Posts Tagged ‘Precepts’

August 1st, 1970

Saturday, August 1st, 1970
Suzuki-roshi in ceremonial robes.

Suzuki-roshi in ceremonial robes.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, August 1, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-01


In this sesshin, I have been explaining the context of our practice and, at the same time, the meaning of rules and precepts.  But for us, precepts—observation of precepts and practice of zazen is same thing, you know, not different [just] as our everyday life and practice, zazen practice, is one.


After sesshin, we will have ordination ceremony for Paul [Discoe] and Reb [Anderson].  And—and then we will have lay ordination ceremony for the students—all the students who has been practicing zazen who—who has practiced zazen for three years before 1967.  And so that is why I explained the meaning of our practice, zazen practice, or way of our zazen practice, referring to the precepts and rules—rules which you may like [laughs]—you may not like so much [laughs].


But if you know what is the precepts and what is rules, you—whether you like it or not, it is something with you, always, before—even before you are born—you were born.  So we say:  “If there is something, there is rules about it or in it.”  [Laughs.]  There is nothing without rules, you know.  That something [is] there means that some rules is there.  That is rules.  But before we, you know, know our true nature or some truth or rules which is always with you—you, you know, you think when—when someone explain how you exist or what is, you know, your true nature, then that is Buddha’s teaching, not mine [laughs].  Nothing to do with me.


July 28th, 1970

Tuesday, July 28th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi with ??

Suzuki-roshi with ??

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday Evening, July 28, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-28


This evening I want to talk about some problems you have when you come to Zen Center.  And you understand why we practice—zazen practice, pretty well.  But why we observe this kind of ritual—rituals, is maybe rather difficult to understand why.  Actually, it is not something to be explained [laughs] so well.  If you ask me why we observe or why I observe those rituals, you know, without much problem is difficult to answer.


But first of all, why I do it is because—because I have been doing for a long time [laughs].  So for me there is not much problem [laughs, laughter].  So I—I tend to think that because I have no problem in observing my way, there must not be problem—so much problem for you [laughs].  But actually, you are an Amer- [partial word]—you are Americans, and I am Japanese, and you have been—you were not practicing Bud- [partial word]—Buddhist way, so there must be various problems [laughs].


So this kind of problem is almost impossible to solve.  But if you, you know, actually follow our way I think you will reach—you will have some understanding of our rituals.  And what I want to talk about is actually about precepts, you know.


June 17th, 1970

Wednesday, June 17th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 17, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-17


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line 21 Manako wa iro, mimi wa onjō,

Line 22 hana wa ka, shita wa kanso.

Line 23 Shikamo ichi-ichi no hō ni oite,

Line 24 ne ni yotte ha bumpusu.

Line 25 Hommatsu subekaraku shū ni kisu beshi.

Line 26 Sompi sono go wo mochiu.


Line 21 For eyes there is color and form, for ears there is sound,

Line 22 for the nose there is smell, and for the tongue there is taste;

Line 23 Each being comes out from the root

Line 24 as branches and leaves come out from the trunk.

Line 25 But both root and end should return to their original nature.

Line 26 The words we use are different––good and bad, respectful and

mean—but through these words we should understand the
absolute being or source of the teaching.]



In last lecture I explained the everything—independency of everything. “Independency of everything” means—of course, things are interdependent with each other, but at the same time, each being is independent because each being include the other being—the rest of the being. So when each being include whole world, then each being is actually independent. But at the same time, you know, each being, you know, looks like— When each being understood, you know, in term of big or small, black or white, heavy or light, man or nature—


May 17th, 1970

Sunday, May 17th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi (right) and Katagiri-roshi (left). I do not know who is in the middle.

Suzuki-roshi (right), Katagiri-roshi (left). and Togen Sumi (center), abbot of Zenshuji and bishop of Soto Zen in North America at the time.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday Morning, May 17, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-17


This morning I want to talk about Zen—Zen precepts.  As you know, precepts is not—real meaning of precepts is not just rules.  It is rather our way of our life.  When we, you know, organize our life, there you see something like rules, you know.  Even though you are not intending to observe some particular rule, but there you see some rules.


As soon as you get up, you know, to wake you completely up, you wash your face, you know.  That is our precepts—one of the precepts.  And at a certain time you eat breakfast, when you become hungry.  That is, you know—it looks like you are observing some rules to eat breakfast at some certain time.  But it is actually the way of life you follow or you are doing, you know, naturally in that way.  So if you practice zazen, you know, there is some rules in your practice.  So zazen practice is, at the same time, precepts—one of the precepts.  So zazen and precept, if you really understand how we—how Buddhist get the idea of precepts, you will understand the relationship between Zen and precept.  The precept is just the way of life.


As a Zen students, we rather, you know, put emphasis on our everyday practice, including zazen practice.  But when you think about how to, you know, cope with the problem you have in your everyday life, you will realize how important it is to practice zazen.  The only power of practice will help you in its true sense.


December 4th, 1969

Thursday, December 4th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, December 4, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-04


Our sesshin is already nearing to the end.  As I said before, this sesshin will not come back again.  So we must make best effort in our practice.  And when you want to [make] best effort in our practice, of course we have to practice zazen seriously.


But at the same time, tomorrow we will have shōsan[1]  ceremony.  And the day after tomorrow morning we will have jōdō-e.[2]   Those ceremonies should be observed as if you practice zazen.  And when you [are] in zendō, when you do something, there is some—there is rules.  Rules we have in zendō is called “pure rules.”  Pure means oneness—oneness of the rules and who observe rules.  And the students and rules should be always one.  That one student—where one student is, there should be rules.  And rules should be taken care of by all of us as if you take care of your zazen.  That is why we call it pure precepts—pure rules.  So rules we have in zendō is not some rules which is set up by someone for some purpose.


So the difference between the usual rules and our rules is [that] our rules has freedom in it.  The rules which has no freedom in it is not pure rules.  The restricted side and freedom side in our pure rules is one.  And how we take care of rules is how we take care of our practice—zazen practice.


November 22nd, 1969

Saturday, November 22nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



November 22, 1969

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-22

I am so grateful with you to have chance to practice zazen in this, maybe, magnificent [laughs] building.  I think we must be very grateful for Buddha and our successive patriarchs.


Can you hear me?  Can you hear me?


I don’t think I have much time to speak, but first of all, I want to express my gratitude and—and my confidence or my—I want to express my confidence in practicing with you.  Whether we will be successful or not is, for me, out of question.  I—if we [are] bothered by that kind of idea, we cannot do anything because our practice is always concentrated on present moment.  If our practice in this moment is good, then next moment we will have good practice.  And in this way, if we continue our practice, naturally we will have good practice forever.  That is, as you know, our confidence in our practice.


Our group is now pretty many.  We have many students now.  When Hyakujō-zenji[1]—Hyakujō—established monastic life in China, many people came to monastery and wanted to practice with him.  So Hyakujō-zenji set up Hyakujō ShingiHyakujō Shingi means—I—because Hyakujō established the rules of monastery, we call it—shingi is monastic—”pure rules.”  And because he established, for the first time for the Zen monk, the “pure precepts” or “pure rules.”  We call it Hyakujō Shingi.


April 29th, 1969

Tuesday, April 29th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Morning, April 29, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-04-29

This morning I want to—to explain how to take our bodhisattva’s vow.  We say “bodhisattva’s vow,” but actually this is not only Mahāyāna Buddhist vow but also all the Buddhist vow.  When we say Mahāyāna, we also—it means that something—usually it means that the something superior teaching in contrast with Hinayāna.  But this is—may not be real understanding.  According to Dōgen-zenji, this is not right understanding, to say “Hīnayāna” or “Mahāyāna.”

From the beginning of—the Āgama-sūtra[1] is supposed to be the oldest sūtra—Buddhist sūtra, but even in Āgama-sūtra this kind of thought is there.  [It] says, Shujō muhen—“Sentient beings are numberless.  I vow to save them.”[2] Why Buddha, you know, come to this—came to this world is to save sentient beings.  Usually those who do not believe in Buddhism comes to come to this world because of karma.  But for Buddhist—for Buddha, he did not come to this world because of the karma.

In Āgama-sūtra, they say Buddha passed away by his own choice.  And because he finished his task, he—because he has nothing to do more in this world, he took nirvāna, it says.  When he finished, you know, his task he took nirvāna.  It means that already [the] purpose of his coming to this world is to save sentient beings or to help others.  So if that is, you know, the reason why he come to this world if he finish his task—when he finished his task, there is no reason why he should stay in this world.  So he took nirvāna.


June 29th, 1968

Saturday, June 29th, 1968

Suzuki-roshi and Yvonne Rand at City Center

Shunryu Suzuki Lecture – 68-06-29

Esalen Institute

Second of two lectures

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-06-29

Last night I talked about construction of teaching and our practice in one word, how to, you know, organize, organize, this realistic, you know, teaching or this paradoxical teaching into our actual life.  It’s the purpose of practice, zazen practice.  In zazen practice, as I explained symbolically what does it mean to put this leg here and this leg here. [Demonstrates?]  This is supposed to be our activity, this is.  More or less this is openness, this is calmness of mind and this is activity. If this is wisdom this is practice.  And when we put one leg, left one, on the right side, it means we don’t know which is which. [laughs] So here we have, you know, already oneness,  symbolically.  Here this side is, you know, already activity and wisdom and hand and our posture. Our posture is vertical without tipping right or left back or forward.  This is also expression of the perfect understanding of teaching which is beyond duality of the teaching.

I want to explain this kind of idea into our rituals and/or precepts.  When we extend this kind of practice into relationship between teacher and disciple naturally we have there precepts, idea of precepts, how to observe our precepts and what is the relationship between teacher and disciple.  This is also extended idea of, extended practice of zazen practice.  Zazen, this posture, is not only, not originally maybe a kind of training or something but it is not just training it is more the actual way of transmitting Buddha’s way to us.  Through practice we can actually transmit Buddha’s teaching because words is not good enough to actualize its teaching. So, naturally how we transmit it through activity or through contact, through human relationships. Here we have relationship teacher, between teacher and disciple.  Disciple, of course, can, will, must choose his teacher.  Teacher should accept disciple when he wants job, when he’s job should accept him as a disciple.  This is sometimes teacher may recommended some other teacher for, you know, disciple.  Or else, you know, human relationship will not be perfect.  So if a teacher think, think his friend is maybe more perfect teacher for him, he may recommend him as a teacher. But, between teacher there’s there should not be any conflict.


August 1st, 1967

Tuesday, August 1st, 1967

Suzuki-roshi carrying the kyosaku during zazen at Sokoji

Rev S. Suzuki

August 1967

It is a pretty long time since I saw you all.  But if we sit with you in this way

I don’t feel so…I feel as if I were in San Francisco or Los Altos, always.  When I was in Tassajara I think about San Francisco or Los Altos, I feel as if many things to talk about, but in this way when I meet you I have nothing to say.  This is very funny.  Nothing to say at all.  This is…but this is the way it should be.  When we have something to talk about that is not so healthy, sometimes, but when we have nothing to say, that is very healthy situation…especially when I see young people I lose my…I lose every thing…I forget everything.  And sometimes I am ashamed of preaching to them.  It’s much better not to say anything.  That is how I feel, actually.


June 12th, 1967

Monday, June 12th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, June 12, 1967

Transcript Not Verbatim

From now on, on each Sunday service I want to continue the lecture about—Shi-sho-ku [?].  This is our text [by Dōgen-zenji].

We explained—we studied about already the three—the three refuges which is fundamental precepts for Buddhist and we have sixteen precepts, three refuges, triple treasures and ten commandments or ten prohibitive—prohibitive precepts.  And the three refuges and the three, the triple treasures are basic precepts.  And before we take triple treasures, we take repentance.

So repentance and triple treasures and the three corrective precepts and ten commandments.  This is our rules to take refuge or in Buddha or Dharma or Sangha.  As we briefly studied the three triple treasures, so, today we will study about the three corrective precepts.  Next—next we should accept the three corrective pure precepts: that embracing good behavior, that embracing good deeds and that embracing all being and saving them.  We should then …  we should then accept the 10 grave prohibitions.