Book Summary: Zen Mind, Beginnger's Mind By Shunryu Suzuki

Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Everything about this book, from the pages, to the smell, to the content gave me a big sense of peace and detachment. It makes for a very nice and meditative read.
Published: October 19, 2020 Reading Time: 3 minutes rating: 9


This was the first book I read about Buddhism and Zen practice. It is a beautifully written book. It will give you peace and it will help you understand what meditation is all about.

Below my highlights.

Notes and Highlights

If you had a limitless life it would be a real problem for you.

This is the purpose of Zen teaching —to make you wonder and answer the wondering with the deepest expression of your own nature.

The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything.

The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.

When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something.

Doing something is expressing our own nature. We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.

Not-to-do something is doing something. Good and bad are only in your mind. So we should not say, “This is good,” or “This is bad.” Instead of saying bad, you should say, “not-to-do”! If you thin, “This is bad,” it will create some confusion for you.

Those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it. So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one.

So to find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice.

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”.

Bowing helps to eliminate our self-centered ideas. This is not so easy. It is difficult to get rid of these ideas, and bowing is a very valuable practice.

In order to find out how dough became perfect bread, he made it over and over again, until he became quite successful. That was his practice.

It is necessary for us to keep the constant way. Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.

Usually when you do something, you want to achieve something, you attach some result. From achievement to non-achievement means to be rid of the unnecessary and bad results of effort. If you do something in the spirit of non-achievement, there is a good quality in it. So just to do something without any particular effort is enough.

In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do.

Our teaching is to live, always in reality, in its exact sense. To make our effort, moment after moment, is our way. To an exact sense, the only thing we actually can study in our life is that on which we are working in each moment.

Whether it is separated into drops or not, water is water. Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore, and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

We should accept things just as they are. This is how we understand everything, and how we live in this world.