Most helpful critical review
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Misleading title for a possibly great book
on February 3, 2007
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! I believe I personally need something a little less esoteric to start with, a book that bridges the gap between my VERY literal-minded Western upbringing and the much LESS literal mindset required of adherents of eastern religion/philosophy.
I also believe that if I am able to bridge that gap (using other resources), THEN I will be able to appreciate this book's teachings and will certainly come back to it.