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Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen Paperback – Jun 2 2009
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If you can imagine Zen Existentialism, Not Always So is it. Part instruction manual for Zen practice and part philosophical meditation, Shunryu Suzuki's teachings emphasize being-in-the-world. He does not point toward a singular enlightenment-event as a burst into higher consciousness. Rather, he suggests a more experiential enlightenment that finds meaning in a full awareness of the present. For example: "If you go to the rest room, there is a chance for enlightenment. When you cook, there is a chance for enlightenment. When you clean the floor, there is a chance to attain enlightenment."
Shunryu Suzuki was an important emissary of Zen Buddhism to the United States. Establishing a Zen center in San Francisco in the 1960s, he attracted many noted pupils, including this book's editor, Edward Espe Brown. In fact, Not Always So is Brown's collection of Suzuki's teachings during his last years, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
No doubt some readers will want to wrestle with the often paradoxical nature of Zen teachings. And those from the Western philosophical tradition may find vast differences between the Western system that takes its cue from Descartes' cogito and the Eastern one that emphasizes the destruction of the ego. Says Suzuki: "It is just your mind that says you are here and I am there, that's all. Originally we are one with everything." While the book does not wrestle with cultural-philosophical differences, it is nevertheless a good introduction to Zen. Suzuki's teachings tend to flow from simple stories, usually drawn from his own experiences. It's almost entirely free of the jargon that clutters many books on Buddhism, and the teachings are communicated with clarity and brevity. --Eric de Place --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Contrary to Zen's principle of "nothing special," Brown (The Tassajara Bread Book; Tassajara Cooking) has indeed produced something very special: an edited collection of talks by beloved Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki, who died in 1971. It is impossible to overestimate the sustained impact of Suzuki's 1970 classic, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, a world-renowned bestseller. Brown, ordained by Suzuki in 1971 after six years of study under him, has edited transcriptions that both read well on the page and capture the style, humor and solid grasp evident in the first volume. But this is no Zen Mind sequel, and will prove highly valuable to anyone, rank novice or zazen master. These 35 talks, delivered shortly before Suzuki's death from cancer, sparkle with simple freshness and familiarity: "Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well. The Buddha's teaching is not about the food itself but about how it is grown, and how to take care of it." Suzuki's messages are like deceptive pools of water, shimmering with surface possibilities that provoke stronger swimmers to aim for the depths. Suzuki, too, beckons us to the deeper reaches of learning, becoming "a wise, warm-hearted friend, [and] an unseen companion in the dark." Again we are blessed with more of his superb vision.
- an unseen companion in the dark." Again we are blessed with more of his superb vision.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Life is a process of learning. But learning alone is simply not enough. There isn't a good practice or a bad practice, there is only practice. That means you, "vow to save all beings suffering everywhere." That's not good or bad. That's your job. Roshi Suzuki helps each and everyone of us step into the world that is eternally present and free from all opposites. Where everything we encounter is, "Just like this." Only that. Every action leads to understanding, so please don't separate anything; this is Roshi's most precious gem he has left behind for all of us. Buddhist life is just life. It's going to work, caring for the garden, and taking a walk. I do hope you'll buy this book so you may step into the world of practice as stated by Suzuki here, because it's the key to all of the happiness humanity can ever know. The happiness of no happiness. Hopefully you understand that point. As Korean master Seung Sahn would likewise state, "Only go straight." Enjoy this book.
This book is great for a beginner and great for ANYONE INTERESTED IN ZEN. I'm a tough critic and if I like it you will love it. If I were you, you would be me and be telling me to buy it. It's a good book it lays out all of the basics for you.
Most recent customer reviews
The prequel to this book is Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. I mentioned it improperly in my previous review.Published on Dec 26 2002 by J Osorio
Although I could not fail to enjoy anything collected from the speeches and writings of Suzuki, this book was not as meaningful to me as the first book for which it is the sequel,... Read morePublished on Dec 26 2002 by J Osorio
I just want to clarify something written in a previous review, that seems to suggest some sort of consistency between Suzuki roshi's teaching and Kapleau's. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2002 by B. Roessler
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