“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. 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 forty years since its original publication, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind has become one of the great modern Zen classics, much beloved, much reread, 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, and it is now available to a new generation of seekers in this fortieth anniversary edition, with a new afterword by Shunryu Suzuki’s biographer, David Chadwick.
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.
David Chadwick has been the pastor of Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1980. He played basketball at and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, then joined a professional basketball league for three years in Europe. He has MDiv and DM degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary.
“[This] is a different book every time I read it. Behind the simplicity, it is dense with Zen wisdom that flashes like lightning as you read and reread.”—Jon Lebkowskyl, Millennium Whole Earth Catalog
“One of the best, and most succinct, introductions to Zen practice.”—Library Journal
“This is one of the top five Buddhist books, ever.”—Elephant