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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Two Suzuki Zen Masters
This book is, in fact, probably the very best introduction to Zen Buddhism for Americans. It is short, informal, yet well written.
Shunryu Suzuki, the author of this book, is not of the same school of Zen as D.T. Suzuki, who wrote many more books and is probably better known. Shunryu was of the Soto school of Zen, while D.T. belonged to the Rinzai school.
To the...
Published on Feb. 7 2004

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, if you are a practicioner...
I read this book with curiosity and awe!
I am confident that Suzuki is a person of great depth however reading the book isn't much of a substitute to hearing his teachings first-hand. It is made clear that the talks he gave (which are summarised in this book) would follow Zen meditation by his group and the talks themselves don't mean anything without the support of...
Published on June 28 2002 by Dr. Gege GATT


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Two Suzuki Zen Masters, Feb. 7 2004
By A Customer
This book is, in fact, probably the very best introduction to Zen Buddhism for Americans. It is short, informal, yet well written.
Shunryu Suzuki, the author of this book, is not of the same school of Zen as D.T. Suzuki, who wrote many more books and is probably better known. Shunryu was of the Soto school of Zen, while D.T. belonged to the Rinzai school.
To the beginner, the differences might seem small. Both schools practice sitting meditation, called zazen. But Rinzai puts more emphasis on the experience of Satori, which I will not explain here (and is hardly explainable, anyhow). Soto Zen, and Shunryu in this book, emphasizes just sitting and practicing zazen. He does not dwell on Satori, in fact, I don't even think he mentions it.
In any event, I highly recommend this book as an introduction to Zen. Shunryu tells you about real Soto Zen practice -- not history, or theoretical concepts. It can be read in an evening, and can be re-read for years.
You can later proceed to other books on Zen; by D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Christmas Humphreys, or others, including John C. H. Wu. Thich Nhat Hanh is very popular too, and has written many books. He is Vietnamese, while both of the Suzukis were Japanese. I believe that Nhat Hanh is of the Soto school, but I could be wrong. Most other authors should be avoided until you are more familiar with Zen. (Beware especially of the shallow, even flippant, Zen books, which usually begin with the words "Zen and the ..." They have little value.) Just remember that Zen Buddism has two main schools: Soto and Rinzai. Also, Zen is a special form of Buddhism -- kind of like Quakers being a special form of Christianity -- and is not necessarily representative of Buddishm as a whole.
Zen was heavily influenced by Taoism. So if you really want to go deeper, consider getting a translation of the Tao Te Ching -- I highly recommend the version by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo, but the translation by John C. H. Wu is good and very popular, plus he is Chinese by birth.
Finally, both Shunryu Suzuki and D.T. Suzuki definitely agree on one thing; Zen is about practice, not about books or even about ideas. Zen is not a philosophy. If you really want to understand Zen, then you will need to find a Zendo (meditation center or temple) and a teacher. And sit!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is Buddhism? What is Zen?, July 6 2004
By A Customer
This book will not answer either of those questions. Therefore it should get 0 stars. However, I think it deserves 5 stars.
Religious or philosophical traditions are among the most difficult to pass from one generation to the next without bollixing up the original spirit of the tradition. When Siddhartha experienced enlightenment 2500 years ago, did he envision all the crazy schizms, sects, misinterpretations, and frauds that would ensue as a result of his teachings? YES. But he decided to teach his experiences anyway.
To many, religion is all about dogma or exactly how to practice it. If you don't kneel correctly at the right time of day or cut a fart in the middle of silent meditation, then you are a permanent failure and can never achieve the perfection that your guru/god is trying to teach you.
Others abandon religion entirely, and say that you should reject any dogma that tells you what to believe and how to think. Organized religion is just a perpetual Multi-Level Marketing scheme, where the only way to be successful is to convince everyone else that you've found the truth and get them to pass it on. Evangelical Christianity is obviously the best example of this, but some people see elements of it in all religions, and they have a point.
Is there a middle ground? I think so, even though it's sooo easy to slip to one side or the other. My goal is to find inspiration in different traditions, understand and respect them, and also to explore the elements that I don't agree with (Judeo-Christian-Islamic fundamentalism, for example). What can I do to build a bridge between myself and people with these beliefs?
I find that reading works such as Zen Mind, Beginners Mind nurture that middle path. It doesn't give step-by-step instructions for achieving perfection, but by walking with Shunryu Suzuki for a few hours and listening to his conversation you get a glimpse of what it means to be alive and aware of what's happening around you. You don't learn Buddhist dogma (whatever that is), and you don't learn how to reject all other religions or philosophies, you just get to enjoy reading the words of a kinder, gentler person. To you he is giving the gift of his thoughts which you can either take and use or reject and go look for something else.
If you feel that this book is new-age trash or baffling mumbo-jumbo, I hope you're able to find whatever's right for you and that it enriches your life accordingly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for "Nothing Special?" You Bet., Feb. 23 2004
So much of religion is tedious and unnecessary theological exposition, clergymen and laypeople arguing over historical accounts or trying to decide whether adherents should be allowed to worship this or that. This kind of prosaic religion is not really religion at all because it is not directed toward that which is ultimately true and real. But Shunryu Suzuki, in an attempt to show us what it truly means to see and experience the world to our fullest potential, deftly side-steps almost everything that we normally associate with religion, including worship, philosophy, and moralizing. This is, of course, in the spirit of Buddhism and, in particular, Zen with its rigorous and practical emphasis on pure and simple meditation.
This book is a compilation of talks given by Suzuki to his American Zen students. While reading, I can just imagine the Zen master sitting there baffling every possible expectation that they had of their own practice. After all, you never know what a Zen master will say or do next and Suzuki is no exception. Most ironic is his ability to illogically defy logic and somehow come out on top every time. When confronted with the skeptic's hammer of reason, Suzuki counters with his Zen sledge-hammer, crushing the comparatively puny weapon of duality with his sweeping monistic blow. Actually, his is more of an empty blow--not really a blow at all. This naturalness is what makes Zen so appealing.
After finishing the book, I tried to sit and think of what I'd learned. What I found was that I couldn't really say anything. For anything that I could say about Zen is bound to be wrong. Suzuki does not offer philosophy or theology...he offers a way of life. I think, if I had to sum up his entire attitude, I would say "just sit." That is, just meditate. It is rather odd when you think about it, all this talk over "nothing special." On more than one occasion I've turned the book over to look at his photograph on the back cover. It is almost as if everything you'd ever need to know is in that face. He seems to be saying, like a long-lost acquaintance: "What? You know me."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, March 16 2012
This review is from: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Paperback)
Very good product, I got it very quickly and I am very happy with this purchase. I recommend it to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Zen Book, July 1 2004
By A Customer
As a Chinese artist in the West, I think this is the best Zen book I have read!!! It is a powerful weapon, which helps people realize the ultimate reality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST IN ZEN LITERATURE, May 29 2004
By 
ERIC KAUFFMANN (Rochester, NY USA) - See all my reviews
filled with enlightening points and ideas to provoke thought and inspire meditation practice, Zen Mind, Beginners' Mind is the most effective book on zen I've ever read, and I've read plenty of books on the subject. Also, be sure to check out Kaplau's "The Three Pillars of Zen," which takes a more direct approach to expaining the practice of zen and does so magnificently. Five Stars for both!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, April 5 2004
After having read this book, I can say that I throughly enjoyed it. The style of writing is easy to follow, and often I would just sit and read loseing all track of time. I would like to point out that this isn't "pop-buddhism." Zen is not understood in the exact same way. Hunt around through yoru fav. search engine, and you'll find quickly how they differ. In closing I would also like to say that while I did throughly enjoy this book, I will probably be re-reading it at some point to pick up on things I may have missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential book for a zen-minded reader's bookshelf, March 21 2004
By 
Chris Fendrich (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Every time I pick up this small book to read a short chapter or two, Shunryu Suzuki's words are as fresh and new as if I've read them the first time. And I come away thinking of life, not in our society's terms of goal-oriented productivity, but in terms of the quality of my self-expression, the sincerity of my behavior in the present moment. In that respect, the author's view of zen practice is not of a process whereby one can arrive at enlightenment, but as a way of being deeply in touch with what is going on right now. And through-out he reveals how precious and sacred the present moment really is. I highly recommend this book; it is a tribute to life itself.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a "beginners" manual!, June 7 2004
After reading several reviews where the reviewer got this mistaken impression from the title, I felt I had to say something.
I love this book, but it is NOT a manual for how to begin the practice of Zen. The Beginner's Mind refers to a state of being, an attitude that Suzuki-roshi urged his students to adopt - one where the mind is open and supple and able to receive the wisdom of being in this world in this very moment.
I truly love these essays and what they reveal of Suzuki-roshi's heart and his understanding of Zen. But if you want a "how to", this is not the place to start. I might recommend An Invitation to Practice Zen by Albert Low as a short, beginner's manual for how to actually practice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for Zen, April 22 2014
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This review is from: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Paperback)
This a great book for beginner who would like to learn Zen, and its price is well-reasonable.

The greatest book ever.
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Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (Paperback - June 28 2011)
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