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the ‘me’ is extra

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The late Shunryo Suzuki 鈴木 俊隆, founder of the Zen Center of San Francisco, offers these instructions on breath meditation:

When we practice [meditation] our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. The inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say ‘inner world’ or ‘outer world’, but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door.

If you think, ‘I breathe’, the ‘I’ is extra. There is no you to say ‘I’. What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no ‘I’, no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.

source: Suzuki, S. (1973). Zen mind, beginner’s mind: informal talks on Zen meditation and practice. Weatherhill. This quote is actually from the 2011 edition, p. 11.


3 responses »

  1. Coincidentally, I’m reading this book just now, and some of his other lectures printed in the journal, Wind Bell.

    Here’s my teacher…..

  2. thanks steve, please share any gems that pop out/up for you.

    p.s. copies of the 1973 edition may well be available in 2nd-hand book stores. a new (40th anniversary deluxe) edition came out in 2010 (hardcover) and 2011 (paper).

    • I found my copy in a thrift store and have seen it in others.

      Other than the one Peter already posted, here is my gem, so far:

      These forms [of sitting upright in meditation] are not a means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture itself is the purpose of our practice. When you have this posture, you have the right state of mind, so there is no need to try to attain some special state. When you try to attain something, your mind starts to wander about somewhere else. When you do not try to attain anything, you have your own body and mind right here. (pp. 26-27)


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