Be Kind With Yourself

The key to spiritual practice is not in following instructions, but in acting with warm-hearted intention.

Excerpted from "Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen." Copyright 2002 by San Francisco Zen Center. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins.

After many years of Zen practice in Japan, Shunryu Suzuki came to the U.S. in 1959 and played an influential role in introducing the Western world to Zen Buddhism. He established the San Francisco Zen Center in 1962 and later wrote 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind,' which has become a modern spiritual classic. He died in 1971. "Not Always So" is a collection of lectures from the last years of his life.

Sitting meditation, or "zazen" is the fundamental spiritual practice of Zen Buddhism. Unlike other forms of meditation, zazen does not require that practitioners focus on any object or concept, but involves sitting without movement and concentrating on one's breath. Although zazen is a way to expand consciousness and deepen an understanding of the self, it is not considered a means to an end; a moment of zazen is itself a moment of enlightenment.

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