cover image Zen Is Right Now: More Teaching Stories & Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Is Right Now: More Teaching Stories & Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki, edited by David Chadwick. Shambhala, $14.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-61180-914-5

Buddhist writer Chadwick (Crooked Cucumber) collects vignettes from the life of Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971), an influential figure in 20th-century Zen Buddhism in this insightful appreciation. Most of the accounts come from Suzuki’s students at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in San Francisco and occurred during shosan, a formal question and answer ceremony with the teacher. While the stories relate only brief exchanges between teacher and student, they convey the depth and humor of Suzuki’s teaching. The snippets are often only a few sentences and never longer than a page, with many beginning “Suzuki said” or “a student asked.” Speaking to these nameless students, Suzuki challenged them to open their minds and face the reality of death—while also making space for laughter and playfulness. He urged students to see the meaning present in everyday life, but to avoid getting attached to one’s thoughts, preferences, and even one’s practice. For Suzuki, the point of Buddhism was not so much about enlightenment, but about sharing in “the joy of practice” and in learning how to “die well.” Buddhist readers both new to or already familiar with Suzuki’s teaching will find disarming simplicity and great wisdom here. (July)