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4.6 out of 5 stars72
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2006
The most useful book on Zen I have read so far. Zen abhors analysis and description, and Suzuki takes a practical, human approach to the practice of zazen. The book was compiled from talks given by him at his Zen centres, and is full of honest advice and personal experience.
I am on my third reading, and am finally getting to appreciate some of the messages. These concepts are in fact very simple, if you read with your heart rather than your head. It is free from Zen-stifling intellectual analysis and explanation which is found in lesser works, there is no struggling with brain-busting koans, and satori is never mentioned.
One of the most important messages is very encouraging: that difficulty, distraction and hardship actually improve the practice of zazen. Great news for Beginners like me.
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on 10 March 2004
Classic is an overused word these days but it really does apply to this book. As other reviewers have pointed out it really isn't for beginners despite the title. If you are already involved in meditation practice this book will be helpful. It is a book written by someone from the Soto Zen tradition but it is often recomended by Tibetan teachers as well, so universal is its application. As Suzuki says 'Actually we are not the Soto school at all. We are just Buddhists. We are not even Zen Buddhists. If we understand this point, we are truly Buddhists'.
When I first read this it really did get through to me that meditation wasn't about attaining something but just about sitting. As the author says 'It is when your practice becomes greedy you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a sign or a warning signal to show you the weak point in your practice'. This isn't about Buddhist philosophy but about actually doing Zazen for which it is invaluable. In a market place that has become swamped by new age books that use the word Zen in the title it's understandable that the word has become devalued or meaningless but this would undoubtedly make my short list after thirty years of Buddhist study.
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on 17 March 2004
I agree with all of the positive comments below - this is a wonderful and beautiful book. However, I don't think it is only for those with experience of Buddhist practice. There is something here for everyone. If you have never meditated or thought about Buddhism, parts of the book may seem obscure at first: but this need not get in the way of enjoying the rest. Certainly, this book is not a "beginner's guide", but it values beginners (as the title suggests) and I strongly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Buddhism.
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on 12 October 2011
I have to admit that I read some other reviews and I agree that the book seems for some people very confusing and "waste of paper". This is because the author takes for granted that one has already some sense of Zen, for him Zen is like his own flesh and bones. If one opens it as his first Zen book is like to learn swimming in the midst of Atlantic ocean: you need first a shallow beach. It could neither be your second nor your third Zen book, one needs more Zen "education" to find this book attractiv. For that reason I strongly recommand as the first Zen lecture the "Bible" of that kind of books, "The Way of Zen" by Alan W. Watts, a really great book, written by a westerner for westerners.
This book caresses gently the heart of Zen, but only if one thinks meditative, otherwise this book will be just another book: the mere rational western thinking is not enough.
One could ask: "Why should I buy a Zen book if I already know much about Zen?"
It sounds like: "Why should I study, if I already can read and write?"
You buy this book not for learning how to read and write, but for useing your knowledge on reading and writing for studying.
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on 14 April 2001
A simple and pure book, yet infinitely deep. I do not recommend it for those just starting meditation as it neglects techniques which will be necessary for the beginner. To such people I'd have to suggest the excellent 'MEDITATION: THE BUDDHIST WAY OF TRANQUILLITY AND INSIGHT' by KAMALASHILA. But for those who are fairly well grounded in meditation and who have more than an intellectual notion of buddhism then read this book. A real breath of fresh air.
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on 17 February 2000
If you are entirly new to meditation, avoid this book: it will put you off. You will think the master's been smoking weed. He refers to experiences in a way which initiates will understand, but you won't. Buy this book in a couple of years' time, when you're ready for it.
If you have some experience of meditation, this book is a must: the master's been everywhere we've been, and then a lot further. It's really helped my zazen, and the learning's rubbed off on my Tai Chi, too.
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on 2 February 2000
I was worried that this was out of print. My copy has been read and reread so many times that it is falling to pieces. Who needs more than this illuminating book? It explains nearly Everything in a simple, clear, compassionate style. Written as from a Master's spoken word. Brilliant!
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on 11 January 2000
This wonderful book is different every time you read it. Although the book stays the same, you are changing between times. Sometimes Suzuki's statements make no apparent sense, then later you have more experience and begin to understand! If you want to get the feel of Zen then there is no better book than this. Read it and get on with doing the Zazen meditation (helped by Suzuki Roshi's simple but profound wisdom and advice). If you want to theorise about Zen you will probably be wasting your time reading it.
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on 4 January 2013
Reading this book for the first time is like going on a journey - after each page your understanding of Buddhism and of yourself has changed. I would recommend this to everyone, Buddhist or not Zen Mind will likely change your life. The style of prose is incredibly radiant and friendly so in that sense it is perfect for the beginner yet also perfect for the long time practitioner whom has grown tired of the regimented style of a lot of Buddhist books. Its amazing that even though Zuzuki could not speak English very well his use of the language itself allows his ideas and insights to penetrate to the core of your being. This book is best served with regular meditation.
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on 23 July 2013
I know it sounds a bit OTT but as someone who is not religious, this book perfectly exemplifies how we could ideally live our lives. As meditator for 20 years, my state of mind is very important for my sense of peace, wellness and productivity. Suzuki Roshi takes me to my personal nirvana within a few lines of any of the beautiful passages. It has so much depth that I have been perpetually reading this book for more than 17 years and continue to learn from it. Probably read it 100+ times. I've read hundreds of buddhist and zen books. This is the one you want.
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