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Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shambhala Library) Hardcover – October 10, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 436 customer reviews

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Library
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; 1 edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590302672
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590302675
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (436 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
ZEN MIND, BEGINNER'S MIND : Informal talks on Zen Meditation and practice by Shunryu Suzuki. Edited by Trudy Dixon, with a Preface by Huston Smith and an Introduction by Richard Baker. 138 pp. New York and Tokyo : Weatherhill, 1970 and Reprinted.
Some years ago I undertook a fairly extensive program of reading in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism and in Zen. Most of my Zen books have since disappeared. Only the choicest remain, among which is Shunryu Suzuki's 'Zen Mind Beginner's Mind.'
Buddhism may be said to have begun with the enlightement of the Buddha. Many centuries later, however, when Buddhism entered China, an incredibly elaborate and complex superstructure of Indian scholastic thought had grown up around the Buddha's original insight. The Chinese, with their basically down-to-earth and common sense attitude, had little use for Indian over-elaboration and set about ridding Buddhism of it.
The Chinese, as Lin Yutang says, believe in a reasonable use of reason, and not in reason's excesses. The end product of their effort to rid Buddhist thought of its heavy freight of scholasticism, and to shift the emphasis from theory back to the practical by centering Buddhism once again in the enlightenment experience, became what the Chinese know as Ch'an and the Japanese as Zen.
As Shunryu Suzuki himself pointed out, when freed of unnecessary theory and speculation, Buddhism as Zen becomes something that is basically "quite simple" (page 64). Its essence was brilliantly captured in the thirty-one verses of Third Patriarch Seng-ts'an's 'Hsin-hsin-ming,' the very first Zen treatise in verse. This is a beautiful text that deserves to be far better known, and an easily accessible translation will be found in D. T.
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