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 follow-up volume 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.
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.
"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 sixty seven, a year and a half after delivering his teaching on the Sandokai. Mel Weltsman 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. "That same 'there-is-no-problem-here' voice that we first heard in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind comes through beautifully once again.... However simple and gentle he sounds, Suzuki is not giving us a dumbed-down self-help book. This is very sophisticated instruction." - Kobal Scott Whitney, Parabola "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 Roshi's considerable gifts." - Donna Seaman, Booklist "An eloquent, humorous series of lectures on the Sandokai. [The question-and-answer sessions] offer some of the most fascinating parts of an already excellent book." - Publishers Weekly "Read and relax with Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, which offers an enlightening look at your place in the universe." - New York Times special supplement, "The Best of the Season" "Wonderful, simple, and bottomlessly deep, as Suzuki always is." - Tricycle