July 25th, 1971

Originally offered: July 25th, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Sunday Evening, July 25, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-25

Tonight I want to explain the outline of our practice.  As a monk and as a layman, without understanding of what is practice, it is rather difficult to make actual progress in your practice.  And what I will talk about tonight is a kind of universal practice for laymen and monks both, you know—which could be true for both laymen and priests.


We say, or you say [laughs] whatever you do, that is practice, our practice:  to drink tea or to eat or to sleep, to walk, or to sit down.  Whatever you do, that is practice, you know, we say.  But how you, you know—with—with what kind of understanding you do things is very important point.  Actually, whatever you do, if you do not do the point—that is true.  But if you miss the point, even though you look like [you are] doing a proper practice, actually it doesn’t work.  The point is, whether you do it for yourself or for the sake of the truth, or for sake of Buddha, or for sake of people—this point is a very important point.


I—I didn’t discuss or argue with you, but my way, you know, if there is many things in the basket, my way is to finish the fruit is—you know, start with—I st- [partial word:  "start with"?], eat the worst [laughs] one first.  I will make—eat best one first.  And why you eat best one first is—according to the people who eat best one first—if you eat best one first always, you will always eat best one [laughs].  The last one, you know, will be also best one [laughs].  If—if—we eat worst one first, you will always eat worst—worst one.  Last one is also worst one.

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July 24th, 1971

Originally offered: July 24th, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Suzuki-roshi at Sokoji

Shunryu Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, July 24, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-24


This evening I want to talk about Buddhist practice. In one of the fascicle of Shōbōgenzō there—there is fascicle about virtue of mountain and river.[1]   Virtue of mountain and river. This is very interesting and give us a great benefit to understand what is our practice. Virtue of mountain and river.


He [Dōgen] says usual people think mountain is solid, mountain does not move and permanent; but river flows. That is usual understanding of mountain and river. Mountain and river. It is exactly the same as—people say Rinzai practice or Sōtō practice [laughs]. And the Sōtō practice is such-and-such; and Rinzai practice is such-and-such. And it looks like Sōtō way is more rigid and Rinzai way is more free. But Sōtō way is not so strict, but Rinzai way is very strict. They may say many things about Sōtō or Rinzai because it looks like so. And there must be various arguments about what is Sōtō and what is Rinzai. But there are—there are not so many arguments [laughs] when we say: “Mountain does not move, but water flows, river flows.” And there’s not much [laughs] arguing about that.


But Dōgen-zenji or—no—no—but Daokai-zenji Master[2] said: “Mountains flow [laughs]; mountains—mountains goes but river doesn’t. Mountains flow. Or East Mountain flows over—over the—over the river. Mountain goes and river stays.” And about this statement, because it is difficult for us to understand, so people say—people say: “True Zen is beyond words [laughs]. It is not possible for us to say what is Zen practice actually. Zen practice is beyond words.” That is why Daokai-zenji said, “Mountain—East Mountain goes over the water.”

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July 22nd, 1971

Originally offered: July 22nd, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, July 22, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-22


This evening I want to explain about san-pachi-nenju[1]  which we practice.  Can you hear me?


Student:  No.


Suzuki-roshi:  No.  Okay.  [Laughs, laughter.]  San-pachi.  San-pachi-nenju  which we practiced this evening.  Some of you must have joined the ceremony, and some of you must have seen it.  But before I explain about san-pachi-nenju, I want to explain our—what is our practice and what will be each one of yours practice—practice of each one of you should be or will be.


Before everyone—before we become Buddhist, you are lay Buddhist.  And before you become lay Buddhist, you are laymen which does not belong to—member of Buddhists.  Now can you hear me?  Member of Buddhist.  So [there are] non-Buddhist people and Buddhists.  And Buddhist can be classified in four:  lay Buddhist—lay Buddhist man and lay Buddhist woman and maybe layman and laywoman, and nun, and priest.  Those are five class—classes of Buddhist group.  Four—we have four groups.


And each layman accept Buddhists precepts.  If usual person accepts precepts, we become Buddhist.  And I have been explaining what is precepts.  So tonight I will not speak—talk about it; but if you become Buddhist, what kind of practice you will have is next thing—is the thing I want to talk [about]—to study.

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July 21st, 1971

Originally offered: July 21st, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday Evening, July 21, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-21
We discussed already last night[1]  about what is something which we can experience or which we can understand, and what is something which we cannot understand.  I was trying to explain, you know, the difference [between] something which you can understand and something which you cannot understand, and how you, you know, have an approach to something which you cannot understand is by practice.


But it is necessary for us at the same time to have understanding of Buddhism.  It is necessary to read, and it is necessary to listen to lecture, and it is necessary to think about what is Buddhism.  That is also important.  And most important thing will be to have actual, you know, difficulties in our human life.  That is very important.


But as I told you, the problem—you have enough problem already [laughs, laughter].  So don’t make home-made problems—cookies.  That was what I told you last night.  We are practicing zazen, so it is a great help.  And those things—those points are very difficult and very important for our prefect understanding of Buddhism.  If you mix up—mixed up those points, you will never understand what I am saying.

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July 20th, 1971

Originally offered: July 20th, 1971 | Modified October 10th, 2014 by korin

Shunryu Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday Evening, July 20, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-20

I wanted to see you earlier, but I was too busy so I couldn’t come.

Can you hear me?  Can you hear me?

Student:  Yes.

Oh.  Okay.

Anyway, it is very good to see you and Tassajara, which has improved a lot since I left here.  Tonight my—I didn’t have any idea of giving talk, but I—as, you know, we have many guests and some of you may leave tomorrow, so I decided to talk a little bit—maybe I said ten minutes [laughs].  But it is rather difficult to say something in ten minutes, so I don’t know how many minutes my lecture last.

What I want to talk about tonight is something—some idea or some understanding of Buddhist which is not—may not be unfamiliar to you.

We observe things in two ways.  We understand things has two—two side.  One is phenomenal side; the other is, maybe, more ontological side.  Something—some—most of us, you know, understand things from the light of difference, like big or small, black or—black and white, material or spiritual.

Usually, maybe, spiritual—  If we say “spiritual,” usually it is something which is not material.  But, according to Buddhism, even though you say “spiritual” that is, you know, not much different from—different of physical or materialistic side.  “Spiritual” or “materialistic” we say, but those are, according to Buddhism, not much different.  It belongs to the understanding of phenomenal side of the reality—spiritual too, spiritual understanding too include phenomenal understanding.

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July 17th, 1971

Originally offered: July 17th, 1971 | Modified October 3rd, 2014 by korin


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Morning, July 17, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-17


[In my last lectures][1] … I explain about our precepts.  As you must have found out, “the precepts,” we say, but it is nothing so unusual—it is just about the things as they are and about what we are.  And that is precepts.  You may wonder why then is it necessary [laughs] to accept precepts.  But this is very important point.  I want you to understand.  It is very very common understanding which you can accept quite easily.


You know, what I say—what I said was there are three—the three kind of precepts.  One precept is—first one is indivisible three precepts.[2]   Even though we say “three,” but that three is one.  So it is not possible to—cannot be three.  It is actually to repeat one precepts three times from various angle.  That is the first one.


There’s—  In—  Where things exist, there is some rules.  And rules, we say, but it is nothing but way of—it is nothing but the function of great being which we cannot understand.  It is something which is beyond our reach.  But that something [is] always doing something, or has some function.  So there is some rule in the way of—the function of the great being.  But the function and the great being is one, not two, in Buddhism.  But in Christianity, God is here, and it gives some rules to everything.  That is more Christian understanding.  But in Buddhist—according to Buddhism, it is not two.  So this point is called “harmony.”  Harmony does not mean harmony between each being, but harmony between the function and the great being.  Those are one.

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July 6th, 1971

Originally offered: July 6th, 1971 | Modified September 26th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, July 6, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-06 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-06 Part 2

I want to continue my talk about precepts—Buddhist precepts.  And last time I talked about the indivisible three treasures, which is buddha, and dharma, and sangha.  But we have three—we say “three treasures,” but the three treasures could be understood by you in three ways.  It is indivisible, three precepts, because it is one:  buddha, and dharma, and sangha are actually one.  It is not three.  So we say indivisible three treasures.


The next one is, actually, since we have Shākyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment, realizing the indivisible three treasures.  And what he told was dharma, which was—as he realized what is the indivisible three treasures, he talked about it.  That is dharma.  And his disciples are sangha.  So this is—we call this three treasures, is called “manifested three treasures.”  And right now we have, you know, temples, and in temple we have buddha, you know, big or small, or bronze or wood, or gold or wood, wooden buddha, bronze buddha, buddha image.  That is buddha, you know, for us.  And we have scriptures, you know, many scriptures, piled up somewhere [laughs], sometime in library [laughs].  Those are dharma too.  We call it dharma.  And sangha—sangha is priests and—priests or nun—priests, nuns, and laymen and laywomen.  They are, you know, all sangha.  Those are, you know, also three treasures.  Three treasures, maintaining, which maintains Buddha and Buddhism as a religion.  So those are called, maybe, jūji sanbō[1]“maintaining three treasures,” the three treasures which maintain or sustain Buddhism, which protect Buddhism.


Tonight I want to talk about Buddha’s—excuse me—three treasures, manifested—the manifested three treasures.  It is not different, but the difference—difference is, difference between indivisible three treasures[2]  and manifested three treasures[3]  is—Buddhism which was told by Buddha is the manifested three treasures, manifested buddha.  And Buddhism which exist, you know, before Buddha, even before Buddha, that is indivisible three treasures.  After Buddha, you can say “he is Buddha,” you know; he can say “this is Buddha.”  And this is the teaching which was told by Buddha.  That is dharma.  And those are Buddha’s sangha, which include priest, and laymen, and laywomen—Buddha’s sangha.

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July 2nd, 1971

Originally offered: July 2nd, 1971 | Modified September 18th, 2014 by korin


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, July 2, 1971

City Center

“Real Precepts Are Beyond Words”

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-02


[Today I would like to][1]  … lecture about precepts.  I—when I say “precepts,” the first thing you will think of is something like Ten Commandment or ten grave prohibitory precepts.  But Zen precepts is not like that.  The Zen precepts is—to study Zen precepts means to understand zazen.  So it is—another interpretation of zazen is precepts.  Using words—word “precepts” we explain what is Zen actually.


The purpose of receiving precepts, observing precepts, is not just to remember what we should do or what we shouldn’t do.  And how we observe precepts is to practice Zen or to extend our practice to our everyday life.  So the idea of precepts is completely different from the usual understanding of precepts.


The precepts, you know, which is—or foundation of precepts or—true meaning of precept—precepts is various way of understanding of one reality, one reality which is always with you—reality, which cannot—which is not individable in three, or in sixteen, or in ten.  Tentatively we divide—we explain it from various angle, but that is just words.  Real, you know, precept is beyond word.  We cannot—if we talk about it, it is not real precepts already.  So if you think precept is just to observe some various rules is precepts, it is very different or very far away from the true understanding of the true prac- [incomplete word:  "practice"?]—precepts.

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July 22nd, 1971

Originally offered: June 22nd, 1971 | Modified September 12th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, June 22, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-22


I don’t know where to start, you know, my talk, but anyway what I want to discuss with you tonight is how to, you know, apply our practice in your—to your everyday life.  That will be the point of my talk.


Whether you are a layman or priest, you know, we are all bodhisattvas, you know.  We are taking bodhisattva vow and we are practicing bodhisattva way.  And as you know, bodhisattva way is to help others as you help yourself, or to help others more—before you help yourself.  That is, you know, bodhisattva way.  We put so much emphasis on helping others.  This point is very important when you try to figure out what will be your everyday life, you know, what will be the relationship [between] zazen practice and your everyday life.  Because you forget this point, you cannot extend your practice to everyday life.


Because, you know, as a Buddhist we should see things-as-it-is, you know [laughs], to see things-as-it-is, to observe things-as-they-are—that is the most important point.  When you practice zazen, you know, actually you don’t see anything, you don’t think about anything.  But even though you do [are] not aware of what you are doing, you are actually one with everything; even though you don’t see, but you are actually with everything.  So you knows everything.  You see things, you know, not with our naked eye, but our true eyes, you know.  Even though we don’t hear, but [laughs] actually we are with everything.  We are practicing with everything, you know, actually.  When you don’t think, when you [are] one with your practice, you know, at that moment, even though you don’t see, you are already with everything and you are actually seeing things, you know, and you have perfect understanding of everything.  That is our practice.  And we feel in that way when we don’t think.  I said “feel” but [laughs] maybe “to feel” is not correct word.  That is, you know, our practice.

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June 20th, 1971

Originally offered: June 20th, 1971 | Modified September 4th, 2014 by korin
Service at City Center

Service at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, June 20, 1971


San Francisco


This sesshin—we call it “sewing sesshin“—sesshin and, actually, rakusu sewing—okesa-sewing sesshin.  Our okesa is not just—just symbol of our teaching, but it is actually dharma itself.  But unless you have proper understanding of it, the rakusu is something which you wear as a symbol of Buddhist.  But that is not proper understanding.


The proper understanding of our zazen or rakusu is same, not different.  Proper understanding of zazen is, at the same time, proper understanding of rakusu.  So unless you have real experience of zazen—zazen experience, rakusu is not actually rakusu; it is just something which you wear.  It is not dharma itself.


You may think I told you yesterday[1]  about rakusuokesa, and okesa Buddha made—okesa.  Gathering various material and sewed together and design it in this way after the shape of paddy field.  But here[2]  Dōgen-zenji says, refer to the ten—ten names of okesa.


By the way, Dōgen-zenji wrote more than 95 fascicles of teaching about transmitted teaching.  And two of them is about okesa, two of—two fascicles about okesa.  “Kesa-kudoku” nomaki and “Den-e” nomaki.[3]   So you may understand how important okesa is for us, you know, and those two fascicles are very long in comparison to other fascicles.

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