"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line of Shunryu Suzuki's classic. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen as to completely miss what it's all about. An instant teaching on the first page. And that's just the beginning.
In the thirty years since its original publication, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind "has become one of the great modern Zen classics, much beloved, much re-read, and much recommended as the best first book to read on Zen. Suzuki Roshi presents the basics from the details of posture and breathing in "zazen" to the perception of nonduality in a way that is not only remarkably clear, but that also resonates with the joy of insight from the first to the last page. It's a book to come back to time and time again as an inspiration to practice.
About the Author
The Zen master Shunryu Suzuki was an unassuming, much-beloved spiritual teacher. Born the son of a Zen master in 1904, Suzuki began Zen training as a youngster and matured over many years of practice in Japan. After continuing to devote himself to his priestly life throughout the Second World War (when priests often turned to other occupations), Suzuki came to San Francisco in 1959. While some priests had come to the West with "new suits and shiny shoes," Suzuki decided to come "in an old robe with a shiny [shaved] head." Attracting students over several years, Suzuki established the Zen Center in San Francisco, with a training temple at Tassajara-the first in the West. After a lengthy illness, he died of cancer in December 1971.
Winner of many writing awards including the Ernest Hemingway Award for short fiction. A disabled Vietnam Veteran called in one article "Vietnam's strangest Veteran" because he was wounded twice while on patrol with the 4th Infantry Division Band. An accomplished photographer and musician he was named by American Photo magazine as one of the world's best sports photographers and has played trumpet with many groups including Mel Torme' and Woody Herman. He often plays at Minh's Jazz Club, in Hanoi. He published "Calotype, " a photography magazine for students, and "Boxing Prospects," a news magazine for emerging boxers. He was formerly the road manager for boxing champion Roberto Duran. Exceptionally Qualified to Write "First a Torch" Because Baker lives part-time in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he is an editor of an English-speaking Vietnamese magazine, "Vietnam Cultural Widow," he is uniquely capable of telling the story from both sides of the conflict, something exceptional in literature where writers often struggle to see opposing viewpoints and cultures. He fully understands war, having participated in one, and its psychological impact. (His book "Looking for Jimmy Wilde" is used as a reference in several V.A. hospitals)
“One of the best and most succinct introductions to Zen practice.”—Library Journal
"This is one of the top five Buddhist books, ever."—Elephant