On Posture: “These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take the position is itself to have the right state of mind. There is no need to obtain some special state of mind.”
Especially to anyone job-seeking or experiencing impostor syndrome, you’re already a designer no matter what you’ve been told. All you need to do is design. Your experience is your expertise.
On Control: “To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”
To me, this is about creative problem-solving. Animals respond differently to different methods of control. “Control” is not always about a tight grasp or a short leash, it is about matching solutions to problems. Sometimes your solution is the exact opposite of what you assumed. Sometimes your instincts are wrong. Be willing to try something very different.
On Mind Weeds: “You should rather be grateful for the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice.”
I take this to be generally about creativity and quality of thought. Not every thought helps us directly, but information has a way of making itself useful, whether transmitted directly or transformed into a lesson. Tend to your ideas, appreciate the “junk,” and allow it to fertilize your next iteration.
On the Marrow of Zen: “In the zazen posture, your mind and body have great power to accept things as they are, whether agreeable or disagreeable.”
Remain centered and flexible. With research, there is no good or bad information, only information. Your boss or client may not like your design, but don’t take it personally. Listen to feedback, redefine user/business needs, and iterate.
On Nothing Special: “If you continue this simple practice every day, you will obtain some wonderful power. Before you attain it, it is something wonderful, but after you attain it, it is nothing special.”
What any master says about any practice. Perhaps you possess a design skillset you once deemed magical, perhaps you envy the skills of your peers or elders. Any field or practice feels magical to the uninitiated and mundane to insiders. UX is no different. Learn actively, learn something new every day and you’re on your way.
On Repetition: “If you lose the spirit of repetition, your practice will become quite difficult.”
Iteration! Repetition is your friend in the design world. You must retread your drafts and mistakes constantly to produce a meaningful result. Make peace with this process, or you and your designs will suffer.
On ‘No Trace’: “When you do something, you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”
This reminded me of a quote by designer Joe Sparano: “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” Suzuki appears to be talking more about an ego-less approach, but high self-opinion may manifest as extraneous, self-serving design.
On Mistakes in Practice: “It is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a sign or warning signal to show you the weak point in your practice.”
A reminder that when you fail to serve the needs of users, no one is satisfied with your work. If you design for others based on your own preferences, you’ve missed the point.
On Limiting Your Activity: “Usually when someone believes in a particular religion, his attitude becomes more and more a sharp angle pointing away from oneself. In our way the point of the angle is always towards ourselves.”
Replace “religion” with “dogma” for a less inflammatory read. This suggests you should use your experience, skills, knowledge to figure out your own shortcomings and improve your designs. Don’t become preoccupied with your opinions of “good/bad design,” just do your thing nonjudgmentally.
On Readiness & Mindfulness: “It is the readiness of the mind that is wisdom.”
Here, wisdom is a mindset and not a state of advanced knowledge. Beginner’s mind is the open mind, the unencumbered mind, the truly creative mind. It is not hemmed in by assumptions or artificial boundaries or rules (that may not even apply). May your lack of preconceptions set you free.