Rev S. Suzuki
December 14, 1967
It’s been a pretty long time since I saw you. I am still studying hard to find out what is our way. Recently I reached the conclusion that there is no Buddhism or there is no Zen or anything. Yesterday, when I was preparing for the evening lecture (in San Francisco) although I tried to find out something to talk about, I couldn’t find out anything so I was just reading. And I thought of the story which I was told in Obon Festival when I was young. The story is about the water or the story is about the people in Hell.
Although they have water, the people in Hell cannot drink it because the water burns like a fire, or water which they want to drink looks like blood, so they cannot take it. While the celestial beings…for the celestial beings it is jewel and for the fish it is their home and for the human being it is water. You may think, if you think water is water (if you understand that water is water, as we do ) is right understanding the water sometimes looks like…although water sometimes looks like jewel or house or blood or fire that is not real water…you may think in this way. As you think that zazen practice is real practice and the rest of the everyday activities is the application of zazen, but this (zazen) is fundamental practice. But Dogen zenji, amazingly said, ‘Water is not water’. If you think water is water your understanding is not much different from the understanding of fish’s understanding, and hungry ghost’s understanding of water, or angel’s understanding of water. There is not much difference between our understanding and their understanding.