Archive for March, 1969

March 30th, 1969

Sunday, March 30th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, March 30, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-30

[The point of][1] … my talk is just to give you some help in your practice.  So it is just help, you know.  So there’s, as I always say, there is no need for you to remember what I said as something definite, you know.  I’m just trying to help you, so it is just support of your [laughs] practice.  So if you stick to it, it means that you stick to the support—not, you know, tree itself.  You know, a tree, when it is strong enough, it may want some support.  But the most important one is the tree itself, not support.

I have, you know, I am one tree, and each one of you are a tree of itself.  And by itself, you should, you know, stand up.  And when one tree stand up by itself, we call that tree a buddha.  In other word, when you, you know, practice zazen in its true sense, you are really buddha.  So buddha and tree is one, in that sense.  It may be sometime we call it a tree; sometime we call it a buddha.  “Buddha” or “tree” or “you” is many names of one buddha.

When you sit, you know, you are independent from various being, and you are related to various being.  And when you have perfect composure in your practice, it means that you include everything.  You are not just you. You are whole world or whole cosmos, and you are a buddha.  So when you sit, you are ordinary man, and you are buddha. So in this sense, you are both ordinary man, ordinary man, and buddha.  So you are not just ordinary man—ordinary man.  Before you sit, you know, stick to the idea of “you” or idea of self.  That is sheer [fear?] old [?] ordinary man.  But when you sit, you are both, you know, ordinary man and buddha.  So you are not the same being.  When you sit you are not same being before you sit.  Do [laughs] you understand?  Because, when you sit, you are ordinary man and buddha.


March 16th, 1969

Sunday, March 16th, 1969


Gyokujun So-on-roshi, Suzuki-roshi's ordination and early training teacher

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday Morning, March 16, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-16

Our practice should be based on the idea of selflessness.  This selflessness is very difficult [to] understand.  If you try to be selflessness, you know, that is already selfish idea.  [Laughs.]  We don’t know what to do, what—how to cope with it.  Perhaps you may—you must have tried various way, but selflessness is not something which you can try, you know.  It—selflessness should—should be there when you do not try anything.  Selflessness is not something which you can be aware of.  But for us, we have to—it is necessary to try and to know—it is necessary to know how difficult it is.

And because it is difficult, you want some guidance or teacher.  Maybe when you have good teacher and when you are practicing with good teacher, you will be naturally not so selfish.  Why our teacher is so hard on us is because of our selfish attitude.  Whenever he see our selfish attitude he may point out—or he may be angry with it.  Usually—for an instance, you know, when I was a little boy, I was going [to] primary school at that time—grammar school, you know.  And I learned something about animal—small animal and—like, you know, some—some—some animal which live on fish[‘s] body.  When we were working in the pond to clean the water from the muddy—mud and worm in it, I, you know, picked up a small goldfish and found a small worm on the body.  So that was the worm I studied at primary school.  So I point out that worm and said:  “This is”—in Japanese—”mijinko!”  You know, “This is mijinko!”  Maybe I proudly, you know, pointed out that mijinko.  And my teacher said:  “Shut up!” [Very loudly.  Laughs, laughter.]


March 15th, 1969

Saturday, March 15th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, March 15, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-15

In your zazen, perhaps you will have many difficulties or problems.  But when you have some problem, it is necessary for you to find out—try to find out by yourself why you have problem.  Before you ask someone, it is necessary for you to try to find out why.

Usually your way of study is to master it as soon as possible and by some best way.  So before you think you may ask someone why you have some problem.  But that kind of way may be very good for your usual life, but if you want to study Zen, it doesn’t help so much.

You should always try to find out what really mean by “buddha-nature” or by “practice” or by “enlightenment.”  In this way, you will have a more subtle attitude towards everything until you understand things as it is.

If you are told something by someone, naturally you will stick to something you experienced or you understand—you understood.  The moment you think you understand something, you will stick to it.  And you will lose the full function of your nature.

So when you are seeking for something, your true nature is in full activity, as if you are, you know—when you—even know what are you seeking for—like someone who is in the dark seeking for his own pillow because he lost it.  In the dark—so you don’t see anything but you’re seeking for the pillow you lost.  At that time, your mind is in full function.  So—but if you know where the pillow is, you know, your mind is not in full function.  Your mind is acting in limited sense, you know.


March 10th, 1969

Sunday, March 9th, 1969

At Sokoji: Suzuki-roshi seated, on the right, Katagiri-roshi.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Nansen’s “Everyday Mind Is Dao

Monday Morning, March 10, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-10

(first part of the talk is Katagiri-roshi speaking which is untrascribed. The transcription below begins at 2:48 in the audio file).

… it was very, very cold.  It was November?  I don’t remember exactly.  November or—he said [?]—I told you [him], you know:

“Don’t wear so—so much clothing.  Even though we wear many clothing, you will not be so warm.  And if your practice is sincere enough, even though you do not wear so much, you will not be so cold.  If you are involved in intense practice, you know, actually you don’t feel so cold.”

And so he appeared in zendō [with] only one thin shirt [laughs, laughter].  And he practiced.  I said to him, “It may be too thin.  You have to wear little bit more ” [laughs, laughter].

But he say, “It’s all right.”  And he sits [with] just one shirt on his body.  Why I, you know, talk about his experience is because I want to talk—talk about one kōan:  the famous kōan of Nansen[1]—between Nansen and Jōshū,[2] Nansen’s disciple.  “Everyday—Everyday Mind Is Dao.[3] I think you may know that kōan.

Kōan is not something to—something to explain.  Why we talk about is to give some suggestion, you know, about how you practice zazen.  It is suggestion.  We don’t talk about what kōan means directly.  We give you just suggestion, and you, according to the introduction or suggestion, you work on kōan.  That is how we explain kōan and how you listen to kōan.

So you don’t—you must not think—if I, you know—if you remember what I said or if I—if you understand what I said, you—that is—there is no need for you to solve the kōan, you know.  So I am not trying to explain what is everyday mind or what is dao, but through this kōan—by this kōan, I want you to—I want to give you some suggestion how you practice shikantaza.


March 9th, 1969

Sunday, March 9th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, March 9, 1969

Sōkō-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-09

I am glad to see you from here [laughs].  My organ [?][1] may not be so good yet, but I am—today I’m testing, you know, just testing.  [Laughs, laughter.]  I don’t know if it works or not.  Whether it works or not, or if I speak or not, is not such a big problem for us.  Whatever happen to us, it is something which it should happen—which should happen.  So purpose of our practice [is] to have this kind of complete composure in our everyday life.

Some of Japanese member, you know, thought because I am—I am practicing always zazen, “He not—he will not be catch cold.  [Laughs.]  He will not suffer from flu.  But it was funny for him to stay in bed so long.”  [Laughs.]

But purpose of zazen is to makes—to make our—to make ourselves physically strong or to make ourselves mentally healthy or strong, maybe to make our mind healthy and body healthy.  But healthy mind is not just, you know, “healthy mind” in its usual sense, and weak body is not weak body in its usual sense.  Whether it is weak or strong, when that weakness and that strength is based on so-called-it truth or buddha-nature, that is healthy mind and healthy body.