Written by Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Read by Peter Coyote

Available on CD: 180 minutes   (Abridged)

Published by Phoenix Audio (April 2006)

Originally released on audio cassette by Audio Literataure in March 1992


Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971) was a direct spiritual descendant of the great thirteenth-century Zen Master, Dogen. This inspiring work ranks with the great Zen classics, in a voice and language completely adapted to contemporary sensibilities. Suzuki's words breathe with the joy and simplicity that make a liberated life possible. As he reveals the actual practice of Zen as a discipline for daily life, one begins to understand what Zen is really about.

The practice of Zen mind is beginner's mind. The innocence of the first inquiry - what am I? - is needed throughout Zen practice. The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all the possibilities. It is the kind of mind that can see things as they are, which step by step and in a flash can realize the original nature of everything . This practice of Zen mind is found throughout the book. Directly or sometimes by inference, every section of the book concerns the question of how to maintain this attitude through your meditation and in your life. This is an ancient way of teaching, using the simplest language and the situations of everyday life.


Peter Coyote "brings to this reading the skills of a gifted actor and a deep personal commitment to the practice of Zen Buddhism." ... Audio Literature

"Coyote is clear and energetic." ...Listener's Guide to Audio Books

"It's is almost as if the words were originating from within... beautiful in its utter simplicity." ... Vajradhatu Sun

"Actor and fellow Zen practitioner Peter Coyote delivers it with appropriate simplicity and inner calm...Zen Master Suzuki proves a most direct and humble guide in his compassionate emphasis on simplicity, ordinary life, and self-understanding - qualities that Coyote captures in his gentle, assuring voice. For almost 20 years Suzuki's book has been as essential introduction to Zen; now this excellent audio tape makes the practice of Zen more understandable and available to us all. Highly recommended to all libraries." ... Choice

"Suzuki makes spiritual goals seem attainable, and you never feel that beliefs are being forced on you. The writing is simple, powerful and inspiring... Peter Coyote's reading is well-paced and mellifluous; he establishes an appealing rhythm and makes listening to the tape a contemplative experience itself. Suzuki's ideas are subtle but powerful, easy to understand but containing several levels of meaning, so this tape can be listened to many times." ... Publishers Weekly

"Will leave the reader with a new confidence that the world is its own magic and that Buddha is within you." ... Denver Post

"If Kerouac had this book, he could have saved himself a lot of wandering. This book has been a classic from the moment it was first published. ... Big Radio Audio Books

About the author:
Already a deeply respected Zen master in Japan, Suzuki-roshi came to America in 1958, intending only a short visit. But he was so impressed by the quality of "beginner's mind" and the seriousness he found among Americans interested in Zen that he finally became a permanent resident, making his home in San Francisco. Through people wanting to join him in his practice, the meditation group called Zen Center came into being and, under his abbotship, grew to three major locations including Zen Mountain Center, the first Zen training monastery outside Asia. He was undoubtedly one of the most influential Zen teachers of his time. He died at Zen Center in December 1971, a year after this first book was published.


Original 1992 release:


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