Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971) was the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and author of the popular Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. In this volume edited by Mel Weitsman and Michael Wenger, this teacher presents his interpretation and commentary on the Sandokai-a poem by the eighth century Zen master Sekito Kisen. These 13 talks provide a succinct overview of Suzuki's views on enlightenment, suffering, the big mind, the dangers of dualistic thinking, and the futility of knowing in the head what Zen is.
In one lecture, Suzuki refers to the double side of human nature: "In Zen sometimes we say that each one of us is steep like a cliff. No one can scale us. We are completely independent. But when you hear me say so, you should understand the other side too that we are endlessly interrelated." At another point, Suzuki spells out the joy that can emanate from taking one thing at a time as it presents itself in our lives. Do not be perturbed by something bad or ecstatic about something good. "If you can just appreciate each thing, one by one, then you will have gratitude."
There are also question and answer sections included in this book. Someone asks Suzuki why monks shave their heads. He answers, "So that your thinking mind can go as smoothly as this (rubbing his shaved head with his hand)." This is an essential resource for all devotees of Suzuki Roshi.