My opinion on Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind — by Shunryū Suzuki
Subtitle: My (incredibly small) opinion on Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind — by Shunryū Suzuki
This is my first book, EVER, on the subject of Zen Buddhism. This is what I learned and what I take away.
I’m going to try to make this very short. I don’t really have a huge opinion on the topic. It’s very strange to me, still. I went in on this book with an open mind, but ready to be a critic about it. Are those opposites? Anyway, it was all going great at first. That first quote that I highlighted: “Zen mind is one of those enigmatic phrases used by Zen teachers to make you notice yourself…” It was not something I hadn’t heard or read before. A lot of beliefs have things like this. It was until the author started talking about the posture and how your legs become not one, and not two, that I started to drift away. You aren’t supposed to know which is which, and they (both?) aren’t left nor right. Now, this is strange. Zen Buddhism is against dualistic thinking and this teaching merges things, but they don’t add up to the sum of their parts. That was the first thing that I found different.
I kept reading and then stumbled onto stuff like this: “The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment.” You’re not supposed to be looking for something when you practice zazen. Yet we all see zazen (meditation) as a source of calmness. If you sit down to practice it because you want to be calm, that is already wrong because you are expecting a result.
However, there were some teachings that I found incredibly cool and relevant to me. One of these is the description of a teacher. “What a teacher really offers the student is the literally living proof that all this talk and the seemingly impossible goals can be realized in this lifetime.” I analyzed this and applied it to my past “teachers”, to see if they passed the test. Most of them didn’t. I didn’t pass it either. I’ve tried to teach things that I am not living proof of.
Another thing I especially enjoyed was the following message: “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.” I have found cases in my life where this was true, but I think you can practice the opposite. I think I am doing that. Maybe.