Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind at Fifty
Afterword by DC - annotated version go to zmbm main cuke page
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.
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.
AFTERWORD to the 50th Anniversary Edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind at Fifty
+ = 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.”
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)
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.
Sam Peckinpah - this told me by the son of a producer who worked with Peckinpah
Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior. 1995. ISBN 0-7868-6206-8.+page #s
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]
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.
+page # to come
+intend to add more from book here
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.”
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
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.
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).
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
thank you for the
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.
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.”
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.
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.
+get other review sources
Edward Conze memorial site
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.
+ 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
+“silly idea of self.” find source
+“innocently seeing Zen as good” - find quote in lecture
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind in Ambivalent Zen : One Man's Adventures on the Dharma Path by Lawrence Shainberg
See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses)
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
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.
See Remarks on ZMBM at Forty from Victor Sergeyev (with DC responses)
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.
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.
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
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