August 15th, 1971

Originally offered: August 15th, 1971 | Modified April 17th, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, August 15, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-15


When—when wind stops, flowers fall.

When a bird sings, mountain become more calm.


That is a kind of Zen poem.  My translation is not so good.  [He recites the poem in Japanese, saying each line twice.]


                    Kaze yande hana mae otsu.

                    Kaze [Tori] naitei yama sarani yūnari.[1]


Kaze yande:  When wind stops, but still flower falls.  No—there is no wind.  If there is no wind, flower should stay, but flower—after, you know, there is no wind, still flower falls.  If a bird sings, it is not calm.  But if you hear a bird sing in the remoted mountain, you feel the calmness of the mountain more.  Kaze—Tori naitei yama sarani yūnari.


This is again—this poem again refers to the feeling of “there is” and “there is not.”  There is, and sometimes there is not.  And there is not, sometimes there is [laughs].  When a flower falls, why flower falls is because there is wind.  But when there is no wind, flowers still fall.  And when you see a flower fall, you feel the wind, more than wind is up [?].  When a bird sings, you feel the calmness of the mountain more than you—more than when you did not hear any sound.  That is true.  Isn’t—isn’t that true?


That is real feeling of “there is” and “there is not.”  That is actual feeling.  But usually we are involved in the idea of “there is” or “there is not.”  “There is not” means there is no wind.  “There is not” means there is no wind.  “There is no sound” means, you know, you don’t hear anything—that is, there is no sound.  But actually, when you hear sound you do not feel of actual feeling of no sound.  It is paradoxical, you may say, but that is much more true than your, you know, usual understanding of “there is” or “there is not.”  Much more true.  Kaze yande hana mae otsu.  Kaze [Tori] naitei yama sarani yūnari.  You cannot, you know—this is—you cannot say this is just poem.  This is actual reality.

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August 13th, 1971

Originally offered: August 13th, 1971 | Modified April 10th, 2015 by korin
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi:

Friday, August 13, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-13


Last night,[1]  when we have question and answer, we came across the very important point.  In the—in Japanese, we say [phonetic] sabetsu-soku-byōdō, or shinkū-myōu.[2]   Sabetsu-soku byōdō.  This is—sabetsu means “speciality,” and byōdō means “equality.”  Speciality means, you know—speciality means various being which is special.  Each being are special, and each being has its own meaning of existence.  When something exist, there is some reason why something exist.  That is speciality.  And equality is even though things is different—different, but strictly speaking each things does not exist in that way, because they are changing, constantly changing.


So if it is changing, we cannot say something really exist, you know, something we see [laughs] does not exist.  You think you exist here, but it is not so.  And which is easier for you to understand is, you know—maybe intellectually it is easier for you to understand things does not exist.  Equality is easier to understand, and speciality is difficult to understand.


When you say “freedom,” the meaning of freedom or feeling of freedom is more like equality.  We are, you know, each—”We are equal, so we must have freedom.”  [Laughs.]  That is what you say, but to us it is absurd.  You know, if—if—if you want to be special, then it is not possible [laughs] to have freedom at the same time.  When you are special, there is—you have some special reason to exist, you know.  So, for an instance, a woman should be a woman, you know, and a man should be a man [laughs].

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August 12th, 1971

Originally offered: August 12th, 1971 | Modified March 27th, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday Evening, August 12, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-12


Tomorrow—tomorrow is the thirteenth, is it?  In Japan tomorrow is—tomorrow—13th, 14th, 15th, 16th—is Obon[1]—Obon days.  We say Obon.  At some place, we observe it July 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th.  Thirteenth is the—thirteenth—[on the] evening of the thirteenth, old souls are supposed to visit their family—old family.  And 16th is the day old souls leave their old family.


Why we observe two months?  Before we observe it in the moon—by the moon calendar [July], but recently we observe it by your calendar [August].  That is why we observe, you know, sometime—in some place, July.  Somewhere—in some place, August.


This is—this kind of observation started even before Buddha.  Before Buddha—in India, they were—people were concerned about their future generation.  And if they do not have their children, they worried very much.  And they—they thought they are not faithful enough to their ancestors.


This kind of, you know, idea is also true in China, and maybe after Buddhism [was] introduced to Japan.  Japan [was] also concerned about their generation—future generation.  It is Chinese custom.  And after Chinese, you know, culture were introduced to Japan, they started to write Japanese history, something like China.  Nihon-shoki.[2]  Before Nihon-shoki we have Kojiki.[3]  Kojiki was written by Japanese, purely, of course, by Japanese, but only—mostly Japanese—according to Japanese custom and thought.  But Kojiki was written after Chinese culture was introduced, and Kojiki was written something like Chinese history.

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August 8th, 1971

Originally offered: August 8th, 1971 | Modified March 20th, 2015 by korin
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, August 8, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-07

(The interchange with the last questioner is not included in the audio file)


Tonight I have nothing to talk about [laughs].  Empty hand.  No book.  I just appeared here [laughter].  But as Yakusan-zenji[1]  did, I wouldn’t go back to my room without saying anything.  If you ask some questions, I will answer.  In that way, I want to spend just one hour with you.  Okay?   If you have some questions, please ask me.  Ask.  Okay.  Hai.


Student A:  Rōshi, I notice that often when I wake up in the morning the first minute or so my mind is sort of unclear.  [Remaining 3-6 sentences unclear.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  It is because you are [at] Tassajara pretty long time, and you have not much problem to follow our schedule.  So you have, maybe—you have time to think [about] something else, you know [laughs].  That is, maybe, the reason.  At first, as we—as it is difficult to follow our schedule and to know exactly what we do in zendō.  First of all you think about [how?] to go to zendō anyway, you know.  That will be the first thing you think about.  But more and more, you feel as if you can do pretty well.  I think that is main reason.  I think that is not so good, but that is—anyway that will be the problem for the student who stay pretty long time here.  So if it is so, I must give you a big slap [laughs], but now I—I want to ask you—I have a question, you know.  Why do I give you a slap—because your practice is not so good?  [Taps stick several times.]  What will be the reason for—reason of the slap?


Student A:  It seems [1-2 words] to my mind, to—to wake me up right now.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student A:  And I [4-8 words].


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  When you just wake up, you know, you have—you don’t have, you know, so many things in your mind.  Your mind is clear.  And when your mind is clear, you have to come to zendō.  And our practice should be continuous view [?] of practice, but that is actually not so easy.  So—but if—if something appears already, it can’t be helped, you know.  You shouldn’t fight with it.  Even so, even [if] you have problem, [and] your mind is not clear, you should come.  That is what you should do.  To encourage that kind of practice, I give you slap or dōan or ino will, if you are still in bed, you know, for an instance.  Someone will go to—to bring you to the zendō.

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August 7th, 1971

Originally offered: August 7th, 1971 | Modified March 12th, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Evening, August 7, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-07 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-07 Part 2

I want to discuss with you about, you know, how you study Zen.  Zen is actually, in short, maybe, communication—communication—communication between your friend, and communication between your teacher and disciple—


Can you hear me?  Oh.


—communication between teacher and disciple, and communication between we human being and our surrounding—communication between man and nature.  This is, in short, Zen.  To have perfect communication—wherever you are—to have perfect communication and you and the outside world.


Communication—if we say “communication,” it looks like there is subject and object, but true—if you understand real relationship between each existence, it is originally one, and tentatively we understand in two ways—two duality—dualistic way, so it is quite natural for us to have perfect communication between each being, and why it is difficult to communicate with each other is because our mind is always in duality.


That is why it is difficult to communicate.  So perfect communication—there is actually nothing to say, even, and when there is nothing to say, that is zazen practice [laughs].  You don’t have to say anything when you sit.  And yet you have perfect communication with everything.  So when you understand—if you want to study Zen, first of all you should know how to study Zen.  How to study Zen is to—to be acquainted always, you know, to your surroundings, and that is how you have, for an instance, dokusan with your teacher.  Perhaps when you come to dokusan you feel as if you want—you must have some question to ask [laughs], you know, but it is not necessary so.  It is not always so.  When you are very attentive, then even though you have no question to ask, if you enter the room and see your teacher, then—and you should be very alert—alert enough to see what is the mood of the teacher today [laughs].  Is he happy or unhappy [laughs], you know, is—is—is he busy or not so busy, or is he ready to accept you or not?  You should be very attentive.  And that is how you practice Zen.

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August 5th, 1971

Originally offered: August 5th, 1971 | Modified March 6th, 2015 by korin
Suzuki-roshi with Anagarika Govinda

Suzuki-roshi with Anagarika Govinda

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, August 5, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-05 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-05 Part 2

If you want to practice in its true sense so that you may not regret what you have been doing, it is necessary for you to—to have good confidence in your practice.  This is very important, or else it is not possible for [you to] practice true way.  There may be many great teachers in various countries, but even though there are great teachers, if your way-seeking mind is not strong enough you cannot study.  Even though you meet him, you don’t know who he is.


Tonight I want to introduce the story between Bodhidharma and Butei in China.[1]   Bodhidharma went to—arrived at China [in] 520, according to traditional record, and he lived with the King of the Liang.  And he—the king, who was a great supporter of Buddhism, he built many temples, and he studied himself—by himself—you know, he studied Buddhism and a great teacher—daishi.[2]


He himself was already good scholar, and at the same time a great scholar—supporter of the Buddhism.  As soon as Bodhidharma arrived at China he visited the king.  And this is a very famous story, as you may know.

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August 4th, 1971

Originally offered: August 4th, 1971 | Modified February 12th, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday Evening, August 4, 1971

Zen Mountain Center


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-04 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-04 Part 2

Tomorrow is the Bodhidharma’s Day.  We will have—we have special ceremony this evening, and tomorrow also we will have special ceremony for him.  As you know, he is the twenty-eighth patriarch from Buddha, [not] counting Buddha as the first, and he is twenty-eighth patriarch.  I should like to introduce how he became a successor of Hannyatara,[1]  the twenty-seventh patriarch, and then I want you [to] ask some questions.  I will briefly introduce you [3-8 words unclear] twenty-eighth patriarch.


Hannyatara-sonja,[2]  the twenty-seventh patriarch, asked Bodhidharma, “There are many things.”[3]  “Things” here means various things we see:  stones, or mountains, or rivers, or ocean—everything we see and everything we think about.  It include our various ideas we have.  Those are “things.”


“And what will be the thing which has no form—formless being—what will be the formless one?”  Bodhidharma said, Fuki musō.[4]   Fuki musō is rather difficult to [explain]—I must explain about it.  But it is a kind of technical term.  Fuki musō.  Fuki is no-, non-arising.  Musō is formless.

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August 3rd, 1971

Originally offered: August 3rd, 1971 | Modified February 5th, 2015 by korin


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, August 3, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-03 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-03 Part 2

I want to explain why we become Buddhist [laughs] or why I myself became a Buddhist.  Perhaps here in America, because you have some wish, you know, hope in your future life—future life of a—future—personally your own future life. and sociologically you’re concerned about your future society.  But to tell the truth, we Buddhists do not have any hope [laughs].  We do not have any hope for our human, you know, life because we understand this life is originally full of suffering.  That is, you know, how we understand our society.  From the beginning we understand that our world is world of suffering.  And we understand why we suffer, you know, is because we expect too much.  We always expect something more than you will obtain or acquire.


For an instance, everyone knows that we cannot stay young, but we want to be always young [laughs].  Once in a while, you know, when—even though you are young, once in a while you may feel, “Oh gee, I am twenty-five now [laughs].  Oh, I am not anymore young.”  [Laughs, laughter.]  You may feel in that way.  That is, you know, good evidence that you want to be always young.  But that is not possible, you know.  We want to experience what you have, but that is not also possible.


Things are changing always, so nothing can be yours.  So whatever you want—you want to be or you want to have, nothing can be possible for you to obtain or to have it.  That is actually how our human world is.  Actually it is so.  But still, we want to be fooled by [laughs] something.  That is maybe why we say human beings do not like something real.  But human being like something unreal.  That is very true.  You don’t like anything real.  So after, you know, give up all the hopes you have in mundane world, we become Buddhist.

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August 1st, 1971

Originally offered: August 1st, 1971 | Modified January 22nd, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, August 1, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-01


At the time of Yakusan—Yakusan Igen-daioshō[1]—we—every morning we recite chant names of Buddha.  Daikon Enō-daioshō.[2]   Daikon Enō is the Sixth Patriarch.  And Seigen Gyōshi—Seigen Gyōshi is the Seventh Patriarch.  And Eighth Patriarch is Sekitō Kisen.  And [the Ninth Patriarch is] Yakusan.


At this time, Zen Buddhism was very—became very popular or—and stronger.  Every master—there were lots of students.  But in Yakusan’s monastery there were only twenty, you know.  He—he was total [?] strict teacher.  And one day, the temple—a monk who is taking care of temple asked him to give a lecture.  “You haven’t—you haven’t given lecture for so long time, so students want to hear you.  So please give us some lecture today,” he said.[3]


So Yakusan asked ino-sho to hit the bell, so students came to lecture hall.  And at the third round, Yakusan appear and mounted the pulpit, and sitting for a while.  He without giving anything—saying anything, he went to his room [laughs].  [Words] taken care of [Zen master] asked him, “Why didn’t you say anything?”  Yakusan said, “Because I’m teacher who give lecture and there’s some teachers who discuss Buddhism but [words] to give lecture is not my [word].”  And his—that was his answer.  And then if he doesn’t give any lecture.  What is his purpose?   No one knows but it is difficult to figure out what was his purpose.  That there’s no reason is actually his teaching.

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August, 1971

Originally offered: August 1st, 1971 | Modified January 22nd, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


August 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-00


Assistant:[2]  … to make it record [verb].


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … like that.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … push it hard enough so the buttons stay down.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Long silent gap in tape.]



Suzuki-rōshi dictating as he translates a text:


“Therefore, no buddha attained enlightenment without the form of shaving head—not in the form of a shaved head.  No patriarch—no patriarch—is in the—no patriarch is not in the form of shaved head.  So the most virtuous things is the virtue of shaved head.


Even though you built a stūpa, which—stūpa adorned by seven jewels to reach the thirty—the thirty-third heaven, the virtue is great, but in comparison to the merit of shaved head, it is not so good as even one hundredth.  And any [1 word unclear] cannot be—cannot describe.  Stūpa could be destroyed, and once it destroyed, it—the shape cannot be—the form cannot be seen.  But merit of shaved head will increase more and more until it reach to the Buddha foot.  And its merit will not be lost.

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