Suzuki Roshi Transcripts

Thursday, January 11, 1968

Ten Buddhas


I already explained about Maitreya Buddha when I explained about the three period-three period of Buddhism. And in this occasion, I want to explain this-all of the Ten Buddhas which we recite [at] mealtime:

Homage to the pure Dharmakaya Vairochana Buddha.

I already explained Vairochana Buddha.

And to the complete Sambhogakaya Vairochana Buddha.

To the numerous Nirmanakaya Shakyamuni Buddha.

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Friday, January 12, 1968



We are still studying about Samantabhadra Buddha. This buddha is told in Saddharma-in Kegon Sutra.[1] In Kegon-Kegon Sutra is famous for its view of dharma. In Kegon Sutra-the main thought of Kegon Sutra is perfect harmony with truth and various fact or things, and perfect harmony between every existing-every existence.

Jiji muge or riji muge.[2] Most people knows this special technical term. Jiji muge and riji muge. Riji MORE ...

Tuesday, April 23, 1968


Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Tuesday, April 23, 1968, Lecture A

Because I was not well, I'm sorry I couldn't join your practice so much.


Source: City Center original tape. Verbatim transcript by Adam Tinkham (12/26/00).

Short end-of-sesshin lecture

In spite of my lack of effort


Source: City Center original tape. Verbatim transcript by Adam Tinkham (12/26/00).

Saturday, June 01, 1968

June n.d., 1968


... up to about the scroll right there.[1] That is Bodhidharma-Bodhidharma, the First Chinese Patriarch. He came to China five, maybe-we don't know exactly when. But 500, maybe 10 [510 A.D.] or 11 [511 A.D.] he came to China. He was a prince of some-some country near India-Koshi-Koshikoku in Japanese. And he was one of the many teachers who practiced zazen in India, and he came to China.

And there is a famous story about him. But before I explain-talk about him, I want you-to explain something about those scrolls. Excuse me.

[Sound problem: low volume. SR gets up and walks around


[1] First words on tape are missing.

Sunday, July 21, 1968

Buddhist Schools


[1] ... I don't think [laughs] we can reach conclusion.

I was asked to talk about-about some-something like sectarianism. What is Soto and what is Rinzai? Or-and what is the position, or what is the attitude as a Soto priest to other schools of Buddhism? This is the subject I was given to-I was given to speak about it. But this is not so, you know, simple question. It is very big problem.

First of all, we should understand how-why we have so many MORE ...

Wednesday, July 24, 1968



To have complete understanding of our school or-is at the same time-to unders- [partial word]-to have perfect understanding of the non-sectarianism. I don't know precisely [?] [1-2 words] so much, but last night I briefly talked about how various sect appeared in our history of Buddhism. As I told you last night, at first-when-in China when various scriptures was-were introduced to China or translated into Chinese-when some group of scriptures, like Prajñaparamita group or Kegon Sutra[1]-each time some important MORE ...

Sunday, August 25, 1968

The Bodhisattva's Ten Powers

San Francisco[1]

This morning I want to continue the explanation of the ten powers. This-those ten powers are that of bodhisattva's ten powers.[2]

One is the devotion to the Buddha's teaching and no attachment to anything else. The second one is increasing one's devotion. The third is expedient ability to instruct people and alter their conduct. The fourth one is understanding what people think. And fifth is satisfying people with what they want. And sixth-uncessation [no cessation] of exertion. The seventh one MORE ...

Tuesday, October 01, 1968

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #8

Zen Mountain Center

Buddha's disciples were very good people, generous and honest and sincere, but they were, I think, very tough guys, and his followers were very strong people. For instance, as you know, the Dia­mond Sutra was recited at the place called, in Japanese, Giju-gi­kkodoku-on [Skt.: Jetavananathapindadarama], the park given to Buddha by Prince Jeta. The story is that when Sudatta wanted to provide Buddha with a place to stay, he looked for some lodging place, and at last he found a beautiful place which was the property of Prince Jeta. So he asked the Prince to give it to the Buddha. The Prince MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #14

Zen Mountain Center

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi: We have here ... we had here ... various names of Bodhisattvas, and the next ones were the devas, devas or gods, or supernatural beings. [Begins reading from Lotus Sutra, p. 4, Line 18.]

"... further Sakra, the ruler of the celestials, with twenty thousand ... and others." Sakra, the ruler of the celestials. Sakra in Rig Veda's time is not the name of this god. "Sakra" is the adjective as you say: "the strong." If you say "the strong" sometimes you mean strong one is just strong. Same thing with this god. Indra was the name of the god. "Sakra," the strong one, means MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #15

Zen Mountain Center

Page eight. "Then rose in the mind of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Maitreya this thought: Oh, how great a wonder does the Tathagata display! What maybe the cause, what the reason of the Lord producing so great a wonder as this? And such astonishing, prodigious, inconceivable, powerful miracles now appear, although the Lord is absorbed in meditation! Why, let me inquire about this matter; who would be able here to explain it to me? He then thought: Here is Manjushri, the royal prince, who has plied his MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #10

Zen Mountain Center

As Zen Buddhists, it is necessary for us to understand the second patriarch Mahakashyapa. He is famous for his zudagyo, or in Sanskrit, dvadasa dhutagunah. We count twelve zudagyo [juni-zuda = twelve zuda; gyo = practice], which are mostly important ways of organizing one's life as a person and as a member of the sangha.

The first zudagyo is to live in a calm place, such as the forest or woods, aranyaka ["forest dweller"]. In India, everyone, after finishing their household or family life, would MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #7

Zen Mountain Center

Not edited yet

Yesterday I told you about Ajñata-Kaun;d;inya, one of the five earliest disciples[1] of Buddha. As I told you, when Buddha gave up the practice of asceticism, they continued practicing asceticism at the Deer Park. After Buddha attained enlightenment, he came to the Deer Park. At that time he told them about the four noble truths, dana-prajña-paramita, and shila-prajña-paramita. Instead of saying you will attain enlightenment if you practice shila-paramita, he said you will have a good future life. This means that, at that time, he MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #13

Zen Mountain Center

... bodhisattvas and arhats. Subhuti, the Venerable Rahula." Rahula is, as you know, Buddha's son. "With them yet other great disciples, as Venerable Ananda, still under training, and two thousand other monks, some of whom still under training with the other masters; with six thousand nuns having at their head Mahapragapati-" Mahapragapati is Buddha's aunt. "-and the nun Yasodhara." Of course she is Buddha's wife, the mother of Rahula. Rahula is Yasodhara's son and Buddha's son.

"Along with then, along with her train; further, with eighty thousand Bodhisattvas, all unable to slide back, endowed with the MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #3

Zen Mountain Center

I already explained the nature of the Nirmanakaya Buddha and Sambhoga­kaya Buddha. The Nirmanakaya Buddha comes into this world with the vow that he will save all sentient beings. Not by karma, but by vow, he appears in this world, practices the Bodhisattva's way, attains enlightenment as Buddha did, and saves all human beings. So he is called an incarnated body. He changes his form in various ways, sometimes to a bodhisattva, sometimes to a buddha. He takes on various forms to help people, so in the widest sense of the word, everything is Nirmanakaya Buddha. But in the narrow sense, those who appear in this world by vow instead of MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #4

Zen Mountain Center

The point of my previous lecture was that since it may be diffi­cult for you to understand the Lotus Sutra, I wanted to clarify who is sup­posed to have told it. The sutras usually look like they were spoken by the historical Buddha himself. But our Buddhist sutras were not actually spoken by him. So when you read a sutra, if you think it was spoken by Buddha himself, you will be confused, because there are actually many elements in it which did not exist in Buddha's time. Afterwards, when the sutra was compiled, it was interspersed with vari­ous thoughts that existed then. Buddhist thought itself developed from MORE ...

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #5

Zen Mountain Center

What is told in this sutra is the view of the Dharma­kaya world, Sambhogakaya world and Nirmanakaya world. We say shoho jisso [the real state of all elements or dharmas]. Shoho means various dharmas or various be­ings. Jisso is reality. So this is the right view of life and the world, in which various famous disciples of Buddha and arhats and various Sambhogakaya Buddhas and Dharmakaya Buddhas and Nirmanakaya Buddhas would appear. I think it's better to start little by little.

The first chapter is an introduction to the whole su­tra, and it describes the scale of the sutra. "Thus have I heard." All MORE ...

Saturday, October 12, 1968

Sesshin Lecture

Shikantaza, Tenryu's One Finger

Soko-ji, San Francisco

I want to explain our way-our way of zazen. Do you know-you know the famous story of Gutei.[1] When Tenryu[2] pointed up one finger, Gutei attained enlightenment. And do you-what do you think [about] this one finger? He [Gutei] attained enlightenment, you know, and said: "I received Tenryu's one finger, and-which I have been using for-for my lifetime," when he became pretty old he said. "What do you think this is?" [Laughs.]

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The True Dragon

Soko-ji, San Francisco

[Laughs.] This? [Probably an aside to tape operator.]

Dogen-zenji says, "Don't practice your way as if blind man-blind man-blind men trying to figure out what is elephant."[1] The real elephant is not a trunk or rope or fan or wall. But the people thinks blind man-blind man-a blind man may think an elephant is like a wall or rope or trunk. But the real elephant is not-none of those-are not-is not none of those.

And he says, "Don't-don't be curious about the true dragon, like Seiko."[2] In China MORE ...

Sunday, October 20, 1968

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #1

[Third Lotus Sutra series in 1968]

Zen Mountain Center

This sutra titled Saddharma-pundarika-sutra was supposed to be told by Buddha, but actually this sutra appeared maybe after two or three hundred years after Buddha passed away. So historically we cannot say Buddha spoke this sutra. If you ask if all the sutra s were spoken by Buddha, the answer may be that only parts of them were spoken by him. And they will not be exactly as he said them. Even the Hinayana sutras were not handed down by Buddha's disciples exactly as he told them. Since even the Hinayana MORE ...

Monday, October 21, 1968

Lotus Sutra Lecture, #1

Zen Mountain Center

[The Lotus Sutra] ... which was told by a historical Buddha. But some people may be disappointed who believe in historical Buddha. This is not a characteristic of any religion except Buddhism. Only Buddhism went through a long history before having a complete under­standing of the historical Buddha. It took a pretty long time for us to understand who he was.

At first his disciples were attached to his character, or to what he said and did. So his teaching became more and more static and solid. His teaching was transmitted by so-called Hinayana Buddhists, or Sravakas, because they were the disciples, or MORE ...

Tuesday, October 22, 1968

Fourth Lecture of Training Session at Tassajara


[This may be the end of another lecture. -WKR, 8/28/00]

... that is how, actually, we exist here. We exist moment after moment, as ... taking form and color of great Sambogakaya Buddha. That is true. [Chuckle.] Don't you think so? If I say Sambogakaya Buddha, you know, by technical term ... because of technical ... because you don't know, what does it mean, definition of Sambogakaya Buddha, it makes you, more difficult maybe. But we exist here; and we are not permanent being. Only in this moment we exist as like this. But next moment I will change to ... tomorrow I will not be the same person. This is rue. Next moment I shall be MORE ...

Monday, November 11, 1968

Shosan Ceremony


[If you want to know what buddha-nature is][1] ... which is not possible to know what it is-but if you want to realize it, you should wait until it comes to you. If you know-if you want to talk about [that] which is not possible to talk about, present some words to me.

Claude Dalenberg:[2] Docho-roshi: Incessant change and evanescence everywhere. Life is so short. What is the most important-most important thing to do?

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Saturday, December 21, 1968

True Happiness and Renewal of Practice at Year's End

San Francisco

Not edited yet

Everyone seeks for true happiness, but happiness cannot be true happiness if the happiness is not followed by perfect composure. The-usually happiness does not stay long. Happiness is mostly just very short time and it will be lost in next moment when you have it. So, sometimes we will think rather not to have it because after happiness usually followed by sorrow and this is, I think, everyone experiences it in our everyday life.

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Sunday, December 29, 1968

The End of the Year


Next Tuesday we will have no lecture, so this may be-will be the last one for this-at the end of the year we clean up our house and we throw [out] old things which we do not use anymore. And we renew our equipment, even things in the-furniture we renew it. And after cleaning our room we-we put new, new ______ ___ ____ and which is distributed from temple like this. We take off old mats and put new ones, like this. This is-when in temple we have prayer for the-to control fire, this is what you call it ___ ______ ____ __ "taking care of fire," it says in Japanese.

And this is-in temple at end of the year we have ceremony to read Prajñaparamita Sutra-600 volumes of MORE ...


Verbatim transcripts of lectures by Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi, 1962-1971

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