Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Book Summary - Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Book explained in key points
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Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind summary

Shunryu Suzuki

Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

4.4 (251 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki is a guide to Zen Buddhism. It emphasizes meditation and the importance of approaching every moment with a beginner’s mind, free from preconceived notions.

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    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    The Zen meditation posture is a practice unto itself but also has a deeper symbolic meaning.

    Lots of modern health gurus promote a particular body posture as a way to feel more confident and happy. Interestingly enough, so does the ancient practice of Zen Buddhism.

    The posture Zen practitioners adopt when meditating promotes spirituality in and of itself. Not just that, but taking a certain posture actually constitutes the entire practice, as it enables your mind to automatically tune into the spiritual realm.

    As a result, the sole aim of the practice is to sit in this position. So, what exactly is it?

    Sit cross-legged, preferably in the lotus position, with your right foot on your left thigh and your left foot on your right thigh. Your spine should be straight, with your chin pressed gently down.

    The center of your body, just below your belly button, should also be aiming down, directly toward the floor. This last shift will help with stability.

    But this isn’t a purely pragmatic technique. The lotus meditation posture also has a symbolic meaning that relates to the relationship between life and death.

    More specifically, it’s a symbolic expression of non-duality, the notion that all things and beings on earth have the same essence. While people tend to think of themselves as having two legs, those two legs “become one” in lotus, when it’s no longer as apparent which leg is right and which is left.

    This concept of nonduality is essential as it applies to every aspect of the Zen worldview. Therefore, “life” and “death” don’t exist. Rather, life ends while remaining eternal. You die, yet you do not die. The body and mind dissolve but remain.

    Such seeming contradictions are unified by a single, harmonious idea, which is the essence of Zen.

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    What is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind about?

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (1970) is a starter’s guide to Zen Buddhism. These blinks explain how Zen is not only a system of meditation, but also a philosophy of life. They describe how to sit, breathe and observe while maintaining a vital connection to the present moment.

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind Review

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (1970) offers profound insights into the practice of Zen Buddhism and the art of meditation. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • This book presents Zen teachings in a simple and accessible way, making it perfect for beginners and experienced practitioners alike.
    • With its emphasis on living in the present moment and cultivating a beginner's mind, it provides practical guidance for finding peace and clarity in our daily lives.
    • The author's wisdom and gentle demeanor shine through in his words, inspiring readers to approach life with curiosity, openness, and compassion.

    Best quote from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

    To take this posture is itself the right state of mind.

    —Shunryu Suzuki
    example alt text

    Who should read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?

    • Overachievers and perfectionists
    • Students of yoga, Zen or meditation
    • Seekers of equanimity and balance

    About the Author

    Shunryu Suzuki was a Japanese monk who came to the United States in 1954. In addition to founding the San Francisco Zen Center, he taught countless Zen students and wrote several books on the subject, including Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness.

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    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?

    Cultivate a beginner's mind and embrace the present moment in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

    How long does it take to read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?

    Reading time for Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind can vary, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is worth reading for its practical wisdom and insights into the Zen philosophy.

    Who is the author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?

    Shunryu Suzuki is the author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

    What to read after Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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