Archive for the ‘Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind Transcripts’ Category

November 16th, 1969

Sunday, November 16th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi performing a ceremony at the Pagoda in Japan-town (San Francisco)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday Morning, November 16, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-16

This morning, I want to talk about our practice.

 

And here in America, something special is happening:  that is our group.  Our students cannot be categorized in the same way we define Zen student—Zen Buddhist in Japan, because you are not—you are not priest and you are not complete—completely layman.  I understand it this way.

 

That, you know, you are not priest is easy to understand, but that you are not completely layman is—I think you are special, you know, people in our society.  [Laughs.]  Not hippie.  [Laughs.]  But something like that.  [Laughs, laughter.]  So I don’t know what to say.

 

So—that is, I think you want some special practice, you know:  not exactly priest practice, not exactly layman’s practice.  And—but we are on the way to have special, you know—to have some different way of life for us.  That is our Zen community, I think—not community, but our group.  And—and so we have to have some—some appropriate practice for—for us.

 

Before I talk about our special way of practice, I think it is better to understand—better to understand what is original—what is Dōgen’s practice.  He says, “Some may,” you know, “attain enlightenment.  Some may not,” he says.  This is, you know, the point I am very much interested in.  “Some may attain enlightenment and some may not,” what mean—which means although we practice same way, same fundamental practice, but some may attain enlightenment and some may not.  It means that even though we do not have enlightenment experience, you know—experience, as long as we sit in proper way, proper right understanding of practice, that is Zen.  The main point is to have right understanding of practice and practice our way seriously.  And what is important point in understanding of our practice is—we say “big mind,” or “small mind,” or “buddha-mind,” but that kind of, you know, words means something—something we cannot—something we should not try to understand in term of experience.

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August 31, 1967

Thursday, August 31st, 1967

Dated 67-08-31, Thursday

Rev Suzuki

September 1, 1967

Los Altos, Calif.

Zen story or Zen koan is very difficult to understand before you understand what we are doing moment after moment.  But if you know exactly what we are doing moment after moment it is not so difficult to understand.  There are many and many koans.  Recently I talked about a frog (several times).  Whenever I talked about a frog they laughed and laughed.  When you come and sit here you may think you are doing some special thing while your husband is sleeping you are here practicing zazen.  And you are doing some special thing and your husband is lazy.  That is…maybe your understanding of zazen.  But look at the frog.  A frog also sits like this but it has no idea of zazen.  And if you watch what he does…if something annoys him he will do like this (making a face).  If something to eat comes he will eat (imitating a frog snapping at an insect) and he eats sitting.  Actually that is our zazen.  We are not doing any special thing.  We should think that we are doing some special thing.

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June 1st, 1967

Thursday, June 1st, 1967

Rev S. Suzuki

June 1, 1967

Los Altos

There is big misunderstanding about the idea of naturalness.  Most people who come to us believe in some freedom or naturalness, but their understanding of naturalness is so-called heretic naturalness.  Heresy…a kind of heresy.  We call it (ji neng den getto)? In Japanese.  ( Jin eng den getto ?) means something which…some idea that there is no need to be formal or to be rigid, just a kind of ‘let-alone-policy’, or sloppiness.  That is naturalness for most people.  But that is not the naturalness we mean.  It is rather difficult to explain what it is, but naturalness is, I think, some feeling which is independent from everything.  That is naturalness.  Or some activity which is based on nothingness.  Something which comes out of nothing is naturalness.  Like a seed or plant comes out from the ground.  When you see it that is naturalness.  The seed has no idea of being some particular plant, but it has its own form and it is in perfect harmony with the ground, with the surrounding, and while it is growing, in course of time it has its…it expresses its nature.  So any plants…anything do not exist in no form or no color.  Whatever it is it has some form and color, and that form and color is in perfect harmony with other beings.  And there is no trouble.  That is so-called naturalness.

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May 18th, 1967

Thursday, May 18th, 1967

Rev S. Suzuki

May 18, 1967

Los Altos

The most important point in our practice is to have right effort.  The right effort which is directed to right direction is necessary.  Usually our effort is making towards wrong direction.  Especially, if your effort is making…your effort is directed towards wrong direction without knowing it means so-called deluded effort.  Our effort in our practice should be directed from being to non-being, from achievement to non-achievement.  Usually when you do something you want to achieve something but in our practice from achievement to non-achievement means to get rid of some evil result of the effort.  Whether or not whether you make your effort you have good quality.  So if you do something that is enough but when you make some special effort to achieve something, some excessive quality or element is involved in it.  So you should get rid of some excessive things.  If you…when your practice is good, without being aware of it you will become proud of it.  That is something extra.  Pride is extra.  What you do is good but something more is added to it.  So you should get rid of that something which is extra.  This point is very, very important.  But usually we are not subtle enough to realize that.  And you are going to wrong direction.  So this kind of effort to get rid of something extra is very important point and that is the effort we make. (more…)

April 13th, 1967

Thursday, April 13th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 13, 1967

Los Altos

There may be various kinds of practice, or ways of practice, or understanding of practice.  Mostly when you practice zazen you become very idealistic with some notion or ideal set up by yourself and you strive for attaining or fulfilling that notion or goal.  But as I always say this is very absurd because when you become idealistic in your practice you have gaining idea within yourself, so by the time you attain some stage your gaining idea will create another ideal.  So, as long as your practice is based on gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time to attain it.  Moreover you are sacrificing the meat of practice, set up for the future attainment, which is not possible to attain.  Because your attainment is always ahead of you, you are always sacrificing yourself for some ideal.  So this is very absurd.  It is not so bad, rather not adequate.

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April 6th, 1967

Thursday, April 6th, 1967

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 6, 1967

Los Altos

Zazen is not one of the four activities: to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down, we say, are the four activities or four ways of behavior.  Zazen is not one of the four ways of behavior according to Dogen-zenji , the Soto school is not one of the many schools.  Chinese Soto School is one of many schools of Buddhism, but according to Dogen, his way is not one of the many schools.  You may say, if it is so, why do you put emphasis on just sitting posture, or why not put emphasis on having a teacher if our way is not one of the many schools, or one of the four ways of behavior.  Why do you put emphasis on just sitting, or why should you have your teacher.  Why we put emphasis on sitting posture, or zazen, is because zazen is not just one of the four ways of behavior.  Zazen is the practice which is one of the many and many and many activities, innumerable activities which will continue to the eternal future which was started even before Buddha.  So, and this activity, at the same time, includes so many activities which were started even before Buddha and which will continue to the endless future.  So this sitting posture cannot be compared with the rest of the four behaviors.

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March 23rd, 1967

Thursday, March 23rd, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

March 23, 1967

Los Altos, California

To live in the realm of Buddha Nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, and at the same time, to lose our balance, sometimes, means to develop ourselves, or to grow. If we are in perfect balance we cannot live as a small being. So whatever we see the things are changing, losing their balance. Why everything looks beautiful is because it is something out of balance, but it is background is always in perfect harmony and on this perfect harmony everything exists, losing its balance. This is how everything exists in the realm of big Buddha Nature. So if you see things without knowing, without realizing Buddha Nature everything is in the form of suffering. But if you understand the background of everything, which looks like suffering, suffering itself is how we live, how we extend our life. So in Zen we, sometimes we emphasize the “out of balance” or disorder. Nowadays our Japanese painting which was developed by the spirit of Zen became pretty formulated; became formal. That is why nowadays we have more—that is why we have modern art. The painters in old time practice how to put dots out of order. Even though you try to do it what you did is always in some order. This is a kind of practice. And how to take care of things is the same thing. If you try to make them—even though you try to put them under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do that. So sometimes, if you want to control people the best way is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. So to observe—to put things—to put large, spacious meadow for your sheep, or cow is how you control people. So let them do what they want, first, and watch them, is the best policy. But let alone policy is not good. That is worst. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them—just to watch them, without trying to control.

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February 2, 1967

Thursday, February 2nd, 1967

Suzuki-roshi with Philip Wilson (I think) at Tassajara

Rev Suzuki lecture

February 2, 1967

Los Altos

As I cannot speak your language so well that I find some way to communicate with you.  And this effort I think results something very good.  Originally we say if we do not understand master’s word you cannot understand our way.  Communication is very important in our practice.  If you…we say if you do not understand master’s word, or master’s language…I do not know…not language, but word…anyway the way he speaks, or to understand your master in its true sense that is what we mean.  So this is not just word or language, but language in its wider sense.  So through his words you understand more than what he says.  Statements usually involved in or implied speaker’s subjective intention as well as listener’s situation, or listener’s objective situation, or matters about statement is told.  So no word is perfect; it is involved in something, some statement.  So there’s no perfect word.  It is always involved in something…some distortion is always follow in statement.  But through statement we have to understand the fact, or the event, or something which has happened to us.  You may say Being, or Ultimate Truth.  Ultimate Truth we do not mean something eternal, something constant, but we mean the things as it is, you may say Being or Reality.  If we understand things as it is that is Reality.  But it is difficulty to speak about the reality, because when I speak about it my subjective intention is involved in it and it implies some subjective opinion about it; so it is not possible to speak about Reality.  But through master’s word we have to understand the Reality directly.

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January 12, 1967

Thursday, January 12th, 1967

Rev. Suzuki lecture

January 12, 1967

Don’t try to stop the thinking when you are practicing zazen.  Let it stop.  If something comes into your mind let it come and let it go out.  It will not stay long.  But if you try to stop it, it means you are bothered by it.  Don’t be bothered by anything.  Actually we say something comes from outside, but it is…actually it is the waves of your mind, so wave cannot be…will stay…will become more and more calm.  So in five minutes or at most ten minutes your mind will be completely serene and calm.  At that time your breathing becomes pretty slow, while your pulse of your hand becomes a little bit faster.  We don’t know why, but if you will check your pulse (you, yourself cannot do it but it appears in that way).  It takes pretty long time before you get calm, serene mind in your practice, but even though you have waves in your mind that is waves in your own mind.  Nothing comes out from out here.  Nothing can bother…nothing can cause any trouble for your mind.  You make your mind disturbed…bothered by…you make waves of your mind.  So if you don’t…if you let it as it is your mind will be calm.  Usually our mind expects something from outside…our mind is ready to accept something from outside, but that is not true understanding of our mind.  According to our understanding, mind includes everything.  Nothing comes from outside.  Our mind has everything, and when you think something comes from outside it means your mind…in your mind something appears.  In this way you accept things.  If your mind is related to some other things, that mind is small mind, limited mind.

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January 5, 1967

Thursday, January 5th, 1967

Rev. Suzuki lecture

January 5, 1967

Los Altos

In our practice the important thing is our physical posture we take, and breathing…way of taking breathing.  Those are very important because we have…we are not so much concerned about our deep understanding of Buddhism.  As a philosophy Buddhism has very deep and wide and firm system in our thought, but Zen does not concerned about those philosophical understanding but we emphasize our practice.  But why it is so important…we must understand why our physical posture and breathing exercise is important is…there is some reason and instead of discussing or having deep understanding of the teaching we want strong confidence, or you may say faith, a kind of faith in our teaching that we have originally Buddha Nature.  And our practice is based on this faith.  Originally we have Buddha Nature.  If so we have to behave like Buddha is why we practice zazen.  You may feel rather funny in our reason why we practice zazen but if you compare the various practice or training with our…to our practice you will understand our practice better.

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