Archive for July, 1969

July 28th, 1969

Monday, July 28th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Monday, July 28, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-28


[1]… mind.  That is the purpose of counting.  Not just count, you know.


Student A:  But, like, in daily life, are we to count when we are walking, or would you just walk?


Suzuki-rōshi:  In daily life if you walk as a practice of Zen, you know, you, you know, you steady [steadily] walk step-by-step like you count your breathing.  Hai.


Student B:  Rōshi, I found in the past three months at Tassajara that I’ve uncovered tremendous anger in myself from time to time—


Suzuki-rōshi::  Uh-huh.


Student B:  —with no fixed object, just great force of anger.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student B:  Can you tell me what the root of that is and how to deal with it—that anger?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Maybe your confidence is not strong enough.  That is why you become angry.  You see, you have, you know—I think most people, you know, try to solve psychological—special conditions by psychology, you know, by knowing why, you know, and by knowing how to treat it, you know, like a mother treat their children, you know.  But our way is a little bit different from that.  Actually, you know, for an instance, I am very impatient, you know.  But sometime I sh- [partial word]—I may—I shall be most patient person.  Why is it?  [Laughs]  Same person, you know, sometime became—become very patient, and sometime very impatient.  When I think I should not be angry, I am never angry.  [Laughs.]


July 26th, 1969

Saturday, July 26th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, July 26, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-26


A monk asked Tōzan—Zen Master Tōzan[1]—can you hear me?—


“It is so hot,” you know.  “How is it possible to go somewhere where it is not hot?”[2]


Tōzan asked to the monk:  “Why don’t you go,” you know, “somewhere it is not so hot?”


And Tōzan said—Tōzan asked him—told him, “Why don’t you go somewhere it is not so hot?”


“But wherever I go, when it is hot, it is hot,” he said—the monk said.


Tōzan answered the question and said:  “When it is hot, you should kill the hot; when it is cold, you should kill the cold.”


To kill cold or hot—it—I don’t know how you understand it.  Maybe for beginner it is pretty hard to sit when your legs are painful.  I think it is more difficult for the—for someone to sit with painful legs in hot weather.  But how you, you know, practice zazen in such a difficulty—with such difficulty, is something you should understand.


Whenever I had some pain in my legs I used to think about this kōan, and I try—try not to move, even though my legs are painful.  When it is hot, I—when I went to tangaryō—entered tangaryō—it was summertime.[3]   So it is very hard for me to sit, although I practiced zazen before I go to Eihei-ji monastery.  But still it was pretty hard to sit all day long in crossed-legged position.  When it is very painful and when I felt very hot, you know, the big cryptomeria[4]  tree started to swing [laughs].  That is—it is not the big tree that started to swing.  My mind started to swing this way [probably gestures].  All the big trees started—started to move like this.  And I found out that I didn’t—I couldn’t allowed to see my watch in tangaryō, but I—I thought in every—in ten—every ten minutes, you know, peak of the pain comes [laughs], you know, like this.  And—and the cryptomeria trees start to move like this.


July 20th, 1969

Sunday, July 20th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, July 20, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-20

If you go to some library you will see many books.  And those—in those books, we will find out our achievement, our human knowledge, which is almost impossible to study out.  And now we are going to arrive to the moon.[1]   And [laughs] actually I don’t know anything about, you know, how they reach to the moon and what kind of feeling they may have when they arrive at the moon.  To me it is not so interesting a thing.


When I reflect on myself, especially when I feel, on this occasion, I have to speak about the moon trip [laughs, laughter], I have no time to study about those things.  So if I try to speak about it, it is nothing but to tell you how foolish I am, you know.  That is what I can do, you know.  If I talk about the moon trip you may think, “Ah, he is so ignorant about [laughs, laughter] the moon trip.”  And I think I may see many people today or tomorrow to speak about the moon trip as if he knows everything about it [laughs].  When I hear them speak about the moon trip, you know, how I feel is—maybe because I don’t know or he has—he is interested, actually really interested in the moon trip, you know.  And because I know that, I may not respect him so much.


The first—even the first one who may arrive at the moon—I don’t think, you know, if he is very much proud of his achievement.  How I feel is I cannot think he is a great hero.  I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t feel he is a great hero.  But on television, you know, he may be, you know, for some time, a great hero.  At least he will be treated like a great hero.


July 15th, 1969

Tuesday, July 15th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 15, 1969

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 1

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 2

Again, I have nothing in my mind [laughs, laughter].  I think I want you to hit my head, you know, like this, and try what kind of sound I make—my head make—makes.  Would you hit my, you know, head like this?  If possible, you know, hit my head with long, long talk, maybe one hour long.  It will be a great help.  Do you have some long, long stick to hit my bell?  If you have some long stick—longer the better.  Do you have some question?  Long, long question [laughter].  No question?  Some question?  Hai.


Student A:  [4-6 words unclear] on shikantaza?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Shikantaza?  Oh.  Practice of shikantaza or—?  We say there is no such thing like shikantaza, you know, actually.  But in comparison to kōan practice, we—because we don’t use, you know, kōan, people say that is shikantaza. 


Shikan means, you know, to be involved in zazen completely.  That is shikan.  Taza is zazen.  So to—if you practice our way, even without any gaining idea, or even without any idea of enlightenment, that is shikantaza.  So sometime it may be actually—kōan practice may be also shikantaza.  When you are completely involved in kōan practice, that is actually shikantaza.


And there is—there may be various misunderstanding about shikantaza.  If you think shikantaza is just to sit, you know, without making not much effort, you know:  just sit, like this, is shikantaza.  And we say, when, you know—sometime we say when some im- [partial word]—you have some image, you know, let it come and let it go away.  That is shikantaza, we say.  It looks like, you know, if you just sit with some idea in my mind, or without some idea in my—in our mind—if you just sit, you know, that is shikantaza.  But that is not actually shikantaza.


July 11th, 1969

Friday, July 11th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Given During Her Funeral Ceremony

Friday, July 11, 1969

Soko-ji, San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-11


Go, my disciple Sesshin Baiho [?].[1]


You have completed your practice for this life and acquired genuine warm heart and pure and undefiled buddha-mind, and joined our sangha.  All that you have done in this life and in the past life became meaningful in the light of the buddha-mind, which was found so clearly within yourself, as your own.


Because of your complete practice, your mind has transcended far beyond your physical sickness, and it has been taking full care of your sickness like a nurse.


Dōgen-zenji, the founder of our sect, says buddha-mind differentiates itself into the three minds:  the joyful mind, the kind mind, and the magnanimous mind.


The joyful mind, he says, is the joyful frame of mind.  A mind of joyful mind—a man of joyful mind is contented with his lot.  Even in adversity, he will see bright light.  He finds the Buddha’s place in different circumstances, easy and difficult.  He feels pleasure even in painful condition, and rejoices.  For us—for all who have this joy of buddha-mind, the world of birth and death is the world of nirvāna.


July 9th, 1969

Wednesday, July 9th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi in a gathering including Katagiri-roshi, Maezumi-roshi & Kobun Chino-roshi.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday, July 9, 1969



 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-09

In our previous lectures we have studied the relationship between—relationship between real and seeming, or emptiness and forms.  [By] “real” we mean something beyond our thinking.  This is, you know,—there is no way to—whatever, you know, we say about it, it is the expre- [partial word]—just suggestion, you know, not real or emptiness itself.  It is something beyond our thinking mind, so we call it “emptiness.”


It is not actually something which we can understand in term of good or bad, real or not real.  And seeming and all—whatever it is—all what we say, you know, everything what we say or what we see is forms.  And we actually live in the world of forms and color, you know.  And we don’t know, actually, what is emptiness itself.  Even—we call it “emptiness,” you know, there is some rules, you know, how emptiness takes various form.  So according to some rules, emptiness take its form and color.  And we are explaining about the relationship between emptiness and form which we can see.


Right now we have been mostly discussing rather philosophical way, but tonight may be better to explain it more psychological way or physical way.  According to Buddhist psychology, you know, of course, we have five senses, and thinking mind, and to—some faculty to lead our thinking mind in false, you know—to make our thinking mind mistake, you know.  That kind of faculty we have.  And there is also some faculty to point out the mistake of the seventh mind, you know.  Five senses and thinking mind, that is six.  Seventh one is, you know, to make our mind made—make mistake.  That is the sixth one—the seventh [corrects self] one.  That is the mind which let our thinking mind stick to something, you know.  There is [laughs] no need to stick to something, you know, actually.  But seventh mind, you know, make sixth mind to stick to something.


July 8th, 1969

Tuesday, July 8th, 1969

8thShunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday, July 8, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-08


Suzuki-rōshi:  Tonight I have nothing special which I want to talk [about].  Of course, there may be many things which I must talk [about], but I cannot think of anything right now.  And I don’t know what kind of thing is to be told.  Maybe—so may be better to answer your question.  If you have some question please ask me.  And at first I will—I want you to make several questions, and I will try to answer for it.  Do you have some questions?  Hai.


Student A:  Will you speak of purity and worship?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Purity?  Uh-huh.  And worship.  Some other questions too?


Student B:  Could you speak of shikantaza?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student C:  You said once that when someone’s been enlightened it’s just so much “candy.”  [SR laughs.]  Could you explain that?


Suzuki-rōshi:  [Laughs.]  Oh.


Student D:  With—with practice it seems that if I’m just following the natural flow, but if my practice changes often, sometimes watching breathing, sometimes just sitting, really involved in whatever I am doing, it just seems sort of unnatural just to try to stick with one particular practice like [1–2 words unclear] or watching breathing.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Okay, that’s maybe enough [laughs].   Most of your question is—excuse me, will you—


Student E:  Could you—could you speak on the practice of not-thinking or no thought during zazen?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.  Mostly, you know, the—your questions may be about practice, shikantaza, or your question is worship and purity of mind.  And purity of mind is also something—the idea of purity of mind is how we practice shikantaza.  Or “Enlightenment is just candy.”  That statement is rather [laughs], you know, maybe blasphemous or something like that.  Or to attach to one practice is—looks like unnatural, you know.


July 3rd, 1969

Thursday, July 3rd, 1969

Suzuki-roshi officiating at a priest oridnation ceremony at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, July 3, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-03


I have explained the poem about “Emptiness is form,” or shōchūhen.[1]   Shō is reality and hen is “form” or “seeming” [?].  Shōchūhen.  And the next one is henchūshō,[2]  the opposite.  And chū means, you know—chū or soku—means some activity in which—not activity—some—not relationship, but something in which everything appears—every event, you know, appears.  What will it be [laughs]?  Something in which, you know, appears.  Maybe say a little bit more [laughs]:  something in which everything appears—something in which always appears—that is the present moment, right now.  You know, right now, you know, things happen, not in past or present.  So practice should be the practice of “right now.”  That is chū or soku.


When we, you know, catch things, you know—how you catch it, you know?  You cannot—you cannot catch past or future, you know.  You can catch just present moment, right now.  If you want to catch someone, you know, you—you should catch him right now, not past or not in future.


So if you want to practice zazen, you know, you should practice it right now.  That is chū.  Shōchūhen or henchūshō.  Or Shiki soku ze ku,[3]  you know.  Ku soku ze shiki [4]  is, you know—is—means “right now

there is being,” you know.


July 1st, 1969

Tuesday, July 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 1, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-01

[the audio only includes half of the lecture – I will look into finding the rest of this talk – Korin 8/5/2011]

It is rather difficult for us to figure out why we started to practice zazen.  It is rather difficult, and I think it may be same for you.  But the more you think why you started zazen practice, the more you will find out how deep it is—the meaning you started zazen practice.  And once you start our practice, even though your determination is not so strong, or you don’t feel your determination is not so strong, but you will find out how strong the determination has been.


It is rather difficult, you know.  You think—when you are here, you think sometimes or, you know, once in a while it may be better to give up [laughs].  But actually to give up our study or practice is not so easy.  But you have some, you know—when you—your determination—you think your determination is not so strong—when you think in that way, your—you will not make much—much progress.  So anyway once you study—start to study zazen, it’s better for you to have strong, you know, determination not to give up our study or our practice.  That is why we Sōtō students put emphasis on way-seeking mind or determination to practice our way forever.  And trust in our true nature, who—which is always seeking for our true nature.  You know, we say, “True nature is seeking for true nature.”  You know, true—because we have true nature, so naturally we seek for [it].  It is quite natural for us to seek for true nature.  So, “Buddha seek for buddha,” we say.


Anyway, you know, even though—once you study—start to practice zazen, even though you stop it, or you leave Tassajara, or Zen Center, I am sure you will come back [laughs, laughter].  I am quite sure about that.  But it is rather, you know, waste of time.  So once you st- [partial word]—anyway, you are caught [laughs, laughter] by buddha-nature which you have, you know.  So it is better to continue it until you have complete freedom even from sitting zazen.  That is much better.


July, 1969

Tuesday, July 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-Roshi

July 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-00 




In—in America, between Rinzai Zen and Sōtō Zen there—there must be some clear understanding of—of the two, or relationship of the two.  Dōgen-zenji’s, you know, problem of, or kōan was, “If we have buddha-nature,” you know, “why we should practice zazen?”  That was his, you know—that is why he went to China.  All—all—in all the scriptures say that everyone has buddha-nature.  If so, why we should practice zazen?


And Sōtō more put emphasis on the statement that we have buddha-nature.  And Rinzai put emphasis on practice to attain enlightenment, you know.  If we have buddha-nature, like Sōtō student says, why is it necessary [laughs] to attain enlightenment?  And usually, you know, people understand that “we have buddha-nature” means that potentially we have buddha-nature.  We have buddha-nature within ourselves, but that nature—buddha-nature is covered by many things:  many evil desires.  Or because of the bad karma we cannot, you know, reveal—we cannot realize buddha-nature.  But if we practice zazen, or if we get rid of evil nature, the buddha-nature, which is innate nature, will reveal itself.  Usually people understand in that way.  But, as the Sixth Patriarch said, that is annihilism [nihilism?].  But anyway, people understand in that way to explain why we must practice zazen.


But this understanding is not true understanding, even according to usual understanding of sūtra.  There are many, you know—we try to understand Buddhism just our ordinal [ordinary] way of thinking—ordinal [ordinary way].  That is maybe why we cannot understand what—why Dōgen has to go to China to understand that point.  If he understand in that way, you know, it is—for him it was not—there was no need for him to go to China.  You know, if—by practice, by our practice, by stopping all sort of evil desires, and we will attain enlightenment, and we will have no trouble, you know, and our buddha-nature reveal itself because there is no evil desires which covers our innate nature.  If he understand in that way, there was no need for him to go to China.