The Secret To Developing A Zen Mind…

The Secret To Developing A Zen Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” — Shunryu Suzuki

Here are 11 lessons from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

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

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. 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.

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

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

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

You can do the work. But if do the work without being mindful, you haven’t done the work. You’ve just worked. The effort is determination, the determination to be better.

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

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

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

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.

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 advisers.

Photo by Kasturi Laxmi Mohit on Unsplash

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

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

We can’t turn off. We can’t shut down. We can’t get there if we don’t clear our minds. Power down. Look inward. Breathe.

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

If we are not truthful, what are we? We cannot be authentic without being straightforward. Tell it like it is. Be unabashed. But be kind.

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

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

We change every day. Without change, the world would be stagnant. Change is an advancement in life. We will never stop changing.

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash


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Jonathan Greene


Father, life coach, writer, podcast host, digital minimalist, multi-hyphenate, long-term thinker, Zen practitioner, sociable introvert. Founder and editor of…

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