How to Develop a Zen Mind

11 Lessons from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

“Stone balancing with pebble tower on the Ventura rocky beach” by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
— Shunryu Suzuki

Lesson 1: All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind.

When we think only of ourselves, we ignore 7.6 billion other people. We ignore every issue in the world because we are stuck in traffic.

We are a speck in the universe. Imagine how much we are missing every second we spend being self-centered.

Have context.

I am no one. I am nothing.

Lesson 2: When our mind is compassionate, it is boundless.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
— Dalai Lama

Consider others and become limitless.

Lesson 3: When you do things in the right way, at the right time, everything else will be organized.

Timing is everything.

Proper timing is a product of self-confidence.

Self-confidence guides you to the right way.

There is no universal right way. It’s up to you.

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Lesson 4: In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind.

We try so hard to hide our imperfections.

“I’m so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop” — Kendrick Lamar

We are taught about perfection like it’s possible.

But it is our quirks that people love us for. When we accept our own deficiencies, we accept ourselves.

Lesson 5: For the beginner, practice without effort is not true practice.

You can do the work. But if do the work without being mindful, you haven’t done the work. You’ve just worked.

Effort is determination.

Determination to be better.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
— Mahatma Gandhi

Lesson 6: If you become too busy and too excited, your mind becomes rough and ragged.

We multitask as if it works. We schedule our children as if they like it.

“He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good.” — Rabindranath Tagore

We have thrilling highs. We have debilitating lows.

We are rough. We are ragged. Our minds are fragmented.

Do less. Meditate more. Relax. Think.

Clear your mind.

“A desaturated long-exposure shot of people crowding on stairs in a large public building” by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash

Lesson 7: Not to be attached to something is to be aware of its absolute value.

We are scared of losing it. So we pull tight.

Suffocation from obsessive attachment.

When we covet with such fervor we devalue the object of our affection.

“There are incalculable resources in the human spirit, once it has been set free.”
— Hubert H. Humphrey

Lesson 8: We need a teacher because it is impossible to study ourselves by ourselves.

Anyone can be our teacher when we are open to learning.

We need an outsider to help us diagnose what is inside of us.

Unbiased observations come from our greatest advisors.

“Several people fist bumping over a busy workspace” by on Unsplash

Lesson 9: If your mind is clear, true knowledge is already yours.

We can’t turn off. We can’t shut down.

We can’t get there if we don’t.

Power down.

Look inward.


“To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.”
— Socrates

Lesson 10: True communication depends upon our being straight-forward with one another.

If we are not truthful, what are we?

We can not be authentic without being straight-forward..

“Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other.” — Benjamin E. Mays

Tell it like it is. Be unabashed. But be kind.

Lesson 11: That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence.

We change every day. Without change the world would be stagnant.

Change is advancement.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki is a calming presence to engulf your mind and soul.