Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
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Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  17,445 ratings  ·  538 reviews
A respected Zen master in Japan & founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, Shunryu Suzuki has blazed a path in American Buddhism like few others. He is the master who climbs down from the pages of the koan books & answers your questions face to face. If not face to face, you can at least find the answers as recorded in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, a transcription of...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published April 1st 1973 by Weatherhill (first published 1970)
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Keleigh
This book was recommended to me by various persons in different phases of my life, but I clearly wasn't ready to read it till now. Suzuki's talks on zazen are spare and direct, demystifying Buddhism as a religion or philosophy and continually bringing the focus back to the simple and perfect practice of sitting--cleaning out your mind through meditation. Though we all choose different paths according to our culture and temperament, the ultimate desire is the same: for the soul or "big I" to free...more
Riku Sayuj
If and when you meet The Buddha,
Kill him.
Then come back
And sit.
Sit
In Zazen.
Be.
Enlightenment is there,
Before it arrives.
Heather
I know this is supposed to be THE zen book for beginners, by one of the most influential western zen masters, etc. But it didn't set a fire under me at all. I found myself trying to mine a few words of relevant wisdom from chapter after chapter of semi-opaque discourse. It's not that the book is difficult to read, but that the insights offered by Suzuki Roshi (undeniably a great zen master) are the insights of an old man who has been practicing zen for a long time and talking to serious zen stud...more
Kim
Apr 04, 2012 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: seekers
Recommended to Kim by: Meido Moore
As a music performance major who is burned out and bitter going into her last year of her undergraduate career, this book was invaluable for its ability to have the notion of practicing zazen also be equal to practicing her instrument.

I have taken a bit of a break from meditation and music for 3-4 months now, and these informal talks are exactly the kind of thing I need to get myself to head in the right direction. It's a book that I recommend re-visiting often, for it provides a perfect impetus...more
Erik Graff
Mar 27, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Paul Schaich
Shelves: religion
This is the best non-academic introduction to Zen Buddhism that I've come upon. What caught me especially was a moment in the introduction when an interview with Suzuki was interrupted by his wife. She was serving tea, overheard part of his discourse and remarked to the interviewer that, in essence, he was full of shit--all given and taken in good humor.
mark monday
I read this book, learned a lot, and decided to do the exact opposite. what is the opposite of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind exactly? I dunno. Crazy Expert Mind?
Jan-Maat
The most important things in our practice are our physical posture and our way of breathing. We are not so concerned about a deep understanding of Buddhism. p99

To cook is not just to prepare for someone or for yourself; it is to express your sincerity. So when you cook you should express yourself in the activity in the kitchen. You should allow plenty of time; you should work on it with nothing in your mind, and without expecting anything. You should just cook! That is also an expression of our
...more
Caris
This book found me at the wrong time. I think.

I was reading the comments on a blog post about the benefits of always seeking to learn new things and saw that someone recommended this book. A second person chimed in to say that he also considered this to be one of the most important tools in his productivity arsenal. That was enough for me, apparently. Because blog comments are a great place to find book recommendations.

Now that I've read it, I can see that these two commenters probably didn't. W...more
David
This book was put together from a series of lectures by Shunyru Suzuki who was one of the first Zen Buddhist teachers to share Buddhism with Americans in the middle to late 20th century. I met Suzuki when I was a teenager, and was influenced by him a great deal. Because of him I found that I was very attracted to meditation practice and to his particular style of teaching. He was a good spiritual friend. In this book Shunryu expresses the heart of Zen in the simplest but most profound ways. His...more
Graham
Jul 15, 2008 Graham added it
You don't have to understand it to love it: I bought this book eighteen years ago. When I bought it, I understood little of it but for the past 18 years it has been my favourite companion book helping me to calm down before I went to sleep. I have never read "a new age book" and pride myself on being hard-headed, but nonetheless the soothing, calm prose was reassuring even if enigmatic. 18 years on, I now actually understand quite a bit of it and read it not only for the prose style but for the...more
John
This book is a classic to be read from time to time. At present I am not reading it but have convinced my 15 year old sn to read it hoping that it, together with long conversations and care, will immediately help him with his teenage angst. Even more, I hope the ideas in the book can be planted now to bloom later.

Those are just some thoughts about some present concerns. The main reason for the posting is to pass on something I read that as not in a book. It is this powerful Zen koan.

Count the s...more
Mike W
This book is frustrating to read. There is some wisdom here, and in Zen Buddhism generally, but the delight Suzuki takes in paradoxes and contradictions serves to obscure his meaning, rather than illuminating it, eg 'we prepare by being unprepared'.

The book gets its title from his contention that wisdom consists in being open to the present moment, with the eagerness of the beginner, rather than closing oneself off like the self-styled expert.

A closely related concept is that of zazen, which, t...more
TJ Beitelman
I am not the only Westerner to be moved by this, the first Zen tract aimed specifically at an American audience. And maybe to the Zen true-believer (Western or otherwise) it’s Zen-lite, I don’t know. I’m not a Buddhist or anything, much less a Zen master. But reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind helped me realize that Zen is not so much about religion as it is about discipline of all kinds — it is, in fact, a discipline about discipline. Not so much the rap-your-knuckles kind. More the “fall down s...more
Undrakh Ganzorig
“In order to see a fish, you must watch the water” I can’t say this was a good book or bad one, instead I’m trying to understand its true nature :) . For anyone who is interested in learning Zen Buddhism, “The Zen Mind” can give really good understanding of Zazen practice and Zen teachings. Just reading the book is relaxing and gives the impression of calming down.

I think the Zazen practice or sitting is an important part that should never be missed while reading “The Zen Mind”. I didn’t practi...more
Austin
This one is a classic. I read it years ago and was reminded of it when it was quoted in (of all places) Ultimate Speed Secrets: The Complete Guide to High-Performance and Race Driving. I remember reading it initially in high school when I was just becoming cynical about Western religions and interested in Eastern religions but had no knowledge of Buddhism in general, and even less of Zen specifically. I didn't think too much of it at that first reading, finding it a bit vacuous. Then I reread it...more
Synthia
Some take aways:

-Right attitude is to have strong confidence in our original nature
-Repetition
-Concentration on our usual everyday routine
-When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.
-Study yourself and forget yourself
-When you become you, Zen becomes Zen. When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings.
-Big mind is something to express, not something to figure out. Big mind is something you...more
Dan
Jul 11, 2007 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is about the importance of keeping an open mind and how this process can help you in your everyday life.

I was assigned this book to read in a class on Buddhism, but it is now one of my favorite books.

While this is written by a master of Zen Buddhism, it is a very secular presentation of the philosophy and does not include any reliance on Buddhist beliefs. There is some discussion of Buddhist beliefs, but if that is contrary to your world view you can ignore those parts and still benefi...more
Austin Kleon
it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art. http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/45...
Rhonda
I hadn't expected much when I began reading this at the request of a friend. In fairness, I am a practicing Christian and I wasn't all that sure that it would do anything to take me to the other side of consciousness. Indeed it did not do so, although it had a rather pleasant result which I will do my best to explain.
When I worked in the corporate structure, amid the many strictures were a great many benefits. One of them included any number of courses which we were able to attend for free, incl...more
Stu
It is tempting to call Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind repetitive and frustrating. It would be factually true to say this. Suzuki drives home the same points time and again: the ordinariness of the Zen mindset; the call to abandon ideas of success, failure, and goals in practice; the ubiquity of Buddha nature in life. Readers may find themselves questioning their reading, feeling sure that they have somehow backtracked to earlier portions of the text. That said, one is reminded of Bruce Lee's dictum o...more
Mohit Manaskant

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind falls into a rare category of books, one which holds the power to knock at the doors of one's heart, which is yearning to know it's real nature. And once you open the doors, it does not preaches wisdom but let you walk the path where wisdom churns out within oneself.Suzuki talks about one of the most important and often missed subject, of how to keep one's practice pure. Suzuki makes it very clear that, intellectual masturbation is useless without actual practice.Suzuki

...more
Pamela
Read this quite a few years ago when I was a young woman of seventeen, and have turned to it again recently.

Very spare, very light, profound. A book to dip into once, then again, and again.

Published, I believe, at least 50 years ago(?). How does it hold up against heavies like Chodron and the Dalai Lama? Very well, I think. Chodron's great gift is her ability to convey Buddhist teaching with such warmth and ease that one feels you could run into her and strike up a conversation; this title does...more
Clara
It's not surprising to see so many reviewers here and elsewhere say that Zen Mind, Beginner's mind didn't say much to them when they read it for the first time, but that things have changed upon a second reading (usually separated by years). I'm one of those who read the book long ago and found it oblique, at best. No longer.

It's the kind of book that you can finish today and start reading again tomorrow. That's just what I wanted to do when I finished the book yesterday. It's not a book to read...more
Ankur Banerjee
As an introductory book to Zen Buddhism, this is quite daunting or useless. The publishing industry seems to have cashed into the misconception that this this is a book for beginners because it has "Beginner's Mind" in the title. This book is really not where you should be starting as the first point for any sort of reading on Buddhism - Zen or not. I'd recommend reading something else first, actually attending a zazen session somewhere and *then* reading this book to get the full impact.

Suzuki'...more
Marius
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 t
...more
Chris
Very "stream of consciousness" styled writing. Picked up some good stuff from it despite it's scatter-shot approach.
Laurie
Is it strange that this book was essentially my father's manual for child-rearing? "The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous... To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to c...more
Monica Jackson
I found this book in a discounted/final sale area of a local bookstore a couple of years ago. It was a difficult time for me, and I really wasn't looking for anything in particular as my mind and soul were scattered. I saw this little book standing on a shelf all by itself, and picked it up. I could find nothing wrong with it to warrant the "discarded" title, and as I was intrigued by its cover design and burgundy inside front cover, I bought it if for no other reason than it was a good deal.
One...more
Mohammad Ali Abedi
“This is also the real secret of the arts, always be a beginner.”

Short lectures that were given by a Zen master, Shunry Suzuki, in the 60s in America, in his San Francisco Zen Center. The lectures have some use, but Zen books are a bit difficult since the themselves constantly see to tell us that Zen isn’t to be learned and read but to be practiced and experienced which makes it hard for me to critic it. If it can’t really be read, then why write it? It’s like releasing a film on DVD and at the...more
Phil Calandra
This is a difficult book that clearly is not for the beginner. The book is cryptic, often times contradictory and cannot be understood in intellectual terms but only through one's direct experience. The most important tenets posed by the author is living in the present moment and that one's practice must be done with and empty mind. The author states that we must not seek something outside ourselves and that our true nature is beyond our conscious experience. The author states that Zen can be ch...more
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Suzuki Roshi was a Sōtō Zen monk and teacher who helped popularize Zen Buddhism in the United States, and is renowned for founding the first Buddhist monastery outside Asia (Tassajara Zen Mountain Center). Suzuki founded San Francisco Zen Center, which along with its affiliate temples, comprises one of the most influential Zen organizations in the United States. A book of his teachings, Zen Mind,...more
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“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” 170 likes
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” 56 likes
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