Posts Tagged ‘Helping Self & Others’

March 28th, 1970

Saturday, March 28th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Saturday, March 28, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-28

[First 1-2 sentences of lecture may be missing.]  Way-seeking mind is the most important.  This kind of chance is—usually in some difficult situation—when you have some difficulty in your everyday life, I think you will have, you know—there you will have chance to arise way-seeking mind.  Once you arise the way-seeing mind, your practice is on the track.


Watanabe—Watanabe Genshu-zenji,[1]  who passed away several years ago, arise way-seeking mind when famous Arai-zenji[2]  came to his temple.  He [Watanabe] was—he was a chest-maker or what do you call?—he was making, you know—he is—he is not a carpenter—was not a carpenter, but he was—hmm?—[comments from students]—oh, cabinetmaker.  He was cabinetmaker.  And he—when he went to his temple, you know, to hear Arai-zenji’s lecture or to—to see him, maybe [laughs], to see the zenji—famous zenji, he arosed way-seeking mind.  And he made up his mind to follow him, and asked his family to let him go.  And he joined Arai-zenji’s order.


He [Watanabe] had—when he was young, he had a very difficult time at his home always.  But he didn’t complain about it.  He rather enjoy his—to make cabinets.  But Arai-zenji was so great Zen master that he, you know, made up his mind to follow him.  And so, you know, he doesn’t forget his—his life in his—when he was young.


December 3rd, 1969

Wednesday, December 3rd, 1969

Suzuki-roshi monitoring Zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, December 3, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-03


I explained briefly about bodhisattva mind.  And we have also bodhisattva practice—bodhisattva practice—we count six and sometime four [bodhisattva practices].


Of course, [1] most important one is zazen practice.  That is the most important one, maybe.  And [2] to keep precepts and [3] to—to practice almsgiving—almsgiving, to offer something or to Buddha or to people to help, and to keep precepts, and [4] to vigorously practice all those practice, and [5] endeavorance to be patient, and [6] wisdom—to have wisdom.  Those are six practice of bodhisattva.


And Dōgen-zenji might [?] count four practices:  [1] and one is dāna-prajñāpāramitā, which is to give something; and [2] to give kind words; and [3] to benefit others; and [4] last one is to be friendly with others.  Those are four bodhisattva’s practice.  I want to explain it according to Shōbōgenzō.


The “to give something” does not mean just to give something—some words or some dharma.  Those are, you know—so, it may be divided, classified into:  one is material, the other is spiritual giving.  But when we practice this, we must not have any idea of selfish—self.  So it means that something—according to the nature of something, you know, if rice or food is something to eat, you know, let them eat the food.  Let the food go to something hungry—someone who is hungry [laughs].  That is—according to him, that is almsgiving.


So, you know, without any idea of “me” or “you,” you know, to give—let the things goes where the things want to go [laughs].  That is almsgiving.  That is bodhisattva spirit.  In this way, we treat things, we practice bodhisattva way.


July 15th, 1969

Tuesday, July 15th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 15, 1969

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 1

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 2

Again, I have nothing in my mind [laughs, laughter].  I think I want you to hit my head, you know, like this, and try what kind of sound I make—my head make—makes.  Would you hit my, you know, head like this?  If possible, you know, hit my head with long, long talk, maybe one hour long.  It will be a great help.  Do you have some long, long stick to hit my bell?  If you have some long stick—longer the better.  Do you have some question?  Long, long question [laughter].  No question?  Some question?  Hai.


Student A:  [4-6 words unclear] on shikantaza?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Shikantaza?  Oh.  Practice of shikantaza or—?  We say there is no such thing like shikantaza, you know, actually.  But in comparison to kōan practice, we—because we don’t use, you know, kōan, people say that is shikantaza. 


Shikan means, you know, to be involved in zazen completely.  That is shikan.  Taza is zazen.  So to—if you practice our way, even without any gaining idea, or even without any idea of enlightenment, that is shikantaza.  So sometime it may be actually—kōan practice may be also shikantaza.  When you are completely involved in kōan practice, that is actually shikantaza.


And there is—there may be various misunderstanding about shikantaza.  If you think shikantaza is just to sit, you know, without making not much effort, you know:  just sit, like this, is shikantaza.  And we say, when, you know—sometime we say when some im- [partial word]—you have some image, you know, let it come and let it go away.  That is shikantaza, we say.  It looks like, you know, if you just sit with some idea in my mind, or without some idea in my—in our mind—if you just sit, you know, that is shikantaza.  But that is not actually shikantaza.


July 1st, 1969

Tuesday, July 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 1, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-01

[the audio only includes half of the lecture – I will look into finding the rest of this talk – Korin 8/5/2011]

It is rather difficult for us to figure out why we started to practice zazen.  It is rather difficult, and I think it may be same for you.  But the more you think why you started zazen practice, the more you will find out how deep it is—the meaning you started zazen practice.  And once you start our practice, even though your determination is not so strong, or you don’t feel your determination is not so strong, but you will find out how strong the determination has been.


It is rather difficult, you know.  You think—when you are here, you think sometimes or, you know, once in a while it may be better to give up [laughs].  But actually to give up our study or practice is not so easy.  But you have some, you know—when you—your determination—you think your determination is not so strong—when you think in that way, your—you will not make much—much progress.  So anyway once you study—start to study zazen, it’s better for you to have strong, you know, determination not to give up our study or our practice.  That is why we Sōtō students put emphasis on way-seeking mind or determination to practice our way forever.  And trust in our true nature, who—which is always seeking for our true nature.  You know, we say, “True nature is seeking for true nature.”  You know, true—because we have true nature, so naturally we seek for [it].  It is quite natural for us to seek for true nature.  So, “Buddha seek for buddha,” we say.


Anyway, you know, even though—once you study—start to practice zazen, even though you stop it, or you leave Tassajara, or Zen Center, I am sure you will come back [laughs, laughter].  I am quite sure about that.  But it is rather, you know, waste of time.  So once you st- [partial word]—anyway, you are caught [laughs, laughter] by buddha-nature which you have, you know.  So it is better to continue it until you have complete freedom even from sitting zazen.  That is much better.


June 17th, 1969

Tuesday, June 17th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi in the dokusan room at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, June 17, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-06-17


[1]  Just to—just to practice zazen, you know, will not be perfect enough.  So more and more I want to make our rule strict and maybe formal and rigid, or else [laughs], you know, you will waste your time, I think.  How should we establish our system of practice in San Francisco is—will be our future subject.


I started to explain, you know, the way upward and way downwards—or to help others or—and to—or help yourself:  to climb up [to] the top of the pole and to come down from the top of the pole.  This is rather fancy, you know, more advanced practice.  So it may be—it may not be necessary for you actually to explain this point, but it may be important for us to understand or to know what kind of practice you will have after you enter our practice hall.


And only when you actually started our true practice in our zendō, that practice will be extended in your everyday life.  And this evening I want to, you know, explain this point more:  how to develop our everyday zazen—our zazen practice to our everyday life, because to follow rigid practice does not mean Zen is always, you know, to—to follow rigid rituals or rigid practice is Zen.


It is necessary for you to get through that road—that door, but that is just door.  So to make—I want to explain what I—kind of practice you will have after you enter the door, or else no one will come to Zen Center [laughs] if I—if you say, “Just to follow the rigid practice is the—Zen.  And Zen Center way is just to sit—come and sit at certain time and to follow teacher’s instruction, very formal—which is very formal.”  Then no one will come to Zen Center, I am afraid.  So I want to explain little bit, you know, about this point, as much as possible.


October 21st, 1968

Monday, October 21st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday Morning, October 21, 1968

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-10-21

[The Lotus Sūtra] …  which was told by a historical Buddha.  But some people may be disappointed who believe in historical Buddha.  This is not a characteristic of any religion except Buddhism.  Only Buddhism went through a long history before having a complete under­standing of the historical Buddha.  It took a pretty long time for us to understand who he was.

At first his disciples were attached to his character, or to what he said and did.  So his teaching became more and more static and solid.  His teaching was transmitted by so‑called Hīnayāna Buddhists, or shrāvakas, because they were the disciples, or followers, who tried to preserve his teaching by memory and discussion or meetings.  No one is sure when this kind of meeting was held, but it is said that seventy-five years after his death they had a meeting where they chose various good disciples to compile his teaching.

When they discussed the precepts, Upali was the head of the group, and he recited what Buddha had said.  When the Sutras were discussed, Ananda, who was Buddha’s jisha, discussed what Buddha said.  In that way, they set up some teaching:  “This is what Buddha told us, and these are the precepts Buddha set up.”  Naturally, they became rigidly attached to the teaching, and, of course, those who studied this kind of teaching had a special position among Buddhists.  Buddha’s disciples were classified in four groups:  laymen, laywomen, nuns, and priests.  And the distinction between laymen and laywomen and priests and nuns became more and more strict.  Buddhism at that time already had become a religion of priests, not ordinary people or laymen.


April 22nd, 1967, 2nd Talk

Saturday, April 22nd, 1967

Suzuki-roshi and Kobun Chino-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, April 22,[1] 1967

Sesshin Lecture B

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-04-22, 2nd Talk

[2] … you have many things to do for yourself and for Zen Center.  You—this sesshin was wonderfully done.  This is, I think, very unusual.  By usual mind this kind of thing cannot be fulfilled.  I think this is because—it is because of your bodhisattva-mind, which is to do things for others or for your future descendant rather than for yourself.  What you have in your mind is what should be done for your—for others or for your descendant.  Although you are quite young, but still you have this mind.

I think that is why everything is going so well.  But as I said in previous lecture, the most important thing to do for others is not to—is not to build something beautiful for others or to help them in some materialistic way or formal way, but to help others by giving true spirit of how to live in this world and true understanding of our life.


October 21 1965

Thursday, October 21st, 1965

October 21, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

As you know, in Buddhism there are many schools.  But you can classify Buddhism into Mahayana and Hinayana schools.  Almost all schools in Japan belong to Mahayana school.  Mahayana people called original Buddhists, old Buddhists or direct disciples of Buddha, called Hinayana Buddhists.  It means small vehicle while Mahayana is big or large vehicle.  But Mahayana school originated from Hinayana school.  Development of Buddhism take place and Mahayana school is supposed to be more advanced school.  But it is not exactly so.  Even in the time of Buddha there were many Mahayanistic disciples.  And it is pretty difficult to say which is better, Mahayana or Hinayana.  So in Soto school we do not say Mahayana is good or Hinayana is good.  Just the same, and from standpoint of zen Buddha practiced zen, and Hinayana Buddhists and Mahayana Buddhists have been practicing zazen.  So, if we become…if we discriminate the teaching which was told by him, or forms which he set up at the time of Buddha, or the rules which were set by some other disciples is based on his character, and his character is based on his practice.  And so, from this standpoint, for zen Buddhists, there is no need to say Mahayana Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism.


October 16 1965 2nd Talk

Saturday, October 16th, 1965

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara


Shunryū Suzuki

October 16, 1965 (Wind Bell, Nov.–Dec. 1965)

Transcribed by Trudy Dixon

Late Afternoon Lecture:

We have finished sesshin with unusual results. We have practiced in our own way and our Patriarch’s way, expressing our true nature, transmitted by Buddha to us. Our responsibility as Buddha’s disciples is to manifest his way according to time and age, according to circumstances. Although how we express his way is not the same, that which is expressed is one true nature, which is universal for everyone and every existence.


July 30 1965 2nd Talk

Friday, July 30th, 1965

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, July 30, 1965

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-30 2nd Talk

Tape Operator: This is the beginning of the 1 pm lecture, Friday.

Suzuki-rōshi: If you have a question, please give me.  I want to answer about what I told you during sesshin.

Student A: Sensei?  I’d like to refer to a question someone else asked a couple of mornings ago, about helping other people.  At that time you said that unless a person were enlightened, it wouldn’t do much good to help other people.  It seems to me that that would mean that probably most people in this room should not do anything for anyone else.  I doubt we’re all enlightened in this room, and since I have been thinking of [it], I wonder if you could expand on this idea?

Suzuki-rōshi: Oh.  “Enlightened” means, maybe, many things.  And in the word “enlightenment” is very wide.  So “enlightenment” does not mean to attain perfection, you know.  Bodhisattva—for bodhisattva—bodhisattva’s way is to help others, even before he save himself.  That is bodhisattva’s way.  So the point is how to help others, you know.  Enlightenment—enlightenment, or bodhisattva’s mind—I have to go back to my talk about bodhisattva or bodhisattva-mind.