Zen mind, beginner's mind

by Shunryū Suzuki

Other authorsHuston Smith (Preface), Trudy Dixon (Editor)
Paper Book, 1974

Status

Available

Publication

Boston, Mass. : Weatherhill, 1974.

Description

Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases used by Zen teachers to throw you back upon yourself, to make you go behind the words themselves and begin wondering. "Is it what I am doing now? Is it what I am thinking now?" The innocence of this first inquiry--just asking what you are--is beginner's mind. The mind of the beginner is needed throughout Zen practice. It is the open mind, the attitude that includes both doubt and possibility, the ability to see things always as fresh and new. It is needed in all aspects of life. This book originated from a series of talks given by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki to a small group is California. His approach is informal, and he draws his examples from ordinary events and common sense.--From publisher description.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Ganeshaka
I don't know a great deal about Zen, but I know what I like. And i like this book. In fact I keep an extra copy or two to give away should the subject ever come up. There was a time when I'd read a chapter, and sit. There will no doubt come a time when i will do so again. I kinda think the book should be in hotel rooms instead of the Gideon Bible. Zen is basically pretty simple. Just five words. "Sit down and shut up." Or is it "Open up?" Somehow I sense the descent of a thousand wooden staffs on my shoulders as I ask "Enlighten me?"… (more)
LibraryThing member heidialice
A classic text instructing how to begin a meditation practice in the Zen tradition. Great for complete beginners, this includes careful steps and useful background.
LibraryThing member shawnd
This book was my first introduction into Buddhist writing. Perhaps unfortunately, I did not realize there was any difference of note between Zen Buddhism and Buddhism. Now having read a few Buddhist authors - His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh - I can say this book is quite unique. In a word, it can be summed up as focus. The book has a precise and inexorable return to the main topic which is 'zazen' - the practice of meditation.

The book is broken up into themes. In each theme, e.g. Constancy, Study Yourself, Zen and Excitement, there is some talk of daily life and how we suffer or float through daily events. Invariably, more time is spent in how the theme relates to sitting/meditation practice. Some of the quotes are quaint and memorable, and perhaps inspiring. For example, "For a frog, his sitting position is zazen. When a frog is hopping, that is not zazen."

Overall, I'd say this should not be read by a beginner, regardless of the title. It is very good for readers focused on either the concept or practice of discipline, or focused on meditation. I wouldn't say it compares as much to contemporary Buddhist writings. It is unique and probably a good solid read, but unlikely that one would return to it as a daily inspirational.
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LibraryThing member amandrake
I think this is one of the most approachable books about za-zen (sitting practice) ever. I would recommend it to a beginner (I'm disagreeing with another reviewer, here.) That said, I have to admit that some of the more recent stuff doesn't appeal to me. This one keeps the woo to a minimum, and I find that increases its clarity.… (more)
LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
"Beginner's Mind" has become something of phrase that now exists apart from its source, and Suzuki just STARTS with this, and quickly moves on, but then you realize you cannot get away from Beginner's Mind...nor does he.
LibraryThing member bobshackleton
Easily the most influential book in my life.
LibraryThing member Ra.Aiyana
My favorite book ever. i found it while in Mexico, amongst a sparse shelf of English books. I'd had no luck with meditation prior, and this made it all make sense. I still practice and always will. My life changed as a result of this book.
LibraryThing member hermit
You must remember that this book contains Shunryu's lecture, which were presented live. That in and of itself would be a great experience. Since we could not all be there, this book is our method to sharing some of his teachings. The lectures go over the description of the sitting Zen experience. You, the Zen student, will constantly refer to this book. This book will not gather dust on your shelf.
If you are a beginner, I would direct you to read the "Three Pillars of Zen" first. It was my first book (See my review), and it teaches Zen in a historical and traditional light.
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LibraryThing member ddzimmerman
I often return to the title of this work when I think about teaching and how important it is for teachers to be able to have "beginner's mind" once in a while so we can understand the learning process....
LibraryThing member jbushnell
An excellent series of introductory lectures.
LibraryThing member Michael.Bradham
Sparked my transformative journey towards progressive relaxation and awareness. Thank you.
LibraryThing member HezPez
This book can be life changing if you have any interest in practicing zazen.
LibraryThing member mariusgm
Z E N

Before we were born we had no feeling; we were one with the universe. This is called "mind-only," or "essence of mind," or "big mind," After we are separated by birth from this oneness, as the water falling from the waterfall is separated by the wind and rocks, then we have feeling. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created. When you do not realize that you are one with the river, or one with the universe, you have fear. Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life. … (more)
LibraryThing member Pepperwings
A fantastic, simple, analogical look into how to live in a method of Zen. It spends less time explaining than you might expect, and shows with humorous stories, a little like parables, but with the goal of opening understanding. I appreciated how this all came together, and I think many would agree, though it might take some other reading to understand better.… (more)
LibraryThing member dbsovereign
One of the books that helped launch a revolution in America. Suzuki, almost single-handedly, was responsible for setting up the first Zen monastery in the USA. The book I recommend anyone not familiar with Zen to read - and the book I recommend to people as being the most accessible. "Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death anymore, nor actual difficulty in our life." The section (from which that quote is taken) entitled "Nirvana, the Waterfall" inspires me to no end.… (more)
LibraryThing member joeld
This is one of those books that will meet you pretty much wherever you are at. Although there is much in the author's style that could lend itself to parody, it's an appreciation of simplicity that deserves to be taken seriously even if (like myself) you're a Christian. Zazen is really no more concerned with theology than is the color you paint your room (or at least, it need not be). I feel that in many ways this book has made Christ's teachings even more alive for me, as well as providing a rich framework for imaginative pursuits. I highly recommend getting the audiobook version.… (more)
LibraryThing member aegossman
this is a book you need to read with a sponge... it is so awesome.
LibraryThing member Schneider
A fantastic book for those interested in Zen and where to begin, how to begin, what to expect and what not to. A guide in the true sense of the word. Though quite philosophically deep in places, it is a book that almost everyone can enjoy.
LibraryThing member willszal
Live in the moment.

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