Give Branching Streams for Xmas

About the Book           

About Suzuki Roshi    

Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness

A Book of Suzuki-roshi's lectures on the Sandokai.

Shunryu Suzuki Books

Sandokai lecture chart on Shunryu Suzuki dot com

Video of June 3, 1970 SDK lecture, #4


Read the original lectures, hear the audio, read the Wind Bell versions at

Mel Weitsman's Introduction - also posted in Documents relating to Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

Michael Wenger's Introduction

Lineage Chart from the book

Translation of Sandokai

Transliteration of Sandokai - with Chinese reading that the Japanese is based on

These also posted in Documents relating to Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

branching.gif (64341 bytes)Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness by Shunryu Suzuki
Mel Weitsman & Michael Wenger (Editors)
$22.50 Paperback - 197 pages (November 1999)University of California Press -- ISBN: 0520219821

Click thumbnail of cover to enlarge.

Branching Streams - UC Press page
and, from the UCPress website,
Read Chapter 1, "Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: first talk"

Mel Weitsman's Introduction - posted in Documents relating to Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

Berkeley Zendo translation of the Sandokai

Stanford Translation Project translation of the Sandokai

Book Description When Shunryu Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was published in 1972, it was enthusiastically embraced by Westerners eager for spiritual insight and knowledge of Zen. The book became the most successful treatise on Buddhism in English, selling more than one million copies to date. Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness is the first sequel to Suzuki Roshi's important work. Like Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, it is a collection of lectures that reveal the insight, humor, and intimacy with Zen that made Suzuki Roshi so influential as a teacher.

[Actually, it was NOT billed by the SFZC as a sequel to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. It just naturally has been called that. Ed Brown is working on a new book of edited lectures by Suzuki-roshi which has more of that intent. Much of the following info I took off of and reflects what the publisher sent them.--DC]

The Sandokai--a poem by the eighth-century Zen master Sekito Kisen (Ch. Shitou Xiqian)--is the subject of these lectures. Given in 1970 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the lectures are an example of a Zen teacher in his prime elucidating a venerated, ancient, and difficult work to his Western students. The poem addresses the question of how the oneness of things and the multiplicity of things coexist (or, as Suzuki Roshi expresses it, "things-as-it- is"). Included with the lectures are his students' questions and his direct answers to them, along with a meditation instruction. Suzuki Roshi's teachings are valuable not only for those with a general interest in Buddhism but also for students of Zen practice wanting an example of how a modern master in the Japanese Soto Zen tradition understands this core text today.

From the Back Cover "Suzuki Roshi's gentle wisdom shines through these intimate talks on the Sandokai. I am grateful to Mel Weitsman and Michael Wenger for their labor of love." --Robert Aitken, author of Taking the Path of Zen and Original Dwelling Place

"Buddhists and lovers of Buddhism who have read and reread Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind over the years, as well as those who are just discovering the wisdom of this wonderful, profound teacher for the first time, will welcome this new book of lectures on Zen training as a gift we did not expect to receive. Branching Streams should be read slowly and savored." --Rita M. Gross, author of Buddhism After Patriarchy

"Through the poetry of knowing and doing, Shunryu Suzuki points out a path of practical wisdom for Americans today, in a voice so close at hand it can touch their inner experience of the interdependence of existence, open their ears to hear its harmony of difference and sameness, and awaken their willingness to be true to its mystery."--Steven M. Tipton, co-author of Habits of the Heart

"An opportunity to peer even more deeply into Suzuki Roshi's Zen mind and ponder the true meaning and value of recognizing the non-dual in our ordinary lives. The repartee with his students is by itself a great and unexpected gift, reviving that charming voice and warm wisdom we grew to know and love so well through Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind."--Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Wherever You Go, There You Are

About the Author Shunryu Suzuki Roshi came to the United States in 1959, leaving his temple in Yaizu, Japan, to serve as priest for the Japanese American congregation at Sokoji Temple in San Francisco. In 1967 he and his students created the first Zen Buddhist monastery in America at Tassajara in the coastal mountains south of San Francisco. Suzuki Roshi died in 1971 at age 67, a year and a half after delivering his teaching on the Sandokai. He may have had a premonition of his coming death when he said that it was common for Zen teachers in the Soto tradition to lecture on the Sandokai near the end of life.

Mel Weitsman is the former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center and current abbot of the Berkeley Zen Center. Michael Wenger is Dean of Buddhist Studies at the San Francisco Zen Center.

Publishers Weekly October 11, 1999, Page 69
Religion (Buddhism/Asian Studies)

[It has a star--that's real good]

This book is billed as a sequel to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Suzuki's classic collection of talks on Zen, but it stands on its own considerable merits as an eloquent, humorous series of lectures on the Sandokai, an eighth-century poem central to the Soto Zen tradition. These lectures show Suzuki, head priest of Tassajara monastery in California until his death in 1971, using his line-by-line exposition of the poem to illuminate what it means to practice Zen Buddhism. He stresses the simultaneity of the relative and the absolute, skillfully using words to direct his listeners toward understanding, all the while emphasizing that words are merely fingers pointing at the moon of enlightenment. Suzuki's devaluation of the verbal frees him to embrace humor and paradox as teaching methods: his examples range from ancient Chinese stories to anecdotes about weeding in the Tassajara garden and encountering an earwig. Readers of his previous book will be familiar with his earthy, clear, intense style. This book also conveys the texture of monastery life; it recounts 12 consecutive talks and includes the question-and-answer sessions at the end of each talk. These exchanges offer some of the most fascinating parts of an already excellent book, as they explicate some of the unclear points and illuminate the indirect yet confrontational quality of traditional Japanese Zen teaching. (Nov.)

A review From Booklist , October 1.

Suzuki (1904-1971) came to San Francisco in 1959, established the first Zen Buddhist monastery in the U.S., and wrote the seminal Zen text for Westerners, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1972). Toward the end of his life, Suzuki presented a series of talks based on the Sandokai, an eighth-century poem written by the Chinese Zen master Sekito Kisen. An elegant set of 22 couplets, it addresses a number of dichotomies, such as light and dark and sharp or dull, and it is chanted daily in Zen temples. In his cogent discussions and the question-and-answer sessions that follow--edited for publication by Mel Weitsman of the Berkeley Zen Center and Michael Wenger of the San Francisco Zen Center--Suzuki worked his way through the entire poem, expounding on the meanings of the Sandokai's imagery and its relevance to Buddhist practice and to life. The fact that one text can inspire a book's worth of philosophical thought and practical advice is testimony both to Buddhism's depths and to Suzuki's considerable gifts. Donna Seaman Copyright(c) 1999, American Library Association. All rights reserved

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