Synopses & Reviews
Shunryu Suzuki's first book, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, published in 1971, continues to be one of the world's most valued books on Buddhism. Now the long-awaited companion volume, Not Always So, has arrived.
Chosen and edited by Edward Espe Brown, bestselling author and student of Suzuki's, the lectures are taken from the last three years of Suzuki's life. His maturity as a teacher with a deep commitment to conveying his message is warmly and fully expressed.
In Not Always So Suzuki voices Zen in everyday language, with humor and good-heartedness. While offering sustenance much like a mother and father lending a hand, Suzuki encourages you to find your own way. Rather than emphasizing specific directions and techniques, his teaching encourages you to touch and know your true heart and to express yourself fully. Suzuki's words do not seem to come from outside, but awaken a voice arising from your own being.
Topics in this volume include living in each moment, being kind to yourself, and "wherever you are, enlightenment is there." Whether speaking about changing your karma or walking like an elephant (Slowly, without any idea of hasty gain), Suzuki's guidance empowers freedom rather than prescribes thought. This extraordinary new collection allows Suzuki's presence to enter your life in the form of a wise, warmhearted friend. Not Always So is a wonderful gift for anyone seeking spiritual fulfillment and inner peace.
“Indeed something very special . . . [Brown] has edited transcriptions of Suzukis talks that both read well on the page and capture the style, humor and solid grasp evident in [Zen Mind, Beginners Mind]. This will prove highly valuable to anyone, rank novice or Zen master.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
Not Always So is based on Shunryu Suzuki's lectures and is framed in his own inimitable allusive, paradoxical style, rich with unexpected and off–centre insights. Suzuki knew he was dying at the time of the lectures, which gives his thoughts an urgency and focus even sharper than in the earlier book.
In Not Always So Suzuki Roshi once again voices Zen in everyday language with the vigour, sensitivity, and buoyancy of a true friend. Here is support and nourishment. Here is a mother and father lending a hand, but letting you find your own way. Here is guidance which empowers your freedom (or way–seeking mind), rather than pinning you down to directions and techniques. Here is teaching which encourages you to touch and know your true heart and to express yourself fully, teaching which is not teaching from outside, but a voice arising in your own being.
About the Author
The Zen master Shunryu Suzuki was an unassuming, much-beloved spiritual teacher. Born the son of a Zen master in 1904, Suzuki began Zen training as a youngster and matured over many years of practice in Japan. After continuing to devote himself to his priestly life throughout the Second World War (when priests often turned to other occupations), Suzuki came to San Francisco in 1959. While some priests had come to the West with "new suits and shiny shoes," Suzuki decided to come "in an old robe with a shiny [shaved] head." Attracting students over several years, Suzuki established the Zen Center in San Francisco, with a training temple at Tassajara-the first in the West. After a lengthy illness, he died of cancer in December 1971.
Edward Espe Brown was ordained as a Zen priest in 1971 by Shunryu Suzuki, who gave him the name Jusan Kainei, "Longevity Mountain, Peaceful Sea." While a student at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, he wrote two bestselling books, The Tassajara Bread Book and Tassajara Cooking. His most recent book is Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings.