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

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  23,004 Ratings  ·  710 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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J.D. When looking up "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," I found this on Amazon: -- It looks like it could be the Chinese…moreWhen looking up "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," I found this on Amazon: -- It looks like it could be the Chinese version of the text, and does feature a picture of Suzuki, the author of "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," on the front. In some book stores, like Barnes & Noble, for example, they can order a book to be shipped to the store, and then you can go and preview it before buying -- you can do this to make sure this is the correct book, if the cover/title isn't clearly what you're looking for.(less)
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Jun 26, 2008 Keleigh 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
Riku Sayuj
Feb 24, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, r-r-rs
If and when you meet The Buddha,
Kill him.
Then come back
And sit.
In Zazen.
Enlightenment is there,
Before it arrives.
Feb 04, 2010 Heather 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
Feb 15, 2015 Francisco 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
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 o
Erik Graff
Sep 28, 2015 Erik Graff 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.
Feb 10, 2015 rahul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, aatm-saath
गम और खुशी में फरक 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 practice
Apr 04, 2012 Kim 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
mark monday
Sep 01, 2013 mark monday 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?
Sara Alaee
Aug 21, 2015 Sara Alaee 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."
Feb 18, 2008 David 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
Sep 14, 2014 Caris rated it liked it
Shelves: buddhism, 2014
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
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
May 01, 2008 John 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
T.J. Beitelman
Dec 07, 2011 T.J. Beitelman 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
Mike W
Jun 16, 2013 Mike W 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
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
Ankur Banerjee
Oct 24, 2012 Ankur Banerjee 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.

Jul 29, 2008 Laurie rated it it was amazing
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
Shweta Nigam
Aug 13, 2015 Shweta Nigam 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
Undrakh Ganzorig
Nov 04, 2013 Undrakh Ganzorig rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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
May 23, 2012 Austin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Feb 28, 2013 Stu rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2007 Dan rated it it was amazing
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
Phillip Moffitt
Nov 08, 2010 Phillip Moffitt rated it it was amazing
Ironically, although this is a book that beginners are inspired by, it takes experience to fully appreciate it. It is based of a series of teachings by Shunryu Suzuki, the Zen master who established the San Francisco Zen Center. The book captures the immediate wisdom of the Zen approach to mindfulness. It is the best demonstration of beginners mind that I know of and awakens that feeling of possibility in you immediately.
Vaishali Joglekar
Exceptional, and highly surprising. Really helpful in clearing up obstacles to motivation, and why we sometimes cannot practice/complete tasks.

Some quotes:

** 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.
Jack W Perry
Feb 08, 2013 Jack W Perry rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first Zen books I read (or attempted to read). I understand it, but then I don't understand it. So, it works - but does it? Let your mind be a blank slate. Try it.
Austin Kleon
Mar 17, 2013 Austin Kleon rated it really liked it
it was really surprising to me how much of this book applies to creativity and art.
Andreas Almén
Jul 27, 2015 Andreas Almén rated it really liked it
From a standpoint where I've never practice any meditation or known anything about Zen before, I think that Suzuki really explains the essence of the philosophy and what it really is about. And if you're not even interested in these things, there's a possibility to filter the information and translate it to everyday life. For example, don't be to obsessed by the goal when you're doing something, just do it en keep enjoy doing it. We've all done things only focusing on the goal and then been let ...more
Gerardo B.
Sep 04, 2014 Gerardo B. rated it it was amazing
Anima a la práctica del zazen y ahonda, con el más simple de los lenguajes, el más profundo de los existencialismos. Se pide mucho del lector y se le dan pautas y herramientas para que lo consiga, logrando con ello un aire de justo desafío que produce un sentido de empoderamiento y azuza la curiosidad y a la disciplina en partes iguales.

Es un libro que recomendaría a cualquiera que tenga en mayor o menor medida el hábito de mirar hacia adentro de sí mismo, pues permite un foco sin foco que expan
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What? 8 61 Jan 23, 2015 11:09AM  
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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
More about Shunryu Suzuki...

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“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” 241 likes
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” 92 likes
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