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Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice Paperback – April 1, 1973


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Weatherhill (April 1, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0834800799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0834800793
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (323 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A respected Zen master in Japan and 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 and 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 juicy excerpts from his lectures. From diverse topics such as transience of the world, sudden enlightenment, and the nuts and bolts of meditation, Suzuki always returns to the idea of beginner's mind, a recognition that our original nature is our true nature. With beginner's mind, we dedicate ourselves to sincere practice, without the thought of gaining anything special. Day to day life becomes our Zen training, and we discover that "to study Buddhism is to study ourselves." And to know our true selves is to be enlightened. --Brian Bruya

From Library Journal

In one of the best and most succinct introductions to Zen practice, the important teacher Shunryu Suzuki discusses posture and breathing in meditation as well as selflessness, emptiness, and mindfulness.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I have owned this book for a number of years and read it a couple of times.
William P. MacMonagle
I would recommend this book as a started book for anyone who has a beginning interest in Zen.
Raymond Adams
There are so many good books of all different kinds to read, if you like to read.
Warren J. Stout

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

519 of 528 people found the following review helpful By Kim Boykin on November 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of talks by one of the first Zen teachers in the U.S. If you're already practicing Zen, I highly recommend this book. If you're new to Zen, you might love this book or you might find it largely incomprehensible, or maybe both. Suzuki makes liberal use of the paradoxical language that is typical of Zen--e.g., "For us, complete perfection is not different from imperfection. The eternal exists because of non-eternal existence." If you'd prefer a more ordinary, explanatory style, I recommend Charlotte Joko Beck's "Everyday Zen." If you're looking for practical instruction in Zen meditation, you'll find it in "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," but you might prefer either Philip Kapleau's "The Three Pillars of Zen," which includes more detailed instructions and illustrations of sitting postures, or Cheri Huber's instructional video "The Secret Is There Are No Secrets."

When I first read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," for a college class on Buddhism, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but I did end up practicing Zen, and maybe this book had something to do with that. For many years, even while living at a Zen monastery, I suspected that a lot of the enthusiasm for this book was an "emperor's new clothes" phenomenon: a few respected people said it was wonderful, so then everybody said it was wonderful.
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112 of 119 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book took me out of the maze of faith-based religion and for the first time I found a teacher and a philosophy with so much credibility I had the confidence to trust in the more esoteric aspects of a teaching that weren't initially obvious. Suzuki, and I assume Zen in general, has the wisdom and courage to acknowedge that there are things about our universe that we cannot comprehend and treat them as both beautiful and mysterious. This contrasts with faith-based religions which instruct us to accept notions of "gods" and elaborate tales for explanation and as such are a complete assault on and violation of the intellect. Zen outlook which does away with the largely western notions of right & wrong, past and future, and states of lack will put one squarely in the present tense from moment to moment. It is utterly refreshing and healthy to look at the universe through glasses which are not colored by human desire and ego. Read this book, gain an understanding of yourself, an appreciation for the universe as a whole and piece of mind. Namaste
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135 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Bodhisattva on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Anyone interested in reading this book should not be dissuaded by the negative rantings of the "humble monk" and "Dharma teacher", whose reviews appear to be from the same person. This book does not disappoint. I first read it over 25 years ago and I've fondly returned to it time and again since.
This book is intended as a look at 'Zen Mind', mind at one with Tao. The term 'Beginner's Mind' refers to the goal of always keeping our original beginner's mind in our practice. To awaken to this mind, Suzuki encourages the practice of Zazen, for when we take the Zazen posture we are at once aligned with The Buddha and all of the Patriarchs, we perfectly express our own Buddha nature. The act of sitting itself is the actualization of Buddha Nature or Being. This IS the practice of Zen.
Zen is a practice, not a religion and as thus can not be blasphemed in the way that the negative reviewer asserts. Religion is an attitude of devotion to something other than yourself which is regarded as worthy of supreme devotion. Zen Buddhism is not the worship of Buddha. Buddha taught the way to eliminate the cause of human suffering and conflict, the way to awakening. Zen is the means to that end.
To the Dharma teacher and "Zen monk", I quote Zen Master Dogen Zenji's Bendowa. "You look on the meditation of the Buddhas and the supreme law as just sitting and doing nothing. You disparage Mahayana Buddhism. Your delusion is deep; you are like someone in the middle of the ocean crying out for water. Fortunately we are already sitting at ease in the self-joyous meditation of the Buddhas. Isn't this a great boon? What a pity that your true-eye remains shut - that your mind remains drunk.
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214 of 238 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Allen on February 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
I do not want to detract from this book's worth or wisdom in any way. No doubt the glowing reviews reflect the book's significance to the lives of those who have read and UNDERSTOOD it.

My only caveat is that for complete novices--like myself--the title is misleading, and therefore the book's teachings were not very accessible to me. The term "beginner's mind," as used in this work, refers to the idea of maintaining an open, childlike mind, and never acting or feeling as though one has ACHIEVED enlightenment. Be always searching, always growing.

"Beginner's mind" should NOT be taken as an indication that this is a book for those like myself who are newcomers to the study of Zen (i.e. "beginners"). Maybe you're an "old soul," but new to Zen, in which case, you may get more out of this book than I currently do.

As someone who instinctively feels that Zen has something BIG to offer me if only I can understand what the hell the books on Zen are talking about, this is NOT a good introduction. Zen terminology is thrown around as though I already know what the terms mean. The description of poses (without benefit of pictures) is confusing, and I must admit that I [shallowly?] found myself ticked off: if I couldn't figure out a stinking pose (or even get BEYOND the fact that I couldn't figure it out), how on earth was I "deep enough" to get my foot on the path to enlightenment?

For anyone who, like myself, needs something a little more concrete to get me started, something I can sink my literal Western teeth into, this ain't the book!
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