February 9th, 1971

Originally offered: February 9th, 1971 | Modified April 8th, 2014 by korin

SR0229

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN  LECTURE NO. 5

Tuesday, February 9, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-09

 

I think, as Yoshimura-sensei[1]  told you the other night, Zen masters has some humorous [laughs], you know, element in their life.  And, you know, even after death [laughs], or even more, we, you know, know how humorous [laughs] they were if you know them.  Humor is, you know—  Only when he has real, you know—he has some understanding more than real, you know, then he could be humorous, you know.  So humor is more real than [laughs] reality, you know.  Reality is not so real.  But if you see [laughs, laughter] comic, you know, you know, that is more real than [laughs] usual pictures, you know.

 

So I think because they have something real, you know, so at the same time they can be always humorous, you know.  When they say, you know, something usual, you know, not [laughs]—  The way they say, or in his mind, you know, he is always expressing it in some [way] as if he is drawing some comic, you know [laughs].  But for us, for him, maybe, it is comic, but for us it is very real and serious thing.

 

When I was young, or when I was at Eihei-ji, Kumazawa-zenji,[2]  you know, Kumazawa-zenji—at that time he was kannin.[3]   In sesshin he gave us a talk when we are tired out [laughs].  It was third day or fourth day.  And he started to talk about something, and he said, “Suzume—a sparrow,” you know, “sparrow has broken a tori’i.”  Do you know tori’i?  Shrine gate, you know, like this [gestures].  A sparrow [laughs] broke [laughs, laughter] tori’i made of stone [laughs, laughter].  And he started to explain how a sparrow did it [laughs].  But, in Japanese, you know,  “Kosuzumega.” [4]   I still remember:  “Kosuzumega ishi no tori’i o fumiotta.” [5]   And he said, “Do you understand?”  [Laughs, laughter.]  And he repeated several times, but no one laughed, you know [laughs, laughter], because he was so serious.  But “fumioru” sometime means “funderu.” [6]   It is, you know, “stepping on the stone,” that is “fumioru—fumioru—funderu,” you know.  It’s “stepping—stepping” you know, “on the stone,” and at the same time it mean “to break” [laughs].  How is it possible [laughs] for a sparrow to break a stone gate?

Read the rest of this entry »

February 7th, 1971

Originally offered: February 7th, 1971 | Modified April 1st, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE NO. 3

February 7, 1971

Sunday Afternoon or Evening

San Francisco

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

 

This morning I said you must find yourself in each being.  That is actually what Tōzan [Ryōkai]-zenji said:  Don’t try to seek yourself.  Don’t try to figure out who is you.  “You” found out in that way is far away from real you.  He is not anymore you.  But if I go my own way, wherever I go, I see myself.  You know, if you, you know, take your own step, it means bodhisattva way.  Wherever you go, you will see yourself. You will meet with yourself.  And, he says, the image you see in the water when you want to figure out who is you is not you, but actually just what you see in the water is you yourself.

 

In Sandōkai we have same statements:  You are not him, and he is you, you know [laughs].  It is paradoxical, you know.  It is to catch your mind, they use some paradoxical, you know, statement like this.  You are not him, but he is you.  It means that when you try to figure out who is you, even though you see yourself in the mirror, he is not you.  But if you just see your, you know, figure in the mirror, without any idea of, you know, trying to figure out what is you—  Why it is not you when you figure out who is you [laughs] is, you know [laughs], because of your self-centered mind, you know, limited mind, you cannot see.

 

A self-centered, you know, practice doesn’t work [laughs].  You know, if you try to attain enlightenment, or if you want to be some great Zen master, you cannot be actually great Zen master.  When you don’t try to be so, you know, or before you try to do so, or before you practice our way, you are buddha.  But because of your limited practice, self-centered practice, even though you practice your way, you cannot have real practice.  You will miss, you know, yourself, lose yourself in small, self-centered practice.

Read the rest of this entry »

February 5th, 1971

Originally offered: February 5th, 1971 | Modified March 25th, 2014 by korin
Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE NO. 1

Friday, February 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-05

 

Purpose of sesshin is to be completely one with our practice.  That is purpose of sesshinSesshin.  Sesshin means—  We use two Chinese characters for setsuSetsu means to treat or, you know, like you treat your guests or like a teacher [student?] treat his teacher, is setsu.  Another setsu is “to control” or “to arrange things in order.”  Anyway, it means to have proper function of mind.

 

When we say “control,” something which is controlled is our five senses and will, or mind, Small Mind, Monkey Mind which should be controlled.  And if—why we control our mind is to resume to our true Big Mind.  When Monkey Mind is always take over big activity of Big Mind, you know, we naturally become a monkey [laughs].  So Monkey Mind must have his boss, which is Big Mind.

 

And when we say “Big Mind,” then while we practice zazen, it is the Big Mind controlling the Small Mind.  It is not so, you know, but only when Small Mind become calm, the Big Mind, you know, start to start its true activity.  So in our everyday life, almost all the time, we are involved in activity of Small Mind.  That is why we should practice zazen and we should be completely involved in this kind of practice.

Read the rest of this entry »

January 23rd, 1971

Originally offered: January 23rd, 1971 | Modified March 18th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 23, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-23

 

Most of us, maybe, want to know what is self.  This is a big problem.  Why you have this problem, you know, and is—I want to understand [laughs] why you have this problem.  I’m trying to understand.  And even though, it seems to me, even though you try to understand who are you, it is, you know, it is endless trip, you know, and you will never see your self.

 

You say to sit without thinking too much is difficult.  Just to sit is difficult.  But more difficult thing will be to try to think about your self [laughs].  This is much more difficult.  To do is maybe easy, you know, but to have some conclusion, you know, to it is almost impossible, and you will continue it until you become crazy [laughs, laughter].  That is, you know, when you don’t know what to do with your self.  Or when you don’t know, when you find out it is impossible to know who you are, you know, you become crazy.

 

Moreover, your culture is based on the idea of self and science and Christianity [laughs].  So those element, you know, idea of Christianity or sinful idea of Christianity or, you know, idea of science, scientific-oriented mind, makes your confusion greater.  You try to always, when you sit, you know, perhaps most of you sit to improve your zazen.  That idea to improve, you know, is a very Christian-like, you know, idea and, at the same time, a scientific idea:  to improve. You acknowledge some improvement of our culture or civilization.  We understand our civilization, you know, improved a lot.  But, you know, when we say “scientific” in sense of science, you know, or “improve” means before you went to Japan by ship, now you go to airplane or jumbo [laughs] plane.  That is improvement.

Read the rest of this entry »

January 16th, 1971

Originally offered: January 16th, 1971 | Modified March 11th, 2014 by korin
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the old zendo at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 16, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-16

 

Something valuable [laughs]—not jewel or not candy, but something which is very valuable.  You recite right now, you know, a verse on unsurpassable, you know, teaching.  What is actually—how to, you know, receive this kind of treasure is, you know, to have well-oriented mind.  I have been talking about self for maybe three lectures—what is self and what is your surrounding, what kind of thing you see, how you accept things, and purpose of zazen.

 

Purpose of zazen, why we practice zazen is to be a boss of everything.  That is why you practice zazen.  If you practice zazen, you will be a boss of your surrounding—wherever you are, you are boss [laughs].  But if I say so, it will create some misunderstanding:  you are boss, you know, you are boss of everyone or everything.  And you is, you know, also, in your mind, you are boss of everything, you know.  When you understand in that way, you know, you are enslaved by idea of you and, you know, your friend, or everyone—all the people surrounding you.  You are, you know, you know, you exist in your mind as a kind of idea, and also people exist in your mind as a member of [laughs] delusion [laughs].  I say “delusion” because when those idea is not well-supported by your practice, then that is delusion, you know.  When you are enslaved by the idea of “you or others,” then that is delusion.  When real, you know, power of practice is supporting those idea, at that time, you know, I say you are “you” who is practicing our way is boss of everything, boss of you yourself, you know.

Read the rest of this entry »

January 10th, 1971

Originally offered: January 10th, 1971 | Modified March 4th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

RIGHT CONCENTRATION

Sunday, January 10, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-10

 

[1]  were given about our practice referring to Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva?  What is, you know, who is Avalokiteshvara?  I don’t mean a man or a woman [laughs].  He is, by the way—he’s supposed to be a man who take sometime figure of a woman, you know.  In disguise of a woman he help people.  That is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva.  Sometime, you know, he has one thousand hands—one thousand hands—to help others.  But, you know, if he is concentrated on one hand only, you know [laughs], 999 hands will be no use [laughs].

 

Our concentration does not mean to be concentrated on one thing, you know.  Without, you know, trying to concentrate our mind, you know, without trying to concentrate, concentrated on something, we should be ready to be concentrated on something, you know.  For an instance, if I am watching someone, you know, like this [laughs], my eyes is concentrated on one person like this.  You know, I cannot see, you know, even it is necessary, it is difficult to change my concentration to others.  We say “to do things one by one,” but what it means is, you know, without [laughs]—ah, it may be difficult—maybe not to try to explain it so well [laughs].  Nature [of] it is difficult to explain.  But look at my eyes, you know.  This is eyes, you know, I am watching someone [laughs].  And this is my eyes, you know, when I practice zazen.  I’m [not] watching anybody [laughs], but if someone move, I can catch him [laughs, laughter].

Read the rest of this entry »

January 3rd, 1971

Originally offered: January 3rd, 1971 | Modified February 25th, 2014 by korin
Suzuli-roshi conducting a lay ordination ceremony at City Center.

Suzuli-roshi conducting a lay ordination ceremony at City Center.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, January 3, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-03

 

Last Sunday I remember I talked about our surrounding, which is civilized world and busy world, and world of science and world of technique.  Although I couldn’t talk about fully about those things, but I tried [laughs] anyway.  And I talked about something about practice or why we practice zazen.  But I did not talk about self—who practice zazen—who practice zazen.

 

What is self is a big problem, you know.  Unless we don’t understand what is self, unless we don’t reflect on our self, whether our everyday life is self-centered or a life of selflessness, we cannot, you know, have right practice:  the practice to settle oneself, you know, on self.  That is, you know, [Dainin] Katagiri-sensei’s [laughs] word:  “to settle oneself on the self.”  You cannot understand what does it mean.

 

So most people, I think, you know, especially the people who are here, are the people who knows who, you know, who has pretty good prospective [perspective] to our surrounding, to our modern life.  But, you know, I don’t think you understand what is self fully.  And those who are more, you know—in Zen Center, I think, there are two kinds [laughs] of students, if I classify, you know.  One type of the student is a student who practice a hermit-like practice [laughter], and other is, you know, the other group of people are the people more radical and intellectual.

Read the rest of this entry »

December 27th, 1970

Originally offered: December 27th, 1970 | Modified February 12th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, December 27, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-12-27

 

Dōgen-zenji said sickness does not, you know, destroy—destroy people, but no practice will destroy people.  Sickness does not destroy people, but no practice destroy people.  What do you mean [laughs]?  What does it mean?  “No practice destroy people.”

 

If, you know, we have no idea of practice, sickness—even sickness does not mean anything, you know, because when we cannot practice, we call it sick- [partial word]—sickness.  But, you know, if you have no idea of practice, what is sickness?  Maybe for the people whose purpose of life is to enjoy life, you know, when he cannot enjoy his life, it is sickness.  But it is—that idea is self-contradiction, you know, because sickness is also a part of [laughs]—part of life.  Maybe because he want to enjoy our life, he want to enjoy in its—enjoy in its more common sense—common sensitivity—enjoy our life.  When you cannot enjoy our life, it is sickness [laughs], but, you know, sickness also, you know, [is] a part of life, especially when you become old.  You will be al- [partial word]—almost everyday you will be sick [laughs].  So that—that does not, you know, mean anything to the old people.

 

So how to enjoy our old life is, you know, to have the idea of practice.  When someone cannot [laughs] practice, you know:  “Oh, I am sick.”  [Laughs.]  “It means something.”  But even in their bed, you know, they have, you know, something to do:  to have more better practice or more formal practice.  So they—they will try to, you know, keep up more ordinal [ordinary?] way of practice, having medicine or—or something.  Anyway, he will try.

Read the rest of this entry »

December 23rd, 1970

Originally offered: December 23rd, 1970 | Modified February 4th, 2014 by korin
Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Introduced by Jakusho Kwong-rōshi

Mill Valley Zendō

Wednesday Morning, December 23, 1970

TEISHŌ

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-12-23

 

Zazen—zazen practice, for us, more and more become important.  Nowadays, as you may feel, we are human being.  We came to the point where we must start—maybe it is too late but, even so, we must start some new movement.  In America it is not so—so bad, but in Japan it is very bad because the land is so narrow.  And what people did for [to] their own land is awful.  Soon they will not have anything to eat.  And I—we think, even though we die will come to—to the earth.  And everything, you know, which appeared should come back to the earth or in its wide sense it—it must come back to emptiness.  But something we human being did for [to] our earth or land is pretty difficult to go back, to resume its old home of emptiness.

 

We human being appeared on this earth and did many things to the earth.  And as long as we could, you know—everything resume to emptiness, it was okay.  But now it is not—what we did is pretty difficult to resume to emptiness.  If you raise, you know, vegetables—vegetables contain something harmful to you.  If you eat something, if you breathe air—everything, you know, has already some poison for us.  And poison we made remains on the earth almost looks like forever.  It cannot be forever, but for human being it is—it is almost forever.

 

People talks about this kind of thing, but they do not feel so deeply or bad about this.  I feel—if I could, you know, after death become emptiness, I feel very good.  But what we did, as Buddha says, is, you know, create karma—awful karma.

Read the rest of this entry »

December 20th, 1970

Originally offered: December 20th, 1970 | Modified February 1st, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

WHAT IS SELF?  WHAT IS OUR PRACTICE?

Saturday, December 20, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-12-20

 

In my last trip to Japan I found out many things.  The feeling I had there was—they were—you know, Japanese people nowadays are trying very hard, but according to Uchiyama-rōshi,[1] you know—do you know him?  He is in Kyoto, and he is practicing with students.  And many Caucasian students were there.  And when I went there they asked me to speak something [laughs], so I just saw them and talked a little.

 

Japanese people now—group, group—bo-kei:[2]  group is group, but bo-kei means “lose themselves.”  Lose themselves in group.  That is Japanese life now.  Group bo-kei.  Japan is a big family or big group.  [Laughs.]  They lose themselves [laughing] in group, so they don’t know what they are doing actually.  I don’t say ma [partial word—"many"?] all of them, but most of people there lose themselves in group.

 

And, you know, some—some people who thinks themselves rid of Japan also has some confidence in their effort of making progress in every direction.  But still they were involved—they were lose themselves, they are lose themselves in group, and they don’t know.  It is difficult for them to know what is—what are they doing.  Even though they do not have any information from other countries outside of the countries, I think if their mind is calm enough to see, you know, to realize what they are doing [laughs], you know, it is not so difficult to see themselves.

Read the rest of this entry »