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Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Shunryu Suzuki, Trudy Dixon, Huston Smith, Richard Baker, David Chadwick · 10 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
"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 spiritual 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.
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Jan 29, 2020 · blueyes on Being a Noob
This is similar to the idea of Beginner's Mind in Zen. Shunryu Suzuki wrote about it in this book:

Which influenced Steve Jobs, among others. It's a great read.

I just want to share that I'm finding the practice of Zen meditation in the context of its overall philosophy to be profoundly helpful. I've read a substantial number of books on the subject. Books are only useful as pointers for how to practice; knowledge alone is useless in Zen. You have to practice, period. But the best books are useful as pointers for how to practice. And if anyone here is interested in exploring Zen, the single book that I feel does the best job of giving you what you need to really practice is "Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice" by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi[1]. "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" [2] is also a wonderful book, and it's where I started. Its poetic manner of expression made me feel there was something there that I needed to explore. But the Uchiyama book just takes the cake for being very clear and down-to-earth, without watering down either the practice or the philosophy. After that it's helpful to read commentaries on writings by Dogen. And, ideally, sitting regularly with other folks in a Zen center is extremely helpful. Avoid overly simplistic beginner's Zen books. I can't recommend them because they seem to distort the essence in an attempt to make it seem as approachable as possible.



I was recently given this list of books by some very skilled engineers who I trust

1. [The Pragmatic Programmer]( 2. Martin Fowler's [Refactoring Book]( 3. Kent Beck's [Test Driven Development: By Example]( 4. [Thinking in Systems: A Primer]( 5. [Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice]( 6. [Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware](

Here's some reading I did that helped me:

Zen Mind Beginners Mind - I'm not religious in the slightest but I knew a part of my problem was that I wasn't really being self aware. I had friend that was into meditation and swore it helped him be more self aware. So I picked up this book and read it along side using the Headspace app to get into meditation. I use it as a moment of calm and clarity, to regain my thoughts, and refocus. Especially when I feel procrastination kicking in. It helped me calm down and identify why I was procrastinating and often come up with a plan to deal with whatever was making me want to procrastinate. I found I was often thinking or focusing or stressing about something else instead of focusing on me and my wants.

The Now Habit - This was a book a friend of mine recommended to me. They said it helped them breakout of the rut they felt they were stuck in. It definitely helped me a bit. At the very least it helped me identify the things I wanted to do and do them. While also enjoying myself with the "Guilt Free Play" he talks about being important.

7 Habits of Highly Successful People: This book was another friend recommendation, that helped me focus on and deal with my own internal issues that was encouraging my procrastination. I was able to start identifying them and working on them.

It took me about 6 months of diligent work to get myself out of my procrastinating funk and get myself to a place where I was starting to be happy with what I did. I still occasionally break these books out and go over them, I still meditate to help me keep focused, etc. There isn't some quick fix to deal with it, but I believe you can learn to manage and deal with your procrastination like I have.

If you like Alan Watts you might enjoy Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice from Shunryu Suzuki.

If you like that, I'd further recommend the biography of Suzuki, Crooked Cucumber. It's an interesting read.
Thank you very much :) I'll definitely check it out.
And if you like that, I'd recommend "Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen" which feels like a continuation of "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind"
Jun 02, 2015 · bkudria on Ask HN: Buddhism

What The Buddha Taught: A straightforward overview of the foundations of Buddhism.

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism: In your journey, your ego will be tempted to claim your spirituality for itself. Don't let that happen.

Mindfulness In Plain English: A classic introduction to meditation.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: A mind-opening taste of Zen, and a classic. Read with your heart, not your brain.

Other recommended Zen authors: Seung Sahn. Taizan Maezumi. Brad Warner. The aforementioned Alan Watts.

Also, an invaluable online resource:, especially essays by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

There are also many fantastic essays on Tricycle:

Finally: reading about Buddhism is like reading about the most delicious food. It won't satisfy your hunger. It's mind-medicine - only for your mind. The only soul-medicine is sitting down every day on a cushion and looking at a white wall. (Or variations thereof.) You cannot reach enlightenment and save all beings from suffering by reading a book. Don't take my word for it - you have to see for yourself.

Check out Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind for a good book on practicing meditation. It's not religious, but basically a transcript of a Zen Master's talks on zen and the practice of meditation to his group of students. It's what I recommend to people who want to 'get' meditation.

Not specifically related to meditation, but The Tao of Pooh is still the best book I know of that deals with the concepts behind this stuff. I re-read these books whenever I lose my way, which happens more often than I'd like to admit ;)

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind — Shunryu Suzuki [1]

Body by Science — Doug McGuff, MD and John Little [2]



I got started by reading Meditation in plain English:

I thought it was a pretty good intro. Not a scientific approach but there are some research papers on meditation. Have not run across a book.

I am now beginning to read Zen mind beginners mind:

Only just started so can't comment. Seems more advanced but I have heard great things about it.

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