Archive for September, 1969

September 16th, 1969, Talk

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, September 16, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-16V

 

I have not much chance to think about why I came to America or why I became a priest, but today when—while I was talking with Peter[1]  about something—my personal history—I had to think about, you know, why I came to America.  And right now, I am thinking about why I became a priest [laughs].

 

My father[2]  was a priest, and his temple[3]  was quite—not small, but very poor temple.  We haven’t not—we had very difficult time, even though he—my father wanted to give me some better clothing, he—he haven’t—he hasn’t—he hadn’t not much money.

 

I know—I remember his father was making candle.  When I came to America, you know, sometime I made a candle by the left-over candle, you know, with left-over candle.  It is pretty, you know—usually no one make candle, you know, to sell, but he—he made a lot of—he was making a lot of candle with iron, you know, he made himself some—something to make candle, and he sold it—not near my temple, but he went [to] Ōiso City,[4]  maybe four, five miles from my temple.

 

And I think that was the time when my father [was] expelled from [laughs] another temple[5]  and came to that temple.[6]   I can imagine how poor we are by that—only by that story.  So even children wear hakama.  Do you know hakama? [7]   A kind of skirt—skirt-like—ceremonial, you know.  When we have celebration we would wear hakama.

 

But I haven’t any hakama, so I have to—I would attend the ceremony[8] at—in my school without hakama, and I was, you know, very much—I didn’t feel so good, you know, because I had no hakama to wear.  But somehow he bought hakama and gave it to me to wear for the ceremony.  And he, you know, gave [me] the hakama, and—and I—when I wear that hakama in the—as my friend did, my father said:  “That is not the right—correct way to wear it.  You should wear like this, and you should tie hakama this way,” you know.  [Sounds like he is gesturing.]  No one tie hakama at that time in that way.  Maybe that is too formal [laughs].

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2nd Interview – September 16, 1969

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi with temple member-workers at Rinso-in, c. 1955

SUZUKI RŌSHI ON ZEN CENTER HISTORY,

PERSONAL HISTORY,

AND NONA RANSOM

——————————————————————————————————————

September 16, 1969

Entered onto disk by David Chadwick

Revised by Bill Redican 9/01

Interview of Suzuki-rōshi (SR) by Peter Schneider (PS)[1]

 

Peter Schneider: Suzuki-rōshi, will you tell me about Miss Ransom?

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  Miss Ransom. She was teaching us at Komazawa University when I first see her.

 

PS: Teaching what, Rōshi?

 

SR:  Teaching English, and she was teaching us conversation—how to—once a week. And at that time I have not much relationship with her, but after I finished preparatory course of University—Komazawa and became specialized in Buddhist course, I was still interested in studying English so once in a while I attended her lecture in some other course and in English course. And one summer, in summer vacation I called her because it was so hot, just because I couldn’t get home.

 

So I called her at the back door and sitting in the one room near kitchen I asked a cup of water but she gave us something different, watermelon, and she appeared in that room and she asked me to help her, in shopping, or such things like that when she has some difficulty in speaking with some Japanese people, but at that time two students were working, or helping her already [blank spot], so she may not need me, but she said one boy from Komazawa is leaving quite soon so she said she wanted me. That was how our more closer relationship became then.

 

And at first she was, she came to China, to help the last Emperor of China, Sento—Emperor Sento. She was tutor [not tutor?].  And Mr. Yoshida who became prime minister of Japan, helped her to invite or—actually Mr. Yoshida invited her to Japanese parents as a [tutor?] [blank space]—took some advertisement in paper and offered her father—I don’t know how his name, he was quite famous though.

 

And she is quite strict and maybe stubborn and she was trying to force English way to us and to Japanese people.  And she had always some complaint so mostly what I have to do is to listen to her complaints.  Anyway I don’t know who was her father who was famous.  So far as I know he is as famous as General [Admiral] Togo [Heihachiro], who defeated Russian fleet in Japan Sea.

 

I stayed with her 1-1/2 year—

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Interview – September 16, 1969

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Interview of Suzuki-rōshi (SR) by Peter Schneider (PS)

Circa 1968–1969[1]

Entered onto disk by David Chadwick

Revised by Bill Redican 9/01

 

PS:  When did Caucasians begin sitting at Soko-ji?

 

SR:  Maybe one month after my arrival.

 

PS:  When did you arrive?

 

SR:  May 23, 1959.

 

PS:  You came by yourself?

 

SR:  Yes, by airplane.  But at that time I was not appointed to this temple.  I came here as assistant to Tobase.  Soon after I accepted, they changed the situation.

 

PS:  Was he living in Japan then or in San Francisco?

 

SR:  He, Tobase, was at that time in Japan.  So I was invited to this temple, because he started editor (?) of Sōtō School.  So they suggested … and as he moved the headquarters, he wanted to live here.  My idea was that I wanted at that time to work on propagating our way.

 

PS:  With Caucasians?  Japanese?

 

SR:  Maybe with Caucasians.  In my mind I did say so.  My idea was more emphasis on Caucasians, since before they did not work with Caucasians so much.  And headquarters wanted to work with Caucasians.

 

PS:  Why did they pick you?

 

SR:  (Confused politically)  Some of them supported Bishop _______, some of them didn’t … management of this temple, some people wanted him to be Bishop and some wanted him more … to this temple.  And the members were divided in two and he was involved in that.

 

PS:  What happened to headquarters in San Francisco?

 

SR:  Soon (after) my arrival, headquarters voted to take care . . . but of course I refused because I’m not Bishop, just to take care of business of headquarters.  Too much.  At that time Tobase’s wife was still here, so the idea was for his wife to take care of actual business and they wanted me to be a Soto Bishop.  Because I didn’t know the situation in America so well.  He actually couldn’t come back because of the confusion that was.  And I was just here taking care of this temple.

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September14th, 1969

Sunday, September 14th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi and Richard Baker at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SHARP IRON, PURE SILK

Sunday, September 14, 1969

Tassajara

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-14

Sunday school—a Sunday-school girl saw me in sitting, and she said:  “I can do it.”  And she crossed her legs like this [gesturing], and then said, “And what?  [Laughing, laughter.]  And what?”  She sit like this and said, “And what?”  I was very much interested in her question because many of you have same question [laughs, laughter].  You come every day to Zen Center and practice Zen.  And you ask me, “And what?  [Laughs.]  And what?”

 

I want to explain this point a little bit.  I cannot—I don’t think I can explain it fully because it is not something to be—to ask or to be—to answer.  You should know by yourself.  We—why we sit in some formal position is through your body you should experience something, you know, by doing—by formal sitting—something you yourself experience not by mind—by teaching, but by physical practice.

 

But to be able to sit in some form and to attain some state of mind is not perfect study.  After you have full experience of mind and body, you should be able to express it in some other way, too.  That happens quite naturally.  You don’t stick to some formal position anymore, but you can express same feeling—same state of mind, or you can convey your mind to others by some way.  And even though you do not sit in some certain form—for an instance, in chair, or in standing position, or in working, or in speaking, you can—you will have same state of mind—state of mind [in] which you do not stick to anything.  This is what you will study through our practice.  That is the—what you will, you know—that is the purpose of practice.

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September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SUMMER SESSHIN SHŌSAN CEREMONY

Tassajara

September 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 E

 

[Beginning of ceremony was not recorded.]

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  … it will be the foundation of the everyday activity.  That is real [1 word].

 

Student A:  Thank you very much.

 

Student B:  Dōchō-rōshi, if our karmic thoughts interfere with our breath counting, just as do the flies in the zendō, should we not try to rid ourselves of them, even though it is a nice aid our practice?

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  Excuse me [2-3 words]—

 

Student B:  If our karmic thoughts interfere with our breath-counting—

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.

 

Student B:  —just as do the flies in the zendō—

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.

 

Student B:  —should we not try to get rid of them, even though it is an aid to our practice?

 

Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Karma is actually something really exist—something you created, and something you feel [1-2 words] or something which you—or which drive you in some certain direction.  That is karma.  But that karma is not like flies.  It is not substantial being.  It is just our habit.  So it is—there is no need to try to get rid of it.  To have right understanding of it through right practice is to get rid of it.  So when you practice zazen, you should not have any idea of karma.

 

Student B:  Thank you very much.

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September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SUMMER SESSHIN:  SIXTH NIGHT LECTURE

Tassajara

September 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 D

 

We discussed about the question and answer between the Seventeenth Patriarch and Eighteenth Patriarch.[1]

 

“Whether bell is ringing or wind is ringing?” the teacher said.

 

Disciple said:  “Not wind nor bell ringing, but our mind is ringing.”

 

And the teacher said:  “What kind of mind is it?”

 

And the disciple said:  “The mind of complete calmness.”

 

And usually when we hear someone say:  “No bell—or not bell or wind, but mind is ringing”—then, most people say:  “Oh, that is very good answer.”  But that is not a complete answer.  “Mind is ringing” means—if we don’t hear the bell, you know, we—we can—we cannot—there is no sound.  Because we—our mind hear it and our mind recognize the sound, the sound exist.  That is true, but that is not perfect answer [laughs].  Why, you know?

 

The sound of the bell, you know, is the activity of whole universe, and blow of the—blowing window—wind is also activity of whole universe which, you know, covers everything.  That we hear our activity of mind is also the activity of whole universe, not only my activity but also activity of whole universe.  So one activity include everything.  In this case, that mind is called “big mind” or “capital mind.”  My mind, you know is—our mind is our small mind.  But mind which include everything is capital mind.  Although the character is same, but we understand this character in two ways:  small mind and big mind.

 

So the [teacher asked], “What kind of mind is it?”  Small mind or big mind, you know.  Although the teacher didn’t say so, but he meant—what he meant:  “What kind of mind is it?  Is it the mind which hear something, which recognize something?”  And disciple said:  “No.  That mind is big mind, which is in complete calmness.”  That was his answer.

 

Now this is, you know, how we practice zazen.  How our mind work or exist is—how our—each one’s own mind exist is so-called-it in “inter-relationship.”  You know, my mind is supported by all of you, you know, and each one’s mind is supported by all of mind.  So, you know, and at the same time, each one’s mind is supporting, you know, supporting everyone’s mind.

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September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

SUMMER SESSHIN

THIRD NIGHT LECTURE

Tassajara

September 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 C

 

We are talking about our practice.  What is the practice, and what is enlightenment, and how we practice.  Someone who is practicing is a man in reality.  And the practice we practice is something in reality.  And place we practice—some place in reality.  And the time you practice is also time in reality.  So everything take place in realm of reality.  That is true practice.  So Dōgen-zenji says:  “If our practice does not include everything, it is not our practice.”  And not only practice, but also place you practice, and person who practice, and time to practice—include everything.  That is perfect practice.

 

So counting-breathing practice is not just to count, you know.  With all your—with all of your body and mind, you should count the—count your breathing.  If you do so, the counting-breathing practice covers everything.  So counting-breathing exercise include everything.  That is how we count our breathing in our practice:  not to count our exhaling mechanically, you know—one, two, three [laughs].  That is not our way.  When we count it with all of your effort, physical and mental, that is counting-breathing practice.

 

Some of you find it difficult—find some difficulty in counting-breathing practice.  Difficulties you may have is you tend to count your breathing just mechanically.  So naturally, you know, you count, you know—if you, you know, count something: one, two, three, four, five, you know, and again and again you count, and your count—counting will be faster and faster because it is easy.  One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten [laughs].  Just you, you know, recite Prajñāpāramitā-sūtraKAN-JI-ZAI-BO-SATSU-GYO-JIN-HAN-NYA-HA-RA—[starts slowly, then speeds up as he goes along] [laughs, laughter].  That is not our practice, you know, just to know how many times you count your breathing and how long you keep counting without mistake [laughs].  That is not our practice.  With your whole mind and body you should count.  How you do it is—you know, it is—how you do it is also how you take deep perfect breathing.  So by counting you will help, you know, good breathing, good, smooth, deep breathing.  So instead of saying some other thing like mu, you know, you count:  “one, two.”

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September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi at Rinsoin (1940s)

SUMMER SESSHIN

SECOND NIGHT LECTURE

September 1969

Tassajara

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 B

 

We have been talking about—discuss—discussing about reality, actually, and how we practice our way in our zazen and in our everyday life.  And Dōgen-zenji talked about the reality in—by using the Japanese or Chinese word, inmo.[1]   Inmo means—inmo has two meaning.  It is—it means like this, you know [probably gestures]—and also it means question:  “What is that?”  Or it is, you know, “it,” you know.  “It” means—sometime it is question mark, and sometime “it” means—pointing at something, we say, “it.”

 

In English, you know, you say, “It is hot.”  That “it” is the same words—same meaning when you say, “It is nine o’clock,” or “It is half-passed eight.”  You know, it—you use [“it” for] only time or weather, you know.  Time or weather is “it.”  But not only time or weather.  Everything should be “it”—can be “it.”  We are also “it,” you know, but we don’t say “it.”  Instead of “it” we say “he” or “she,” or “me” or “I.”  But actually it means “it.”  So everything is—if everything is “it,” you know, it is—at the same time, question mark, you know.  When I say “it,” you know, you don’t know [laughs] exactly what I mean, so you may say, “What is it?” [laughs] you may ask.

 

“It” is not—it does not mean some definite, special thing, as it does not mean when we talk about time, it is not—it does not mean some special time, or meal time, or lecture time.  We don’t know.  So “it” is—it means also ques- [partial word]—it may be question mark for everyone.  If I say “it,” you know, you may say, “What time is it?” you may say.

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September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SUMMER SESSHIN:  FIRST NIGHT LECTURE

“I Don’t Know Zazen”

September 1969

Tassajara

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 A

 

In our practice, the most important thing [is] to—to know—to know.  “To know” is that we have buddha-nature.  Our practice—real practice happens when realization of buddha-nature take place.  Intellectually we know that we have buddha-nature, and that is what was taught by Buddha.

 

But to know buddha-nature—when you know that we have buddha-nature, at the same time you will know that even though we have buddha-nature, you know, it is rather difficult to accept it.  At the same time, we have various evil nature.  And buddha-nature is something beyond good and bad, but our everyday life is going [on] in realm of good and bad.  So there is—there is two—twofold of duality.  One is duality of good and bad, and the other is duality of good and bad—realm of good and bad, and realm of the world where there is no good and no bad.

 

And our everyday life is going [on] in realm of good and bad—the realm of duality.  And buddha-nature or our absolute nature is found in the realm of absolute where there is no good and bad.  Our practice is to go beyond the realm of good and bad and to realize the one absolute world—to enter the one absolute world is our practice.  If I say in this way it is rather—it may rather difficult to understand.

 

Hashimoto-rōshi,[1]  the famous Zen master who passed away last year or 1967, I think, explained this point.  “It is”—I think I told you once—”It is like a—to—to prepare a food,” you know.  We prepare food—various food—you separate:  rice is here, and pickles are here, and soup is in middle bowl.  We don’t cook like a gruel all the time [laughs]—soup and rice and everything in one bowl.  Even though, you know, to cook—to prepare food separately, you know, in each bowl is the—our usual world—world of seeming.  And—but when you eat it, you know, in your tummy, you know, soup and rice and pickles and everything—goma-shio[2]—and everything [gets all] [laughs] mixed up and you don’t know what is—which is goma-shio or rice.  That is the world of absolute [laughter].  As long as goma-shio is goma-shio, and separately prepared on the plate, it doesn’t work—like your intellectual understanding of Buddhism.  It doesn’t work.  [Laughs, laughter.]  That is book knowledge.

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