October 14 1965

Originally offered: October 14th, 1965 | Modified December 18th, 2009 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Suzuki-roshi in an airport with his family in Japan

Suzuki-roshi in an airport with his family in Japan

October 14, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lectures

I don’t feel to speak after zazen.  I feel the practice of zazen is enough but if I should say something, I think what I shall talk will be how wonderful it is to practice zazen in this way.  Our purpose is just to keep this practice forever.  This practice is started from beginningless time and it will continue for endless future.  Strictly speaking, for human being there is no other practice than this practice.  There is no other way of life than this way of life, because zen practice is direct expression of our true nature.  Of course, whatever you do, it is the expression of our true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize what is our life.  As long as you think, ‘I am doing this.  I have to do this’, or ‘I must attain something special’,  actually you are not doing anything.  When you give up, or when you do not want to, when you do not do anything, you do something.  When you do not do anything with some gaining idea, you do something.  Actually what you are doing is not for sake of something.  You feel as if you are doing something special but actually it is the expression of true nature, or that is the activity to appease you inmost desire.

It is our human nature to be active always.  To do something is our human nature and it is universal nature for everyone, every existence.  So, in this way, just practice of zen is enough.  But so long as you think you are practicing zazen for sake of something that is not true practice.  If you continue this simple practice every day you will obtain some wonderful power.  But before you attain it, it is some wonderful power but after you attain it, it is just power.  It is not something special.  It is just you yourself.  Nothing special.  As Chinese poem says there is nothing special.  If you visit there, there is nothing special. However Losan is famous for its misty mountains.  And Seko is famous for its water. This is zen.  There is nothing special.  If you go there there is nothing special.  But people think Losan is wonderful.  It is wonderful to see the range of mountains covered by mist; to see the misty mountains in Losan is wonderful.  And people say it is wonderful to see the water covers all the earth.  It is wonderful they may say but if you go there you see just water and you see just mountains.  There is nothing special.  But it is a kind of mystery that for the people who has no experience of enlightenment, enlightenment is something wonderful, but if you attain it that is nothing.  Although it is nothing, it is not nothing.  Do you understand?  For some person, for the mother who has children to have children is nothing special, nothing special.  But if she lose her children what she will feel?  That is zazen.

So if you continue this practice we don’t know when you will acquire the power, but more and more you will acquire something.  Not special, but something.  You may say, universal nature, or Buddha nature, enlightenment.  You may call it by many names but for the person who owns it, it is nothing.  And it is something.  So I cannot express my joy to practice zazen with you here once a week.  And while you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, you will…your experience becomes more and more deeper and the experience you have you obtain, will cover everything you do in your everyday life.  The most important thing is when you practice zazen it is necessary to forget all gaining idea, all dualistic idea.  In other words just practice zazen in certain posture.  This is very good point.  Don’t think about anything.  Just remain on your cushion without thinking, without expecting anything.  Then you will….or true nature will resume its own nature and eventually you will resume to your own nature.  You resume your true nature when the true nature resumes to its own nature.

The monk, the disciple of the sixth patriarch, told Basho, ‘when a vehicle or cart does not go, which do you hit a horse or the cart.?’  Which do you hit?  He couldn’t answer and Nanga said, “If you think, if you try to hit your cart, your cart will not go.  If you hit the horse, the horse will be angry.  What will you do?” he said.  When you resume to your true nature, when your true nature resumes to its true nature, you resume to your true nature.  Do you understand?  When horse becomes horse, cart will go.  When cart becomes cart, horse will go.  The horse and cart is not two.  Horse and cart is one.  So when horse start to pull the cart the cart will go.  Usually, but usually we think our true nature and you yourself are something different.  So there is problem always.  But actually you are cart itself.  Horse is cart and cart is horse.  Without horse there is no cart.  Without cart there is no horse.  Horse is something to pull cart.  If there is no cart, horse may be a wild beast.  He is not a horse.  Because he pulls the cart, horse is horse.

When we express our true nature, we are human being.  When we don’t, we don’t know what we are.  We are not animal because we walk by two legs.  We are something different from animal.  But if we are not human being what are we?  We may be ghost, or we don’t know what to say.  There is no such thing exists.  That is delusion.  We are not any more human being.  So, we say, when zen becomes zen, we become human being.  We exist.  When zen is not zen, nothing exists.  What I am talking about is not intellectual understanding.  Intellectually it makes my talk makes no sense, but you will understand what I mean so in  ?????  Nirvana Sutra Buddha says, everything has Buddha nature.  That is Chinese rendering.  Everything has Buddha nature.  But Dogen reads this way, “Everything is Buddha nature”.  There is difference.  There is, “Everything has Buddha nature”.  If you say ‘Everything has Buddha nature”, in everything is Buddha nature.  So Buddha nature and everything is different.  But ‘everything is Buddha nature’ is everything is Buddha nature itself.  When there is no Buddha nature, everything is not everything.  It is just delusion, which do not exist.  It may exist in you mind but actually such thing does not exist.  So even though you do not do anything you are actually doing something.  You are expressing yourself.  You are expressing your true nature.  Your eyes will express.  Your voice will express.  Your demeanor will express.  So the most important thing is to express our true nature in the most simple way, in the most adequate way, and to appreciate the true nature in smallest existence.  This is the most important thing.  So truth is…the most valuable truth is ???? nir attan (last phrase not clear).

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ZMBMms box transcript.  Exact copy entered onto disk and emailed DChadwick by GM 06-13-08. Date corrected from October 16 to October 14.

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One Response to “October 14 1965”

  1. korin Says:

    This talk was edited and included in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, the chapter “Nothing Special” on page 46 of the Weatherhill edition.

    The story involving the cart and the horse can be found in the August 28, 1965 (Second Talk) at:
    http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/dharma-talks/?p=365
    The comments to that talk include the complete story.

    Dogen taught “Everything is Buddha nature” in Shobogenzo Bussho – “Buddha Nature”.

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