Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind at Fifty

Afterword by DC - annotated version       go to zmbm main cuke page

at local indie bookstore | on Amazon

ZMBM in Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Marian Derby Wisberg's account of the creation of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

Marian's cuke page

3-10-15 - Remarks on ZMBM at 40 from Victor Sergeyev - pointing out mistakes and contradictions and asking questions - with excerpts from interviews, Crooked Cucumber.

Shambhala Publications link and Amazon link.

AFTERWORD to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind at Fifty

Notes - by DC

+ = reminders to DC to get more info etc

When Shunryu Suzuki first saw a published copy of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, he looked it over for a minute and commented, “Good book, I didn't write it, but it looks like a good book.”

“Good book, I didn't write it...”

I was there standing next to him - in San Francisco, staying at the SFZC's City Center at 300 Page St., visiting from Tassajara, Zen Mt. Center. - DC (David Chadwick)
   That was fifty years ago, the summer of 1970. He and a few students were in the foyer of the San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center standing around some boxes of the newly published hardcover.
    Almost fifty years before that, in the early twenties, as a young Zen monk strolling through the shops and stands in the bustling trade city of Yokohama, Suzuki had lamented the poor quality of Japanese furniture, toys, and other items bound for export.  He wondered why they didn’t send abroad the best of their crafts and arts.  Maybe someday, he thought, if he studied and applied himself sincerely, he could bring to the West what to him was truly the best his homeland had to offer: the way of his Zen mentors. He never completely let go of that idea, and eventually the knots of duty loosened, an opportunity arose, and he flew to San Francisco carrying a painting and a hidden plant.
“as a young Zen monk strolling...” He talked about this in lectures. Will seek lecture source. In Crooked Cucumber I don't give sources for all the info and quotes, but almost all that material is available online - all the lectures are at shunryusuzuki.com and almost all the interviews are at cuke.com/interviews. I don't know if I'll ever get around to all that documentation. Like I remember a photo of Suzuki going to the plane to fly to America with a big flat package and I think it was someone like his sister or maybe his son, Hoitsu, who told me he snuck a plant in.

    Most of Suzuki’s students didn’t get too excited when Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind came out. We had him and he told us to forget what he said in lectures and put our effort wholeheartedly into zazen and mindfulness. People did study, but his talks weren't thought of as being more important than the sutras, Chinese koan collections, and other Buddhist writings.  The most enthusiastic responses came from outside of the community of his students. Today there are other collections of his lectures, several books about him and his teaching, more books and articles with something on him or from him, and much more on the Internet, including all his extant lectures. There are more than seventy groups in his lineage spread around America and Europe. But Shunryu Suzuki’s renown as a seminal spiritual teacher is almost entirely due to this one unique volume.

Books by and about Shunryu Suzuki.

More books mentioning Suzuki in the cuke.com bibliography

All the lectures are at shunryusuzuki.com

Dharma groups in Suzuki's lineage or related. Also look at the main links section of cuke.com.

    In 2004 Weatherhill, which originally published Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, became an imprint of Shambhala Publications. Now in 2020 with this special edition, Shambhala commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the publishing of these celebrated “Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice.”
Shambhala Publications link and Amazon link.

Weatherhill link goes to Shambhala Publications

    More significant than Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’s sustained sales is its universal appeal. It easily moved past the perimeter of Buddhism into libraries, university classes, and reading groups. It now shows up on almost any list of modern spiritual classics in the West. Writer Amy Tan and McArthur Genius Grant—recipient cartoonist Lynda Barry have both shared in interviews that they begin their workday with passages from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller said he kept it by his bed. Film director Sam Peckinpah opened it one evening and didn’t put it down all night. Basketball coach Phil Jackson refers to it repeatedly in his book, Sacred Hoops. Poet Michael McClure sent Hells Angel “Freewheeling” Frank Reynolds a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind “to help him clear his head” when he was in Soledad Prison. Reynolds said the book saved his life. German composer Walter Zimmerman created a long song for piano entitled “Beginner's Mind” with words from the German translation. In 2000, Tosca, the Viennese “masters of deluxe soundscapes,” released Suzuki, an album dedicated to Shunryu Suzuki. I’ve seen quotes from it on greeting cards, on the side of a soy milk container. It was the favorite spiritual book of Steve Jobs, who in the mid-seventies practiced zazen at the Los Altos Zen Center where the lectures were given. Former Apple intern Marc Benioff, billionaire CEO of Salesforce and owner of Time magazine, has frequently quoted from this book and reports he lives with beginner's mind.
Laurance Rockefeller - Major donor to the SFZC.

Sam Peckinpah - this told me by the son of a producer who worked with Peckinpah

Phil Jackson

Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior. 1995. ISBN 0-7868-6206-8.+page #s

Tosca's Suzuki

Soy Milk Carton and Beginner's Mind

Amy Tan mention of ZMBM

Added the sentence on Steve Jobs to the 50th. - dc

Steve Jobs' favorite spiritual book was Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind but he never met Suzuki. He did though have a close relationship with Kobun Chino Roshi.

See Steve Jobs page for more

When Hell's Angel Freewheeling Frank Reynolds was imprisoned in Soledad for arson McClure sent him a copy Shunryū Suzuki's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind “ to help him clear his head. Frank told me the book by the Zen master saved his life. He said that he has been living in the mountains by a waterfall for over 10 years” (Larry Keenan Jr on the McClure-Manzarek 'site, retrieved 23 August 2018). He died at his cabin in northern California in 2003 “in clearness of mind, Zen expectancy of death, and manly resolution” (Michael McClure,ibid.)

2018--09-17 -  from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who just bought Time Magazine for $190 million, says he lives with a 'beginner's mind'

In his text conversation with the New York Times, Benioff reportedly cited wisdom from 20th-century Zen master Shunryu Suzuki: “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.”

Back in 2016, Benioff described his thought process to The Wall Street Journal: “I kind of try to let go of all the things that have ever happened so far in our industry, which is a lot of stuff, and just go, OK, what's going to happen right now?”

It's a mindset that Benioff — a former Apple intern— reportedly picked up from Steve Jobs. In an appearance at a 2013 TechCrunch conference, he praised his former boss as a “spiritual man” who was “mindful and conscious of everything he did.”

Jobs himself was a major advocate for cultivating a “beginner's mind,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cartoonist Lynda B In her 2008 interview with Vice, she noted that she listens to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s “wonderful” Zen talks while writing and drawing in her studio in Wisconsin. That would be the audiobook of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind narrated by Peter Coyote. This will be added somewhere in the cuke ZMBM section. Congratulations Lyda Barry whose cartoons I was reading years ago! - dc- and thanks Peter Ford for the tip [This posted today on Cuke What's New Blog]

   In How the Swans Came to the Lake, Rick Fields’s sterling history of Western Buddhism, he wrote,

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind had a fresh, early morning quality to it. Suzuki Roshi spoke with a spare voice, unpretentious and humorous. It was, in fact, an American Buddhist voice, unlike any heard before, and yet utterly familiar. When Suzuki Roshi spoke, it was as if American Buddhists could hear themselves perhaps for the first time.

How the Swans Came to the Lake

+page # to come

+intend to add more from book here

    The Buddhist scholar and Dogen translator Kazuaki Tanahashi commented, “Suzuki Roshi digested Dogen's teaching fully and presented it in his own words, so if we study Dogen and read Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind carefully we find an invisible but strong connection.”
Kazuaki Tanahashi - also a great calligrapher: Brush Mind - cuke.com interview  with links to more

I emailed Kaz and said that he'd told me that ZMBM was Dogen for Americans and asked if I could quote him and he emailed this clarification back.

    Many readers have a genuine and lasting affection for this book. For a couple of years, a poet named Genine Lentine with support from the San Francisco Zen Center worked on the Page Project, in which she collected scans of people’s personalized pages of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, with notes written in the margins, words underlined, doodles, corners folded. “Held close, passed along,” she writes, “left behind, read aloud, consulted in the middle of the night, carried on the subway or bus, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind seems to engage the reader in a direct and warm conversation.”
    In 2009, for the fiftieth anniversary of Suzuki’s arrival in America, Genine created an exhibition in which each page of the book was represented by someone’s contribution, culled from hundreds sent her, including pages translated into Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. We’re not sure how many languages it’s been translated into. Genine says there was a student at the City Center who read it in his native Mongolian translated from the Russian version.
    Genine has dedicated this page to “my friend Lee Briccetti, a poet and Executive Director of Poets House in New York.  On the morning of September 11, 2001, she was on her balcony, thirty-one floors up, looking out over lower Manhattan and reading this book, and as she read the line, ‘Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer,’ she heard the first plane roar overhead.”

+ More to come about the Page Project

Genine Lentine has a very cool site. Check out her books. This site does not include The Page Project in the project section. She is now (fall 2010) the artist in residence at the SFZC's City Center.

Here's a mention of the Page Project in the Shambhala Sun

   From a letter sent to the Page Project: “Amidst this torment, I looked up. On my shrine sat a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, with the back cover quietly lighting the cabin. Suzuki Roshi's kind and mildly humored gaze moved me to tears.  I took the book from the shrine and opened it at random. I don't recall which chapter I read. Likely it wouldn't have mattered.  Suzuki Roshi's words melted my struggle.”
    Indeed, Robert Boni’s photo on the back cover is a key ingredient. It gazes out from many a wall and refrigerator. The Tibetan Rinpoche, Chögyam Trungpa, who called Suzuki his accidental American father, placed that photo on his group’s altars along with that of his own teacher. Mrs. Suzuki, however, didn’t approve of that photo, at least when she first saw it, and wondered aloud why a formal photo of her husband in ceremonial robes hadn’t been used instead of one taken when he was in his work clothes and needed a shave.

   The society photographer Yvonne Lewis used to come with her Zen student comedian son Mark to hear Suzuki lecture in San Francisco. She commented, “Each person's face has two different sides. Suzuki Roshi had a face in which each half was so totally different from the other that I was fascinated by it. The side with the eyebrow up on the Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind photo is the mischievous side and the other is his contemplative side.” Richard Baker, Suzuki’s American dharma heir, observes that “the right side of his face is the calm, normal, conventional person and the left side with the eyebrow up is the enlightened side communicating, showing itself, wondering, skeptical, who are you.”
    The Estonian poet Jaan Kaplinski refers to this photograph in a poem called “Shunryu Suzuki,” translated into English with Sam Hamill.


Shunryu Suzuki
a little Japanese living
and teaching in California
couldn't be my teacher
one of my non-teachers
a little lit match from God's matchbox
sea wind soon blew out
somewhere between California and Estonia
somewhere between East and West
between somewhere and nowhere
nobody can find out what remained of him
after the wind has blown  and the tide
come and gone—the white sand
as smooth as before—but his smile
from the back cover of Zen Mind Beginner's Mind
has silently infected book after book on my shelves
and perhaps shelves themselves and walls and wallpaper too

the back cover of ZMBM, photo by Robert S. Boni

Interviews and more with Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu's widow (96 and doing well back in Japan as of this writing in October 2010).

Interview with Mark and Yvonne Lewis

Should have introduced who Richard Baker is here though we learn later in article. He's Shunryu Suzuki's sole American direct dharma heir, abbot of the SFZC following Suzuki, founder of Dharma Sangha in America and Germany..

Jaan Kaplinski home page

Here's a poem sent by Paul Reps to the SFZC
more on Reps here

Pilgrim’s way bookstore

thank you for the fine photo
of shunryu suzuki
whose book is now tops on
my best seller list,
having demoted the zen
teaching of huang po to
second place.  I think
it's going to stay there
because he was challenged
by young minds in usa
and came through big.
He jettisoned all buddhism
and extra baggage and came
up with something that even
now has baker puzzled.
thanks again,


PDF of original

   Huston Smith, the late dean of world religion scholars, was an early fan of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. His preface to the book was included when it went paperback. Expanding on what he’d written about D. T. and Shunryu back then, Huston said over the phone:

In my introduction to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind I allude to my experience with Suzuki Roshi. Any way to be affiliated with Suzuki Roshi is a joy as you understand. I wish I had more to add but I remember nothing but the wonderful aura, the peace and presentness of the man, his impact upon me. His contribution was immense. Of the two Suzukis, Daisetsu accomplished a major major achievement by bringing Zen and, in a way, Mahayana Buddhism to America, not single-handedly, because there was Nyogen Senzaki in LA, and the First Zen Institute in New York City with Mary Farkas, but as far as the general public was concerned, almost that. And then Shunryu Suzuki comes in in a different mode, because far from the public figure that Daisetsu was, Shunryu was quiet, low-key, low profile. And I do think that the two Suzukis had the most impact. I think of them as complementing each other in a very wonderful way. 

   Huston’s comparison reminds me of how once on a bus in New York City when someone asked if he was D. T. Suzuki, Shunryu replied, “He’s the great Suzuki; I’m the little Suzuki.”

“He’s the big Suzuki, I’m the little one.” See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses). He found two sources, the source surely the one on the bus with Loly Rosset communicating between Suzuki and another passenger.

Changed to “He's the great Suzuki, I'm the little Suzuki.” as per cuke interview with Lolly Rossett.

Huston Smith cuke page  with links to more

   John Nelson, a professor in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco who teaches classes on Zen and Buddhism, writes,

What caught my attention was the combination of person, voice, and perspective. The person looked at me from the back cover as if challenging my assumptions about Zen and reality in general.  His voice on the page had a unique way of expressing key ideas and explaining the commonplace so that it took on new significance. Zen was not restricted to meditation but permeated all dimensions of life and consciousness. To a young man like myself in Kansas who was sorely disillusioned by Vietnam, race and cultural conflicts, and Watergate, the book offered an entirely new perspective on reality and human behavior.

John K. Nelson, the USF Buddhist Prof.


This quote from John Nelson sent to me via email.


Peter Matthiesson - Crooked cucumber is a moving and eloquent biography of that quiet man who, with Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, was to become the most widely revered Zen teacher in this country. [Conveying his spirit lovingly and well, it becomes in itself a wonderful manifestation of his gentle teachings.]

   Steven Tipton, a Suzuki student who teaches sociology and religion at Emory University, wrote,

For all the genius of its cultural and canonical translation, the practical wisdom of this book arises from its communal creation, bred by teacher and students listening and talking to each other in the course of sitting, walking, and working together every day.  Through the dance of this dialogue, embodied in a way of life reborn over eons and expressed with poetic grace, comes a truly original and compassionate voice so close at hand it can open our eyes and touch our hearts.

Steve Tipton (quote emailed to DC)

Steve's cuke page

    The popularity of this book is not so much because people dwell on how great Suzuki was but because he conveys to readers that they are great. He has confidence that you, whoever you are, can understand Zen, Buddhism, reality, truth, yourself.  I’ve interviewed and talked with hundreds of people about their experience and memories of Suzuki, and over and over so many have revealed that he (and usually only he) completely understood and appreciated them. And this connection he had with people in person comes through almost like magic in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Read from the hundreds of reviews at Amazon.com and other online outlets. I think they’re the most telling, because they were written not by experts assigned to compose reviews, but by readers inspired to share their impression.
Amazon.com reviews of ZMBM (165 reviews today October 2010))

+get other review sources

    Buddhism had long been established within Asian-American communities when Suzuki arrived in San Francisco to serve as the priest for Japanese Americans at Sokoji, the city’s Soto Zen temple. But only a handful of people in the West such as poet Gary Snyder had worked with a teacher and grown deeply involved with zazen. At the same time, Buddhism had been moving gradually from something lofty to admire from afar into something practical that one could integrate into one’s life. The Light of Asia, a biography of the Buddha published in London in 1879, had sold over a million copies and been made into a movie in 1928. D. T. Suzuki’s and Alan Watts’s brilliant books were widely read by seekers as well as scholars. Dwight Goddard’s A Buddhist Bible inspired Jack Kerouac and his Beat colleagues, and they inspired many others.  Indispensable sutras, early Buddhist texts, and commentary on them became available through scholars such as Edward Conze. Zen Flesh, Zen Bones by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, a retelling of classic koans, was a delight. Such skillful and devoted writing over decades had set the stage for what was to follow—people diving with body and mind into the stream of Buddhism.
“Buddhism had long been established within Asian-American communities” - see How the Swans Came to the Lake and this Wikipedia article.

Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia - the whole book. Wikipedia on The Light of Asia -
The film based on The Light of Asia, Prem Sanyas.

List of DT Suzuki's books (in English) - Wikipedia on DT Suzuki

Books by Alan Watts - Wikipedia on Alan Watts

Dwight Goddard - A Buddhist Bible in the San Jose Library.
Wikipedia on Jack Kerouac mentions A Buddhist Bible inspiring Kerouac

Edward Conze memorial site

Paul Reps tribute site
Nyogen Senzaki - Wikipedia
Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings

    Buddhist publishing was turning toward books on practice. Enlightenment was being presented as a real possibility, close enough to almost touch. In this vein, Philip Kapleau’s landmark Three Pillars of Zen had come out in 1965, and in 1969 Chögyam Trungpa’s Meditation in Action added a Tibetan turn. Shunryu Suzuki brought the Soto emphasis that enlightenment and practice were one. Rick Fields nailed it with the first sentence in his chapter, “The Sixties”: “’Where there is practice there is enlightenment.’ This above all was the message Shunryu Suzuki-roshi brought to America.” And what is practice? As Suzuki says in this book, “Instead of having some object of worship we just concentrate on the activity we do in each moment.”
Philip Kapleau --- Three Pillars of Zen

Chogyam Trungpa --- Meditation in Action

+ get page number for Field's quote

+“Instead of having some object of worship...” get page # for ZMBM quote

    Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind begins with Suzuki saying that the goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind. Limitless and ready for anything, this Eastern tabula rasa is not, however, a blank starting point. It is the point. This is the “mind of purity open to things as they are” or “things as it is” as he sometimes said. Suzuki’s first teacher, Gyokujun So-on, stressed the importance of beginner’s mind. So had Dogen. I’m reminded of the well-known D. T. Suzuki story of the Zen master who poured tea into the overflowing cup of a visiting professor to illustrate that his guest’s mind was so full of assumptions and opinions that there was no room to learn anything. It's a perennial spiritual teaching found in various expressions worldwide such as fourteenth century Dominican monk Meister Eckhart's “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”

   Beginner’s mind is the key to awakening to big mind, a favorite term of Suzuki’s—big mind, the absolute, our true nature; not small mind, the product of our “silly idea of self.” One of Shunryu Suzuki’s closest disciples, Silas Hoadley, remembers Suzuki saying in the early sixties, “I’ve come to destroy your mind.” Silas realized that the mind targeted for annihilation was the ego, the small mind, a delusion to begin with, but he said it was still a chilling statement. Suzuki recalled how he and his fellow disciples were losing their beginner’s mind in their teens—through innocently seeing Zen as good, special, a means to gain something. He warned about the perils of being attached to any idea, including that of beginner’s mind.
Beginner's Mind excerpt from ZMBM, the Prologue, with a link to the original.


+ get more on So-on from Crooked Cucumber


On Vimalakirti's empty home and in this telling it's Manjusri and not Shakyamuni who pays the visit. I wrote it was Shakyamuni Buddha from a false memory. Nevertheless the lesson is the same. VIMALAKIRTI NIRDESA SUTRA (see part 4) This is cut from the 50th.

- See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses).

That sentence was cut and the one about Meister Eckhrart inserted.

“The very center of your heart is where life begins – the most beautiful place on earth.” – Rumi

Interview with Silas Hoadley

+“silly idea of self.” find source

+“innocently seeing Zen as good” - find quote in lecture


    We can thank Marian Derby Wisberg, also known as Marian Mountain, for putting together the first draft of this book as Richard Baker notes in his introduction. She also helped to break the veritable taboo against recording Suzuki’s lectures which were thought of as only for the moment and the people at hand. Zen, he said, was passed on mind to mind. No doubt that’s right, but as he also used to say, it’s not always so. After six years in America, Suzuki’s English had greatly improved. With his openness, his beginner’s mind, he’d come to know his host country and his students more deeply. The time was ripe for him to begin to leave a record of what he sought to share.
+ enter transcribed letters from Marian

Beginner's Mind - Chapter One for a book of the same name, from Marian Derby's original manuscript.

See Haiku Zendo Chronicles part 1 and part 2 for more on Marian, Suzuki, and Kobun Chino.

The Zen Environment: The Impact of Zen Meditation by Marian Mountain

   We also have Marian’s father to thank for asking a question while driving Suzuki from Los Altos to San Francisco. He asked Suzuki what his personal ambition in life was, and Suzuki, surely because he was not talking to a student of his, said, “I'd like to write a book.” When her father passed this on to Marian, she took it seriously. She talked to Suzuki about putting together a book from the lectures she'd taped. He agreed. 

The way this was written for the Afterword for the 40th Anniversary Issue of ZMBM was wrong. It had the exchange between Suzuki and Marian's father was in 1966 before she'd been taping. Now it has it correctly at after she'd been taping. It did lead to her talking to Suzuki about putting some of the material together for a book. See Crooked Cucumber on this which I should have referred to rather than writing from memory.

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev.(with DC responses) where he points out that the evidence points to the idea of the book coming about in 1966.


   At about the same time his students in San Francisco likewise began to record his lectures. Of what he said before that time we have accounts of some thirty lectures, many just fragments, based on notes. But from July of 1965 to his final season late in 1971, we now have over four hundred partial and complete lecture transcripts, with the audio for more than 280. We’re still finding tapes and transcripts not included in the known archive of his talks. Sadly, all but two of the tapes for the Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind lectures are lost.
In recent years a number of tapes were rediscovered by Shundo David Haye working with Engage Wisdom. So, we now have original audio for 5 chapters of the book. In 2023 with other rediscovered tapes, there are over 300 transcripts with audio, and over 450 entries in the archive.
The tapes of Suzuki lectures have been digitalized again and this time at a higher resolution. One can read, listen to, and hear it all now at shunryusuzuki.com (all of it) and also many are at the SFZC's Suzuki Roshi section of their website
    Although this book contains lectures from the earliest of Suzuki’s recorded talks, they hold up well in comparison to those that followed. Joseph Galewsky, a Zen practitioner and professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico, has studied and worked with the Suzuki lecture archive. He remarked that these mid-sixties talks from Los Altos are to him the most clear and concise of them all, “with that warm, wise way of talking about the Dharma that has become the hallmark of Suzuki Roshi's teaching.”
Joseph Galewsky - who once ran the Desert Mirror Zendo with his wife, Deborah Russell.

See the originals of these lectures at shunryusuzuki.com - they're the one marked ZM in the second column (with the ZMBM page number following)

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) clarifying use of the word “captured” [now reads “recorded”] -- and then more on how there's no evidence that Suzuki knew there was any idea of a book for many of the lectures he gave that are in it. - cut “, which Suzuki knew were being recorded for a book,” -

Victor wrote that 20 of 38 lectures in the book came before a book was mentioned. Anyway, that sentence is now cut.

    Rinzai Zen priest Eido Shimano, who in 1965 founded the New York Zen Studies Society, proudly showed me his autographed first edition of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind and with a nostalgic smile said, “I consider Suzuki Roshi not only as one of the great patriarchs of Zen in America, but also I consider myself as one of his hidden students. I tend to be arrogant. His humility was a great teaching for me.”
Eido Shimano interview with links to more

NY Zen Studies Society

    Another Zen teacher who emphasized rigorous practice with koans, Taizan Maezumi, founder of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, said of Suzuki and his legacy, “Nobody can tell you about the past. What's important is not what happened or didn't happen back then. What's important is what we have here now. Even before this century, all kinds of priests in the Zen tradition came to America. We don't really know why, but until he came, no one started anything that lasted. After him, so much happened. That's what I most appreciate.”
Taizan Maezumi interview with links to more


    In 2000 Weatherhill brought out a new edition and, as with the first one, made little of it. Richard Baker, whom Suzuki designated as literary executor of this book, corrected a few misunderstandings from his introduction. There were a couple of mistakes in the chapters, too, one being that Suzuki had, with customary absentmindedness, attributed the Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha story to Ummon (Yunmen) rather than Baso (Mazu)—and no one caught it in time or did anything about it for thirty years. I understand that the Japanese translator took Suzuki to task for that in his introduction. It didn't do well in Japanese. A new Japanese translation published by Samgha in 2010, however, has been doing much better, prompting them in 2014 to bring out a translation of Shambhala's Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki followed by translations of other books by or about him. He's been regarded by the Soto Zen establishment in Japan as overrated in the West, possibly because he acted on his own, not within or through their system of which he was quite critical. But that resistance seems to be thawing.
Richard Baker is literary executor of this book and only this book as per Shunryu's answer to Baker when specifically asked whether he was to be executor for all of Suzuki's lectures etc or just this book.

Other mistakes that were fixed as a result of communication between DC and Baker: Suzuki came to US in 1959 (not 58) at the age of 55 (not 54). He did not lead a peace movement in Japan during WWII. Now the introduction has a more nuanced statement. +Need to get statement from old intro and new intro. See much on all this at Shunryu Suzuki and others on Peace & War.

Also see: Comments by DC on the brief bio of Shunryu Suzuki on SFZC website

I distinctly remember there being two mistakes in the text. There's the Baso to Ummon one, but right now no one can remember what the other one was or if there were other changes. I guess I have to have someone read the whole new edition to me while I look at the old one to figure out what the other change(s) is/are. That wouldn't be so bad.

+find that Japanese translation and quote him. A 2022 translation by Issho Fujita published by PHP Institute has come out that is based on the new, corrected version of ZMBM.
+include more about Japanese priests not being so impressed with Suzuki and just thinking that Americans have been wowed by his foreign-ness or something. And of course there are Westerners who feel that way too. After all this is religion and people have different approaches and have “en” or “goen,” a connection, chemistry, karmic tie with different teachers and teachings.

   Fred Harriman, a brilliant translator I’ve worked with, whom I regard as an expert on things Japanese, says that in time they will inevitably come to recognize Shunryu Suzuki in his homeland, because he did something very important to them - he brought something completely Japanese to the West and successfully planted it here.
   As Maezumi pointed out, we don’t really know what happened in the past, but as I see it, a team of people heeded their highest angels to create this book. Marian Derby came up with a manuscript entitled “Beginner’s Mind” in which she had minimally edited some of the lectures she’d recorded. Suzuki suggested she pass the manuscript on to Baker. She gave it to him in March of 1967 just as Tassajara was preparing for the first practice period. When he finally read it the following fall, he agreed it was good material for a book—after more work. Busy with Zen Center’s growth and fundraising efforts, he turned for help to Trudy Dixon, a devoted Suzuki student who had worked with Baker to publish SFZC’s Wind Bell periodical, after studying philosophy at Wellesley and UC Berkeley. She agreed, even though she was married with two young children and was dealing with breast cancer.
    The result was a close collaboration. Dixon and Baker would each meet with Suzuki to clarify what he meant in particular passages, and they would also meet together to discuss how best to express his meaning. Dixon devoted the last working energy of her life to this book—honing the language, organizing the talks into three sections and deciding on the quotations to head them. As she was dying she continued to sit zazen, until it became reclining zazen, and finally lying down zazen. She is remembered for her radiant intelligence, spirit, and courage.

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) where Victor asks why this account differs from that in Crooked Cucumber which does seem to follow the evidence more closely - and also where he questions the use of the term “team” - and more. But I kept it as is in terms of that but changed some of the wording for other reasons. - dc

Thanks to Mike Dixon for going over all this with me recently and also for drawing the fly on page 69 of ZMBM. He drew a new one for the new edition in 2000 because the original art was lost I guess.

Interview with Mike Dixon

Mike Willard Dixon's website - he uses Willard Dixon for his artist signature.

+ get a photo of Dixon's portrait of Shunryu Suzuki (done when Suzuki was approaching death)

+ include a link to Dixon's portrait of DC

  See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) where I agree should not write “Beginner's Mind” contained “most” of the transcripts. Should be “some.”

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) - more on who did what when.

ZMBM in Crooked Cucumber includes more about Trudy Dixon including Suzuki's emotional talk given at her funeral.

   In October of 1968, at Suzuki’s request, Baker sailed for Japan to further study Zen and the culture it was wrapped in there. He went with his wife and daughter, and the nearly completed manuscript. In Tokyo he would find the publisher.
See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) - more on who did what when.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind in Ambivalent Zen : One Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path by Lawrence Shainberg

Baker says, “Suzuki-roshi wanted Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind to be entitled just Beginner’s Mind, but Meredith Weatherby who owned Weatherhill said we had to have Zen in the title.  So I modeled the title on Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.” Weatherby took a personal interest in the book and invited Baker to stay in his downtown farmhouse for Baker’s frequent visits to Tokyo to work further on the manuscript and design of the book...This paragraph was cut in the published version. I did not object

  See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses)

    Before me is the unedited transcript of a lecture that Suzuki gave in Los Altos on November 11, 1965. A sentence in it reads, “In beginner's mind we have many possibilities, but in expert mind there is not much possibility.” In the book, through various stages of editing, that became the often quoted, “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.” The message is unchanged but it reads better.
Beginner's Mind excerpt from ZMBM, the Prologue, with a link to the original.


A Response to the April 2012 appeal for funds for the Cucumber Project and comment on Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind from the Curmudgeon Buddhist.

    “I read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,” Suzuki said once, “to see how my students understand me.”
 “to see what the understanding of my disciples is.” - I just remember him saying this from way back. I think someone told me - maybe Peter Schneider. Interview with Peter and Jane Schneider. Peter was asked to edit ZMBM before Trudy but he was too busy being director of Tassajara. Here's the spot in that interview where Peter quotes SR.

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) wherein Victor shows that in a quote from Peter almost identical to this, Peter is refering to his own opinion - something he said, not Suzuki. I remembered it wrong and didn't remember where it came from. Now I see it as a mistake. It's also in Chapter 17 of Crooked Cucumber. I'll add this to the Errata section of that book. It should be cut from this Afterword.

Peter says it's right. I think I should have used the word “students” instead of “disciples.” - DC (3-15-15) - go to Remarks on ZMBM at Forty

Here's how it now reads in Peter's interview after consultation with him.:

Suzuki Roshi said it wasn’t his book. He said “It’s interesting for me to look at Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind to see how students understand me.”

The former, using disciples instead of students, is just a mistake either in how Peter said it or in transcribing. The sentence moves from a present tense quote in first person to a past tense third person reference of Suzuki in the old one.

If I was as observant as Victor I'd have caught these discrepancies that led to this confusion. - dc

    On that day when the books arrived, Suzuki looked one over, made light of it, hung out awhile, and went with his wife back upstairs to their rooms.
Again, I was there and that's how I remember it.

This is where the published version ends. My agent, Michael Katz suggested it end here without the... must find his not... drama or whatever of the subsequent lines. I informed the Shambhala editorial assistant James Rudnickas of this and left it up to him or them - maybe Peter Turner, the president and whom I think of as the senior editor, had a say. I didn't know they'd taken Michael's suggestion till I got the book.

The ending lines that were cut follow in larger type.

“Not long before he died a year and a half later, he said, “I've put my cookies in the oven, they've come out fine, and now I'm going to crawl in.” “I've put my cookies in the oven,” Bill Kwong told me Suzuki said this to him on their last visit. See interview with Bill Kwong and link to Genjoji, Sonoma Mt. Zen Center (just a ridge over from where DC lives).

See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses)


He’s crawled in, burned up, and gone, but his life work lives on in his students, in the ever-increasing exchange between East and West, in his lectures, in the flow of paradox that is Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, in flesh, in spirit, in word, passing the teaching on, as he said, “warm hand to warm hand.” +“warm hand to warm hand.” - Don't know if there's a source for this. Maybe in lecture, maybe not.
And after fifty years this book, to paraphrase a friend, still has its beginner’s mind. “still has its beginner’s mind.” - Someone in the office of the City Center said this to me when I was interviewing people for ZMBM at Thirty-eight and Counting, an article I did for Inquiring Mind for their Dharma Treasure series. I don't remember who. It was a guy.

David Chadwick is the author of Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, (Broadway, 1999) and Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, Author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Shambhala Publications, 2007).


Sources for the quotes in this article, notes, and extensive elaboration can be found at www.zmbm.net.

That's right. And this is the next to last elaboration.

Jaan Kaplinski, “Shunryu Suzuki” from The Wandering Border, translated from the Estonian by the author with Sam Hamill and Riina Tam. © 1987 by Jaan Kaplinski. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

This permission isn't mentioned in the article but at the front of the book on the copyright info page.

For various assistance in doing this article, thanks to Richard Baker, Rachael Boughton, Kelly Chadwick, Mike Dixon, Silas Hoadley, Michael Katz, Genine Lentine, Mark Lewis, Katrinka McKay, John Nelson, Bill Redican, Paul Rosenblum, Peter Schneider, John Tarrant, Steve Tipton, Peter Turner at Shambhala Publications, Dan Welch, Michael Wenger, and ... can't think of anyone else right now. Please remind me. - DC 

for the 50th, so far just Katrinka


See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses) - Other points to cover


thanks Chris Modec-Halverson for hosting zmbm.net

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