Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (Quotes and Excerpts)

Meditative quotes on the nature of Zen, the practice and enlightenment by the Japanese Sōtō Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, taken from his influential book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice.

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Shunryu Suzuki Quote: If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.
If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.
Shunryu Suzuki
This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.
Shunryu Suzuki
Shunryu Suzuki Quote: Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.
Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.
Shunryu Suzuki
What we call "I" is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale.
Shunryu Suzuki
When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.
Shunryu Suzuki
Shunryu Suzuki Quote: The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. Zen practice is to open up our small mind.
The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes. Zen practice is to open up our small mind.
Shunryu Suzuki
A mind full of preconceived ideas, subjective intentions, or habits is not open to things as they are.
Shunryu Suzuki
Shunryu Suzuki Quote: Religion is not any particular teaching. Religion is everywhere... We should forget all about some particular teaching; we should not ask which is good or bad. There should not be any particular teaching. Teaching is in each moment, in every existence. That is the true teaching.
Religion is not any particular teaching. Religion is everywhere... We should forget all about some particular teaching; we should not ask which is good or bad. There should not be any particular teaching. Teaching is in each moment, in every existence. That is the true teaching.
Shunryu Suzuki
No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.
Shunryu Suzuki
Shunryu Suzuki Quote: The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism but to study ourselves. You are not your body. You are the Big Activity. You are just expressing the smallest particle of the Big Activity. That is all. But when you become attached to a temporal expression of the Big Activity, it is time to talk about Buddhism.
The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism but to study ourselves. You are not your body. You are the Big Activity. You are just expressing the smallest particle of the Big Activity. That is all. But when you become attached to a temporal expression of the Big Activity, it is time to talk about Buddhism.
Shunryu Suzuki
To have some deep feeling about Buddhism is not the point; we just do what we should do, like eating supper and going to bed. This is Buddhism.”
Shunryu Suzuki
The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transiency or change. That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence. No one can deny this truth and all teaching of Buddhism is condensed within it. This is the teaching for all of us. Wherever we go this teaching is true. This teaching is also understood as the teaching of selflessness. Because each existence is in constant change, there is no abiding self.
Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Quote: Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life.
Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life.
Shunryu Suzuki
Zen is nothing to get excited about.
Shunryu Suzuki
Waves are the practice of the water.
Shunryu Suzuki
Movement is nothing but the quality of our being.
Shunryu Suzuki
The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind.
Shunryu Suzuki
Just continue in your calm, ordinary practice and your character will be built up.
Shunryu Suzuki
More important than any stage which you will attain is your sincerity, your right effort.
Shunryu Suzuki
Whatever you do should be the direct experience of Buddha nature. Buddha nature means to be aware of Buddha nature. Your effort should extend to saving all sentient beings.
Shunryu Suzuki
Whether you have a problem in your life or not depends upon your own attitude, your own understanding.
Shunryu Suzuki
A master who cannot bow to his disciple cannot bow to Buddha.
Shunryu Suzuki
We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves.
Shunryu Suzuki
We should not hoard knowledge; we should be free from our knowledge.
Shunryu Suzuki
You should rather be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice.
Shunryu Suzuki
Zazen practice is the direct expression of our true nature. Strictly speaking, for a human being, there is no other practice than this practice; there is no other way of life than this way of life.
Shunryu Suzuki
Not to be attached to something is to be aware of its absolute value. Everything you do should be based on such an awareness, and not on material or self-centered ideas of value.
Shunryu Suzuki
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.
Shunryu Suzuki
When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do.
Shunryu Suzuki
The practice of Zen mind is beginner’s mind. The innocence of the first inquiry—what am I?—is needed throughout Zen practice. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind which can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything.
Shunryu Suzuki
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. Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.
Shunryu Suzuki
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.
Shunryu Suzuki
When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it.
Shunryu Suzuki
In the zazen posture, your mind and body have, great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable.
In our scriptures, it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!
Shunryu Suzuki



Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Info

Published: 1970

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is a book written by the Japanese Zen master and teacher Shunryu Suzuki.

The book explores the core tenants and "teachings" of the Zen Buddhist tradition.

Read the whole book