Archive for March, 1967

March 26th, 1967

Sunday, March 26th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, March 26, 1967

(This is the only information available on notes)

To transmit the Buddha-mind is to transmit our practice. There is then no small mind or small self. Our small self is included in our big self (or Big Mind). When small mind feels it is big mind (I think we are then troubled by its assertiveness (?)). When the small mind finds its correct place in our big mind, then there is peace-everything is our large mind. “Transmission” of this big mind occurs with no loss “of even a speck of dust” by the master, and no gain “of even a thread” by the now awakened disciple. This is because everyone is already within his big self.

It is very important in our practice to find our place within this practice. When everyone and everything has thus found its right home, we call it Nirvana or Tathāgata’s Way. But our own practice area is as wide as the universe, and until we find our own place in the universe, we have not yet arrived. (Suzuki’s explanation of this was a person finding his place in his family, in society, and the family’s place in society, and in the world, and society’s in the world).


March 23rd, 1967

Thursday, March 23rd, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

March 23, 1967

Los Altos, California

To live in the realm of Buddha Nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, and at the same time, to lose our balance, sometimes, means to develop ourselves, or to grow. If we are in perfect balance we cannot live as a small being. So whatever we see the things are changing, losing their balance. Why everything looks beautiful is because it is something out of balance, but it is background is always in perfect harmony and on this perfect harmony everything exists, losing its balance. This is how everything exists in the realm of big Buddha Nature. So if you see things without knowing, without realizing Buddha Nature everything is in the form of suffering. But if you understand the background of everything, which looks like suffering, suffering itself is how we live, how we extend our life. So in Zen we, sometimes we emphasize the “out of balance” or disorder. Nowadays our Japanese painting which was developed by the spirit of Zen became pretty formulated; became formal. That is why nowadays we have more—that is why we have modern art. The painters in old time practice how to put dots out of order. Even though you try to do it what you did is always in some order. This is a kind of practice. And how to take care of things is the same thing. If you try to make them—even though you try to put them under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do that. So sometimes, if you want to control people the best way is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. So to observe—to put things—to put large, spacious meadow for your sheep, or cow is how you control people. So let them do what they want, first, and watch them, is the best policy. But let alone policy is not good. That is worst. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them—just to watch them, without trying to control.


March 22nd, 1967

Wednesday, March 22nd, 1967

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Lecture by Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday, March 22, 1967

[Suzuki-rōshi read a rendition of “Jōshu’s Mu.”  He said Jōshu began serious study, including travel and visits to various masters, after the age of 60.  Before that he spent most of his time caring for his old Zen teacher.]

“Has a dog Buddha nature?” Everyone knows that Buddha nature is everywhere and includes everything. (It is so stated in a sutra). But if we all are Buddha, i.e., if buddha-nature is everywhere, why practice zazen? Consider the air; it too is everywhere; but until we use a fan, we are not aware of it. Zazen may be likened to the fanning. However, awareness of Buddha nature, or the solution to mu are not our only problems. So there is no need to be narrowly over-concerned with what Buddha nature refers to. You should not strain too hard to know what Zen is. One cannot study Zen in the usual manner. The way to study Zen is to be always aware of yourself, to be careful, to be sincere with yourself. Awareness means that when reading (including Zen materials), your mind should not get caught by any idea. It should remain open. Similarly with sights and sounds… don’t allow your mind’s self-awareness to get lost or absorbed. In other words, always remain conscious of what you are doing, of what is going on. In all our activities we should have “inward eyes.” This is especially so during physical actions, because then our minds are not as full of activity. When we are reading or thinking, our minds are not as full of activity. When we are involved in physical activity, then the mind is at full operation…it is open. When we are thus attentive and one with our activity, we can deepen our understanding. When we practice this way, everything that happens is within our mind and everything we are involved in is the content of our practice. Such awareness of body-mind means that sounds, for example, arise from within the mind. Here (in body-mind) there is no duality. Body-mind arises when practice is within yourself-Zen conduct is occurring when there is no duality.


March 12th, 1967

Sunday, March 12th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

March 12, 1967

The world of thinking is that of our ordinary mind.  The world of consciousness is that of buddha-mind.  Phenomena in the world of thinking are constantly being named or labeled by our minds as we experience these phenomena.  The world of consciousness-mind does not label or name, it only reflects, i.e., perceives, hears, or feels, etc.

The Buddhist way then of understanding phenomena (which are also Buddha) is by accurate unbiased observation followed by reflection of a similar nature.

In the world of thinking, subject and object are two, are separate, and act thus upon another.  In the world of consciousness the subject and object are assimilated.  Linguistically the world of thinking links subject and predicate (object) with a transitive verb; in the world of consciousness, the predicate is the subject, and linked to it by an intransitive verb-the predicate-object extends and clarifies the subject via a verb like “is.”