Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi at a Precepts Ceremony at City Center
SANDŌKAI LECTURE XII: “It Is Not Always So”
Saturday, July 4, 1970
Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-04
[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:
Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi.
Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare.
Sokumoku dō wo ese zumba,
ashi wo hakobu mo izukunzo michi wo shiran.
(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)
If you listen to the words, you should understand the source of
Don’t establish your own rules.
If you don’t practice in your everyday life as you walk,
how can you know the way?
(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]
Tonight and tonight lecture and one more lecture will be the last concluding lecture for Sandōkai.
And here it says Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi. Koto means “the first character.” We read from this side, you know: Koto wo— Koto? Koto wo uke te wa. Koto means “words.” Uke te wa: “to receive” or “to listen to”; “to receive,” you know. This is something like “hand,” you know. The same type [?] character—”to receive.” If you receive words, it means that if you receive teaching, you should—subekaraku—you should—subekaraku—should—you should.
Shū wo—shū is “source of the teaching”—shū—source of the teaching which is beyond our words. Esu beshi is “to have actual understanding of it.” So if you listen to the words, you should understand—e—understand— shū—source of the teaching. Usually we, you know, stick to words, and it is difficult, because we stick to words, it is difficult to see the true meaning of the teaching. So we say, “words or teaching is finger pointing at the moon.” If you stick to the finger pointing at the moon, you cannot see the moon. So words is just—to suggest the real meaning of the truth is the words. So we shouldn’t stick to words, but we should know actually what the words mean.
At his time, you know, at Sekitō’s time, many people stick to words—or each one’s, each Zen masters [taught] personal characteristic of Zen. Each masters had, at that time, their own way of introducing the real teaching to the disciples. And they stick to some special teachers—some particular way, so Zen was divided in many schools, and it was very hard to the student [to know], “Which is the true way?” And actually, to wonder which is the true way is already, you know, wrong. Each was, you know— Each teachers is suggesting the true teaching by his own way, so each teachers, you know, true— Each teachers is suggesting same truth—same source of the teaching which was transmitted from Buddha. Without knowing the source of the teaching, to stick to words was wrong, and actually that was what the teachers at his [Sekitō’s] time was doing, or students’ way of studying Zen.