Created from a selection of lectures given by Master Shunryu Suzuki (May 18, 1904 – December 4 1971) Zen Mind Beginners Mind is a Simple, well rounded, deep and meaningful guide to those in all walks of life. Master Suzuki provides easy to follow instructions on how to sit and breathe while practicing Zazen, interesting observations one may come across while sitting/walking in meditation or during the cultivation of mindfulness, an introduction to the basic “beliefs” (though I use that word sparingly) of Soto Buddhists and Mahayana Buddhists in general, as well as bringing a creative form of humor through the use of “Monk Stories” and paradoxical teachings to try to awaken a sense of understanding and rattle your perception of reality at the same time.
To try and sum up the totality of the teachings brought forth through this simple and short book (being no longer than one hundred and seventy pages) would take far more than a tome of analog and analysis. Master Suzuki pulls from the other great masters of his tradition such as Dogen and Haikun to help “grasp by not grasping” onto some of the more fishy concepts. The main teaching that he touches back to time and time again however is to always keep your beginner’s mind, empty and free of illusion, “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”
Personally I love this little book and find myself coming back to it time and time again not only to reread it (which I have done more than I can count now) trying to find a new little nugget of wisdom from his simple explanations or just to open it to a random page for a bit of inspiration, but to look at the back of it to see his smiling humble face (the picture of him shown above, his wife hated but the world seems to love)which just by looking into his eyes one can tell his sincerity. Zen Mind Beginners Mind is and has been the first step for many on a path to self-understanding, but always remember that no matter how much you think you understand or think yourself a master you should seek to keep your Beginners boundless and infinite mind.