Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Although Shunryu Suzuki dedicates Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind to his own master (Gyokujun So-On-Daiosho), its true purpose is to provide the Zen beginner with time-honored wisdom.  Suzuki compiled his essays in three parts, each titled: ‘Right Practice,’ ‘Right Attitude,’ and ‘Right Understanding.’  His essential message being that the beginner who lacks presuppositions about the Zen arts is actually the practitioner who is best poised to succeed.


According to Suzuki, when the burden of mental obstacles is lessened our resolving power to distinguish Form from Emptiness heightens.  When the mind stops altogether only oneness remains.  Suzuki asserts that the challenges here are typically greater while carrying out physical tasks (cooking, cleaning, etc.).  To this effect, Zen Buddhists consider ordinary life to be our most intrinsic purpose as human beings.  In this way, the subtle practice of meditation brings about personal development.

Suzuki writes about obtaining wonderful powers through the art of Zen. And although he does not write about the benefits of kriya yoga, per say, many noteworthy Zen masters have also become proficient in yoga in order to manage the physical demands of ordinary life.  In both cases, once these abilities are obtained the practitioner eventually realizes that these are nothing special.  I believe that the truest distinction between the Yoga and Zen simply reflects differences in each’s cultural roots.




One thought on “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

  1. i like this. my favorite part – “To this effect, Zen Buddhists consider ordinary life to be our most intrinsic purpose as human beings.” thank you Bryan.


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