March 1st, 1970

Originally offered: March 1st, 1970 | Modified January 13th, 2013 by korin

Suzuki-roshi in the Buddha-hall at City Center for a service or lecture

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday morning, March 1, 1970

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-01

 (this audio file covers about three-quarters of the transcript below)


Actually, because of my bad throat, I don’t speak for people outside, you know.  I o- [partial word]—I hardly manage to keep my lecture in Zen Center.  But this time, because of Dr. Lancaster, whom I met at dinner, I was very much encouraged by him.  And hearing hard [hardship?] of—name of Senzaki,[1] you know, who is, I think, pioneer of Zen in America [and] who did not have also any temple whatsoever.  He did not like to spend his time managing—management or a business-like thing, you know, which will follow by our church or organization activity.  So he just had a small room available for maybe ten or twenty people.  And he spent his life in that way in Los Angeles.  [Gap in tape of 27 seconds.]  … worldly things, but he wanted to make more effort to establishing the foundation of Zen in America.  I think that is why he end up as a wandering monk in America.  I did—before I come to America, I didn’t know anything about him.  But after I came to America, I met many students who studied Zen by him, and I read a book written by him,[2]  and I was very much impressed by his profound understanding of Zen.  Since then, I was very much encouraged to be here and to study with you.


I came this morning without preparing anything to speak.  But I wanted to share the feeling we have right here, right now.  Sharing the feeling right here, right now is the fundamental or basic thing for Zen practice.  Zen is, in one word, to share, you know, our feeling with people or with trees and with mountains wherever we are [laughs].  That is Zen practice.


But usually, you know, our mind is always filled with something, you know:   something like ice cream [laughs, laughter] or lemonade [laughs, laughter] or banana or, you know, soap—how much the soap cost in one, you know, store, how much will it cost in other store.  And looking out the newspaper [laughs] and seeing ad, you know, where there is some sale, you know.  That kind of thing—filled with that kind of thing.  So it is almost impossible to share the actual feeling, you know, where they are right now.

That is how our life is going on—on and on and on endlessly, with some rubbishes, you know, which you had—which you used before.  If even rubbish, you know, it was not rubbish when you were using it, you know.  It was some important things for you.  But after you use it, it is not necessary to keep it.  It is same thing with our everyday life.  It is useless thing—or we have too many useless rubbishes in our mind, so we cannot share the feeling with people, with things, with trees, and with mountains.  Even though we are right in the wood, still we cannot feel—we cannot appreciate the feeling of the wood.  That is, I think, why we practice zazen.


And originally Buddha, you know, attained enlightenment after he gave up everything, after he studied under many teachers.  And rather tired of, you know, human suffering, studying many things, and being occupied some certain, you know, thought or religion, and making great effort to study—to be—to study it just to be caught by it [laughs], you know.  That is most people and religious people are doing.  He tired of that kind of, you know, effort.  So he, you know, gave up everything.  He lost interest—his interest in such things.


So finally he went to the bodhi tree where he attained enlightenment and—we say “he attained enlightenment,” but it may be better to say “he forgot completely [laughs] everything!”  He had nothing in his mind at that moment.  And then he saw a morning star, you know, rising up from the east.  That is, I think, his enlightenment.  But when he saw, you know, morning star, I think that was the first thing he saw coming out of his empty mind.  That—that was—that is why he was so, you know—he had such a joyful—joy in the sight of the morning star.  I think that is, you know—in other word, he shared, you know, the feeling—some feeling [laughs]—Buddha’s feeling or morning star’s feeling.  We don’t know, you know.  It is difficult to analyze [laughs] that is Buddha’s feeling or morning star’s feeling.

That is not possible.  Anyway, you know, he shared the feeling with the morning star.


I think that was the first experience—pure experience which a human being had, you know.  That is why I think he is called Buddha.  So to be a buddha means to be he himself, to be with everyone, with everything.  But to be Buddha it is necessary to give up various rubbishes in our mind.


So all the teaching—mmm [laughs]—I—I shouldn’t say so [such] big words [laughs], but not all—I cannot say all teaching.  But Buddha’s—Buddhist—Buddhist teaching is the teaching which is arise—which should—should arise or which should come out from emptiness, from emptiness of mind.  In other word, from pure mind, you may say.  Or you may say a “holy mind.”  If your word comes from pure emptiness, that is, whatever it is, that is, I think, Buddha’s word.  And if you do things with purity of your mind, that is Buddha’s activity, I think.  And it—it is possible for us to do that.  Why we meditate, or why we recite Buddha’s name, [or] why we read scriptures is in one way to empty our mind, and on the other hand to appreciate Buddha’s words by empty mind.


So when you read scripture, you know, you can empty your mind by reading it.  And when you—your mind become clearer and clearer, then your reading will become more and more deeper.  In this way, back and forth, while you are reciting sūtra, you—you will, you know, extend your life in its true sense.  So it is necessary for you to read scripture back and forth.  Or, you know, to—if scripture is too long or too difficult—to read scripture is too difficult, you cab rec- [partial word]—you know, repeat the name of Buddha even.  Maybe that is the way for most of the people.


Or we—you can sit, you know, in zazen posture to empty—with empty mind.  Try to be empty.  But there is some, you know, some technique or some explanation needed on this point.  So I hope I have some more time to explain this point more.  But purpose of our practice is to open up our mind from—from—maybe you must open like you open a tin [can], you know.  You must cut [laughs] hard, you know, tin, and open the tin so that you can eat it.  That is, you know, our pract- [partial word]—purpose of practice.


And it is—another point is just to open is not, you know, enough.  To, you know, to repeat it, or to do it back and forth, or to continue our practice is also necessary.  If you haven’t—if you do not have this kind of spirit, or if your everyday life is not based on this kind of spirit, to repeat it forever, you cannot, you know, cope with the problem you will have day after day, you know.  As long as you live, you must eat, you know, something.  As soon as you eat, you will have a, you know, big [rubbish] pile of can and papers.


So constantly, we should work on it.  We should clear our table every day.  Even though you clear up—you have feeling of clearing up of everything from your table, if that, you know, activity is not based on the spirit of continuing to do it, you know, forever, that feeling is just some feeling, you know, [like] when you have, you know—after you taking LSD [laughs], or after you take some alcohol [laughs].


No—maybe there is difference, but [laughs] not much difference, you know.  The big difference between, you know, psychedelic experience and [laughs] enlightenment experience—we should not compare both, but the—the difference, you know, is—one is, you know, based on so—to say the Bodhisattva’s vow.  The other is just casual, you know, experience which happened to you sometime by aid of something.  That is the difference.  And one is, you know, the experience which you can have always, one after another, continuously.  The other is, you know, the experience which you will have when you have something, some aid.  That is the difference.  I’m not comparing, you know, our experience with some other experience, but to make, you know, clear what is our practice, I said something like this, you know.  I easily become critical [laughs] with things.  After that I don’t feel so good [laughs, laughter] after criticizing things.  So I shouldn’t go too far [laughs, laughter].


But anyway, we should, you know, clear up our table every day.  And even though, you know, it is clear, you know, we should try to clear it.  That is another, you know, important point.  Because, you know, if—if you clear—if you are clearing up, you know, your table because it is dirty, you know, that mind is still dirty [laughs] because that mind, you know, acknowledged something dirty [laughs, laughter].  That you think something is dirty means your mind is dirty.  So, you know, we should forget, you know, about this kind of mind—discriminating mind:  “dirty or clean” or “right or wrong.”  Anyway, you know, to forget all about things is the point, not because it is dirty, but because this is something we should do as long as we are alive.  That’s all, you know.


So there is no reason why we should practice zazen, you know.  When I came here, you know, I was very much interested in why, you know, so many people want to practice zazen [laughs]:  crossing, you know, their legs and rigid—rigid—rigidly.  And keeping their back straight.  I couldn’t understand why.  And I used to ask them, “Why did you come?  Why did you come?”  And they said, “Oh!  I don’t know.”  [Laughs, laughter.]  Most people say, “I don’t know.”  Some people, you know, feel he should give me some reason, so he—he would speak some—some—he may give me some reason, but it doesn’t make much sense, you know, so I wondered—just wondered why.  But “I don’t know” is right, I think.  And even though you don’t know what it is or why, but if you understand this point and if you start to practice religious activity, not only Zen but also various activity, then that is Buddhist practice, I think.  This is the fundamental, you know, attitude of Buddhist practice.


So I want to compare our practice to the practice which is going on now—which will continue to go on in the future, or the practice we have had practice before.  Then you will understand more clearly what is our practice.  So this is another effort to keep our practice clear and to keep our practice go on.  On this point, I think we must make our effort not to get lost in, you know, in—in—how should I say—maybe worldly practice [laughs].


It is not different thing to keep, you know—in keeping this practice pure.  It is not difficult thing if you understand actually what it is.  So, in this sense, it is necessary for you to have some understanding—to have understanding of Buddhist practice:  what it is.


And I think we should be very grateful for Buddha and for many people who transmitted this kind of practice for many thousand years.  And also I think we should be very grateful for the people who is making the effort to satisfy their mind even though—even though they did not know what was the real pure practice, because eventually they will find out what is real practice—like Buddha, you know, after making a great effort to establish himself on himself, who wanted to be independent from everything, and who wanted to save all being, having some respons- [partial word]—feeling some responsibility as a future king of his own country.  So sooner or later this kind of feeling is a feeling which—which everyone will have.  So we must be grateful for the people who are striving for the final goal we arrive at.


What is the time now?  [Brief exchange off-mike.]


Now I think I—I want someone would give them some instruction how you sit.  Let’s sit, you know, for a while, because we have many cushions.


[Zazen instruction starts.  Tape stopped and restarted, presumably after zazen.]


If you have a question, please ask me.  I think this is best way.  Please ask some questions.  Whatever question it may be, it’s quite all right.  Please ask question.  Uh-huh.


Student:  I understand from some students they meditate a long time—long time.  And nothing happens.  What—what do you think [SR laughs; 5-6 words unclear.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Nothing happens, yeah.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Nothing happens [laughs, laughter].  That is okay.  [Laughs, laughter.]


Student:  Is it better to meditate outside?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Outside?


Student:  Yes.


Silas Hoadly:  Can—can you ask your questions loud—loudly enough so that everybody could hear your questions?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm?


Student:  Is it better to meditate outside?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Outside.  Yeah.  Inside is better, you know.


Student:  Inside is better?  Why?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Why?  For beginner it is—especially it is so, because outside maybe wind will come and—here in California, I think it is—it is very good to sit outside, but still you there—you will have some, you know, disturbance.  Light may be too strong.  The, you know, the light we have here is just right.  But if it is too strong, you know, it is difficult to keep your eyes open, so you have to shut your eyes.  And if wind come, you know, it bothers your eyes always.  And, you know, you have to always [laughs] to be like this [probably gestures].  So I think inside is better.


And it is necessary to have right temperature too.  If it is too hot, it is difficult.  And if it is cold—yeah, cold weather is better, but hot one is very difficult, you know, to sit.  So I think outside—actually, you know, when you go outside you may feel you want to sit there.  But if you start to sit [laughs], you will find out various things which will dis- [partial word]—which disturb you.  So I think it is better to sit inside.  If you try, you will find out, you know [laughs.]  Ah.  Hai.


Student:  Do you always count to keep track of the mind?  Or do you stop at some point?


Suzuki-rōshi:  You know, it—because it is difficult to just to sit, you know.  Just to sit is best, you know, but that is not so easy [laughs].  So we count our breathing.  But it is not just to count our breathing, you know, like you count sheeps, you know [laughing], crossing fence.  One, two, three.  This is rather busy, you know.  When you want to sleep, it maybe—it will work, but for zazen it doesn’t work so well.


So “to count” means to do something with your body and mind.  To devote yourself on practice with your mind and body.  So—but it is easy—easier to say, “count your breathing,” you know, rather than “to practice it with your body and mind.”  [Laughs.]  You may wonder what it is, you know.  So we just say, “count your breathing.”


And how you count is, you know, not just counting.  Even though you lose your counting sometime, it is all right.  But how you count is to—to count with, you know, with every part of your body:  with your mudrā, with your breathing, with your mind and everything is—not concentrated but—concentration, you know, means to, you know, to—to be like this [gesturing?].  But actually we do not try to concentrate on anything, you know.  We just try to be like this and—or organize our body and mind.


So it is—maybe it better to have, you know, some feeling of counting or following breathing.  At that time, your mind is everywhere, you know:  here, here, and every part of your body.  That is how you count your breathing.


Student:  How can you still thoughts that come up in meditation?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Still?


Student:  Still thoughts.  You know, you have—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Oh.  I see.  The best way, may be, you know, if you—if you haven’t not much, you know, mind in your head, you know, you start to think because your mind is, you know, resting.  Your mind is not participating [in] the practice.  So your mind start to wandering about.  “What shall I do?” he may say [laughs, laughter].  So your mind should alw- [partial word]—also join our practice.  How to do it is, you know, physically you sh- [partial word]—pull your chin and stretch your neck.  It’s—our chin and neck should be always so, but, you know, if you sit ten, fifteen minutes you will be like this [probably gestures].


So mind ask, you know, “What shall I do?” [laughs] and there—he will start to taking a walk [laughs, laughter].  That is, you know, why you think.  So, if you are always like this, it is difficult to think, you know, all your mind.  [Sentence finished.  Tape turned over.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Ah.  I’m sorry.  [Sounds like he is asking a student to repeat a question]


Student:  Is it better to leave the eyes half-open, or do you ever close the eyes?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Oh, half open.  You know, some teachers say—oh—Fujimoto-rōshi said in Way of Zazen,[3]  watch, you know, some point—your eye level, and turn the focus five—four-five feet ahead.  Change the focus from, you know, there to here.  Then you will have half-opened eyes.  Not—but focus.  You shouldn’t gaze at some point on the wall, you know.  Some mark on the wall [laughs, laughter] or some point on the floor, you know.  Just, you know—focus is around there.  So your eyes is not gazing at anything.  This kind of eyes, you know [probably gestures].  So if you have this kind of eyes, you know, you can catch everything, you know, in your, you know, eyesight angle.  Focus is maybe around here.  I don’t feel any focus.  That is how you do it.  But if it is difficult as you—like as you count your breathing, you can gaze at something, you know, in front of you.


Some, you know, old student, when she started practice, she always prepare for something [laughing] here.  Put it in front of her.  She was gazing at it.  I think that is not—maybe not proper way.  No Zen master, you know, told us to do so [laughs], so may not be proper way, but for her, you know, it was very good.  It worked very well, I think.  Soon he—she didn’t need that kind of material or that kind of thing in front of her.  Some q- [partial word:  questions]—?


Student:  For what reason do you keep the eye open rather than close it?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Oh.  Because you—if you keep—if you—if your eyes are open, you know, naturally—wide open, you know, you will see many things.  And if you close your eyes, you know, you will think more, and you will have various images on—on your eyelid [“eyelid” said tentatively].  Yeah.  Many things will appear here [laughs, laughter].  So better to be like this, you know.


Student:  Do you get anywhere farther if you just keep sitting every day for twenty minutes—do your counting?  Will there be progress?  Or can you just get stuck sitting?  [Laughter.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  [Laughs, laughter.]  Yeah.  Yesterday I said, you know, because so—pretty many people changed into a stone—into stones, you know [laughs, laughter], after sitting six days.  I think that was good, I think.  But why we practice zazen is—is not to change into a stone [laughs, laughter].  That is something which will happen in our practice, you know.  I don’t say that is bad, you know.  That may be good.  But that is not why we practice zazen, you know.


You will have various experience in your zazen, and then more and more you will have less, you know, experience in—in some sense of duality, good or bad, you know:  good experience or bad experience.  Or you may not have here or there, you know, and you will feel always a sort of composure or a sort of—I—you know, same feeling, you know, wherever you go.  But with that same foundation of same feeling, you know—composure, you will see things, you know, as it is.


So that same feeling will be called it like “emptiness” or “buddha-eyes,” or “buddha-mind,” or we call it by various name, but a kind of—not feeling, but fundamental, you know, openness of your mind.  So you will not be—you will not, you know, feel you are here or you are there.  “Here” or “there” is just dualistic, you know, mental understanding of things.  Before we have that kind of dualistic understanding of things, we have more pure—we have more pure, you know, experience of things.  Just, you know—just like that.  So if you are more—if you are able to stay in—more in such state of mind, or in state of yourself, then you will not be, you know, bothered by idea of “here” or “there.”  You don’t seek for anything, because you have—you have contented feeling.


Student:  And it happens by simply sitting there and doing that for a long time—over a period of time?


Suzuki-rōshi:  It—you know, first of all what you should do is to—to get accustomed to, you know, right posture and right—good breathing, natural good breathing.  Then you will have this kind of feeling—I should say “feeling”?  Yeah.  So, you know, for—for us it takes time—quite a long time to—to have this kind of feeling.  So anyway, you know, at home or with group, it is good to sit because it will help your, you know, posture and breathing.  Breathing is important thing.  If your mind is disturbed, breathing will be disturbed too.  And this is—breathing is both mental and physical activity.  So to—to take care of breathing is how you take care of yourself.  Hai.


Student:  If you can only sit for five minutes, is it better to sit or is it better not to sit at all?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Five minutes?


Student:  Or ten minutes.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Ten minutes.  Yeah.  Ten minutes.  If you—even though you sit ten minutes, your mind will not be calm enough, usually, you know.  For an instance, you know, if you walk—kinhinkinhin is, you know, walking meditation.  After, you know, standing up from meditation we, you know, walk slowly and practice zazen.  Not zazen [laughs].  Zazen is, you know—za is “sitting,” zen is “Zen.”  Sitting zazen is zazen [laughs]—sitting Zen is zazen.  Kinhin is not zazen, but kinhin is walking, you know, straight is kinhin:  walking on straight line.


When you walk slowly, first, you know, six feet or so is—or three feet will be—you will notice your breathing is not deep enough—good enough.  And after, you know, after that, your breathing will be very deep, and you will have good feeling—feeling of zazen.  And it takes, maybe, I don’t know how long, but may—may take at least more than five minutes.  So to sit ten minutes, you know, [is] to quit zazen when [laughs] you just entered meditation.  So may be better to sit twenty minutes, I think.  Twenty minutes.  Some more question?  Oh.  You has.  Yeah.


Student:  I was wondering at what point in meditation does one reach satori, and how can it be recognized?


Suzuki-rōshi:  [Laughs, laughter.]  You know, Buddha said, “Oh, it’s wonderful to see buddha-nature in all being,” you know.  He found out buddha, you know, in all being:  buddha-nature in all being, you know.  But when he said so, it was too late, I think [laughs].  You know, when he said so, that was not enlightenment, you know.  That was—that was the first step to the ordinal [ordinary] world [laughs], you know.  I think so.


People may say, you know, when or after he saw the morning star he attained enlightenment.  By seeing it, he attained enlightenment, you know.  And as if a morning star helped him to attain enlightenment [laughs, laughter]:  if there were not morning star, you know, he wouldn’t have [laughs] attained enlightenment.  But that is not so.  So that is why we say, you know—we, you know, do not say so much about enlightenment.  But enlightenment—because enlightenment is something which is before something happens to us.


So what is enlightened mind, you know, you may ask.  But when we say “enlightened mind,” that is already, you know, object of enlightened mind [laughs].  “Here there is enlightened mind.  I will explain about it,” you know.  “This is enlighten—enlightened mind.”  But that is something which is outside of enlightened mind.  You see?


So that is—it does not mean much, you know, to say about something which is just an object of enlightened mind.  It makes some sense, of course, you know [laughs], and it is projected mind of enlightened mind.  So it make sense, but if you think, “This is enlightened mindI attained enlightenment!”  [Said in mocking voice.]  [Laughs, laughter]  That is, you know—I feel very funny.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Do you understand?


So try not to say anything about enlightenment.  Just practice zazen.  You know, before you say something there is real enlightenment within yourself—on the side of yourself, not there.


Student:  It seems from what you were saying that Buddhism—the dharmas and the sūtras and all the temples that don’t have any necessary relationship to zazen—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.


Student:  Can you explain why a—why Buddhism and not only zazen?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.  It is, you know—first of all, you know, in—in China—in India, I don’t know, you know.  I haven’t studied Indian philosophy so much.  But scholar says in India they would sit mostly outside of the building in, you know, on the stone or under the tree.  At that time they must have had a very good place to sit, and for Indian people that kind of place was best place for sitting, maybe.


But in China, they started to sit in—some other sit in building.  And “then” we say, but at that time, maybe most Buddhists were in some sense Zen student because they sit.  And after more people interested in Zen pract- [partial word]—this kind of practice, to sit, they started to have some—own their own building, you know, where they sit.  And more and more, they had Buddha hall, lecture hall, you know, as they had more people to sit—who sit.  In this way, you know, Zen—present Zen, you know, school was developed.  There was some necessity, you know, so they—we had various, you know, buildings and meditation room.


But it does not mean without Buddha hall we cannot sit, you know.  [Sentence finished.  Gap in tape of 23 sec.] … like having big zendō, Buddha hall, beautiful gate, you know.  But I think that is not always necessary, and always necessary be in that way, you know.  So I think we must think [about] this point more.  Is that okay?  [Laughs.]  Did I—


Student:  Specifically about the philosophy and the sūtras and the chanting—the religion of Buddhism.  Wondering—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Oh, chanting—


Student:  —why that seemed to be necessary.  What was the—the whole—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.  Chanting is, you know—I explain it, you know, this way, I think.  Chanting will make your practice deeper, you know.  And the feeling [of] chanting or scripture makes your practice purer.  In this way, you know, back and forth, we will have a deeper practice.  So in this sense, chanting is necessary.  So in China, they would chant, you know—some great Zen master would write some beautiful poem, you know, about their state of mind or understanding of teaching.  And they would chant it, you know, while they’re working.  So we—we have a style, you know, chanting sūtra in walking [?].  In Japan, still we do it, you know, in Buddha hall with scripture in our hand we, you know, chant sūtra, in walking [?].  That is, I think, very helpful too.


Student:  Are there any differences between the way you practice Zen in the United States and the way you practice in Japan?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Zazen practice is same, you know.  I don’t feel, you know, not much difference, you know.  Wherever I go, I feel as if I am in Japan [laughs, laughter].  Yeah.  So it rather difficult to answer your question.  You know, “American people, Japanese people,” we say.  But if we start to practice zazen, nearly the same.  We have same problem [laughs, laughter].


Student:  Is satori the same thing as attaining nirvāna?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.  Some scholar, you know, wrote pretty big essay about it.  But, you know, satori is more—nirvānasatori is more positive way of, you know, expressing nirvānaNirvāna is more negative way of expressing satori.  Actually same thing, you know [laughs, laughter].


Student:  Are there—are there numerous satoris that you can have on the way to having what I guess would be the final one?


Suzuki-rōshiNirvāna?  Excuse me.  I have to say, you know, nirvanā or satori is not something which we, you know, strive for or attain.  It is something which will come to you, or you may say which you have [hits chest five times], you know, within yourself—I cannot say “within” or “without,” but which is originally there.  You feel as if you found out something because before you—your mind was not able to see it or experience it because of the rubbishes we have in our mind.


So when you—your mind is clear, and when your mind is—when we say “clear,” it means that to get rid of many things or, you know, anger or ignorance.  Ignorance is some disturbance, you know, for the mind to see things as it is.  Or anger, you know.  Or greed, you know.  Expect too much of something—which will end up in discouragement [laughs], you know, because you cannot, you know—your desire is too much, so accordingly you find yourself in discouragement.


When you have it, you know, when you feel you have it, “Oh.  This is not what I want [laughs, laughter]—not what I wanted.”  This kind of thing is greed, you know.  Not—it doesn’t mean our instinct, but something more than homemade, you know, desire.  Not actual desire:  actual desire plus something—that something which is added on pure desire, you know, or our instinct will be change into, you know, constant, you know, desire to improve ourself.  Here is reality.  And here is something added, you know.  This is a kind of impulse to drive this one, you know.  And if this driver is not good, you know, drive you—drive this one to wrong direction, you know.  This one will be lost.  So driver should be a good driver who knows where this one is going.  So if driver is good, you know, our instinct will be developed into right direction.  And if he is not good, you know, he will be lost.  That driver is the desire, we say, when he is foolish—he—when he is not good one.


Ah, what am I talking about [laughs, laughter]?  Yeah.


So nirvāna, you know, is—if we understand in this way, you know, that is more like enlightenment.  When we have good driver, that is, you know, enlightenment.  But when we say you are not so good driver, you know, then that is more like nirvāna after, you know, getting rid of, you know, bad driver.  That, you know—to get right driver we should dismiss the wrong one.  So to dismiss various evil—not “evil,” but various wrong activity or desire is after getting rid of those things and make this one goes in right direction is maybe, in this sense, we call it nirvāna.


Oh.  Oh, thank you very much [laughs].




[Recording was stopped for an unknown period of time.  It resumed as Suzuki-rōshi is giving instructions for chanting.  He is heard in the background, apparently talking to the class.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  So let me have one of your—


Student:  Here.  We’ve got a sūtra card, Rōshi.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student:  Do you want a sūtra card?  It’s easier for you to hold.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.  Hall is this way.  This is just—


Student:  Just a second, Rōshi, because they’re just all standing up now, and—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Okay.  May—may I stand up here?  [Laughter.  May have stood on top of a table or chair.]  This way, please.


Two fingers—yes.  And support your books by—


Student:  Excuse me [said to quiet the group].


Suzuki-rōshi:  —like this.  Anyway.  Have your feeling or strength here, in your tummy, and stand up like this.  And chant sūtra.  Not like this.  With your strength in your tummy we will chant sūtra.  Okay?


[S.R. gives individual instruction to one or more students.  Then all chant Heart Sūtra until end of tape.]



Source:  City Center original tape transcribed by Dana Velden 4/10/00.  Transcript checked against tape by Bill Redican 8/15/00.

[1]  Nyogen Senzaki (1876-1958).  One of the first Zen teachers to establish residence in America.  He came to San Francisco in 1905, creating a “floating zendō” there in 1922.  He moved to Los Angeles in 1931, where he led the Mentorgarten Meditation Hall in his apartment at the Miyako Hotel.

[2]  Possibilities include Buddhism and Zen (1953), Ten Bulls of Zen (n.d., but no later than 1956), The Iron Flute (1961), or Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (with Paul Reps, 1957).

[3]  Rindō Fujimoto, The Way of Zen.  Cambridge, Mass.:  Cambridge Buddhist Association, Inc., 1972.  First published in Japan in 1961.

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