Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind By Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki was a Zen monk and teacher who helped popularize Buddhism in the United States. Zen Mind, Beginner’s mind is a compilation of his teachings transcribed by his students.

RATING: 4/5

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KEY TAKEAWAYS:

• In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

• “Now it is raining, but we don’t know what will happen in the next moment. By the time we go out it may be a beautiful day, or a stormy day. Since we don’t know, let’s appreciate the sound of the rain now.”

• Even though you try to put people under control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in a wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good. That is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.

• Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.

• Calmness of mind does not mean you should stop your activity. Real calmness should be found in activity itself. We say, “It is easy to have calmness in inactivity, it is hard to have calmness in activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.

• When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, you observe what his way is.

• When you say something to someone, he may not accept it, but do not try to make him understand it intellectually. Do not argue with him; just listen to his objections until he himself finds something wrong with them.

• Try not to force your idea on someone, but rather think about it with him. If you feel you have won the discussion, that also is the wrong attitude. Try not to win in the argument; just listen to it.

• We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.

• You should have a general house cleaning of your mind. You must take everything out of your room and clean it thoroughly. If it is necessary, you may bring everything back in again. You may want many things, so one by one you can bring them back in. But if they are not necessary, there is no need to keep them.

• The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything. So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others.

• When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.

• Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views.

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