Archive for April, 1967

April 26th, 1967

Wednesday, April 26th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

April 26, 1967

[Suzuki read from a letter to him by an American student.  The writer mentioned her mind is “like a babbling monkey” and asked, “What should I do while sitting?”]

This question cannot be answered directly. But anyway, your Buddha Nature exists whether you do zazen or not. Anything you do is an expression of your Buddha Nature, not someone else’s or a demon’s, etc. this is so whether you realize it or not.

However, though anything you do is your own true nature, you misunderstand the occurrence. The purpose of zazen is to correct this misunderstanding. Such misunderstanding includes judging one self as being angry or kind, etc.  Actually, it is not so. We practice zazen so as to learn to accept our true nature as it really is, e.g., to be able to accept without putting labels (e.g. anger) to it.

Dogen said, in our true nature there is no reason to practice zazen. But when even a hair of delusion exists, the gap between true and misunderstanding is as between heaven and earth.

Mind and Body are two misunderstanding of the same nature.


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.


April 22nd, 1967

Saturday, April 22nd, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, April 22, 1967

Sesshin Lecture A

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-04-22

[1] … students.  I want to give some important points.  First of all, when you want to study Buddhism or Zen, you must give up worldly desires or you must realize that it is useless to seek for worldly desires.  But it may be rather difficult to realize that it is foolish to seek for worldly desires.

Sometime, people mix up religious way-seeking mind and worldly desires.  They think they are—there is—are seeking for a truth or a religious truth, but actually they are seeking for the worldly desires by name of religion.  The religious sentiment is quite different from worldly desires.  By “worldly desires” I mean to seek for—to seek for fame or profit.  To seek for fame or profit, this kind of desire is very much like, in some point, religious desires. (more…)

April 16th, 1967

Sunday, April 16th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

April 16, 1967

Old Bush Street Zendō

Lecture Notes by Tony Artino

A teaching, i.e., sūtra, cannot be whole and perfect because it, like a medical prescription, is specific to certain people and circumstances.  The Diamond Sūtra (?) is probably the closest to a universal teaching because it was a teaching the Buddha addressed to his own deep self.


This transcript is a retyping of the existing City Center transcript.  It is not verbatim.  No tape is available.  The City Center transcript was entered onto disk by Jose Escobar, 1997.  It was reformatted by Bill Redican (7/16/01).

April 13th, 1967

Thursday, April 13th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 13, 1967

Los Altos

There may be various kinds of practice, or ways of practice, or understanding of practice.  Mostly when you practice zazen you become very idealistic with some notion or ideal set up by yourself and you strive for attaining or fulfilling that notion or goal.  But as I always say this is very absurd because when you become idealistic in your practice you have gaining idea within yourself, so by the time you attain some stage your gaining idea will create another ideal.  So, as long as your practice is based on gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time to attain it.  Moreover you are sacrificing the meat of practice, set up for the future attainment, which is not possible to attain.  Because your attainment is always ahead of you, you are always sacrificing yourself for some ideal.  So this is very absurd.  It is not so bad, rather not adequate.


April 6th, 1967

Thursday, April 6th, 1967

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 6, 1967

Los Altos

Zazen is not one of the four activities: to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down, we say, are the four activities or four ways of behavior.  Zazen is not one of the four ways of behavior according to Dogen-zenji , the Soto school is not one of the many schools.  Chinese Soto School is one of many schools of Buddhism, but according to Dogen, his way is not one of the many schools.  You may say, if it is so, why do you put emphasis on just sitting posture, or why not put emphasis on having a teacher if our way is not one of the many schools, or one of the four ways of behavior.  Why do you put emphasis on just sitting, or why should you have your teacher.  Why we put emphasis on sitting posture, or zazen, is because zazen is not just one of the four ways of behavior.  Zazen is the practice which is one of the many and many and many activities, innumerable activities which will continue to the eternal future which was started even before Buddha.  So, and this activity, at the same time, includes so many activities which were started even before Buddha and which will continue to the endless future.  So this sitting posture cannot be compared with the rest of the four behaviors.


April 5th, 1967

Wednesday, April 5th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi leading a period of zazen

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday, April 5, 1967

A lecture here in the zendō is meaningful in a way quite different from that of an ordinary public lecture. Here you are students; there you are members of an audience. The difference in attitude, and probably attentiveness is significant. If you realize the difference between listening as a students and as an audience member, you will know how to study Buddhism. Mr. Watts did a good job at his lecture. In an ordinary public lecture situation it is very difficult to speak of Buddha Nature.

The correct way to listen to my lecture is to listen with just the right amount of effort. Do not listen with a dualistic frame of mind. The correct way is just to listen—in an accepting attitude. This is different from listening with the intent to ask questions. Asking questions is to merely develop your preconceived ideas. You must give up all preconceived ideas and all feelings of “good” or “not-good”. If you listen to your teacher with the attitude of a disciple, you will learn of Buddhism in the right way.


April 2nd, 1967

Sunday, April 2nd, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

April 2, 1967

(From Dogen) We originally were and are Buddha nature. But the instant we attach something, we “lose” our nature. As analogy, consider the transparent nature of my eyeglasses. Attachment is like pasting images on them; in such a case they cannot function according to their true and original nature.

When we retain our transparency (and do not attach to ourselves), we are Buddhas. When we attach to something (most commonly our “selves”) we are ordinary people.

When we are Buddhas, we manifest the sunshine. That is, because we are objects or obstacles to sunshine; the sunshine “is” or means something. If we did not exist, sunshine would be a meaningless concept. Still, even though it is ourselves (as “objects” or obstacles) which allows Buddha nature to be meaningful, we should not become attached to ourselves.