Suzuki Roshi Transcripts

Sunday, March 09, 1969

Blue Cliff Record #3

Soko-ji, San Francisco

I am glad to see you from here [laughs]. My organ [?][1] may not be so good yet, but I am-today I'm testing, you know, just testing. [Laughs, laughter.] I don't know if it works or not. Whether it works or not, or if I speak or not, is not such a big problem for us. Whatever happen to us, it is something which it should happen-which should happen. So purpose of our practice [is] to have this kind of complete composure in our everyday life.

Some of Japanese member, you know, thought because I am-I am practicing always zazen, "he not-he will not be catch cold. [Laughs.] He will not suffer from flu. But it was funny for him to MORE ...

Monday, March 10, 1969

Nansen's "Everyday Mind Is Dao"

... it was very, very cold. It was November? I don't remember exactly. November or-he said [?]-I told you [him], you know:

"Don't wear so-so much clothing. Even though we wear many clothing, you will not be so warm. And if your practice is sincere enough, even though you do not wear so much, you will not be so cold. If you are involved in intense practice, you know, actually you don't feel so cold."

And so he appeared in zendo [with] only one thin shirt [laughs, laughter]. And he practiced. I said to him, "It may be too thin. You have to wear little bit more " [laughs, laughter].

But he say, "It's all right." And he sits [with] just one shirt MORE ...

Saturday, March 15, 1969

Find Out for Yourself

In your zazen, perhaps you will have many difficulties or problems. But when you have some problem, it is necessary for you to find out-try to find out by yourself why you have problem. Before you ask someone, it is necessary for you to try to find out why.

Usually your way of study is to master it as soon as possible and by some best way. So before you think you may ask someone why you have some problem. But that kind of way may be very good for your usual life, but if you want to study Zen, it doesn't help so MORE ...

Sunday, March 16, 1969


Our practice should be based on the idea of selflessness. This selflessness is very difficult [to] understand. If you try to be selflessness, you know, that is already selfish idea. [Laughs.] We don't know what to do, what-how to cope with it. Perhaps you may-you must have tried various way, but selflessness is not something which you can try, you know. It-selflessness should-should be there when you do not try anything. Selflessness is not something which you can be aware of. But for us, we have to-it is necessary to try and to know-it is necessary to know how difficult it is.

And because it is difficult, you want some guidance or teacher. Maybe when you have good teacher and when you are practicing with MORE ...

Sunday, March 30, 1969

Ordinary and Holy

[The point of][1] ... my talk is just to give you some help in your practice. So it is just help, you know. So there's, as I always say, there is no need for you to remember what I said as something definite, you know. I'm just trying to help you, so it is just support of your [laughs] practice. So if you stick to it, it means that you stick to the support-not, you know, tree itself. You know, a tree, when it is strong enough, it may want some support. But the most important one is the tree itself, not support.

I have, you know, I am one tree, and each one of you are a tree of itself. And by itself, you should, you know, stand up. And when MORE ...

Tuesday, April 08, 1969

The Only Desire that is Complete is Buddha's Desire

[Recently][1] I was talking about denial of, you know, desires. This is very confusing, you know-may be confusing. Our way is not asceticism, but actually, what we-if you read, you know, our precepts literally, there is no difference [laughs]. But what it means is completely different. What is the difference is what I want to talk about tonight. Or what is the difference between "to study" and "to listen to." "Go to the master and listen to what he says" and "to study." Or why you started to study Zen. There must be some reason why so many people come and-come to Zen Center and practice MORE ...

Saturday, April 19, 1969

Afternoon Sesshin Lecture

Ryogen-sensei: Good afternoon. Are you very tired in sesshin? ...

Suzuki-roshi: [Whispers 1-2 sentences in Japanese, presumably to Ryogen-sensei.]

It is already 3:30. I have twenty minutes more. [Laughs.] Twenty minutes more.

Actually, Zen is not something to talk [about], and also it is something to talk [about]. [Laughs.] If you understand Zen in that way, your understanding will be perfect. If someone ask you, "What is Zen?" you may say, "Whatever you say, that is Zen." [Laughs.] And you may say, at the same time, "Whatever you say, it is not MORE ...

Sunday, April 20, 1969

Why We Practice

It's-it is pretty difficult, but I will try-try to speak about purpose of our practice.

Before I try to explain our practice, I think I should explain why we practice, you know-why we should practice Zen when we have buddha-nature. And this is the great problem Dogen-zenji had. And he worked for this question before he went to China and met with Nyojo-zenji.[1]

And this is not, of course, so easy problem, but if you understand what do we mean when we say everyone has buddha-nature, and everything has buddha-nature. What does it mean? And he explained very carefully in Shobogenzo, on the-in the first MORE ...

Tuesday, April 29, 1969

Bodhisattva's Vow

This morning I want to-to explain how to take our bodhisattva's vow. We say "bodhisattva's vow," but actually this is not only Mahayana Buddhist vow but also all the Buddhist vow. When we say Mahayana, we also-it means that something-usually it means that the something superior teaching in contrast with Hinayana. But this is-may not be real understanding. According to Dogen-zenji, this is not right understanding, to say "Hinayana" or "Mahayana."

From the beginning of-the Agama-sutra[1] is supposed to be the oldest sutra-Buddhist sutra, but even in Agama-sutra this kind of thought is there. [It] says, Shujo muhen-"Sentient beings MORE ...

Sunday, May 18, 1969

Suzuki-Roshi's 65th Birthday

Soko-ji, San Francisco

I don't know what to say. I am already 65 years old. Today I became 65. And I am-in one way, I am very-I feel very good to become older. And on the other hand, I regret, you know, for my past practice. Not regret-I am not so regret-regretful, but reason why I am not so regretful is we have now pretty sincere students here in America. That is big encouragement for me. Why I am regretful is-on the other hand, why I am regretful is because I am not so good teacher for you, because of my past practice. I try to MORE ...

Sunday, June 01, 1969

Find Yourself Mentally and Physically


A famous Chinese Zen master, Yakusan,[1] did not give lectures for a long time. So his student asked him to give a lecture. So he came to lecture hall and mounted the altar, and sitting on the altar for a while, and came back to his room without saying anything. And his jisha asked him why he didn't give them lecture-some talk. Yakusan said: "I am a Zen master. So if you want-if you want to listen to lecture, you should go to some-some other master, like some Buddhist philosopher or someone who knows many MORE ...

Tuesday, June 17, 1969

Everyday Zazen

San Francisco

...[1] Just to-just to practice zazen, you know, will not be perfect enough. So more and more I want to make our rule strict and maybe formal and rigid, or else [laughs], you know, you will waste your time, I think. How should we establish our system of practice in San Francisco is-will be our future subject.

I started to explain, you know, the way upward and way downwards-or to help others or-and to-or help yourself: to climb up [to] the top of the pole and to come down from the top of the pole. This is rather fancy, you know, more advanced practice. So it may be-it may not be necessary for you actually to explain this point, MORE ...

Sunday, June 22, 1969

Study with Mind and Body

San Francisco

Dogen-zenji says: "Everything is encourages us to attain enlightenment. Mountains and rivers, earth and sky: everything is encouraging us to attain enlightenment." So, of course, a purpose of lecture is to encourage-to encourage you attaining enlightenment. So we call our lecture, you know, teisho. Teisho means "with teaching-with koan," to help people to attain enlightenment.

And usual lecture-sometime to explain the context of teaching-like to explain philosophy-to understand our teaching in philosophical way is more a "lecture"-a kowa.[1] Kowa is more MORE ...

Tuesday, July 01, 1969

The Meaning of Practice


It is rather difficult for us to figure out why we started to practice zazen. It is rather difficult, and I think it may be same for you. But the more you think why you started zazen practice, the more you will find out how deep it is-the meaning you started zazen practice. And once you start our practice, even though your determination is not so strong, or you don't feel your determination is not so strong, but you will find out how strong the determination has been.

It is rather difficult, you know. You think-when you are here, you think sometimes or, you know, once in a while it may be better to give up [laughs]. But actually to give up our study or practice MORE ...

Rinzai and Soto

San Francisco


In-in America, between Rinzai Zen and Soto Zen there-there must be some clear understanding of-of the two, or relationship of the two. Dogen-zenji's, you know, problem of, or koan was, "If we have buddha-nature," you know, "why we should practice zazen?" That was his, you know-that is why he went to China. All-all-in all the scriptures say that everyone has buddha-nature. If so, why we should practice zazen?

And Soto more put emphasis on the statement that we have MORE ...

Thursday, July 03, 1969

Emptiness is Form


I have explained the poem about "Emptiness is form," or shochuhen.[1] Sho is reality and hen is "form" or "seeming" [?]. Shochuhen. And the next one is henchusho,[2] the opposite. And chu means, you know-chu or soku-means some activity in which-not activity-some-not relationship, but something in which everything appears-every event, you know, appears. What will it be [laughs]? Something in which, you know, appears. Maybe MORE ...

Tuesday, July 08, 1969

Question and Answer Session

San Francisco

Suzuki-roshi: Tonight I have nothing special which I want to talk [about]. Of course, there may be many things which I must talk [about], but I cannot think of anything right now. And I don't know what kind of thing is to be told. Maybe-so may be better to answer your question. If you have some question please ask me. And at first I will-I want you to make several questions, and I will try to answer for it. Do you have some questions? Hai.

Student A: Will you speak of purity and worship?

Suzuki-roshi: Purity? Uh-huh. And worship. Some other questions too?

MORE ...

Wednesday, July 09, 1969

Form and Emptiness II


In our previous lectures we have studied the relationship between-relationship between real and seeming, or emptiness and forms. [By] "real" we mean something beyond our thinking. This is, you know,-there is no way to-whatever, you know, we say about it, it is the expre- [partial word]-just suggestion, you know, not real or emptiness itself. It is something beyond our thinking mind, so we call it "emptiness."

It is not actually something which we can understand in term of good or bad, real or not real. And seeming and all-whatever it MORE ...

Friday, July 11, 1969

Eulogy for Trudy Dixon

Given During Her Funeral Ceremony

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Go, my disciple Sesshin Baiho [?].[1]

You have completed your practice for this life and acquired genuine warm heart and pure and undefiled buddha-mind, and joined our sangha. All that you have done in this life and in the past life became meaningful in the light of the buddha-mind, which was found so clearly within yourself, as your own.

MORE ...

Tuesday, July 15, 1969


San Francisco

Again, I have nothing in my mind [laughs, laughter]. I think I want you to hit my head, you know, like this, and try what kind of sound I make-my head make-makes. Would you hit my, you know, head like this? If possible, you know, hit my head with long, long talk, maybe one hour long. It will be a great help. Do you have some long, long stick to hit my bell? If you have some long stick-longer the better. Do you have some question? Long, long question [laughter]. No question? Some question? Hai.

Student A: [4-6 words unclear] on shikantaza?

Suzuki-roshi: Shikantaza? Oh. Practice of MORE ...

Sunday, July 20, 1969

Trip to the Moon

If you go to some library you will see many books. And those-in those books, we will find out our achievement, our human knowledge, which is almost impossible to study out. And now we are going to arrive to the moon.[1] And [laughs] actually I don't know anything about, you know, how they reach to the moon and what kind of feeling they may have when they arrive at the moon. To me it is not so interesting a thing.

When I reflect on myself, especially when I feel, on this occasion, I have to speak about the moon trip [laughs, laughter], I have no time to study about those things. So if I try to speak about it, it is nothing but to tell you how foolish I am, you know. MORE ...

Saturday, July 26, 1969

Blue Cliff Record #43


A monk asked Tozan-Zen Master Tozan[1]-can you hear me?-

"It is so hot," you know. "How is it possible to go somewhere where it is not hot?"[2]

Tozan asked to the monk: "Why don't you go," you know, "somewhere it is not so hot?"

And Tozan said-Tozan asked him-told him, "Why don't you go MORE ...

Monday, July 28, 1969

Question and Answer


[1]... mind. That is the purpose of counting. Not just count, you know.

Student A: But, like, in daily life, are we to count when we are walking, or would you just walk?

Suzuki-roshi: In daily life if you walk as a practice of Zen, you know, you, you know, you steady [steadily] walk step-by-step like you count your breathing. Hai.

Student B: Roshi, I found in the past three months at Tassajara that I've uncovered tremendous anger in myself from time to time-

Suzuki-roshi:: Uh-huh.

MORE ...

Friday, August 01, 1969

Truth and Liberation


As a Buddhist, of course, the most important precept is to-to believe in Buddha and his teaching and his disciples. Buddha, you know, for us is someone who attained enlightenment-not only historical Buddha but also Buddha's disciples who attained enlightenment is buddha. And still this is its-in its narrow sense. In its wider sense, whether we attain enlightenment or not we are buddha-not only human being but also various beings, animate and inanimate. Even something like stone is buddha, in its wide sense. So everything is buddha in its wide sense.

But the religion is mostly for human being who saw-when we said "buddha" usually someone who attain liberation is buddha. It may be MORE ...

Saturday, August 02, 1969

Change and Suffering


I'm afraid I will-I am making you hotter [laughs] because I cough and my lecture is maybe pretty difficult to understand because of my English especially. Last night I was trying to-my skeleton of lecture was like this [laughs]. Can you read it?

The first teaching-the-we-we have four or three series of Buddhist teaching. The teaching-the teaching that [laughter]-the teaching that everything is changing-in Japanese, shogyo-mujo[1]-or Chinese shogyo-mujo-teaching that everything is changing. This teaching can be-could be understand in two ways: MORE ...

Sunday, August 03, 1969



As most of you know, this is Yoshimura Ryogen-sensei.[1] Ryogen Yoshimura-sensei. In Japanese way we say family name first, so Yoshimura Ryogen. But-Yoshimura is family name. Ryogen-sensei, or Yoshimura-sensei. He was appointed-he arrived at San Francisco as our teacher, or as our friend, March 27?

Off-mike: Yes.

March 27. And mostly he was in-he has been in San Francisco. I think he came here once? Twice?

Off-mike: Twice.

Twice. So most of you know, I think, know him. But as some of MORE ...

Wednesday, August 06, 1969

August Sesshin Lecture

San Francisco

I think you are facing actual problem in your zazen practice. The worst one may be the pain of your legs, maybe. It is some-not secret, but it is some certain way to sit in pain. Because it is so direct that you have no time to-to think of some way, you know. Before you think it comes, and you are involved in the pain. But that is so-called-it, you know-that you are involved in the pain immediately means that your way, your way of life, or your attitude towards your life is not well-trained.

For an instance, if you-I think some of you must have this kind MORE ...

Thursday, August 07, 1969

August Sesshin Lecture

San Francisco

[In][1] Buddhist scripture, you know, there is a famous story. Water is same, but-water is, for human being, is water [laughs], and for celestial being-for celestial being it is jewel. And for fish it is their home. And for people in hell or hungry ghosts it is blood or maybe fire. If they want to drink it, the water change into fire. So they cannot drink it [laughs].

Same water [laughs, laughter], you know, looks like very different. But you may-you may say, you know, our understanding of-of water is right. It-it should not be "home" or "house" or MORE ...

Tuesday, August 12, 1969

Question and Answer

[I did not][1] prepare for tonight lecture anything. So I want you to ask some questions, and I will answer for the question, as I have nothing in my mind right now. Hai.

Student A: Of the two types of meditation, the counting and the shikantaza-the counting-do you think that has more to do with ego purification?

Suzuki-roshi: The counting-if you-it looks like different from-counting-breathing practice looks like different from the MORE ...

Monday, August 18, 1969



Suzuki-roshi: Tonight I want to discuss about our way to attain liberation or enlightenment. When you study Buddhism through teaching or reading scriptures, it looks like Buddhist has some special way of thinking by which we attain liberation. If we understand Buddhism, and if we take the Buddhist standpoint or Buddhist way of thinking, that is the way to attain liberation.

Do you hear me?

Various Students: Yes.

Suzuki-roshi: Okay? [Laughs.] Most people may understand MORE ...

Thursday, August 28, 1969

Question and Answer


Suzuki-roshi: I want you to ask me a question. [Laughs.] I have nothing in my mind to say. Something-some question about our practice, maybe, or zazen practice, or our everyday practice. Hai.

Student A: I have two days-I am leaving Tassajara to live in the city after being here for one year. I wonder what you might have specifically to say to me about that right now.

Suzuki-roshi: Right now [laughs]. What time did you actually come back?

Student A: Come to-back?

MORE ...

Monday, September 01, 1969

Interviews with Peter Schneider

Interview With Shunryu Suzuki
about his life in Japan

by Peter Schneider

[In the fall of 1969 Peter Schneider interviewed a reluctant Shunryu Suzuki about his past. There are two tapes made at two different times but only a few days apart. There's another one (or maybe that's the second one--I'm not sure--I have to piece it all together) which was made during a lecture done on the evening of one of these interviews. I have all sorts of versions of these interviews and frankly, I don't have the time to sort it all out right now. This file was labeled SR-PS.JP3, or the third editing of parts of Peter Schneider's interviews with Suzuki-roshi that pertained to Suzuki's life in Japan. This includes the lecture Suzuki gave or at least part of it because I remember that that's where Suzuki talked about Miss Ransom as "my old, old girlfriend." The way he said it, it brought forth gales of laughter from the audience (not an unusual occurrence when he spoke--and it's things like this he said that led some very few to wonder if they were lovers. I seemed to have conveyed this nuance in my book because Don Latin, the SF Chronicle reviewer indicated that he'd picked that up-and this led to a certain amount of upset and some letter to the Chron. I don't think so, but who knows.). I have so many files representing so many different versions of all this that it will take me some time to get it down in an archive that shows the original version and subsequent useful editions. I have to erase a lot of my files. I had to edit things along the way to be able to use them and to work on them. The originals are, at times, not so clear and are more boring, so for now I go to the best edited version that I used. I spent hours and hours and hours and hours and hours going over these interviews and things he said in his lectures and what I remembered and other peoples' memories and what people in Japan remembered and really, Crooked Cucumber represents an enormous amount of effort to get at the crux of it. I think that this archive of the interviews should show the raw materials that were used AND my interpretations, but it will take me time to organize it all and I'll need help from people like Richard Speel and Jamie Avera and LezaLowitz (who are all helping me now) to get it organized so that it's usefully presented. I don't want to spend a zillion years on it again but I do want to leave it in a form that others can understand what's raw material and how I came to what I came to. Some of the information in here might differ from what I said in the book but that may be because Suzuki forgot and subsequent research cleared that up or because I couldn't understand at that time. I just went over it and I see there's lots of stuff that was figured out and fixed later so don't take anything Japanese or Buddhist as the gospel truth or even the right words or spelling. Anyway, it's an interesting interview and mostly it's correct and shows what he said and how he felt without a lot of the hemming and hawing. -D.C.]




Date at time of filing out: 1969

Name in Full: Shunryu Suzuki [other 1st name? Toshi [boyhood name--Toshitaka, the kunyomi or Japanized reading of Shunryu, the onyomi, or Chinese reading].

Date of Birth: May 18, 1904 (age at time of filling out - 65)

Family Relation: First son of Sogaku Suzuki [others?]

Permanent Domicile:1400 Sakamoto, Yaizu-shi, Shizuoka-ken, Japan.

Present Address: 1881 Bush Street, San Francisco, California (Soto Zen Temple - Sokoji)



My teacher, Gyokujun So-on Suzuki, was my father's disciple. He had the same family name as my father, Suzuki, and it was not just coincidence. He had been adopted by my father. He was my uncle, but not a real one. I had tokudo, he ordained me, on my thirteenth birthday, May 18, 1917 at Zoun-in, Morimachi, Shizuoka-ken. I lived there until 1924 when I went to Tokyo to complete high school.

When I was young, even from my boyhood, I wasn't satisfied with Buddhist life for many reasons. So I wanted to be a good teacher when I was very young and I wanted to look for a good teacher for there were so many people who did not respect priests so much. At that time my ambition was directed to some narrow attainment, but, anyway, I made up my mind to leave my home and to practice under a strict teacher. So I went to my master's temple. My master was a disciple of my father and my father when he was young was very strict with his disciples. My master was one of my father's disciples who was raised up in a very very strict way, and my master was always talking about my father's strictness with him and that was hardest thing for me to accept.

My master would always bring up my father. "Your father, you know, raised me in this way." That was very hard to listen to. So naturally, this kind of spirit I had all the way until I became maybe thirty or more. After my master's death I didn't feel it so much and that kind of feeling changed into the opposite way and I missed my master very much.


Peter: Looking at your history, it looks pretty ordinary. Is it ordinary sort of Zen teacher's history?

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe so. Not so ordinary. I say priests in my age had it pretty hard. If I told you all about it in detail it would seem very noble.

Peter: Oh, ho. That's what we never hear.

Suzuki-roshi: What I did was actually not so different for back then. But nowadays a priest who is brought up in a family temple succeeds to his father's position, that's all, you know. But my age was thirteen when I left my father's temple.

Peter: Why did you leave your father's temple?

Suzuki-roshi: My father took care of me too well, so here in my heart I always felt some family feeling. Some emotional feeling, too much emotion, too much love. And my teacher at grammar school told me this kind of thing. He always said to me, to us, "You should be ..."

[Did he ever talk about his father or mother? Or Gyokujun Soon?]



Peter: You graduated from college at 26 - pretty old for that.

Why did you start school so late?

Suzuki-roshi: Because I was with my teacher from the time I was thirteen: cooking, serving, and so on. I hadn't finished middle school or high school. I only finished grammar school. And I was studying, of course, in the temple so I could enter the last years of high school which at that time went for five years. I only took the fourth grade and fifth grade of high school, from 1924 to 1926, staying till I was twenty-one. [where did he live while doing these last two years of high school - name of school, location?]



Shunryu was (head monk) Shuso-risshion[sp?] (risshion - standing body) from Nov 15, 1925 to Feb 18, 1926, at Kenko-in, in Shizuoka City, during a full practice period under Dojun Kato-roshi. A note on his curriculum vitae says at that point the other priests stopped considering him a boy. He became their new young friend. He was 21 years old at the time.

Twenty is the traditional age to enter adulthood. Maybe for priests at that time, the shuso ceremony marked a young monk's passage into adulthood. This is also the period when he was finishing up his last year of high school. Being shuso outside of the hard-core training temples like Eiheiji is usually largely formality. Shunryu made a point that this was more than that, and he did go to a special temple to be shuso, but still he was surely quite busy with his studies.

Kenko-in was technically a training monastery, but actually there were not many students. Just a few. But when Shunryu had his shuso ceremony more priests and monks came to join the ceremony and the practice.



Just before entering Komazawa University, six months after his shuso ceremony, on Aug. 21, 1926, at the age of 22, Shunryu received dharma transmission [ Japanese word -shiho] from Soon Suzuki-roshi in a private ceremony at Rinso-in. According to a traditional way of looking at dharma transmission [probably Kobun wrote this part], in the Dharma Transmission Ceremony, the teacher's robe is handed down to the disciple from his dharma master. The Zen master considers his disciple as a Zen Master, Tathagata knows Tathagata, Buddha meets Buddha.

But in Japanese Soto Zen, the initial transmission ceremony is merely the first of many steps toward being considered a truly independent priest. Shunryu received dharma transmission at this point, so he could become head of Zoun-in because Soon was to busy to take care of it anymore with all of his responsibilities at Rinso-in, but it was important to keep it in the lineage. Shunryu was still in the university, and his father had retired to Zoun-in, which had originally been his temple and which he regretted he'd left at all. Shunryu said that this transmission was just a formality. "At that time my master wanted me to be successor of his former temple. Although my practice was not good enough, he wanted me to take it over. Before he came to Rinso-in he was head priest of Zoun-in where my father had also been previously." So at that time [August 21 of 1926] he became the [what? - priest? Chief priest is 1929] of Zoun-in where he'd had his early training with Soon, and his retired father Sogaku actually officiated as priest. Arrangements like this are quiet common.

"Officially I was supposed to receive transmission here (thumping)[1926], but actually I haven't. It was a just a formality."

Peter: How do you mean you haven't?

Suzuki-roshi: Just because, you know, to get an acknowledgement from headquarters we submitted this (thumping), my master submitted this[1926].

Peter: So you could have a robe for Eiheiji or what?

Suzuki-roshi: I didn't wear it - this is just a formality - what do you say? - for the record. I have this record at our headquarters, but actually I changed my robe [at another time - at the Ten'e.

Peter: Oh, there - I see, I see. [1929]

Suzuki-roshi: If I didn't have this record I couldn't have taken over my master's former temple[1926]. At that time I couldn't actually take over his position so my father did my job there while I was studying at Komazawa University.

Peter: So that transmission does not make you Zen master then? That just makes you osho?

Suzuki-roshi: Osho.



Interpreter for Miss N. Ransom from Aug 1, 1927 to May 30, 1929.

(Roshi is very grateful for this job - this training helped him a lot) (When Roshi was at university he lived in one room of her home with 2 other boys - he was the best to help her and she became earnest Buddhist.)

Mrs. Ransom was teaching at Komazawa University when I first saw her. I took her English (and) conversation class once a week. At that time I didn't have much of a relationship with her, but after I finished the preparatory courses of the University and specialized in Buddhist courses, I was still interested in studying English, so once in a while I attended her classes (lecture - some other course and English course). Then one day during summer vacation I was (on my way home) but it was so hot I just wanted to get out of the heat and I was near her place so I went to the back door and called her. She was quite gracious and invited me inside to a sitting room near the kitchen. She asked if I would like something to drink and I asked for water but she brought (us) something different, watermelon. So while we were eating watermelon she asked me if I would like to help her, in shopping, or such things like that, as she had some difficulty in communicating with Japanese people, especially some of them. At that time two students from Komazawa were working for her, helping her already, so I thought she may not need me, but she said one boy would be leaving quite soon so she wanted me to take his place. From that point on, our relationship became much closer.

Mrs. Ransom had been a tutor to Emperor Sento of China. Yoshida who became prime minister of Japan invited her and her parents [mistake-DC] to Japan. It seems her father was quite famous though I don't know who he was or why he was famous. As far as I know he was as famous as General Toho who defeated the Russian fleet in the Japan Sea. [I think SR is off here.-DC]

She was quite strict and stubborn and she tried to force her English ways on us and on Japanese people in general. And she always had some complaint - mostly what I had to do was listen to her complaints.

I stayed with her, living in her house, for a year and a half. I had many difficulties, but anyway I stayed there. At last I left her, not because of any difficulty between us but because I felt that if I continued I might not remain a priest. This was brought home to me one day when I visited the Turkish Embassy. I was doing some business for Mrs. Ransom with an assistant to the ambassador and we were speaking in English. While we were talking I looked at him. Maybe someday I shall be like you, I said to him in my head. I scared myself. If I stay with Mrs. Ransom for two or three more years, Will I become an ambassador? I wondered, and not a priest? So I left her and moved back into the dormitory.

She was not a Buddhist when I met her, but she had a beautiful sitting Buddha about one feet tall which she had put in the tokonoma where we usually keep a scroll and flower arrangement. But she kept a Buddha there. That's okay, but she also put her shoes with the Buddha, side by side. I was not so concerned about those things, especially when because she was not Buddhist, but I guess it did cause me some problem, (lots of coughing) so I decided to change her way. So everyday I offered a cup of tea to Buddha and she was very much amused. She had many guests over - so she started to tease me about my offering by putting a toothpick into Buddha's hand. Then she put some matches. I think it was her. She didn't do it in front of me. Maybe one of her guests did it because she told them, "He is a very naughty boy to put tea before the Buddha." To her it was a form of idol worship so she made fun of me.

A month or so passed and I didn't stop and neither did she. She continuously teased me, but I ignored whatever she or her friends did. I didn't take off the toothpicks or matches. But I thought, there will be some chance for me to explain what Buddha is, what Buddhism is. In my spare time, I studied hard how to explain this in English. I made a special vocabulary list. And at last she asked me one day about why we worship Buddha. So I told her about Buddha and Buddhahood and she was amazed. It was not what she had in mind, you know. And ever since then she didn't tease me anymore and she started to try to understand what Buddhism actually was and what is our practice and she became a Buddhist. She asked me to buy some incense for her, incense and some other things too - a small bell and a candle, as I told her these kind of things are necessary.

That gave me some confidence in the possibility of Caucasians' understanding Buddhism. They understand quite easily, I thought, what Buddhism is. They may like Buddhism. So maybe for the first time I got the idea to go abroad or at least to Hokkaido where I would have a chance to speak to Caucasians or at least foreigners who don't know what Buddhism is.



I must tell you she was my old, old girlfriend. When I was at college I studied English pretty hard to go abroad. I had no idea of America or Hawaii or anywhere. Anyway, if I am going to some country, I thought, I have to speak English and so I studied English pretty hard when I was a student. When I was at Komazawa University, Miss Ransom was teacher of conversation. Once a week Miss Ransom taught us conversation and after I finished her class I attended more English courses. Meantime Miss Ransom found me and asked me to help her in shopping or when some Japanese came or when she had some private students. Of course, I couldn't help her so well, but I tried pretty hard and, at last, she asked me to stay at her home with two more students who were helping her in shopping and conversation with Japanese people. But the other students, Kundo and I forgot the other student's name, Kundo was student of Komazawa and one more student was from Bundikadaima before that school was a normal high school and changed their system and became a university. Both Kundo and the other student were also studying English, but eventually they left Miss Ransom's home. Then I was only one student who helped her and in the meantime there were many interesting things that happened between Mrs. Ransom and me. Don't be so inquisitive.

Before she came to Japan she was a tutor of the last emperor of China, Emperor Sento, Emperor of Manchuria. At that time Japan became more and more ambitious, trying for some chance to fight with that northern part of China. Emperor Sento's [that's the Japanese for PuYi, the Last Emperor of China] capitol was in - I don't know what is the name of the city right now - at that time it was Choshun. And when the Emperor was there she was the tutor of the Emperor. And she is a daughter of a very famous naval general whose name I forget.

She was a very strict character, and at the same time she always complained about Japanese people: about what kinds of things happened at school, and what kinds of things happened in the car. She was always complaining about Japan. I was the only person who listened to her complaints. But I also had many complaints with her.

For instance, she had a beautiful sitting Buddha as big as this (a foot high) which was given to her by the Emperor. She put it in the tokonoma, which is alright, but she'd put her shoes beside the Buddha. A tokonoma is a place where we put some antiques, scrolls, or some valuable things, objects of worship [respect] or something like that. But she used to put her shoes there as soon as she came back from school. That was very embarrassing to me. I didn't say anything but I offered tea every morning in a small cup, lifting it above my eyes and putting it in front of Buddha. She started to be amused by me but she didn't ask anything. And I didn't say anything about it or about her shoes. Maybe this kind of silent cold war lasted for two or three weeks and I was waiting for a chance to start a hot war. As my English wasn't so good I had to study pretty hard preparing for the chance to speak and I studied some important words to speak about it. When one of her friends visited her they were talking about funny things about me. He's a very strange Buddhist, offering tea to that wooden figure, sometimes offering incense. They were talking about it. I could understand them. And she had a friend who put matches in the Buddha's mudra - sometimes matches and sometimes cigarettes. Still, the hot war didn't start.

And, at last, I don't know how the hot war started, but she asked me about the Buddha figure. She thought Buddhism was a kind of idol worship. So I explained it as best I could. It was very difficult, but I managed to explain why we pay respect to a wooden image of Buddha and I explained what the real Buddha is. Maybe I told her about the Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, and Nirmanakaya Buddha.

She was rather amazed. She didn't know Buddhism was so profound. And she started to become interested in Buddhism and soon she converted to Buddhism. And she started to study Buddhism - there were many professors of Buddhism at Komazawa and some who could speak English. So in one year she had a pretty good understanding of Buddhism. One day she took me downtown to buy some incense and an incense bowl and she took it home and started to offer incense to the Buddha. I taught her how to keep her tokonoma clean and she started to keep her shoes in the entryway where they belong.

I felt very good. I developed then some confidence in our teaching, in Buddhism, and also confidence that I could make Caucasian people understand Buddhism. And I thought that for Caucasians, Buddha's teaching might even be more suitable than for Japanese. For Japanese to study Buddhism in its true sense is pretty difficult because they have so much mistaken tradition and misunderstanding of Buddhism and it is difficult for people to change their misunderstanding once they have the wrong idea of Buddhism. But for Caucasians who don't know anything about Buddhism, it's like painting on white paper, it is much easier to give the right understanding of true Buddhism. I think that the experience I had with Miss Ransom resulted in my coming to America.

As soon as I finished my schooling I asked my teacher, my master, Gyokujun Soon, if I could go to America or Hawaii or someplace, if I could go abroad anywhere. He became furious and he wouldn't allow me to go, so I couldn't go to America and I gave up my notion of coming to America for a long long time so that I forgot all about it. I told my master about my experience with Mrs. Ransom and suggested I go abroad to teach Buddhism. I said, America and he said, "No." So I asked about Hokkaido and he said, "No." I kept bringing it up and at last he became very angry and yelled at me that I should stay here. But he just used one word. He just said, "Here!" So I gave up my notion of going abroad. I completely gave up my idea of going to America. Several times after that I had a chance to go to America but I refused. But ten years ago, at last, I came to America. In 1954 - no, my age at that time was 54 - it was 1958, after I had finished doing what my teacher told me to do, I decided to go to America. So there is some truth that being with Mrs. Ransom was actually the turning point of life. My idea was of going abroad was always in my heart even though I gave up. I thought I had given up, but I hadn't.

Fifteen years ago [1954] actually I had a chance to come to America, but I didn't because I hadn't finished fixing the main building of Rinso-in, which was my duty left to me by my master. I thought I had to finish his instructions first, so I didn't come to America at that time. And then five or six years later I had a second chance to come to America and I decided to do it. It was pretty hard, but anyway I managed to come to America.


One day she told me to buy some daffodil bulbs. I bought some pretty big one for her but she wasn't satisfied. "Oh, these are too small. Get me some big ones." So I tried to find the best daffodils in Tokyo, at least in the Shibuya district. I visited several florists and I got the largest bulbs I could find, but she wasn't satisfied with them. That made me very angry. After a while I went out and did some more shopping. "Here, I got some very big ones. Here they are," I told her when I came back, and I left her room, carefully watching her to see what happened. She opened the bag up and saw the big bulbs I had gotten her. "Oh, these are very good!" she said and started to smell it. I felt very good, but at the same time scared of her so I ran away. "Oh, these are onions!" she shouted and started looking around for me, but I wasn't there. I knew she didn't like onions at all. I couldn't help to bursting into laughter so she found me and with the onions in her hands she started to chase after me. So I went upstairs to the second floor and from the second floor to the roof where I hid. That kind of thing happened many times.

I had to come back to her home before ten o'clock, but it was rather difficult to always get back before ten. So when I was late I knew how to open the door. Japanese doors, you know, are sliding doors. The lock is between the two sliding doors, it's like a nail that goes down a slot to hold them together. So it is not possible to open them in the usual way, but if you lift the two doors it is quite easy to take them out. In this way I sneaked into my bedroom late and slept. But one night she heard me and saw what I was doing and she didn't trust me any more after that and she didn't trust the safety of the Japanese building any more. She determined to move out from that house and I was told to find her some good, safe building, which was almost impossible. Almost all buildings then were Japanese buildings. If it were a Western building we would have to pay a lot of money. So I gave up looking for that kind of safe building. But it was good for me to have some reason to get out. Sometimes I went to the barber shop and sometimes I went to visit some friends instead of finding some good apartment for her. At last I decided to ask a skilled old carpenter to explain how to make Japanese buildings safe from thieves and how to fix the lock so no one could get in. And together we convinced her not to move out.

As she was an English women, she wouldn't throw away knives when they got old. She had some old knives and asked me to go get them polished [sharpen?]. Maybe they do that in England but in Japan no one polishes knives for anyone else. If she'd had a carpenter or a gardener, they may have done it, but she wanted me to get it polished immediately. That was a big problem for me. She said, "In England if you go to a department store you can get knives polished immediately, so go to Mitsukochi and get them polished." Her idea that someone in a Japanese store was going to polish her knives was ridiculous. One was a pretty beautiful good knife, but even so no one would polish it in a store. "Oh, this is old," they may say. "This is very old. Why don't you get a new one."

The wooden covers of traditional Japanese bathes get rotten easily, so she asked me to go get her a lid only, but that was also difficult. Unless we buy the whole thing they won't do business. They won't sell the wooden lid to the tub by itself. I think the English way may be quite different from the American way. [because she couldn't adjust to different customs].



On Jan. 22, 1929, Shunryu had his shinsanshiki at Zoun-in, Morimachi, Shizuoka-ken] and officially became the head priest.

"I had Zoun-in for ten years but for five years I actually ran it. Even after I became head priest of Rinso-in, I took care of Zoun-in. I had two temples for five years." (1934-1939?)

Again Peter asked him if this is where he became a Zen master and he said just for ceremonies.



On January 14, 1930 in a public ceremony, Shunryu received Ten'e, had that ceremony, and got another Okesa. In his curriculum vitae it's described as a "public determination" and consent from the Soto-shu." In this case, when the robe is handed down, his name is listed by headquarters as one who can become chief priest of a temple. After this ceremony he went to Eiheiji to "meet" with Dogen Zenji and to Sojiji to "meet" with Keizan Zenji (founder of Sojiji temple) for "a beautiful ceremony that lasted two days - to go to vow to be a good teacher - after this ceremony he is Zen master and can teach anywhere and have a temple." That is Kobun's description I bet, because Shunryu said it was still short of being considered a Zen master, or roshi. He got Ten'e just three months before graduation from Komazawa. Shunryu said that Ten'e means "to go to, to change off."


My schooling was a very late one. I graduated from Komazawa University in Buddhist and Zen Philosophy. at the age of 26 on April 10, 1930.

From Sep 17, 1930 to Sep 2, 1931: Head temple Dai Honzan (Big root mountain), Eiheiji Temple

From Sep 18, 1931 to Mar 31, 1932: Daihonzan, Sojiji Temple


After I finished my schooling I went to Eiheiji and Mrs. Ransom came to Eiheiji and stayed for one month sitting there and practicing pretty well. Two years later I went to Kasuisai Monastery. At that time she came to Kasuisai and stayed for one month and then she went to China again, Tenshin, near Peking. And after that she went to England. Once in a while I wrote to her and she wrote to me, but since I've came to America I haven't written so often. She wanted to write something about me, about various experience we had between us and she asked me to keep some dates or events, but that was too much. So since then I haven't written to her because it was too much. Whenever I wrote to her she asked me many things which were almost impossible to write her back about, so I didn't and she may have become very angry. At that time Petchey was in England and he started Zen group at her home. So whenever Petchey went to her home he was the one who listened to her complaints. I know her very well, you know. Even though she complains it's not necessarily so bad. I thought it may be alright not to write her, but that was my mistake. She passed away last year before I wrote to her. I trusted her very much and she trusted me so much, so I thought whether I wrote to her or not didn't make much difference - but I don't know. As long as she was alive it was alright. Now I regret a little bit about my not writing to her.

Anyway I think she was a good Buddhist. After she went to Tenshin she sent me a picture of the same Buddha who got into trouble between us. She enshrined the Buddha in the wall where there was an alcove and she said she was offering incense every day.



I studied with Ian Kishizawa-roshi from March 1, 1932 to June 30, 1952. He was considered one of the most excellent Zen Masters at that time in Japan. He was my first teacher's friend.



From May 7, 1932 to Apr 31, 1936, Shunryu was Koshi at BanshoZenrin, Kasuisai, at Fukuroi, Shizuoka-ken. "Koshi means 'someone to give lectures.' Bansho - this is Kasuisai temple where the head of the Soto school, Takashina-roshi, lived. Later Takashina became the abbot of Eiheiji and Sojiji and head of the Soto-shu." Shunryu didn't live at Kasuisai, but just visited to give lectures. At that time he was doing it for Soon-roshi because the responsibility of koshi at BanshoZenrin was traditionally the responsibility of the abbot of Rinso-in.



"My master died in 1934. At that time I was too young. I was maybe about 31 or something like that. He died in 1934 or 1935. I don't know by your counting."

On Apr 23, 1936, after two years of struggle, Shunryu had the shinsanshiki at Rinso-in Temple, 1400 Sakamoto, Yaizu-shi, Shizuoka-ken.

According to notes on the Curriculum Vitae, he took the temple to prevent a greedy and ambitious faction from coming to power, to protect the Soto school and the danka of Rinso-in. Some families of the congregation resigned. Roshi said, "Don't criticize, wait two years - and they all came back."

"So there was a long period of confusion. Some danka supported me, saying, 'Even though he's young, it's all right.' Others said, 'No,' and in this way for two years no one succeeded my master. At last I became the head of Rinso-in.



Peter: Did that mean that you were a Zen master? Did that make you a Zen master technically?

Suzuki-roshi: No. I don't think so.

Peter: When did you become a Zen master?



Suzuki-roshi: At that time under my temple there were many famous teachers, roshi. Kishizawa-roshi would come to my temple and sometimes he would sit for a while without telling me and I didn't know he was there. There were many famous teachers. That is (cough) why I couldn't take over my (cough) master's seat (cough). Actually I didn't want to, to be the head of Rinso-in while I was so young. I didn't say so, but in my heart I felt so. My boy is in the same position so I'm very sympathetic with him. So I rather wanted him to come to America. Maybe that was too much after I'd left my temple. If my boy had left my temple they would be very furious.



Before I took over my master's temple, I didn't cause any trouble. I was just trying to study, but after I took over my master's temple I caused various problems for myself and for others - there was some confusion in my life. There was a lot of confusion. I knew that if I didn't take over his temple, Rinso-in, I would have to remain at Zoun-in. That would be more calm, and I would be able to study more, but because I felt some resistance from the priests near Rinso-in, I determined to take it over. And there were two years of confusion and fighting.

The priests near Rinso-in had someone in their mind to be the head priest of Rinso-in, and that man would have been acting under their name, which would not have been so good for the danka or for the Soto school. There was too much greed for fame - they were divided in many ways (cliques), and each one of them had his own ambition, but if they did not get Rinso-in they would keep acting in the same way until they got it. But after they got Rinso-in, things would get confused. I knew that pretty well. So I determined to stop them. [Rinso-in had been turned over to Gyokujun Soon to get into shape physically and harmonically because the prior priest had fudged it up so they removed him and put Soon in and so Shunryu felt some responsibility to continue the job that had been given to Soon.]

I had a very difficult time for two years. Extraordinary things happened. Eighty of my Rinso-in members left from Rinso-in and went to another temple. That was alright with me, but others accused me of being responsible and said, "If Rinso-in is such a poor example of a temple, how will we be able to restore harmony? It is your responsibility to do so. Why did you let them to go to some other temple? If you say, 'I am sorry,' or if you ask for help we will get it, but if you don't say 'I am sorry' or ask for help, how can we help you."

Once a month we had a meeting and every time they said I had abdicated my responsibility. But I said, "just wait for two [3?] years. In two years if the eighty members who left don't come back, I will resign from Rinso-in. So let's just wait - without criticizing me for two years. Give me two years and let's see what happens. So they agreed to do that. And in two years almost all of the danka who had left came back.

The priest who was trying to take Rinso-in got his own temple, so he lost his ambition for Rinso-in. And actually, he himself did not want to be a head priest of Rinso-in so much. It was more the ambitious people around him, mostly priests and some influential lay people.



"After I moved to Rinso-in, my older dharma brother helped me at Zoun-in and lived there. He succeeded me in the chief priest position there. His name was Okamoto. His boy is my son, my disciple, because he studied with me. My first dharma heir in Japan is my own son, Hoitsu, and Shoko, Okamoto Kendo's son, is the 2nd."


FIRST MARRIAGE [actually, the second]

"I wasn't married when I entered Rinso-in. And there was much discussion by members about whether I should get married or not. I was listening to them and they went to some extremes. Like if I married, some people wouldn't want family life at my temple so my wife could stay at their home and I could go visit whenever I want. That was too extreme. For awhile, not for a long time, my master's wife lived at Rinso-in. [name?] When he was quite old she stayed there. We established some custom. My master started something like that. But some opposed it, especially because I was so young, some people were critical of me wishing to have a wife in the temple. Someone said, if I get married, my wife could stay at 'my home' - if the people don't like temple life at my temple 'she can stay my home.' That was what someone said. At last they decided to allow my wife to enter my temple. We were married two years after Soon died, when I was 33 or 34, no, 31 or 32." It was in 1936. It was about six months after he became the abbot of Rinso-in. [Her name was Chie Muramatsu]

Peter: It says here, you said that a friend of your master picked your first wife. What does that mean? Did you have some choice?

Suzuki-roshi: No. I had no one in my mind and I wasn't so sure about my married side, my ability to handle both priest's side and a family side. It is very complicated, you know. I know that pretty well. So I was not firm, but I was reluctant to take a wife. I had no one in my mind to be a wife, but my master's friend thought it necessary for me to get one.

Peter: So you said yes?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah. Before I saw her, I said yes. At that time he had somebody in mind.

Peter: Does that usually work out pretty well, Roshi, when you don't see the woman before you marry?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah, pretty well. It's amazing maybe for you. Although we do or don't like her, they are, I think, pretty superficial feelings, not so different, and they change a lot.

I had a family with her for more than 15 [16?] years. She died in 1951 (actually, 1952). My master's friend chose my wife.



In March of 1938 there was a lay ordination ceremony for young female Buddhists of Higashi-eki (Mashi or Masu?) ten-mura, Shita-gun, Shizuoka-ken.



Peter: When did you become a Zen master?

Suzuki-roshi: I became - after I took my master's position. Often I had to conduct some big ceremony and whenever we had shuso ceremonies or training periods in branch temples, I had to join them, taking over my master's position. While I was doing this kind of thing they officially acknowledged me as a Zen master. I received a special robe.

Peter: How old were you then?

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe I was 40, 45 or so. - [1944 to 1949]



Zoun-in is not a branch temple of Rinso-in. "In Shizuoka prefecture there is a big temple which has 3000 branch temples. And Zoun-in is a grandson of this temple. The big temple is Daito-in and under it there is Shoshinji and Zoun-in is a branch temple of Shoshinji. And Rinso-in and Takawazon are branch temples of Seikun-in. And both Seikun-in and Soshinji are branch temples of Daito-in.

(In margin: Sekiun-in. Bill says is funding temple)


Peter: I see. Okay. Now From 1936 until 1942 you just were at Rinso-in then.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes.

Peter: This says from 1942 to 1947 you're the official teacher of the number 10th monastery of the Soto sect.



At the age of thirty-eight, from March 1, 1942 to March 31, 1947, Shunryu was Zen Teacher, shike (Official Director) (Daho) of Tokei-in which he or Kobun called "the 10th Monastery of the Soto sect - high." In answer to Peter's question he said that he formally became roshi but "only for ceremonies." Apparently it also had some connection to BanshoZenrin. He finally resigned because he was too busy - maybe at BanshoZenrin. Toke-in was a newly established temple at that time near Shizuoka.



Suzuki-roshi: Because I was at that time already a master, a Roshi.

Peter: You were a roshi in 1942, then?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes, already a roshi. Oh yeah. Because I finished building my temple completely and I attended, I acted as roshi so many times before that headquarters acknowledged me, gave me a title.

Peter: I see. In 1942?

Suzuki-roshi: On that occasion they -

Peter: - appointed you shike?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. At Tokei-in.

Suzuki-roshi: Joshike you know, it is not assistance, you know. It's a master, but not completely. What do you call? Not vice or assistant.



"I had young students in the thirties and forties who had the same feelings that I had. Like they did not participate in some mistaken thinking. But my youngest students, who were mostly in high school, were very kind, helped a lot, encouraged me a lot, and they, many of them, came to me because I had these feelings. Most of them were not priests but students. At that time Japan was involved in some kind of wrong idea about strength and power, some strange form, some strange pride or confidence, confidence in power, some strange idea of nationalism.

"What they said was very strange, you know. On television, in lectures, in various ways they tried to lead people in strange directions. And they didn't understand - they didn't try to understand the actual realistic situation or power of Japan. Although I didn't know anything about America or other countries, I thought I didn't know how powerful they are or how weak they all are, but I had some confidence in human nature and that human nature is the same wherever we go.

"So they called American people things like beasts or devils. I always said beasts or devils are not only American people. We have some need for these big beasts or demons and those who have that kind of idea about some other people may be our enemy or demon or devil. I always said that to them.

"And during the war they were afraid very much of American people who may land sooner or later in the Japan islands. But I was not so afraid of them. They are also human beings. Nothing will happen if we surrender. Those who don't want to surrender may die, and if they survive nothing will happen to them. But they burned their personal record or various records in city hall. They started to burn it down and they started to destroy the memorial tower, memorial tombstone of the unknown soldiers. But why do you do that? It is quite natural to have a memorial stone for the people who sacrificed their lives for their own country. There was nothing wrong with it. If we explain in that way why we have those tombstones, they may understand what our point of view is.

People were worried that if we have records in City Hall the Americans would search for each person to kill them or something - a very curious idea.

Peter: Were you ever criticized, Roshi, for your sort of pacifistic views?

Suzuki-roshi: I - Yeah, I was, but I didn't act officially. At my temple, in my lectures or when students came, I talked about this kind of thing always, and even when the war was almost finished. There still was some power or some courage to sacrifice their life for Japan. But I thought, that sacrifice is not for Japan, but for some wrong idea from someone in leadership who has a big misunderstanding.

And people were so afraid of what they had been doing, afraid to be responsible for it. They thought that if we still have still the tombstone for the unknown soldiers, showing them respect, then those who have been doing so will be punished or something. So no one wanted to take responsibility for that and they thought that if they destroyed it, that the American people would be pleased. So when they decided to destroy the big memorial stone for the unknown soldiers, I told them to carry it to my temple. I said to them I will protect it as long as I'm alive, and I will take all the responsibility for any American people who do any damage to this memorial stone.


"There were many farmers who went to Manchuria to start some farming village or something like that. And the world situation was very bad. When I left Japan it was just three months before the war ended. So no one accepted our headquarters plan or my appointment. So I thought I'll go anyway [maybe I may go] and I left Japan on May 14 for Manchuria. It took a pretty long time because our ship couldn't leave Hakata port because of danger from B-29 bombers. I stayed there one week waiting for the ship. There was always bombing going on. But anyway I got to Korea and through Korea went to Manchuria where I visited Japanese farmers in various places. I was not a chaplain in the Service. I just went as a priest.

[trying to get out - the Russians are coming] And when I reached to, in Japanese we say Harbin, the big city, capital city in Manchuria, they announced there were no ships bound for Japan - they had stopped - and I could hardly get back to Japan, but I thought there must be some transportation or some way to get back. Someone must be going to Japan, I thought, and if I wait at Pusan (a large Port in South Korea) I was quite sure I would have a chance to go back to Japan. So I took a steamboat from Manchuria to Korea but when I got there they also said there were no ships to Japan. They wouldn't even sell me a ticket to Japan, but I said I will pay for the ticket anyway. Whether it is available or not doesn't matter, so give me a ticket. And in the train we arrived at a small station in Korea, and the conductor announced that anyone going to Japan from Sanroshin [is this Pusan?] should get off. So I got off at that station. Sanroshin is a pretty big port created by the Chinese military, it's famous [to whom] as the port the Chinese launched from to attack Japan [when?]. As soon as I arrived at that port, a ship came, guarded by two cruisers. So I went back by a navy ship, not a battleship. They were collecting wounded soldiers and without making any zigzags we went straight back to Kyushu Island and arrived at an unknown small port near Hakata. I took the express train back to Yaizu. We were attacked several times from the air. It was July 15 and by August 15 everything was over.



"I had no idea about the existence of the atomic bomb and how powerful it was. And when I heard of it I couldn't believe it, that it was so powerful, and that that kind of thing could happen. Most Japanese people, including me had no idea that it would happen. But most Japanese people had too much fear for their life when we lost the war. So in comparison to that atomic bomb their fears were not based on any reasonable cause. I think most of them must have thought we won't live so long, so maybe the atomic bomb is a good way to finish our life. They have no idea of righteousness, or humanity, or those problems are not their main concern. I thought - it may be very foolish for us not to surrender right now. If we surrender they will stop doing such things. So the best way may be to surrender. If they don't then it's all over, everything.


Peter: What happened when the Yaizu fishermen were killed by the atomic fallout?

Suzuki-roshi: Most of them, I think, accused the American people you know because of the viewpoint of righteousness, but that righteousness is very superficial righteousness. I think this kind of feeling is the feeling we have about the Okinawa problem. They talk about Okinawa in various way, but have no actual feeling in it. It is just a political game.



Peter: Someone once said that you marched in a protest against something.

Suzuki-roshi: Um-hum.

Peter: What was that, Roshi?

Suzuki-roshi: (long sigh)

Peter: When was that or what was that all about?

Suzuki-roshi: It was the time when Peace Corps - uh not Peace Corps -

Peter: Atomic submarine?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah.

Peter: No, that's not it either probably. What was it Roshi? I don't want to force you.

Suzuki-roshi: Hmm?

Peter: Was it that? An atomic submarine or what?

Suzuki-roshi: Atomic submarine. At that time peace work, you know, and when the atomic submarine wanted to come to San Francisco and they had a big demonstration to express their strong desire against war. That is why I joined.

Peter: Someone mentioned that you once marched in a demonstration in Japan. Is that true?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah, I did.

Peter: What was that for?

Suzuki-roshi: That was after the war finished you know. Before the war I had strong feelings against war. Before the government started some organization to organize civilians against America I organized young men in my area to have the right understanding of the situation of Japan at that time. We invited good people who actually participated in important activity in various areas of government and we would ask questions until we understood them. So later the government organized people to fight completely with America, but my purpose was to prevent - not war, but to counter people who may have a one-sided view of the situation of Japan, or in their understanding of ourselves and human nature. I didn't have any big purpose for my group, I just didn't want my friends to be involved in that kind of nationalism which I thought may destroy our Japan completely - it's more dangerous than war. We lost completely because of lack of understanding.

Peter: And wasn't this considered a very unique thing to do?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah. At that time.

Peter: Did you get in trouble? Did you get in trouble for it?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah, I got into various troubles.

Peter: What happened?

Suzuki-roshi: What happened? At length it helped, you know, but at first I was very much criticized. But what I was saying was right and enough people agreed with me so they decided to utilize me to help their you know - to help their idea of leading people. And they appointed me to be a head of a new organization, which was started by the government, but I resigned. I accepted once, you know, and next day I resigned from it.

This was before the war, before the militarists took over. When the army took over my voice was not loud enough.

Peter: But the army didn't come after your voice?

Suzuki-roshi: No. It was not so bad. But that was why I think I didn't get drafted. They marked me - on my name maybe there was some special mark. He's dangerous, but no reason to kill him. I was not such a big deal. But if they may have been concerned that if I were in the army that what I might say will affect morale.

Peter: Were there many priests like you who were pacifists?

Suzuki-roshi: Hmm?

Peter: Were there many priests like you who were pacifists?

Suzuki-roshi: They didn't take any stand till after the Second World War was over.

Peter: You know something Roshi, your experiences like this would be very interesting to the students.

Suzuki-roshi: Oh.

Peter: Don't you think so?

Suzuki-roshi: I think so.

Peter: Maybe you could lecture on this tonight.

Suzuki-roshi: [giggle] Oh, I think -

Peter: I think it's good if Zen is not for war in America -

Suzuki-roshi: Umhm, umhm.

Peter: And you never speak about it. Maybe you have a reason for that.

Suzuki-roshi: No.

Peter: But if you don't have a strong reason, I think it's moral, it's ethically proper to speak against war.

Suzuki-roshi: Umhm.

Peter: And (laugh) I shouldn't do this - but anyway you know the students would like to know your feelings about it.

Suzuki-roshi: I care more about the way of thinking. the fundamental way of thinking which will cause big war. That is why I didn't like nationalists in Japan. Their view was very one-sided and very unrealistic. And they accused others of faults without knowing what they were doing. They actually created problems.

Peter: Maybe this is why the government did not persecute you, because you were approaching the problem from a religious point of view.

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah.

Peter: Not political.

Suzuki-roshi: No. And after the world war I was not purged. I had no record of fighting with the military war. I had many printed matters expressing my feelings, many things about what should be the policy, what kind of danger we had then in the nation, things like that. But most of it may be difficult to understand for people. I didn't say anything about war or anything like that. I said that if we neglected to understand the situation of Japan more clearly and if we understood things just by what is printed, then we will lose the real picture of Japan. So what I put the emphasis on is to study more about what everyone was doing in his country, in the army, or in the political world. I was very much interested in that kind of thing when I was young, before the war. And because of this kind of anti-war activity, I was not purged.

Peter: Were most priests purged?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. Most priests who joined the army.

Peter: Lost their temples or were put in jail?

Suzuki-roshi: No. They couldn't join some educational programs or some official things, on education or city hall. But I wasn't purged. They tried to purge me, but I showed them the printed materials I had.

Peter: Who was they, the American soldiers in Yaizu?

Suzuki-roshi: No, the government, the new government. So they had no reason to purge me.

Peter: Did Rinso-in lose any land? Most temples lost land.

Suzuki-roshi: Most of it except the mountain. We had to sell the paddy fields or land that could be cultivated to the government.

Peter: Did you think that was a good idea?

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe. I thought, to force that kind of thing on the temples is not a good idea, but the people should have land for farming.

Peter: I had heard, Roshi, I don't know where, that before the war many of the Zen temples were very rich and some of the priests were very corrupt and many priests kept concubines. Is that true? Particularly Rinzai temples.

Suzuki-roshi: Concubines, no. Not so many temples were so rich, you know, even before the war. Most of the temples were very poor. But after the war (small laugh) they lost everything and the priests started to work in city hall, as teachers, and in various ways and they became more and more rich - like the Japanese people. I'm afraid that Japanese people may have gotten too arrogant again - without knowing why they have become so rich.

Peter: This is like second Meiji Period.

Suzuki-roshi: Second Meiji, yeah.

Peter: How many people were there, about 200 people in your group? But the Japanese did nothing violent in that sort of thing. That's very calm and quiet hum?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah, calm and quiet.

Peter: Like discussion group, philosophical discussion group rather than revolutionaries.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. Very calm and quiet.

Peter: It seems, Roshi, that the state of Japan in the thirties and forties limited you.



From Jun 3, 1947 until he left in 1959, Shunryu was the teacher of the Zen dojo (practice place) for both monks and laymen) at Rinso-in. Here Shunryu says Takakusa (the name of his mountain) and not Yaizu. Here he established a dojo.


Peter: It says here that in June 1947 you became this teacher of Zen practice. That's not the title for Roshi huh? [dojo]

Suzuki-roshi: No.

Peter: Why did you wait until 1947? Why didn't you begin in 1936?

Suzuki-roshi: At that time they had no set rules for lay practice. This [1947] is more for laymen, Zen practice. And headquarters provided some rules for them to establish some Zen practice. There was Zen practice for laymen even before we have this kind of practice - before Zen Center.

Peter: Right. Okay, so this was a new idea [47] or something?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. New idea at that time, and it still continues.


Peter: Were you a Zen master here? [47]

Suzuki-roshi: Title of Zen master isn't necessary here or here. [1942 and 1947]

Peter: Here it is? [52]

Suzuki-roshi: Here. [1952]



From Jun 30, 1952 until he left in 1959, Shunryu was Chief Director - Dokan = Takao-gansemmonsodo at Takazoan, the Docho. (The notes mention Zenrin again and Takashina-roshi) This sodo was only for monks. This is the date that marks the end of Shunryu's study with Kishizawa-roshi. Through this period he filled out that his teacher was Ian Kishizawa Roshi, his dharma master Soon-roshi.



My friend [Niwa?] was at BanshoZenrin. At first Takashina-roshi was head of this temple and then he became the Kancho of the Soto-shu, the head of the Soto sect. And my friend took over his place and later Takashina-roshi wanted to come back to this monastery again. So his assistant, assistant of Kancho-roshi, put some pressure on my friend. And my friend left BanshoZenrin so I was rather angry with Takashina-roshi too. [not Takashina, right?]

Peter: So you left also?

Suzuki-roshi: I left also, but even though I left, Takashina-roshi was not so busy. Nevertheless, once in a while I had to help him. Officially though, I had already left there.


Peter: In 1952 then you became the Kancho of this place? What's that, Takazoan?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. Semmonsodo.

Peter: Were you Kancho there?

Suzuki-roshi: No. I was Docho. We only have one Kancho - the head of the whole Soto sect.

Peter: I see. So it wasn't until they made you Docho-roshi that you became Roshi?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah.


Peter: I see. So that means that you were then 48.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. At that time[52] I was Dokan at one more monastery [Takazoan]. At that time I became

Executive Roshi or something like that.

Peter: I see. Here. In 1952.

Suzuki-roshi: Because I have to establish this one [Takazoan?] and they need me to be here. [Takazoan?]

Peter: Why did they need you?

Suzuki-roshi: Why? I don't know exactly.

Peter: They said they need you anyway. So what jobs were these? You were assigned to this monastery which was at BanshoZenrin. In 1947 they assigned you to Takakusa? Huh? [he doesn't realize that's Rinso-in - Takakusa]

Suzuki-roshi: Umhum. (not paying attention)

Peter: Teacher of Zen practice. This is bigger job than -

Suzuki-roshi: This is bigger job [Takazoan] - and this is some job just belonging to my only temple [1947 at Rinso-in].

Peter: I see. But this five year (42) - this job ends in 1947 at BanshoZenrin[42 to 47] and the job at Takakusa [begins 47], and the job here begins in 1952 [Takazoan].

Suzuki-roshi: Umhum.

Peter: What happened between 1947 and 1952? What happened between this job and this job?

Suzuki-roshi: ?

Peter: I'm not certain. Is that 60 or 40?

Suzuki-roshi: 1947 when this started.

Peter: In 1952.

Suzuki-roshi: In 1952. This is BanshoZenrin.



Suzuki-roshi: One is missing here. It was when Niwa-roshi established a temple, I don't know when, actually. If those are all the records Chino Sensei has, then one is missing.

Peter: When is that? 1947 or when? About when? After the war?

Suzuki-roshi: Before the war. Before this one too [47] of course. Peter: Before the war?

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe here. [42?]

Peter: Well the war begins in -

Suzuki-roshi:1942 [oops - shows how accurate his numbers are]. So, before this.

(they talk off tape here)

Peter: I'm still a little confused, but apparently some time in the early forties, before the war, you officially became the Roshi.

Suzuki-roshi: Officially yeah.

Peter: Became the roshi of what master's temple? What was the master's name? The other one?

Suzuki-roshi: Niwa-roshi.

Peter: Niwa-roshi. Who wanted to have a monastery at his temple. And his disciple actually acted as roshi, as docho.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes.

Peter: But you were docho by name.

Suzuki-roshi: By name. Once in a while when they had big ceremony I went there.

Peter: Why couldn't Niwa-roshi be the docho?

Suzuki-roshi: At that time? There was not much relationship between Niwa-roshi and myself. Niwa-roshi himself was the owner of the temple, we call him the jushoku. He's the head of the whole temple.



In March of 1947 there was a big ordination ceremony for lay members at Rinso-in conducted by Ian Kishizawa Roshi.



On May 5, 1948, the Tokiwa Nursery School at Shin-ya (or Nii-ya)(Nie-ya?), Yaizu-shi was opened. This happened as a direct result of Shunryu's efforts though he didn't call himself the founder. He has no official title but says he was responsible for religious education there.

On April, 1954, a branch of Tokiwa Nursery School at Nishimachi, Yaizu-shi, opened.



In March of 1932. the construction of two new buildings (or wings) was completed at Zoun-in under the guidance of Shunryu - Kannon-do, where Avalokiteshvara is enshrined, and Seppin (Kuri). Neither of these were the main building, but they were important buildings for guests & practicioners in the temple. Also at Zoun-in, in April of 1944 he completed the new Kaisando (Founder's Memorial Hall) and Ihaido (Priests' and Laymen's Memorial Hall).

On March 1, 1958, Shunryu completed his work on the main structure of Rinso-in. [I think what he did was to finish putting on the new tile roof, but the notes on the CV read: "Rebuilt the main structure of Rinso-in (rebuilt = tore down old building and made new one." It was not torn down I don't think - Hoitsu said it has original beams.] Shunryu continued work repairing the Kaisando, Ihaido, Bell Tower, and Sutra Store Hall (library - kyozo) until May of 1958.

"To me it was very important to repair Rinso-in because the buildings are very old, the oldest part is maybe 300 years old. Unless the priest has a good understanding of architecture, he may make a mistake. So to me it was pretty important. I repaired many buildings as they were in ancient times. That was the difficult part. It cost more money and it doesn't look so good," he said laughing, "So no one agreed with me, with my idea. It seemed crazy. But I felt I had to do it. It took many years to rebuild Rinso-in. I worked on it the whole time I was there, constantly studying the architecture at that time, at the time when Rinso-in was built, and making an effort to get it all done."



The way I came to America was that Bishop Tobase asked headquarters to send someone to help him and they couldn't find anyone because maybe the position they would have here in America was not so solvent. (as to whether he was resident, priest, assistant, or volunteer) But I didn't mind that kind of situation. My idea of coming was to turn a new leaf for myself and for the Soto way of propagating religion in America. That was rather ambitious.

In Japan I was resident priest of Rinso-in temple, of one monastery in Shizuoka-ken in Japan. I was teacher at the monastery. There were nine teachers. They didn't appoint any head teacher. Yeah, I was head teacher. Maybe 30 students. Niwa] Roshi was the founder. He was maybe 65 or 66. Soon after he died there was a celebration for his 61 birthday.

So at that time actually this temple was in confusion and the resident priest was Tobase. He was Bishop of America and no one knew what to do, it seemed. So it seemed like a good idea to send someone who could be a Bishop. Anyway, they wanted to send someone. Not many people wanted to come, or maybe people wanted to come but headquarters didn't accept them. Headquarters appointed several people but they didn't accept the position. My friend, [Yamada] who was director, didn't know what to do, and he said jokingly, "Why don't you go?" I didn't have any responsibility for the confusion. I did not cause the problems and I shall be free from it. People will understand if I cannot help, so maybe I should come and see what happens.

Anyway, Sokoji was in confusion. I was sure at that time Sokoji would give me more freedom. And in one month my friend came again I said to him I will go. When I said I'd go, he was amazed. He wasn't seriously thinking I would go. He didn't even want me to go so much because he felt some responsibility for Rinso-in which is quite near his temple and we work with the same priests. He is Bishop now. Dick met him. He speaks no English.


I didn't want to articulate just why I came to America because I was actually invited by the Japanese congregation of Sokoji. When I said "yes" our headquarters did not at first appoint me to be the head of this temple but as an assistant resident priest. That meant that I was not responsible for Sokoji. My duty was just to help out. But as soon as I came here headquarters wanted me to take over Tobase's position. So I had to be faithful to the Japanese members. So I didn't want to make the point too clearly that I came to America to bring Buddhism to Westerners. I never expressed my real reason for coming to America, but actually I thought if I could go to San Francisco I could do something which I really want to do - not for Japan but for the American people.

I learned most of my English at college, Komazawa. When I was young I already wanted to go abroad, but my master wouldn't allow it. I guess he wanted me to take care of his temple. I had no preference of where to go. Maybe America. Back then, there wasn't much chance for us to go to another country. At least I wanted to go to Hokkaido. It was difficult to change. And it would have been very bad if I had come to San Francisco and moved again somewhere else without having done much. If I accomplish something here, then it would be okay to move somewhere, but to move without accomplishing anything, it would not be so good. So we must stay at our temples.[implies had to do something in Japan first?]

I had no idea how long I'd stay in America when I first came. I said to the members of my temple that I'll come back in three years, but actually I had in mind to stay pretty long. You see, I had no stable position when I accepted, so it meant that for one or two years I would be a voluntary priest until I meet someone to help me.



P: Do so many students come and go in Japan also?

S: My students stayed pretty well in Japan. They are not forming any one group, but whenever I go to Japan immediately they come and they always keep in contact with each other. Even so, not all of them stay -- maybe 70. Two or three out of ten. Of course they have some reason. It is quite difficult to be always in one group. They are doing pretty well. In my temple the group I started is still practicing under my friend's instruction.

P: How much do they practice? Do they sit every day?

S: No. They come to the temple twice a month and usually they sit at home. When I was there they had more chance to come to my temple, but now of course they have new members -- there may be thirty of them or more. The other people who are helping work with my boy.

I have more than ten disciples in Japan, but they are not dharma disciples.



I didn't have a wife for seven or eight years before I came to America. One of the conditions to go to America, you know, to be invited by the Japanese members of Sokoji, was someone who has a wife. And she was head of the kindergarten and, at my mother-in-law's suggestion, I decided to get married with her and came to America almost at the same time.

Peter: What did she think of that? Isn't that a strange way to get married roshi?

Suzuki-roshi: Strange, yes. For usual person it is very strange, but for a priest, marriage is very strange sometimes, which I don't like so much.

Peter: How do you mean that?

Suzuki-roshi: I want to do exactly what I want to do. (laughing)

Peter: Before you asked Okusan, this Okusan, did you tell her that you had to have a wife in America?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah.

Peter: And would she like to marry you for that reason?

Suzuki-roshi: No, not that reason - you know. After my wife died, I thought I may be married with that girl, but I didn't determine to do that. But soon after my wife died - in 52 or 53, when she ran the kindergarten - there was some rumor - he will get married with her, and he likes her so much. So I thought, that is true, so I decided to get married with her.

But even though I decided so, I was too busy and she was too busy to think about it, you know. She was rather stubborn and I thought, that is alright, maybe I should wait. While I was waiting I decided to go to America and one of the conditions was that I should be a married priest. So I decided to marry her.

Peter: And Okusan's husband had died in the Second World War?

Suzuki-roshi: Yes, yes.


U. S. Curriculum Vitae Info:

On May 22, 1959, Shunryu was appointed head priest of Soto Zen Temple Sokoji, 1881 Bush Street, San Francisco, California, U.S.

In 1967 Shunryu founded Zen Mountain Center, Zenshinji, at Tassajara Springs.

On October 1, 1969 Shunryu was appointed to the position of Gondai-kyoshi by the Shumucho. There are ten daikyoshi and the rest are gon-daikyoshi.



Peter: Do you think it would be interesting Roshi for the students to know all this, or is it best to keep your biography very simple?

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe so.

Peter: Just facts? It doesn't make much sense.

Suzuki-roshi: It doesn't make much sense, I'm afraid if they don't understand what kind of things were going on [the background] (phone call - horrible background noise starts) - I don't know what to do with some things.

Peter: Yeah I'm trying to think what I do with it. How much I should put into the history. It's interesting to your students, but maybe -

Suzuki-roshi: No! Maybe for someone who is not a student! Because of these kind of experiences I decided to come to America. There's nothing interesting in it. I'm just talking to you. I'm not really interested in this kind of thing. I'm just talking to you. This is just a record, just confusion. My history, my life in Japan was spent fighting, in struggle.

Peter: Did you always win the struggles?

Suzuki-roshi: Yeah. But it is not the best way. It is better to surrender. If I had known the truth about American life earlier, it would have been sayonara a long time ago. Like this, you know. (waving or bowing goodbye).

Peter: It seems that many priests who came here were exiled to America, were being punished by being sent to America. They could have punished you a long time ago.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. Fortunately I knew how to handle them most times. But it just made for more difficulties - things go in circles.

Peter: Too smart again.

Suzuki-roshi: I always won.

Peter: Did you ever feel vain about it?

Suzuki-roshi: No, no. I don't feel vain-it's just like, because of I was very impatient and angry I became very patient in order to win fights and so on. Hence I always started to fight because of my impatience. And once I started to fight I had to become very patient or else I'd lose that fight and it would be endless.

Peter: In Western astrology your birth sign, Taurus, suggests stubbornness. And when you talk about yourself you say how stubborn you have been, but you don't seem stubborn to your students.

Suzuki-roshi: Yes. I have been very impatient, that is true.

Peter: But Americans are so much more impatient than you. You seem very patient. Your students are so... Japanese couldn't live with them.

Suzuki-roshi: Hmm. I may have been patient with American people even earlier, long before I came to America. Recently I feel in that way very much. It may have something to do with past lives.

Peter: Some of your students think that in their past lives they were Japanese. Chinese or Japanese.

Suzuki-roshi: Maybe so. I don't know. This is a big job and I'm not interested in this kind of thing. I have no accurate record of my life and I don't want any.

Peter: Is there any meaning at all in having something about you in the Wind Bell?

Suzuki-roshi: This sort of thing?

Peter: Some sort of history, some sort of biography, not too elaborate, but some sort. Not a book though. Maybe about four or five pages? Is that a mistake?

Suzuki-roshi: Four or five!

Peter: How much do you think? One? Half a page? A paragraph? One sentence? Suzuki-roshi biography: "I do not think much of this sort of thing and have not kept any records." End biography. You have the right to decide. This is your direct concern. How do you feel about this?

Suzuki-roshi: I didn't get an answer to these kind of questions from my teacher. I don't have much interest in it.

Peter: Neither do I.

Suzuki-roshi: If my life is seen in this way, everything will be lost.

Summer Sesshin: First Night Lecture

"I Don't Know Zazen"


In our practice, the most important thing [is] to-to know-to know. "To know" is that we have buddha-nature. Our practice-real practice happens when realization of buddha-nature take place. Intellectually we know that we have buddha-nature, and that is what was taught by Buddha.

But to know buddha-nature-when you know that we have buddha-nature, at the same time you will know that even though we have buddha-nature, you know, it is rather difficult to accept it. At the same time, we have various evil nature. And buddha-nature is MORE ...

Summer Sesshin: Second Night Lecture


We have been talking about-discuss-discussing about reality, actually, and how we practice our way in our zazen and in our everyday life. And Dogen-zenji talked about the reality in-by using the Japanese or Chinese word, inmo.[1] Inmo means-inmo has two meaning. It is-it means like this, you know [probably gestures]-and also it means question: "What is that?" Or it is, you know, "it," you know. "It" means-sometime it is question mark, and sometime "it" means-pointing at something, we say, "it."

In English, you know, you say, "It is hot." That "it" is the MORE ...

Summer Sesshin: Third Night Lecture


We are talking about our practice. What is the practice, and what is enlightenment, and how we practice. Someone who is practicing is a man in reality. And the practice we practice is something in reality. And place we practice-some place in reality. And the time you practice is also time in reality. So everything take place in realm of reality. That is true practice. So Dogen-zenji says: "If our practice does not include everything, it is not our practice." And not only practice, but also place you practice, and person who practice, and time to practice-include everything. That is perfect practice.

MORE ...

Summer Sesshin: Sixth Night Lecture


We discussed about the question and answer between the Seventeenth Patriarch and Eighteenth Patriarch.[1]

"Whether bell is ringing or wind is ringing?" the teacher said.

Disciple said: "Not wind nor bell ringing, but our mind is ringing."

And the teacher said: "What kind of mind is it?"

MORE ...

Summer Sesshin: Shosan Ceremony


[Beginning of ceremony was not recorded.]

Suzuki-roshi: ... it will be the foundation of the everyday activity. That is real [1 word].

Student A: Thank you very much.

Student B: Docho-roshi, if our karmic thoughts interfere with our breath counting, just as do the flies in the zendo, should we not try to rid ourselves of them, even though it is a nice aid our practice?

Suzuki-roshi: Excuse me [2-3 words]-

Student B: If our karmic thoughts interfere with our MORE ...

Sunday, September 14, 1969

Sharp Iron, Pure Silk


Sunday school-a Sunday-school girl saw me in sitting, and she said: "I can do it." And she crossed her legs like this [gesturing], and then said, "And what? [Laughing, laughter.] And what?" She sit like this and said, "And what?" I was very much interested in her question because many of you have same question [laughs, laughter]. You come every day to Zen Center and practice Zen. And you ask me, "And what? [Laughs.] And what?"

I want to explain this point a little bit. I cannot-I don't think I can explain it fully because it is not something to be-to ask or to be-to answer. You should know by yourself. We-why we sit MORE ...

Tuesday, September 16, 1969

Why I Became a Priest

San Francisco

I have not much chance to think about why I came to America or why I became a priest, but today when-while I was talking with Peter[1] about something-my personal history-I had to think about, you know, why I came to America. And right now, I am thinking about why I became a priest [laughs].

My father[2] was a priest, and his temple[3] was quite-not small, but very poor temple. We haven't not-we had very difficult time, even though he-my father wanted to MORE ...

Tuesday, October 14, 1969

Question and Answer

San Francisco

Suzuki-roshi: Since I resigned from Soko-ji Temple, I-my mind become more busy than before. It is ridiculous, but actually it is so.

Physically I am feeling much better. But mentally [laughs]-I'm not confused, but I'm reflecting on what I have been doing for ten years. And as I do not stay with you so long time when our members [are] increasing a lot, I feel a great distance, you know, between you and me. That is another problem for me. Anyway, I think we must find our way. And I think it is a time for us to find out some way MORE ...

Sunday, November 09, 1969

Interview with Peter Schneider

[Tape starts with background group chatter. Then the mike is set up, and more group chatter follows. Then Peter Schneider asks Suzuki-roshi a question.]

Peter Schneider: I would like to ask Roshi a question for the Wind Bell that I was going to type-tape just with him, but I think it's a-would interest you, so-. It will appear in the next Wind Bell.[1] And the question is to have Roshi talk about Mrs. [Miss] MORE ...

Tuesday, November 11, 1969

Question and Answer

San Francisco

Suzuki-roshi: If you-if you have some question, I am happy to answer for the question. And in that way, if necessary, I will refer to the Lotus Sutra. Hai.

Student A: What is "no outflows" mean in the Lotus Sutra?

Suzuki-roshi: Hmm? No?

Student A: "No outflows."

Suzuki-roshi: No outflows. "No outflows" means, you know, by-because our practice is not, you know, sincere or not complete, MORE ...

Thursday, November 13, 1969

"Form is Emptiness, and Emptiness is Form"

Tonight I am supposed to explain "form is emptiness, and emptiness is form." In-last night, we came to the point to make to clarify especially "emptiness is form," which is rather difficult to make it clear. But actually, form is so-to-say "big mind"-no, emptiness is "big mind." And big mind as sky, which contains-which doesn't-air or sky, empty sky. But-"empty sky," we say, but everything grow-when plants and everything grow into the sky, sky doesn't care, you know. And the sky is always ready to accept things in it.

And-but our mind is not-should be like a sky, you know, our big mind. We should accept things as it is, and we should not MORE ...

Sunday, November 16, 1969

Not Priest, Not Lay

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

This morning, I want to talk about our practice.

And here in America, something special is happening: that is our group. Our students cannot be categorized in the same way we define Zen student-Zen Buddhist in Japan, because you are not-you are not priest and you are not complete-completely layman. I understand it this way.

That, you know, you are not priest is easy to understand, but that you are not completely layman is-I think you are special, you know, people in our society. [Laughs.] Not hippie. [Laughs.] But something like that. [Laughs, laughter.] So I don't know what to say.

MORE ...

Saturday, November 22, 1969

Opening Lecture at Page Street Zendo: American Precepts

City Center, San Francisco

I am so grateful with you to have chance to practice zazen in this, maybe, magnificent [laughs] building. I think we must be very grateful for Buddha and our successive patriarchs.

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

I don't think I have much time to speak, but first of all, I want to express my gratitude and-and my confidence or my-I want to express my confidence in practicing with you. Whether we will be successful or not is, for me, out of question. I-if we [are] bothered by that kind of idea, we cannot do anything because our MORE ...

Tuesday, November 25, 1969

Evening Lecture

City Center, San Francisco

[Katagiri-roshi spoke before Suzuki-roshi.]

Suzuki-roshi: I am very happy to be with you. I am rather tired, and pinch hitter[1] hit a home run [laughs, laughter]. So maybe at the end of the ninth inning. So game was [1-2 words unclear], and we won. So [laughs, laughter] I am sorry I have no chance to, you know, to play for this evening.

I think it is almost one year since I caught Hong Kong or Asian flu. Right now, in spite of heavy work, I feel very good. So I MORE ...

Saturday, November 29, 1969

Winter Sesshin Lecture #1

Way-Seeking Mind, Part I


... mind.[1] Without this way-seeking mind, our practice does not work. We say "just to sit," or shikantaza. Only when we have a strong way-seeking mind, just to sit make sense. Without this mind, just to sit means maybe-will mean just to sit mechanically and formally. The way-seeking mind-when way-seeking mind vitalize the form you have in zazen may be actualized and make sense.

People say "form" or "spirit"-but to-actually, you know, maybe if you do something without intellectual understanding, without MORE ...

Sunday, November 30, 1969

Winter Sesshin Lecture #2

Way-Seeking Mind, Part II


I think nowadays way-seeking mind is understood like something to do good in its-with a pure motivation-not for sake of success or not for sake of fame, but to purify our mind and to be a good Buddhist. That is way-seeking mind.

So, accordingly, to do something good is, in its wide sense, the way-seeking mind: for an instance, to do something which people do not like to do: the cleaning restrooms, or pick up garbages, or to save small animals, or to help sick people. Those are things which a man of way-seeking mind will do. And with this spirit, we MORE ...

Monday, December 01, 1969

Winter Sesshin #3

Way-Seeking Mind, Part III


Our way-seeking mind is buddha-mind. And our practice is-makes sense when you practice with buddha-mind, or way-seeking mind. But usually, when we say the way-seeking mind or doshin-doshin-do is dao, and shin is mind-it also means bodhi- [partial word]-bodhisattva-mind-bodhisattva-mind: to-not only to help ourselves but also to save or to help others. Strong nuance of this kind is always there when we say doshin.

Right now we recited: "This perfect and penetrating dharma is MORE ...

Tuesday, December 02, 1969

Winter Sesshin Lecture #4

Practice Should Not Be Perfect So Descendants Have Something to Do

To accomplish something is difficult. And, you know, the difficulty you have moment after moment, which you have to work on, will continue forever [laughs, laughter]. I thought if I say so, if I say so, I thought you know, you may laugh [laughter]. And you are, you know, entrapped [laughs].

We say-we have saying: to-to attain enlightenment may not be so difficult, but to continue our practice is difficult. So after all, you know, why we practice zazen is to continue our practice. Or else, I think, our practice doesn't make much sense. We say we have MORE ...

Wednesday, December 03, 1969

Winter Sesshin Lecture #5


I explained briefly about bodhisattva mind. And we have also bodhisattva practice-bodhisattva practice-we count six and sometime four [bodhisattva practices].

Of course, [1] most important one is zazen practice. That is the most important one, maybe. And [2] to keep precepts and [3] to-to practice almsgiving-almsgiving, to offer something or to Buddha or to people to help, and to keep precepts, and [4] to vigorously practice all those practice, and [5] endeavorance to be patient, and [6] wisdom-to have wisdom. Those are six practice of bodhisattva.

MORE ...

Thursday, December 04, 1969

Winter Sesshin Lecture #6


Our sesshin is already nearing to the end. As I said before, this sesshin will not come back again. So we must make best effort in our practice. And when you want to [make] best effort in our practice, of course we have to practice zazen seriously.

But at the same time, tomorrow we will have shosan[1] ceremony. And the day after tomorrow morning we will have MORE ...

Sunday, December 21, 1969

True Happiness and Renewal of Practice at Year's End

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 ext 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. Buddha, when he escaped-can you hear me?-when he escaped from his castle, he felt this kind of-he had this kind of happiness in his luxurious life in the castle, he at last forsake all of those, this kind of life, so we MORE ...

Fundamental Buddhist Point: To Adjust Ourselves to Our Surroundings

San Francisco

Since I moved in this building,[1] people ask me how do you feel [laughs]. But I haven't find myself in this building. I don't know what I am doing here [laughs, laughter]. Everything is so unusual to me. So actually I haven't [laughs]-not much feeling. But I am thinking about now how to adjust myself to this building. And first of all, what I felt seeing people, you know-seeing our students bowing in MORE ...


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

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