on July 9, 2017
Reading this book is like sitting with a teacher. The energy of it is clear and light, open. Its intent is to share its understanding, its observations.

On first reading, I understood very little of what it was trying to convey. Sentences in English, easy enough to read, but conveying concepts that clearly went deeply beneath the words to a place that I didn’t comprehend and couldn’t feel.

I’ve since re-read it and now, continually re-read sections of it! Its instruction cannot really be conveyed via language alone. The concepts have to be absorbed in combination with meditation, intent and an openness to different ways of looking at life. Each sentence becomes a phrase to study and meditate on. Eventually, the meaning of the words start to appear as if birds in a wood when you are looking for them. Everything quiets down and then they appear to you, though they’ve always been there.

Over time, my understanding of the book has changed from it being a lecture, a ‘this is how you should do it’ instructional to a ‘look, this is how it can work’ observation - an understanding of how it is possible to live with straight forward and simple, profound joy.

It is one of my go-to resources for spiritual guidance and calm beauty.
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on March 30, 2014
I have considered myself a Buddhist for many years but have recently been studying it more in depth. So many of my resources refer to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that I simply had to get it. I found the reading to be a little on the tedious side, yet the end result would be so simple. Maybe it's more difficult to explain a simple concept. Suzuki would begin each factor with a head-scratching phrase and then would proceed in describing it and explaining it in more depth. Eventually, through many various attempts, the ah-hah would reveal itself, much as a sculpture reveals itself after much chiseling. In repeated explanations about zazen, the simple method is to do whatever you do in the moment, without comparison or focus on an end result, the future, or the past. An analogy would be to exercise for exercise-sake, not to improve your health or build muscle. And do it every day without judgment. In other words, adopt the Nike slogan and "just do it." That's enlightenment. However, don't focus on enlightenment and don't do it to attain enlightenment or it's not true enlightenment and not true zazen. Get what I mean about complex yet simple??
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on September 1, 2016
At the time I read “Beginner's Mind”, I was a hardcore Theravadan Buddhist. But, between this & 2 other notable books,
my conception of Meditation (and the 'spiritual path', as we call it) drastically shifted.

"Beginner's Mind" is arranged into chapters/vignettes of short, 3-page talks. Suzuki's wisdom is simple, clear, & effective.
His talks help clarify the proper mental attitude with which to practice zazen [sitting-meditation], and by consequence, he clarifies the spiritual path in general.

-Paul C.

**the 2 other notable books were: “Be As You Are: the Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi” &
“Midnights with the Mystic” (teachings of Sadhguru, Jagadish Vasudev)
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on August 16, 2018
I have been practicing meditation and mindfulness for over 20 years and teaching it for over ten years. I also lived as a monk for six years in forest monasteries in South East Asia.

Someone asked me: "I have a question for you - if there is just one book on meditation / mindfulness that you can suggest, what would it be?"

Great question. This question made me pause and reflect. After an inner scan of the countless titles that have deepened my understanding of this profound subject, one stood out clearly.

I would recommend...

"Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunyru Suzuki Roshi.

Why this particular book? What sets it apart?

It is about the correct attitude with which to approach our practice. It also offers a method, but doesn't make a big deal about it. There are actually a million meditation methods and a million books extolling the virtues of their own particular method. However that is actually not most important. When the attitude is right, any method will bear abundant fruit. Indeed even without any method we will benefit. Our life will be illumined. When the attitude is off, the world's most profound teacher, teaching and method will miss the mark.

In a way this book crushes our rosy ideas about meditation. It doesn't make tall promises about the benefits of meditation. Instead it punctures all our tyres. There is no where else we can go. This is the wisdom of no escape. We are forced to face ourselves right where we are.

The chapters are short. Each offers a slap. Some are back slaps of encouragement. Some are face slaps challenging our foolishness. They all slap us back into the present. The taste of these slaps linger. Good strong medicine.

This book takes everything away. It offers nothing in return. All that remains is a vast open space where life can flow and love can play. This is why this book is precious. This is why I recommend this book.
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on March 11, 2018
I bought my first copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind at the George Mason University bookstore back in the mid 1980s (when college bookstores actually sold worthwhile books for eager minds). I've returned to it a few times over the years. My son read it and loaned it to someone else, so I just bought a copy through a used dealer on Amazon today (the Weatherhill edition, like the one I had, rather than the current Shambhala edition). Shunryu Suzuki offers an excellent discussion of Zen practice, one that might even assist a monkey-minded onlooker such as myself. Highly recommended, but not for those who aren't already thoroughly acquainted with the literature.
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on May 16, 2015
This is one of the best basic books in Zen literature for the Western mind. There are short chapters dealing with the importance of sitting posture and ways to quiet the mind. It is a book that is based on a series of lectures that Suzuki developed for people in the U.S.A. I have used this book as a reference book for my life and return to it often to center my life when things seem to be getting a bit off-kilter. What is good is that each one of the chapters has a heading regarding an aspect of daily life. It is not full of 'doctrine' or detailed teachings, but gently explains some of the thinking behind this way of meditation and how it fits into the Buddhist tradition, specifically Zen Buddhism. I am a Christian, but find this very helpful in my daily walk.
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on October 28, 2011
As I'm thinking about what to write for a review - I found myself scanning the pages again to find some `buzz phrases'. Within this book, you will discern some beautifully poetic lines concerning everyday life. Rather than describe the book, I want to list a few of these precious gems with the intention that we should all implement these teachings in our daily life...

"In your mind you create an idea of place separate from an actual time". How true is this? Nobody is saying not to plan ahead. Everyone must plan for school, work, everyday life etc. On the other hand, as human beings, we overdo everything. There is only one time - here/now. Stop wasting your life and appreciate the only moment you have -- this one.

"The true purpose of ZEN is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes". This is much easier said than done. It almost gives a feeling of resist nothing but just let things happen. Of course, we have to determine in life when and where the right time to step in is, but again, I think as human beings, we think we can control everything. Instead we should realize how things fit together, and simply watch them come and go of their own accord.

"When you can do everything, whether it is good or bad, without disturbance or without being annoyed by the feeling, that is actually what we mean by form is form, and emptiness is emptiness. Knowing that your life is short, to enjoy it day after day, moment after moment, is the life of form is form, and emptiness is emptiness". This one truly speaks for itself so, must I go on?

Needless to say, this book will be reread...
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on December 17, 2015
This was an assigned textbook in my Buddhism course, and I found myself reading the entire book cover to cover, rather than stopping at the required pages. It draws the reader in and flows well, keeping interest and providing insight. Whether you are studying the art of meditation or simply want to open your mind, this is the book for you. I habitually felt calmer after reading these pages and reflecting on them. This is one "textbook" I plan to hold on to!
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on March 9, 2017
Love it, one of my favorite books on zen and buddhism. I really enjoy how Suzuki breaks the book down into short chapters - makes it ideal for reading a chapter or two with my morning meditation.

Would recommend this book to anyone, and even beginners shouldn't have any trouble reading it. I love this book and will reread it many times.
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on January 21, 2018
Funny thing about this book. The longer I practice, the better the book becomes. I sometimes recommend this book when I'm asked for an introductory book about Buddhism. I always give the same advice. Read it, then study and sit for 6 months and read it again. Read it slowly and contemplate deeply as you go. For me it has been much more than 6 months of practice but I can say I always find a great simplicity to the path when rereading this wonderful book. Buddhism is a wonderfully simple practice but sometimes is made to appear complex or even nonsensical because of the limitations of the English language.
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