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Olcott, Henry Steel (02 August 1832–17 February 1907), cofounder with Helena Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society and an important Western advocate of Buddhism, cofounder with Helena Blavatsky of the Theosophical Society and an important Western advocate of Buddhism, was born in Orange, New Jersey, the son of Henry Wyckoff Olcott, a businessman, and Emily Steel. He was raised in New York City. At sixteen, after the failure of his father’s business, he worked on an uncle’s farm in Ohio, where he took an interest in both Spiritualism, then at the height of its vogue, and agricultural science. In 1855 Olcott opened an agricultural school in New Jersey and as its director wrote several books and articles on farming. The school failed in 1859. He was assistant agricultural editor of the ...

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Suzuki, D. T. (18 October 1870–12 July 1966), the foremost exponent of Zen Buddhism in the West, was born Teitarō Suzuki, the son of Ryojun Suzuki, a physician, and his wife, Masu (full name unknown), in what is now the city of Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. He was the youngest of five children. Suzuki's grandfather and great-grandfather were also physicians. The deaths of Suzuki's father, shortly after Suzuki's sixth birthday, and an older brother, the following year, influenced Suzuki's gravitation toward religious and philosophical study. As a teenager he sought out both Zen monks and Christian missionaries and engaged them in philosophical discussions. Suzuki's high school mathematics teacher, who had a strong interest in Zen and had studied with Kōsen Imagita, one of the great Zen masters of the time, intensified the youth's curiosity about Zen through discussion and distribution of literature on the subject....