zen mind, beginner's mind

For Zen students, the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our “original mind” includes everything 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.


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 demanidng, when you long for something, you will end up violating your own precepts.

In ththe beginner’s mind there are no thoughts. All self-centered thoughts limit our vast minds. When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Thne we can really learn something. The beginner’s mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.

Right Practice

Zazen practice is the direct expression of our true nature.

// stuff about upright posture and oneness in crossing your legs.

The most important point is to own your own physical body. If you slump, you will lose yourself. If your mind will be wandering about somewher else. You will not be in your body. This is not the way. We must exist right here. Right now. Everything should exist in the right place in the right way. Then there is no problem.

But usually, without being aware of it , we try to change something other than ourselves, we try to order things outside us. But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order. When you do things in the right way at the right time everything else will be organized.

Breathing: Using the metaphor of a swinging door. There is no outside world and inside world, There is no I , no world, no body; just a swinging door.

But actually there is no this afternoon, We do things one after the other. That is all. There is no such time as this afternoon or one o’ clock. At one o clock you will eat your lunch. To eat lunch is itself one o clock. You will be somewhere but that place cannot be separated from one o clock. For someone who actually appreciates our life, they are the same. But when we become tired of our life we may say “I shouldn’t ave come to this place.” It may have been much better to have gone to some other place for lunch. This place is not so good” In your mind you create an idea of place separate from an actual time.

Or you may say, “This is bad, so I should not do this”. Actually when you say that you should not do this, you are doing ‘not-doing’ in that moment. So there is no choice for you. When you separate the idea of time and space, you feel as if you have some choice, but actually you have to do something or you have to do not-doing. Not-to-do something is doing something. Good or bad is only in your mind. Instead of bad, you should say “not-to-do”.

If you think that something is bad, it creates confusion. All that we should do is just do soemthing as it comes. Do something! Whatever it is we should do it, even if it is not-doing something.We should live in this moment, so when we sit and we concentrate on our breating, wand we befcome a swinging door, and we do sometthing we should do, something we must do. This is zen practice. In this practice there is no confusion. If you establish this kind of life you have no confusion whatsoever.

Quite independent yet dependent on everything. When we become truly ourselves, we just become a swinging door, and we are purely independent of and at the same time dependent on everything. Without air, we cannot breathe. Each one of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds. We are in the center of the world always, moment after moment. So we are completely dependent and independent. If you have this kind of experience, you this kind of existence, you have absolute independence; you will not be bothered by anyhting. So when you practise zazen, you mind should be conecentrated on your breathing.

Watch things go out of balance and notice the background in perfect balance.


Even though you try to put people under some control, it is impossilbe. You cannot do it the best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people first let them do what they want and watch them. This is the best policy.

In he same way for yourself. If you want to obtain perfect calmness in your zazen you should not be bothered by the various images you find in your mind. Let them come and let them go. Then they will be under control. But this policy is not so easy. It sounds easy, but it requires some special effort. How to make this kind of effort os the secret of practice.

If you try to calm your mind you will be unable to sit, and if you try not to be disturbed, your effort will not be the right effort. The only effort is to concentrate on your breathing. We say concentration, but to concentrate your mind on something is not the true purpose of zen. The true purpose of zen is to see the world as it is.

When practicing zazan, do not try to stop your thinking. let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind, let it come in and let it go out. it will not stay long. It appears as if something comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer. In five or ten minutes, your mind will be completely serene and calm.

Small mind to big mind.

  • Let thoughts come in and go out. No control. five to ten minutes.

If your mind is related to something outside itself, that mind is the small mind, the limited mind. If your mind is not related to anything else, then there is no dualistic understanding in the activity in your mind. You understand activity as just waves of your mind.

That everything that is included within your mind is the essence of mind. Your mind does not expect anything from outside, it is always filled.

Outside relation thoughts as weeds that nourish the plant in my mind.

Stopping thoughts does not mean stopping the activities of your mind, it means your mind pervades your whole body.

As long as you are concern with what you do, that is dualistic. If you are not concerned about what you do, you will not say so.

After zazen we bow to the floor nine times. By bowing we are giving up ourselves.

In your big mind, everything has the same value.

When we express our true nature, we are human beings. When we do not, we do not know what we are.

  • Forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas.

Right Attitude

You should allow yourself plenty of time, you should work on it with nothing in your mind, and without expecting anything.

  • Life like a railway track, You should not see the railway track if you do, you will become dizzy, Just appreciate the sights you see from the train.
  • Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine. Try to always be calm and joyful and keep yourself from excitement.
  • Try not to see something in particular, try not to achieve anything special.
  • When you do something, you should burn yourself completely; no trace.

Most people have a double or triple notion in one activity. That kind of thinking always leaves its shadow on their acitivity. The shadow is not actually the thinking itself. Of course,it is often necessary ti think and prepare before we act. But right thinking does not leave a shadow.

So if you attach to the idea of what you have done, you are involved in selfish ideas. We should remember what we have done but not become attached to what we have done in some special sense.

And we should forget, day by day what we have done; this is true non-attachement and we should do something new. To do something new of course we must know our past, anyhting we have done we should only reflect on it.

Mistakes in practice it is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a sign or warning signal to show you the weak point in your practice.

When you are idealistic, you have some gaining idea within yourself. By the time you attain your ideal or goal, your gaining idea will create another ideal. So as long as your practice is based on a gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time actually to attain your ideal. Moreover, you will be sacrificing the meat of your practice. Because your attainment is always ahead, you will always be sacrificing yourself now for some ideal in the future. You end up with nothing. This is absurd; it is not adequate practice at all. But even worse

You will be discouraged by your practice when you become idealistic.

Another mistake will be to practice for the sake of the joy you find in it. Actually when your practice is involved in a feeling of joy, it is not in very good shape either.

The best way is just to do it without having any joy in it, not even spiritual joy.

The cause of conflict is some fixed idea or one-sided idea. When everyone knows the value of pure practice, we will have little conflict in our world. This is the secret of our practice and dogen-zenji’s way.

If you understand the cause of conflict as some fixed or oe-sided idea, you can find meaning in various practices without being caught by any of them. If youd o not realise this point you will be easily caught by some particular way and you will say “this is enlightenment”

When your life is always a part of your surroundings, then there is no proble. When you start to wander about in some delusion which is somehting aparat from you yourself, then your surroundings are not real anymore and your mind is not real anymore. Most people live in delusion, involved in their problem, trying to solve their problem. But just to live is actually to live in problems. And tosolve the problem is to be a part of it, to be one with it.

“People who know the state of emptiness will always be able to dissolve their problems by constancy.”

It means not to goseeking for something outside f yourself. This is a very important point,and it is th eonly way to practice Zen.

Constancy is an unchanging ability to accept things as they are.

It is quite usual for us to gather pieces of information from various sources, thinking that in this way it increases our knowledge. Acutally, following this way we end up not knowing anything at all.

When you listen to our teaching with a pure and clear mind, you can accept it as if you were hearing something which you already knew. This is called emptiness or omnipotent self, or knowing everything.

We should accept knowledge as though it is hearing something that we already knew. But this does not mean to receive various pieces of information merely as an echo of your own opinions. It means that you should not be surprised at whatever you see or hear. If you receive things just as an echo of yourself, you do not really see them. If you are ready to accept things as they are, you will receive them as old friends, even though you appreciate them with new feelings

We should not hoard knowledge. We should not try to surprise people with treasures, we should not be interested in something special. If you want to appreciate something fully, you should forget yourself. You should accept it like lightning flashing in the utter darkness of the sky.

When we say soemthing, our subjective intention or situation is always involved. So there is no perfect word; and some distortion is always present.

To understand reality as a direct experience is the reason that we practice zen. We emphasize straightforwardness. you should be true to your feelings, and your mind, expressing yourself without any reservations. This helps the listener to understand more easily.

When you listen to someone. you should give up all your preconceived ideas and subjective opinions. you should just listen to him him, just observe what he has to say.

We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him; and accept it.

Usually, when you listen to some statement, you hear it as an echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinions. If you agree

Negative and Positive.

Big mid is something to express, not something to figure out. Big mind is something you have, not something that you seek for.

When we talk about something we just talk about something, just the positive or the negative side of things. Without trying to express some intellectual one sided idea.

And we listen without trying to figure out some intellectual understanding, without trying to figure out some intellectual undertstanding.

Traditional Zen Spirit

The most important things in your practice are our physical posture and our way of breathing.

Ego-centered ideas. When we have no idea of ego, we have Buddha’s view of life. Our egoistic ideas are delusion covering our Buddha nature. We are always creating and following them, and in repeating this process over and over again, our life becomes completely occupied by ego-centered ideas. This is called the karmic life, or karma. The Buddhist life should not be karmic life. The purpose of practice is to cut off the karmic spinning mind. If you are trying to attain enlightenment, this is also part of karma, you are creating and being driven by karma.

Practicing based on gaining ideas is just a repetition of your karma.

You are always looking for something without knowing what you are doing. If you want to see something, you should open your eyes.


Acceptance of the fact that everything changes. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.

The Quality of Being

When you do something, if you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. When you are concentrated on the quality of your being, you are prepared for the activity.

Movement is nothing but the quality of our being.


Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life.

Something that comes out of nothingness is naturalness, like a seed or plant coming out of the ground.


Step by step I stop the sound of the murmuring brook.

The sound is continuous, but you must be able to stop it if you want to stop it. This is freedom. This is renunciation.

One after another you will have various thoughts in your mind. but if you want to stop your thinking you can. So when you are able to stop the sound of the murmuring brook, you will appreciate the feeling of your work. But as long as you have some fixed idea or are caught by some habitual way of doing things, you cannot appreciate things in their true sense.

Our way is not always to go in one direction. Sometimes we go east, sometimes we go west. To go one mile to the west means to go back one mile to the east. Usually, if you go one mile to the east it is the opposite of going on mile to the west. But if it is possible to go one mile to the east, that means that it is possible to go one mile to the west. This is freedom. Without this freedom, you cannot be concentrated on what you do. You may think you are concentrated on something, but before you obtain this freedom, you will have some uneasiness in what you are doing.

Because you are bound by some idea of going east or west, your activity is in dichotomy or duality. AS long as you are caught by duality you cannot attain absolute freedom, and you cannot concentrate. Concentration is not to try hard to watch something. In zazen, if you try to look at one spot you will be tired in five minutes. This is not concentration. Concentration means freedom. So your effort should be directed at nothing. You should be concentrated on nothing. TIn zazen practice we say your mind should be concentrated on your breathing, but the way to keep your mind on your breathing is to forget all about yourself and just to sit and feel your breathing. If you are concentrated on your breathing you will forget yourself and, and if you forget yourself you will be able to focus on your breathing.

Believing in nothing

In our everyday life our thinking is ninety nine percent self-centered. Why do I have suffering Why do I have trouble?

I discovered that it is necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something that has no form or color - something which exists before all form and color appears. If you become attached to a doctrine, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea. You strive for perfect faith in order to save yourself. But it will take time to attain such a perfect faith. You will be involved in an idealistic practice. In constantly seeking to actualize your ideal, you will have no time for composure.

If you reflect on yourself, that self is not your true self any more. You cannot project youself as some objective thing to think about. The mind which is always on your side is not just your mind, it is the universal mind. It is Zen Mind.