(In the beginning of you there was
beginner's mind, the real you as God
emanated you, and it was enough. You came
out of or were emanated from the Good,
Whole, Light of God and your being was
and is contained in the Good Light of God.)
For Zen students the most important thing is not to be
dualistic. Our "original mind" includes everything within
itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should
not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean
a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind.
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.
In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means "begin-
ner's mind." The goal of practice is always to keep our
beginner's mind. Suppose you recite the Prajna Paramita
Sutra only once. It might be a very good recitation. But what
would happen to you if you recited it twice, three times, four
times, or more? You might easily lose your original attitude
towards it. The same thing will happen in your other Zen
practices. For a while you will keep your beginner's mind,
but if you continue to practice one, two, three years or more,
although you may improve some, you are liable to lose the
limitless meaning of original mind.
People say that practicing Zen is difficult, but there is a
misunderstanding as to why. It is not difficult because it is
hard to sit in the cross-legged position, or to attain enlighten-
ment. It is difficult because it is hard to keep our mind pure
and our practice pure in its fundamental sense. The Zen
school developed in many ways after it was established in
China, but at the same time, it became more and more im-
pure. But I do not want to talk about Chinese Zen or the
history of Zen. I am interested in helping you keep your
practice from becoming impure.
If you discriminate too much, you limit yourself. If you
are too demanding or too greedy, your mind is not rich and
self-sufficient. If we lose our original self-sufficient mind, we
will lose all precepts. When your mind becomes demanding,
when you long for something, you will end up violating your
own precepts: not to tell lies, not to steal, not to kill, not to
be immoral, and so forth. If you keep your original mind,
the precepts will keep themselves.
In the beginner's mind there is no thought, "I have at-
tained something." All self-centered thoughts limit our vast
mind. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought
of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn some-
thing. The beginner's mind is the mind of compassion. When
our mind is compassionate, it is boundless. Dogen-zenji, the
founder of our school, always emphasized how important it is
to resume our boundless original mind. Then we are always
true to ourselves, in sympathy with all beings, and can ac-
So the most difficult thing is always to keep your begin-
ner's mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding
of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must
read each sentence with a fresh mind. You should not say,
"I know what Zen is," or "I have attained enlightenment."
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.
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. "
P O S T U R E "These forms are not the means of
obtaining the right state of mind. To take this pos-
ture is itself to have the right state of mind. There is no
need to obtain some special state of mind. "
FROM THE BOOK:
by SHUNRYU SUZUKI
Editor's Notes: There is no
need to seek the attainment of "enlightenment"
because your original mind emanated from the Light.
It is not the entire Light of God, but I accept and
know that my true nature is pure, already pure
without any seeking for it outside of myself. Maybe
it is hard to accept this but this is your beginning
and mine and we practice the spiritual way by
remembering this truth in each new moment and
especially in tense, stressful moments. Following
your breath when under stress to remember who you
really are, and how you should really act, is very
helpful. Listening and supplicating or asking for
the help of your Conscience when under stress will
bring relief and contentment
in the face of trying circumstances.
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