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.
Page 42: "When you sit, you should just sit without being disturbed by your painful legs or sleepiness. That is zazen. But at first it is difficult to accept things as they are. You will be annoyed by the feeling you have in your practice. When you can do everything, whether it is good or bad, without disturbance or without being annoyed by the feeling, that is actually what we mean by 'form is form and emptiness is emptiness'."
Page 43: "For the beginner, the practice needs great effort. ... You must be true to your own way until at last you actually come to the point where you see it is necessary to forget all about yourself. Until you come to this point, it is completely mistaken to think that whatever you do is Zen or that it does not matter whether you practice or not. But if you make your best effort just to continue your practice with your whole mind and body, without gaining ideas, then whatever you do will be true practice."
Page 107: "Because you think you have body or mind, you have lonely feelings, but when you realize that everything is just flashing into the vast universe, you become very strong and your existence becomes very meaningful."
Page 109: "To have nothing in your mind is naturalness. ... When you do something, you should be completely involved in it. You should devote yourself to it completely. Then you have nothing. So if there is no true emptiness in your activity, it is not natural."
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.
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.
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.