(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.)
 
 
BEGINNER'S MIND 
 
 
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. 
 


PROLOGUE 21 



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- 
tually practice. 

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. 



PART ONE 

RIGHT 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. " 


22 PROLOGUE 



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:
ZEN MIND, 
BEGINNER'S MIND 


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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