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The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  179 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Here is a comprehensive introduction to Zen Buddhism for those who don't know how or where to begin, nor what to expect once they have started practicing. It includes the fundamentals of meditation practice (posture, technique, clothing), descriptions of the basic teachings and major texts, the teacher-student relationship, and what you will find when you visit a zendo, pl ...more
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published (first published 2000)
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Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very broad, not very deep, introduction. Really, much more of an orientation into Zen practice (sitting meditation, finding a community of practitioners and what to expect when you go to your first sesshin or meditation retreat, etc.) as it was an introduction into Buddhist beliefs and Zen Buddhism in particular. I think I would have preferred buying Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind instead; the stuff in this book could have been found in a half hour of Google surfing. Still, it delivered wh ...more
Haven't I read that before?: While Smith's book is a very good introduction to Zen for Americans who have no background in Buddhism, I have one complaint. In at least two sections, Smith quotes verbatim from her collection Zen 365, without acknowledging the original sources. In Beginners Introduction to Zen, it appears as Smith's own words. In Zen 365, these passages are attributed to someone else. Very disconcerting. Otherwise, it is a competent introduction and I enjoyed reading it.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
For someone who has little or no experience with or exposure to Buddhism in general, or Zen in particular, this book would be a good place to start. Smith begins with an outline of practice (how-to instructions on meditation, etc.) and then gives a brief outline of the teachings of Buddhism, particularly as reflected in Zen.

I've been reading about Buddhism (and sometimes practicing meditation) for over thirty years, so for me, there wasn't really anything new in this book. As I said, though, it
Patrick Coakley
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism is a solid entry text that covers most of the general topics in Zen Buddhism without being too drawn out. While it does a solid job of explaining what makes Zen unique, I think it could have included a bit more detail on the practices of the Rinzai and Soto schools. It also has a lackluster conclusion, with the last two chapters dedicated to extra resources instead of giving any strong closing remarks or wrapping everything together. Still, I enjoyed it, and ...more
Apr 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Beginner's Guide to Zen Buddhism is both fantastic and flawed. It is a valuable resource for beginners in establishing a basic mediation method, understanding the basic structure of Zen practice, and learning, albeit briefly, some of the history of Zen.

This book's brevity is also part of its flaws. Short books is the norm for Zen studies, but this book claims to be a beginner's guide while glossing over much of the actual cognitive aspects of Zen. Couple this with the book's age, and it's v
Laura Lynch
This book gave me a broad overview of Zen Buddhism. It discussed the practice of meditation and later joining a group where there are certain protocols. The book also touched on the basic history, teachings and texts that are the foundations of Buddhism.

I learned that the key to Buddhism is mindfulness (now). I also found out more about the four truths that address suffering which is often caused by the desire for things to be different from the way they are. If one can accept things as they ar
Jordan Palmer
This is, as it is titled, a very simple introduction to Zen Buddhism. I cannot tell if I enjoyed it a little more or a little less than a person reading it with no background whatsoever in Zen. In college, I took an Asian religions class that went a bit more in depth and I have visited a Zen temple before.
Overall, I found it to be a nice refresher, a primer almost, to a subject I am looking to reacquaint myself with. Smith's instructions for how to begin your medication practice are helpful and
David Wu
Good intro, though the formatting could be better. I liked how they listed out the practice for you to get into immediately, however the Dharma teachings could be more relatable and applicable to the reader's life.
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beginners in Buddhism
Recommended to Justin by: no one
Great general introduction to the religion as well as a general description of some other schools of buddhist thought. I especially appreciated the comparison between Mahayana and Therevada Buddhism.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned more about Zen Buddhism and Buddhist customs. It sounds complicated, though.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for anyone interested in learning about Zen Buddhism.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A broad overview that basically tells you what to expect to learn if you employ a teacher for zen buddhism. More of an informational guide than a how to.
Mark Terry
A good general introduction, but not much meat on the bones.
Jennifer Kyrnin
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swap
This was a Buddhist book that I really was able to get into. It was easy to read and accessible. It made Buddhism interesting and something I wanted to learn more about.
Holli B
Jun 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in visiting a zendo.
Shelves: refrence
Very practical easy to read introduction with a focus on the practice of Zen Buddhism in the United States.
Alex Kartelias
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Jan 31, 2014
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