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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  41,038 ratings  ·  1,517 reviews
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen as to compl
Paperback, 138 pages
Published April 1st 1973 by Weatherhill (first published June 1st 1970)
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Richard Yim Jia Jun 禪者的初心-mean Beginner of Zen with the fresh Heart
it's original in English language as Daisetz Suzuki brought Zen to west and Shunryu Suzuki is ordinary…more
禪者的初心-mean Beginner of Zen with the fresh Heart
it's original in English language as Daisetz Suzuki brought Zen to west and Shunryu Suzuki is ordinary . two Suzukis are monk from Japan (less)

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 ·  41,038 ratings  ·  1,517 reviews

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May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
- Donovan

In this age of rabid misinformation, it’s best to pay attention. An ancient Zen teacher said we’ve got to scrutinize it ALL - ‘Attention means ATTENTION!’

Another old Zen Master used to shout at his young students, “You’ve got to climb to the top of a thousand-foot wooden pole!“

Yeah, well, we all know such poles aren’t made that high.

So what gives?

The point of the story is simple: when you run out of pole, just keep cl
Sean Barrs
“In the zazen posture, your mind and body have the great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable.”


How do I put this into words? This does actually work. Simple Zen meditation on a nightly basis does help to put things into perspective. It helps clear the mind and get rid of those false delusions and expectations; it helps you move away from dangerous attachment and recognise the impermanence of everything. Not to mention its benefits in reducing stress and actu
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Riku Sayuj
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: r-r-rs, spiritual
If and when you meet The Buddha,
Kill him.
Then come back
And sit.
In Zazen.
Enlightenment is there,
Before it arrives.
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is balm. My second reading. It contains its own instructions for reading too. If some metaphor or anecdote seems too dense, just let it pass. There is no need to read the text as closely as I just have; that’s me. Suzuki-roshi explains it all. Toward the end it gets a little bit repetitious; that’s because these are in fact transcripts—elegantly edited—of talks given at Tassajarra Zen Mountain Monastery, Los Altos, California in 1969 or so. Really worthwhile if you seek big Mind.
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
Erik Graff
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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, having never attained satori--all given and taken in good humor. ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the classic introductions of Buddhist Zen practice in America. So many books on Zen written since this small jewel first came out forty-five years ago. Is there really more to say than shikan taza - just sitting: "When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit you should just sit; when you eat you should just eat. When you do this, the universal nature is there." We are achievers, us westerners. Goal oriented. Forever striving. But what if what your heart most wants (even if you don't kn ...more
This book had been on my radar for a while, and then in his bibliography of "Don't Be A Jerk" (, Brad Warner basically says "You need this book!!". Who am I to argue with Brad?

As the subtitle "Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice" implies, the essays in this book are transcripts of lectures Shunryu Suzuki gave to students, arranged by topics. Suzuki is often described as a "founding father" of Zen in America, as he was one of the first to bring t
Mike W
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
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
mark monday
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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? ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional, and highly surprising. Really helpful in clearing up obstacles to motivation, and why we sometimes cannot practice/complete tasks.

Notes :

“Keep your practice pure.”

“In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are few.”

“When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.”

“The most important point is to own your own physical body… when we have our body and mind in order, everything will exist in the right place, in the right way.”

“When my
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first book about Zen that I read, found it in a library. At that time I read it before I had any experience of meditation. For me, this was a very enlightening read. And even without remember much of the contents, I rated this book as a solid 5 star when I was inputting my reads in Goodreads.

Fast forward decades later (and more experience in meditation practice), I re-read this book, and I found new understandings. This book is not only good as an introduction for people who want to
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and to the point. What I like about books about Buddhism, Taoism and so on, is that they make you feel really relaxed and accepting of yourself. Although self-improvement books on how to get rich, find love, loose weight etc. are great, it's nice to hear that life can be uneventful and boring, yet completely satisfying if you just stop and relax.

PS: On a personal note: People who have been the happiest in their lives, who lived the longest and didn't get ill as often, were not the ones th
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, aatm-saath
गम और खुशी में फर्क ना महसूस हो जहा
मैं दिल को उस मकाम पे लाता चला गया

Gham aur khushi mein fark
na mehsoos ho jahaan
Main dil ko us makaam pe
lata chala gaya

Where there is no difference felt
between Joy and pain,
I kept bringing my heart to that realm,
again and again...

Movie : Hum Dono Lyricist: Sahir Ludhiyanvi
It is practic
Sara Alaee
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"When you become you, Zen becomes Zen. When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings." ...more
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is, I feel, one of those books that one wouldn't be able to get into unless one has some past encounters with zen, or meditation in general. It is a short book but is also quite complex and takes time for mental digestion---and that's why some background is needed. It gave me feelings of intense calm while reading the book. I will definitely revisit this books many times in future. For the uninitiated, get Dan Harris' book---10% happier---and then go for this one, imo. ...more
Ankur Banerjee
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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.

Dec 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
And the best part of the book is the quote: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few." And I think the zen mindset can be summarized by three words: "Attention, attention, attention."

I picked up this book because I thought it would have genuine insights about being mindful and compassionate. I was disappointed; it turned out to be a lot of navel-gazing, typical of the pseudo-spiritual circle-talk that Westerners seem to think is profound, but r
May 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Some take aways:

-Right attitude is to have strong confidence in our original nature
-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
Mar 10, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
While I have now read all the words on all the pages, I don't think I'm actually finished with this book. And I don't mean that the thoughts will stick with me, though that is true. What I mean is that I will skim parts of this book again, maybe even soon. Or I will reread sections of it, thinking about the ideas again. For as simply as the words are written, the ideas have oceanic depth, I'm going to be swimming here for quite a while. ...more
Zen — I don’t get it.

But does that mean I truly get it?

T.J. Beitelman
Dec 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Hákon Gunnarsson
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by the late Shunryu Suzuki is the most interesting book on Zen Buddhism I've read so far. I thought it was a pleasure to read, and unlike so often, I just took my time reading it, taking one chapter a day. There is something calming about reading it, and I think that has to do with the author voice. It is a bit like sitting somewhere, listening to a knowledgeable man talking about the subject.

Partly that is because it's not written. It is a collection of talks Shunryu S
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
The title "Beginner's Mind" could/might mislead a few, as it refers to the idea of maintaining an open, childlike mind, and never acting or feeling as though one has ACHIEVED enlightenment. Beginner's mind in this case refers to the state of mind we have when first jump into any endeavour. Be always searching, always growing.

Each chapter is just the right length for a cup of tea (or coffee). "Crooked Cucumber" is a biography of Suzuki and a wonderful intro to Zen Mind.

In this world of Space and
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
always stay a beginner
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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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