Archive for July, 1965

July 27 1965

Tuesday, July 27th, 1965

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday, July 27, 1965

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-27

For a long time after Renaissance, you have forgotten the value of religion.  You try to exchange religion for, you know, science and philosophy.  You—you are Christian [laughs], but actually what you have been doing is to replace [laughs] science to religion—to exchange science.  And you wanted to establish, you know, human culture, which is quite free from [laughs] authority of religion.  You have quite good reason [laughs] in your effort to try to exchange or try to reform your culture before it is too dark [laughs].  Now it is too bright [laughs].  You went to the—too extreme, I think [laughs].

But recently, even though you have excellent—very advanced culture, but there is something—there is something which you don’t know what to do—or that is your mind [laughs].  You don’t know what to do with this mind.  You have various tools, but you have no mind to use it [laughs].  That is your problem, I think.  And we, you know, we Japanese people studied what is our mind [laughs], but we have enough tools [laughs], so we become attached to your civilization too much and almost forgetting what we have studied [laughing].  That is our problem just now.  So combination of the two will create something wonderful, I think (more…)

July 26 1965 2nd Talk

Monday, July 26th, 1965


Shunryū Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, July 26, 1965

Lecture D

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-26 2nd Talk

Recently I find many problems concerning to religious problem, such as psychology or LSD or the problem of how to bring about complete peace.  Those problems are most important problems in present day, I think.  In our system of Zen—Zen philosophy—I’m not emphasizing philosophy, but when we have discussion, there must be some system or else our discussion will [not] result [in] anything.  So I just want to present you some system.

As you know, our problem—the most important basic construction of culture may be science.  Science is very important.  And—but science just study or treat outward object, as a object of study.  And—but—and science will result [in a] materialistic understanding of life.  But whether our human being is spiritual or material is big problem, which has been discussed for a long, long time.  We have no conclusion to it yet:  We are [are we] spiritual or material [laughs]?  Our mental function is just attribute of body, or our mental—spiritual function is basic function for human being.  And this kind of problem is not solved completely.


July 26 1965

Monday, July 26th, 1965

Shunryū Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, July 26, 1965

Lecture A

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-26

A talk is always—the conclusion of my talk is always why we should practice zazen.  This is not—my talk is not just casual talk.  And basically, my talk is based on Shōbōgenzō.  And fortunately we have a system of—we have a complete system [of] how to understand true religion.

The true religion cannot be understood by philosophical way or scientific way.  The only way to understand or to realize our true nature is just through practice.  Without true practice it is impossible to realize our true nature.  Of course, what we do, whether we are aware of it or not, what we do in our everyday life is based on true—our true nature.  True nature drive us to do something, but if you do not understand, or if you do not realize your true—what is true nature, and if you have no system to know the actual meaning of your true nature, you will get into confusion.


July 22 1965

Thursday, July 22nd, 1965


Rev. Suzuki’s talk

July 22, 1965

We are studying now the sutra of the sixth patriarch, in the evening lecture, and PRAJNA (this is of course Sanskrit word) we mean, wisdom, but this wisdom is not intellect, or knowledge.  This wisdom is so-called our inmost nature, which is always in incessant activity.  Zazen practice is to….wisdom seeking for wisdom is zazen practice, if I use technical term.  Wisdom seeks wisdom is zazen practice, and our everyday life is wisdom.  Realization of our precepts is our everyday life.  When wisdom…When our everyday life is based on wisdom we call it percepts.  When we sit, we do not do anything; we just sit.  There’s no activity of our mind.  We just sit and all what we do is taking inhaling and exhaling.  Sometimes you will hear some birds singing, but that is not actually….you are not hearing.  Your ears will hear it.  You are not hearing it.  Just, you know, sound come, and you will make some response to it, that is all.  This kind of practice is called “wisdom seeks for wisdom”.


July 15 1965

Thursday, July 15th, 1965

July 15, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki’s talk on Great Prajna Paramita Sutra

This morning I want to explain the attainment…the attainment here…it

means to resume to our true nature is actually attainments.  To attain nirvana means to resume to our true nature.  Our true nature is beyond our reasoning, beyond our sensory world.  If…when we…when we are beyond our reasoning, or sensory world there is no problem, there is no fear.  There is just our true nature itself.  When we resume to our true nature we say we attained enlightenment.  So actually there is nothing to attain; to resume to our true nature is our attainment.   But from the viewpoint of intiate…initial awareness of the true nature it is attainment, because we will attain…we will resume to our true nature by going beyond our sensual world or sensory world, so step by step, one by one, to get rid of all the emotional functions and thinking…stop thinking we will attain enlightenment.  So in this sense it is attainment.  But, what we attain is not something quite different from our empirical world, so in this sense it is not attainment.  So in this sutra it says “no attainment (or no dharma), no five senses or sense organs, or no world of five or six senses; no problem of birth and death, and old age and illness.  Of course no self at all.


July 8 1965

Thursday, July 8th, 1965


JULY 8, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki’s talk on Great Prajna Paramita Sutra

I want to still continue to speak about topsy-turvy views. When your understanding of life is based on some concrete concept of material or spiritual, this view is called topsy-turvy idea. When your understanding is based on your true nature or your true inmost request, this aspect is the right aspect. Dogen Zenji, founder of our sect (this is Dogen’s picture he did himself), he says, “Practice should be established in our topsy-turvy idea. Practice should be established in our defilement or delusion. We should attain enlightenment before, we should attain identity before we attain enlightenment.” This is very subtle understanding of Zen. Usually we say enlightenment and your practice is quite different thing. After you practice zazen you will attain enlightenment, but Dogen Zenji said, “You should study your practice in your defilement.” If your understanding of your life which is always dualistic, which is always based on the idea of right or wrong, good or bad, this is our usual ‑‑ how we live in this world. Wherever you go there is a problem, good or bad, right or wrong, but this problem itself is, if your understanding of the problem is right, it is the practice itself. Because of your poor understanding of the problem, you cannot establish your practice in defilement. You have problem now. You have many problems I think, and some of the problems is pretty hard to control. Why it is difficult to control your problem is your orientation of the practice is wrong. If the – your orientation of the practice is right, your problem itself is a kind of practice.


July 1965

Thursday, July 1st, 1965




Translation and Commentary by Master Shunryū Suzuki


Ummon Bun’en (?-949) was a disciple of Seppō and founder of the Ummon School, one of five schools of Chinese Zen Buddhism (Rinzai, Igyō, Ummon, Hōgen, and Sōtō).

During the political confusion at the end of the Tang Dynasty all the major schools of Chinese Buddhism (Tendai, Hosso, Ritsu, and Shingon) were in decline, except Zen, which was strengthened by the persecutions and the difficulty in traveling to escape persecution and to visit various Zen masters.  The hard practice of Seppō and Ummon during that time has been and still is a good example for all Zen students.

Introductory Word:

Introducing, Engo said:  To control the world without omitting a single feather, to stop all the streams of passion without losing a single drop, this is the great teacher’s activity.  If you open your mouth (in a dualistic sense) in his presence, you will fall in error.  Hesitate and you will be lost.  Who has eyes to penetrate barriers of this kind?  Ponder the following.