Archive for the ‘Not Always So’ Category

June 9th, 1971

Wednesday, June 9th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE, Day 5

Wednesday, June 9, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-09

 

[I thought there was another day of sesshin, but today is our last day.][1]

 

I think you, you know, have understood—  (Can you hear me?  Yeah?  Not so well.  Okay?  Mmm?)  You have understood what is zazen as your practice.  But I didn’t explain how you sit—I didn’t give you instruction how you sit in detail, but I told you, you know, how I practice shikantaza—or zazen.  Maybe that is my way, so I don’t know how another teachers will, you know, sit, I don’t know, but that is anyway my shikantaza.

 

I started this practice, actually, maybe two—two years ago, after I went to [2-4 words unclear; one earlier transcript states, “cross the creek at Tassajara”] [laughs, laughter], not because I saw many good place to sit, you know.  There’s two [or] three caves where you can sit.  But not because of that.  Perhaps some of you were swimming, you know, with me at that time.  Some beautiful girl students [laughs, laughter] and Peter [Schneider?] was there [laughs, laughter].  And as you—I cannot swim, actually [laughs], but because they were enjoying swimming so much, so I thought I may join [laughs].  But I couldn’t swim.  But there were so many beautiful girls over there, so I tried to, you know, go there [laughs, laughter], without knowing I couldn’t swim [laughs], so I was almost drowned [laughs, laughter].  But I knew that, you know, I will not die, I will not drown.  I shall not be drowned to death, you know, because there are many students.  So someone will help [laughs].  But I was not so serious.

 

But, you know, feeling was pretty bad, you know.  Water is, you know—I am swallowing water [laughs].  So feeling was too bad, so I stretch my arm, you know, so that someone catch me [laughs].  But no one [laughs, laughter]—no one helped me.  So I decided, you know, to go to the bottom [laughs, laughter], to walk, but that was not possible either [laughs, laughter].  I was, you know, I couldn’t reach to the bottom, or I couldn’t get over the water.  What I saw is beautiful girls’ legs [laughs, laughter].  But I couldn’t, you know [laughs], s- [partial word]—take hold of their legs, you know.  I was rather scared [laughs, laughter].

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June 7th, 1971

Monday, June 7th, 1971

SRC0041

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE NO. 2

Sunday, June 7, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-07

 

Shikantaza, zazen, is—our zazen is just to be ourselves.  Just to be ourselves.  We should not expect anything, you know, just to be ourselves.  And continue this practice forever.  That is our way, you know.  Even, we say, even in, you know (what do you say?) [laughs], even in, you know [snaps fingers], [student:  “Snap of the fingers?”] [laughs, laughter], you know, in snapping your fingers there are millions of kalpasno, cetanās. [1]   The unit of time.  You know, we say “moment after moment,” but in your actual practice, moment is too long, you know.  If we say “moment,” you know, or “one breathing after another,” you still involved in—your mind still involved in, you know, following breathing, you know, to follow breathe.  We say “to follow breathe,” “to follow our breathing,” but the feeling is, you know, in each, you know—to live in each moment.

 

If you live in each moment, you do not expect anything.  With everything, you know, you become you yourself.  If you, you know, feel strictly yourself [your self?], without any idea of time even, you know, in smallest particle of time you feel yourself [your self?].  That is zazen.

 

Why we say so is if we are involved in idea of time, various desires will, you know, start to act some mischiefs [laughs]—they will become mischievous, you know.  So—but if you, you know—when you have no idea of time, with everything, you know, you bec- [partial word]—your practice will go on and on.

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June 5th, 1971

Saturday, June 5th, 1971
Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE NO. 1

Saturday, June 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-05

 

First of all, I want to explain, you know, I want you to understand what is our practice.  You know, our practice we say, “just to sit.”  It is, you know, “just to sit,” but I want to try to explain as much as possible what do we mean by “just to sit.”  Practice is usually, you know, practice to expect something:  at least, if you practice, you know, some way, some practice, your practice will be improve.  And if there is a goal of practice, you know, or if you practice aiming at something, you know, you will—your practice supposed to reach, you know, eventually, the goal of practice you expect.  And actually, you know, if you practice, your practice itself will be improved day by day, you know.

 

That is very true, you know, but there is another, you know, one more, you know, understanding of practice, you know, like, you know, our practice is, you know, another understanding of practice.  We practice it—our zazen—with two, with different, you know, understanding from this.  But we cannot ignore the—our imp- [partial word]—progress in our practice.  Actually, if you practice, you know, day by day, you make big progress.  And actually it will help, you know, your practice will help your health and your mental condition, you know.  That is very true.

 

But that is not, you know, full understanding of practice.  Another understanding of practice is, you know, when you practice, you know, there there is—goal is there, you know, not, you know, one year or two years later.  But when you do it right there, there is goal of practice.  When you practice our way with this understanding, there is many things you must take care of so that you could be or you will be—you can—you will be concentrated on your practice.  You will be completely involved in the practice you have right now.  That is why you have various instruction, you know, about your practice, so that you can practice hard enough to feel, you know, the goal of practice right now, when you do it.

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February 12, 1971

Friday, February 12th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SESSHIN LECTURE, 7th DAY:  PAGE STREET APPLES

Friday Morning

February 12, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-12 first talk

 

This is the seventh day of the sesshin, and you came already too far.  So you cannot, you know, give up [laughs, laughter].  So only way is to stay here.  And I feel I had a very good crop [laughs].  You may feel you are not yet ripened.  But even though you are still ripening, but if you stay in our storehouse anyway, it will be a good apples [laughs]—Page Street apples, ready to be served [laughs, laughter].  So I have nothing to worry [about], and I don’t think you have any more worry about your practice.

 

Perhaps some of you started sesshin because you have too many things to solve, or some of you must have thought if you come and sit here, maybe your problem will be solved.  But, you know, the problem which you—which is—any—whatever problem it may be, something which is given to you could be solved anyway because Buddha will not give you anything—any more than you can solve and you need.  Whatever it is, whatever problem it may be, the problem you have is just enough problems [laughs, laughter] for you.

 

So I think you should trust him, you know, just enough—not too much.  And, you know—and his—if it is not too much, Buddha is ready to give you some more problems [laughs, laughter] just to survive, you know, just to appreciate problems.  Buddha is always giving you something, because if you have nothing to cope with, you know, it may be terrible life—as if you are, you know, it is like—problem without life [life without problems] is to sit in this zendō for seven days without doing anything.

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January 23rd, 1971

Saturday, January 23rd, 1971

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.

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January 16th, 1971

Saturday, January 16th, 1971
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.

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January 10th, 1971

Sunday, January 10th, 1971

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].

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April 28th, 1970

Tuesday, April 28th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi

Suzuki-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

HOW TO HAVE SINCERE PRACTICE

Tuesday, April 28, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-04-28

 

Since Tatsugami-rōshi[1]  came, you must have heard Dōgen-zenji’s name so many times.  But Dōgen-zenji may not like to hear his name so many times [laughs].  But unfortunately he had a name like Dōgen, so [laughs] there is no other way to address him.  So we call him Dōgen-zenji or Dōgen.

 

As you know, he didn’t like to say “Zen” even, or Zen—in China they called monks who sit in zazen, called [them] “Zen monks,” but he didn’t like to call “Zen” even.  And he said if necessary you should call us “Buddha’s disciple.”  Shamon, you know, he called himself Shamon Dōgen—”A Monk Dōgen.”

 

In China, there were many various schools like Rinzai, Sōtō, Ummon, Hōgen, Igyō.  But Nyojō-zenji’s—Nyojō-zenji,[2]  who was Dōgen’s teacher then, was not, according to Dōgen, [from] one of the five schools of Zen or seven[3]  schools of Zen.  His Zen is just to practice zazen, to realize—to actually realize by his body Buddha’s mind, Buddha’s spirit.  That was his Zen.  That was why Dōgen accepted him as his teacher.

 

Before he—Dōgen went to China, he studied Hiezan [Onjō-ji?]—Tendai—main temple of Tendai school.  And after Tendai, he went to Eisei—Eisai-zenji[4]—Yoshin-ji [Kennin-ji?], and then he went to China because Eisai-zenji passed away when he was very young.  So he went to China to continue his practice with good teacher.

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March 29th, 1970

Sunday, March 29th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

ZAZEN IS LIKE GOING TO THE RESTROOM

Sunday, March 29, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-29

How do you feel now?  [Laughs.]  Excuse me.  I thought of funny thing right now [laughs].  I feel as if, you know—I don’t know how you feel, but I feel as if I—I have finished, you know, things in restroom [laughs].  As I am pretty old, you know, I go to restroom so often.  Even when I was young, I went [to] restroom more than, you know [laughs], usual person.  I had, I think, some advantage, you know [laughs, laughter], because of that.  When I went to tan- [partial word]—Eihei-ji and sit in tangaryō,[1]  for seven days [laughs], I could go to restroom without any guilty conscience because I had to [laughs, laughter].  I was so happy [laughs, laughter] to go to restroom.  I think someth- [partial word]—to go to restroom is something to do, you know [laughs, laughter], with our practice.

 

Ummon[2]  may be the first one to make some connection between our practice and restroom.  “What is our practice?”  Or “What is buddha?”—someone asked him.[3]   He said, you know, “toilet paper”—no, not toilet paper.  Nowadays it is toilet paper, but he says [laughing, laughter], “something to scratch your—scratch yourself after you—after finishing restroom.”  That is what he said.  And since then, you know, many Zen masters [are] thinking about or practicing on that kōan:  What is toilet paper?  [Laughs.]  What he meant by it?

 

Anyway, our practice is closely related to our everyday life.  Physiologically it may be—our—to go to—we go—we have to go to restroom, but psychologically I think we have to practice zazen.  In our everyday life, we, you know, eat many things, good and bad:  something fancy or something simple, something tasty or something tasteless like water.

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March 8th, 1970

Sunday, March 8th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

“LETTERS FROM EMPTINESS”

HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE IDEA OF EMPTINESS

Sunday, March 8, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-08

 

[Recently my thought is concentrated on the idea of emptiness.][1]  Whatever I say, I am actually talking about what is emptiness, because this emptiness is something which we must understand literally and completely through experience.  But if it is difficult to experience it through experience, you can tentatively understand it as a kind of idea in comparison to your way of thinking or in comparison to the idea you have, [the] various idea you have.

 

And we classify our idea in two:  one is idea of emptiness, another is idea of being.  And when we say, usually, idea it is idea of being.  And the idea of—your way of thinking belongs to the idea of being, and idea of emptiness makes a pair of opposite with your idea you—ideas you have.  So whatever the idea may be, you can say those idea is idea of being.  So we should know that.

 

Besides the ideas about things you have, there is another—another ideas which is not same as—same—which is not same idea you have and which is not brought about in your concept.  Actually that is why we practice zazen, you know.  You cannot reach the idea of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling as an conception.  And to practice—to actualize the emptiness is shikantaza.

 

This morning I want to point—I want to point out some points in our usual understanding what kind of mistake there is and how different idea Buddhists have.  We say emptiness is—in Japanese or Chinese is .[2]   is, of course, a noun, and it is—sometime we use it as a verb, kūzuru.  Kūzuru means—is verb and maybe—so you can say “empty”—you can use words “empty” in two ways.  One is noun and the other is verb.  “To empty.”  To empty is—to empty a cup is to empty, you know, maybe.

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