Shunryu Suzuki (1904 - 1971) established the Zen Center in San Francisco with a training center at Tassajara. A collection of his lectures, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, was published in 1971 and continues to be an essential resource for Buddhists. One of his students, who later became a senior teacher at the Zen Center and Tassajara, is Edward Espe Brown. Now Sounds True has published this edifying collection of 60 essays based on Edward Espe Brown's dharma talks where he ponders the manifold and multidimensional ideas, experiences, and practices that unfold from one of Shunryu Suzuki's most famous sayings: "The most important point is to find out what is the most important point."
From here, Brown catapults us into dharma talks about the benefits of meditation, the gift of attention, finding what you really want, the backward step, virtue and a cook's temperament, trusting your own experience, not putting another head above your own, when adversity is useful, small acts of great kindness, and each moment is a new life. An entire section covers "Cooking Your Life," a most appropriate practice coming from a teacher also known for his cookbooks.
Danny Parker, the editor of this volume and a student of Edward Espe Brown, describes him as "humble, human, real." Perhaps that humility is the reason that, as a frame for his own teachings, he freely shares the wisdom of his own teacher. Here are a few of those gems from Suzuki Roshi:
- "Sitting meditation is to practice being ready for anything."
- "Every day is a good day, but it doesn't mean you can't complain"
- "When you experience enlightenment, you will understand things more freely. You won't mind whatever people call you."
- "Zen is to feel your way along in the dark."
- "Zen is to settle the self on the self."
- "Don't be fooled. Don't always believe what you think. Find out for yourself."
- "You are the boss of your life."
- "When you are cooking, you are not just working on food. You are working on yourself; you are working on other people."
- "The important thing is simply to wake up. Wake up to your life."