazine. His classic novel, “The Dharma Bums” (1958), oozes passion for Zen on every page. “Some of the Dharma” (completed in 1958, published 1997), is a sprawling compendium of Kerouac’s thoughts on Buddhism.

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