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Not Always So

Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
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Paperback Book
May, 2003
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$21.00 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

The way to study true Zen is not verbal. Just open yourself and give up everything. Whatever happens, study closely and see what you find out. This is the fundamental attitude.

Thirty years after his death, Shunryu Suzuki’s first book—Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, published in 1971—continues to be one of the world’s most widely read books on Buddhism. Now, Not Always So contains his final lectures, given when he knew he was dying. Resonant with Suzuki’s simple, realized words, the topics include living in each moment, expressing yourself fully, and “wherever you are, enlightenment is there.” Whether speaking on changing karma or walking like an elephant (“Slowly without idea of hasty gain”), Suzuki Roshi’s guidance empowers freedom rather than prescribing thought. This extraordinary new collection allows Suzuki Roshi’s presence to enter your life in the form of a wise, warm-hearted friend. Entirely in Suzuki’s own words, Not Always So is a precious gift of the Dharma, collected, sifted and edited with loving care by Ed Brown, who studied with Suzuki for several years and also wrote The Tassajara Bread Book.

So the secret is just to say ‘Yes!’ and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself in the present moment, always yourself, without sticking to an old self. You forget all about yourself and are refreshed. You are a new self, and before that self becomes an old self, you say ‘Yes!’ and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast. So the point of each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice.

How refreshing to have perhaps, on average, one book per decade from a good teacher! Enough is better than more. And it allows for plenty of “chewing” and “digestion” time.

Publisher’s Description: 

Practising 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 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.

Our tendency is to be interested in something that is growing in the garden, not in the bare soil itself. But if you want to have a good harvest, the most important thing is to make the soil rich and cultivate it well. In a beautiful companion volume to Shunryu Suzuki’s first book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, this is a collection of thirty-five lectures taken from the last three years of Suzuki’s life that has been masterfully edited by Edward Espe Brown, bestselling author and one of Suzuki’s students. In Not Always So Shunryu Suzuki voices Zen in everyday language, with humor and good-heartedness. While offering sustenance -- much like a mother or 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. Wise and inspirational, Not Always So is a wonderful gift for anyone seeking spiritual fulfillment and inner peace.

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