[Review] Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 K.Z. Freeman 0 Comments

Zen is not a philosophy or religion. It is not some esoteric teaching that will illuminate you with deep thoughts and koans that you must understand in order to attain some illusory goal. Zen is a way of liberation from a life run by your thoughts. Zen is Now.

Reviewing these types of books remains something I don't necessarily wish to do. How does one review a spiritual text or teaching? Either it resonates with you, or it does not.

Because of this, this will not be a review as such, but a means of propagating awareness of this book's existence and that of Zen.

It is true that one can gain bounds of theoretical knowledge from a number of books, but is that knowledge necessary? Unapplied knowledge will always remain useless knowledge, while this book will give you ways of actual practice that does not involve incisive thinking, but instead teach you how to come from a point of presence.

Most never find this resonating substance or text when it comes to spiritual "data" and so just plough from book to book, hoping the next will provide that which is needed for some spiritual "ascension". But this way of thinking is wrong, because that ascension is already here, it was always here, now. Because one does not realize this, and as a result does not know how to apply this to everyday life, these types of books may become almost a drug. That is to say, a drug user will always look to a drug in order to find something or to be liberated from something, yet a drug is always "out there", so the lie the drug tells you is that you need to find something out there to locate or "fix" something within. Yet the within cannot be "fixed" by applying something from the without. Yet this testament is also true and untrue. You may find this contradictory when I say that this book will show you, since this book is also without, outside you, yet it points within.

Zen is like this. Zen is contradictory, because the very nature of Duality is something that exists only in mind. Zen will never give you anything that you do not already have. It will simply show you how there really is nothing to fix. There is a sort of catch, however. There must be an everyday practice to attain this. Some may attain this presence spontaneously, but for most there is posture, breath, right-thinking and practice in presence and mindfulness. In Zen this is always done with direct pointing. It will never give you any philosophical thoughts, because that is the domain of the mind, You don't need such thoughts. The focus of Zen is always in the Now. Because the Now is all there is. Time is illusory. Even if you think of the future or the past, you are always doing it now. Even if you plan something for the future, you will execute that plan within that future Now. This is fact.

Yet the reason why Zen might not appeal to those more used to elaborate thinking, is because Zen attempts to make you look, to stand behind the one who is thinking and observe the thinker and realize that the thinker is a rather ridiculous, erratic creature... Funny, but ultimately ridiculous.

Two students ask the master, as they look upon a waving flag in the distance:
Student 1: Look, the wind is moving, it is beautiful.
Student 2: No, the wind is erratic, it is the flag that moves.
Master: Both the flag and the wind simply are. It is mind that moves.

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