Archive for October, 1968

October 21st, 1968

Monday, October 21st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO.  2

Monday Morning, October 21, 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-21

[The Lotus Sūtra] …  which was told by a historical Buddha.  But some people may be disappointed who believe in historical Buddha.  This is not a characteristic of any religion except Buddhism.  Only Buddhism went through a long history before having a complete under­standing of the historical Buddha.  It took a pretty long time for us to understand who he was.

At first his disciples were attached to his character, or to what he said and did.  So his teaching became more and more static and solid.  His teaching was transmitted by so‑called Hīnayāna Buddhists, or shrāvakas, because they were the disciples, or followers, who tried to preserve his teaching by memory and discussion or meetings.  No one is sure when this kind of meeting was held, but it is said that seventy-five years after his death they had a meeting where they chose various good disciples to compile his teaching.

When they discussed the precepts, Upali was the head of the group, and he recited what Buddha had said.  When the Sutras were discussed, Ananda, who was Buddha’s jisha, discussed what Buddha said.  In that way, they set up some teaching:  “This is what Buddha told us, and these are the precepts Buddha set up.”  Naturally, they became rigidly attached to the teaching, and, of course, those who studied this kind of teaching had a special position among Buddhists.  Buddha’s disciples were classified in four groups:  laymen, laywomen, nuns, and priests.  And the distinction between laymen and laywomen and priests and nuns became more and more strict.  Buddhism at that time already had become a religion of priests, not ordinary people or laymen.

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October 20th, 1968

Sunday, October 20th, 1968

Suzuki-roshi in the dokusan room at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO.  1

[Second Lotus Sūtra series in 1968]

Sunday Evening, October 20, 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-20

This sūtra titled Saddharma-pundarīka-sūtra was supposed to be told by Buddha, but actually this sūtra appeared maybe after two or three hundred years after Buddha passed away.  So historically we cannot say Buddha spoke this sūtra.  If you ask if all the sūtras were spoken by Buddha, the answer may be that only parts of them were spoken by him.  And they will not be exactly as he said them.  Even the Hīnayāna sūtras were not handed down by Buddha’s disciples exactly as he told them.  Since even the Hīnayāna sūtras were not told by Buddha, the Mahāyāna sūtras could not have been told by him.

But some aspects of Buddha developed after the historical Buddha passed away.  The historical Buddha is not the only Buddha.  He is the so‑called Nirmānakāya Buddha.  We also have the Sambhogakāya Buddha and Dharmakāya Buddha.  So Buddha was understood more and more as a perfect one.  When Buddha was still alive, this point was not so important because Buddha himself was their friend and teacher and even god.  He was a superhuman being even when he was alive.  He was their teacher or master, so there was no need for them to have some superhu­man being like a god.  But after he passed away, because his character was so great, his disciples adored him as a superhuman being.  This idea of a superhuman being is a very impor­tant element for promoting the understanding of Buddha as the Perfect One.

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October 12th, 1968 2nd Talk

Saturday, October 12th, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

THE TRUE DRAGON

Saturday, October 12, 1968

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-12 2nd Talk

Dōgen-zenji says, “Don’t practice your way as if blind man—blind man—blind men trying to figure out what is elephant.”[1] The real elephant is not a trunk or rope or fan or wall.  But the people thinks blind man—blind man—a blind man may think an elephant is like a wall or rope or trunk.  But the real elephant is not—none of those—are not—is not none of those.

And he says, “Don’t—don’t be curious about the true dragon, like Seiko.”[2] In China there was a man who [was] named Seiko.  He loved dragons.  All his scroll is—was—were dragons.  And he designed his house like a dragon-house.  And he had many figures of dragons.  But so dragon thought—real dragon thought, “He—if I appear in his house, he will be very pleased.”  So one day, real dragon appeared in his room, and he was very much scared of it and almost [laughs] draw his, you know, sword and cut him—cut the real dragon.  So the real dragon [said], “Oh, my!”  [Laughs.]  And he escaped from his—hardly escaped from his room.  “Don’t be like that,” Dōgen-zenji says.[3]

Most of us are practicing our way like a blind man or Seiko.  That is why we have to start our practice over and over.  You think you are practicing real zazen, but may not be so.  So if you notice that you haven’t been practicing true zazen, you have to start practice true zazen again.  And over and over, we have to start our zazen, because we are always liable to practice zazen like blind man or Seiko.

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October 12th, 1968

Saturday, October 12th, 1968

Suzuki-roshi monitoring Zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE

Shikantaza, Tenryū’s One Finger

Saturday, October 12, 1968

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-12 1st Talk

I want to explain our way—our way of zazen.  Do you know—you know the famous story of Gutei?[1] When Tenryū[2] pointed up one finger, Gutei attained enlightenment.  And do you—what do you think [about] this one finger?  He [Gutei] attained enlightenment, you know, and said:  “I received Tenryū’s one finger, and—which I have been using for—for my lifetime,” when he became pretty old he said.  “What do you think this is?”  [Laughs.]

There is another—I will tell you another story.  Yakusan—Yakusan Igen,[3] the disciple of Sekitō, one day as he was asked to give lectures to the monks, he just appeared on the altar [took the abbot’s seat],[4] and while—while he was sitting, and came back to his room.

The director of the temple went to his room and asked him, “You didn’t give me—give us lecture for a long time, so I asked you to give us lecture [laughs].  But as soon as you appeared on the altar, you came back to [laughs]— to your room.  Why is that?”

Yakusan said, “There are many teachers.  Some of them are teaching Buddhist precepts, and some of them are giving lectures on sūtras, and I am a Zen master.”

That was his answer.  What do you think that is?

If, you know—in other word, then I may ask you, “What have you been doing today?”  [Laughs.]  I think you have—some of you must have been very sleepy, and some of you must have had pain, terrible pain on your legs, and some of you must find it difficult to stop your monkey mind [laughs].  So I suspect quite few people, or maybe three or four people who are sitting, and rest of the people [laughs] couldn’t practice zazen in its true sense—in its usual sense.  You may understand in that way.

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October, 1968 9th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO. 15

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 N

Page eight. “Then rose in the mind of the Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Maitreya this thought: Oh, how great a wonder does the Tathāgata display! What maybe the cause, what the reason of the Lord producing so great a wonder as this? And such astonishing, prodigious, inconceivable, powerful miracles now appear, although the Lord is absorbed in meditation! Why, let me inquire about this matter; who would be able here to explain it to me? He then thought: Here is Manjushri, the royal prince, who has plied his office under former Ginas and planted the roots of goodness, while worshipping may Buddhas.”

Ginas is another … one of the names for Buddha. And here … “worshipping.” Worshipping it is not just worship, this is … it means, in Sanskrit, pradikara. It means alms-giving and offer of business [?] care. To prepare food for him; or to make a robe for him; or to mend his roof or room; and to take care of the people who may come; or to prepare medicine for him, or bed or [sounds like dress or breath]. Those are, you know, not just worshipping, but to take complete care of. So original meaning is some … to take some authority. Not authority but to take care of him. Or to take care of business or service. And those words are important ones. Here, there is some …

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October, 1968 8th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO. 14

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 M

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi: We have here—we had here various names of bodhisattvas, and the next ones were the devas—devas, or gods, or supernatural beings.  [Begins reading from Lotus Sūtra, Kern translation, p. 4, Line 18.]

—further Shakra, the ruler of the celestials, with twenty thousand—

—and others.  Shakra, the ruler of the celestials.  Shakra in Rig Veda‘s time is not the name of this god.  “Shakra” is the adjective as you say: “the strong.”  If you say “the strong” sometimes you mean strong one is just strong.  Same thing with this god.  Indra was the name of the god.  “Shakra,” the strong one, means Shakra the Indra.  But at Buddha’s time Shakra became the name of Indras, and here is the name of the god.  Shakra the ruler, deva—devanan [?], Indra—the strong one, the ruler of the celestials.  But here, Shakra is name. Celestials means Indras, many gods.

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October, 1968 7th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE No. 13

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 L

…  bodhisattvas and arhats.  Subhuti, the Venerable Rahula.”  Rahula is, as you know, Buddha’s son.  “With them yet other great disciples, as Venerable Ananda, still under training, and two thousand other monks, some of whom still under training with the other masters; with six thousand nuns having at their head Mahaprajnapati—”  Mahāprajnāpati is Buddha’s aunt.  “—and the nun Yasodhara.”  Of course she is Buddha’s wife, the mother of Rahula.  Rahula is Yasodhara’s son and Buddha’s son.

“Along with them, along with her train; further, with eighty thousand Bodhisattvas, all unable to slide back, endowed with the spells of supreme, perfect enlightenment, firmly standing in the …  in wisdom; who moved onward the never deviating wheel of law; who had propitiated many hundred thousands of Buddhas; who under many many hundred thousands Buddhas had planted the roots of goodness, had been intimate with many hundred thousands of Buddhas, were in body and mind fully penetrated with the feeling of charity;” and so on.

Devadatta.  Devadatta is, you know, famous because he tried to kill Buddha.  There were also famous King Ajatasattu.  His father was King Bimbisāra.  But his son, he, because he have for a long time no son, a prince; so he asked an old fortune teller—what do you say, “fortune teller”?  Not fortune cookie, fortune teller, okay?  Asked about his prince.  He says, “Yes, you may have prince but he is now in the mountain but soon he may come.”

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October 1968, 6th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Suzuki-roshi (on the steps of Sokoji?)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO.  10

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 I

As Zen Buddhists, it is necessary for us to understand the Second Patriarch Mahākāshyapa.  He is famous for his zudagyo, or in Sanskrit, dvadasa dhutagunah.  We count twelve zudagyo [juni‑zuda = twelve zuda; gyo = practice], which are mostly important ways of organizing one’s life as a person and as a member of the sangha.

The first zudagyo is to live in a calm place, such as the forest or woods, aranyaka [“forest dweller”].  In India, everyone, after finishing their household or family life, would join the religious life with other people.  So to enter the aranya or forest means to start the religious life, not only for priests, but for everyone.  That was the Indian custom.  Here, to live in aranya means to live like religious people do.

The second zudagyo is to support one’s life by begging, yathasamstrarika [“taking any seat which may be offered”].  This is mostly about food, and there are two more about food.

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October, 1968 5th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO.  8

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 G

Buddha’s disciples were very good people, generous and honest and sincere, but they were, I think, very tough guys, and his followers were very strong people.  For instance, as you know, the Diamond Sutra was recited at the place called, in Japanese, Giju-gikkodoku-on [Skt.: Jetavananathapindadarama], the park given to Buddha by Prince Jeta.  The story is that when Sudatta wanted to provide Buddha with a place to stay, he looked for some lodging place, and at last he found a beautiful place which was the property of Prince Jeta.  So he asked the Prince to give it to the Buddha.  The Prince didn’t say yes, but said, “If you pay as much money as it takes to pave the land with coins, I will give it to you.” Sudatta was also a very wealthy person, so he said, “Okay, I will do that.” And he bought a lot of coins and started to pave that land.  Prince Jeta was very impressed by him and said, “Okay, okay.  I will donate it to your boss.”

That was where the Diamond Sūtra was told.  [Here Suzuki‑rōshi starts to recite the sūtra.  It sounded something like this, but I doubt the spelling is right—Brian Fikes.]  “Gije reko do ban, yo dai biku shu dai myo ____ ____ ____.”  That is how we recite the Diamond Sūtra in Japan.  This is Chinese, actually, not Japanese.  We are still reciting the old Chinese pronunciation as people did it, maybe, more than one thousand years ago.  Anyway, that park was given to him by Prince Jeta.

Not only his followers, but also his students were very tough people.  I didn’t talk about Aniruddha yet.  Aniruddha was famous for his supernatural power [abhijna].  The way he gained that supernatural power is very interesting.  Once he slept when Buddha was giving a lecture.  He was one of the seven, or more, priests who belonged to the Shākya family.  Maybe Buddha was too familiar to him, so he started to sleep.  But Buddha blamed him for drowsiness, so he decided not to sleep anymore.  Very tough.  He didn’t go to bed after that.  And, at last, he lost his sight.  Giba [Jivaka] was a very famous teacher, and Buddha asked him to take care of his eyes.  But since he didn’t go to bed, he couldn’t do anything with him.  He lost his physical eyes, but he gained the spiritual eye.

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October, 1968 4th talk

Tuesday, October 1st, 1968

Suzuki-roshi in the old Tassajara zendo with Kobun Chino-roshi and another priest

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

LOTUS SŪTRA, LECTURE NO.  7

Fall 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-00 F

Yesterday I told you about Ājñāta-Kaundinya, one of the five earliest disciples[1] of Buddha.  As I told you, when Buddha gave up the practice of asceticism, they continued practicing asceticism at the Deer Park.  After Buddha attained enlightenment, he came to the Deer Park.  At that time he told them about the four noble truths, dāna-prajñā-pāramitā, and shīla-prajñā-pāramitā.  Instead of saying you will attain enlightenment if you practice shīla-pāramitā, he said you will have a good future life.  This means that, at that time, he applied some religious understanding of the common people of India when he taught his own teaching.  According to Buddhism, you practice precepts, not to have a good future life, but because we attain enlightenment in this life.  This is actually Buddha’s teaching.

I think it is better for us to study more about what Buddha taught here about the four noble truths and eight holy paths.  The four noble truths are suffering, the cause of suffering, the way to attain liberation from suffering, and nirvāna.  Accord­ing to Buddha’s teaching, this world is full of suffering.  But in the Mahāyāna teaching which developed from these four noble truths and eight holy paths, this world is the world where we find realization or nirvana within each self.  According to the Mahāyāna, this world is not the world of suffering, but according to the Hinayāna, or according to the teaching which Buddha told for the first time to the five disciples, this world is full of suffering.

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