Archive for November, 1969

November 30th, 1969

Sunday, November 30th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Winter Sesshin Lecture No.  2


Sunday, November 30, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-30


I think nowadays way-seeking mind is understood like something to do good in its—with a pure motivation—not for sake of success or not for sake of fame, but to purify our mind and to be a good Buddhist.  That is way-seeking mind.


So, accordingly, to do something good is, in its wide sense, the way-seeking mind:  for an instance, to do something which people do not like to do:  the cleaning restrooms, or pick up garbages, or to save small animals, or to help sick people.  Those are things which a man of way-seeking mind will do.  And with this spirit, we practice zazen.  Zazen practice is just for ourselves—just for oneself.  And when we do it completely, for himself—for ourselves, the practice will be, at the same time, the practice of saving others in its true sense.


To “establish ourselves on ourselves” is to encourage people to establish themselves on themselves without asking some other’s help.  That is something what a man of way-seeking mind will do.  So when you have way-seeking mind in your practice, you can practice your way in its true sense.


Even though you do something which people may say [is] good, if you do not do it with pure spirit, you don’t feel so good, you know.  You—you will create something disagreeable for yourselves.  Only when you do it with pure mind, you will be satis- [partial word]—you will fi- [partial word]—you will have joy of practice, and you will appreciate the great mind, and you will be—your practice will be the practice of kindness, too.


November 29th, 1969

Saturday, November 29th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi appears to be giving some words at a ceremony

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Winter Sesshin, Lecture No.  1


Saturday, November 29, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-29


… mind.[1]  Without this way-seeking mind, our practice does not work.  We say “just to sit,” or shikantaza.  Only when we have a strong way-seeking mind, just to sit make sense.  Without this mind, just to sit means maybe—will mean just to sit mechanically and formally.  The way-seeking mind—when way-seeking mind vitalize the form you have in zazen may be actualized and make sense.


People say “form” or “spirit”—but to—actually, you know, maybe if you do something without intellectual understanding, without knowing why you do it, you know, that is, you know, formal practice.  We—usually we understand in this way without knowing what it is, you know—just to imitate, or just to do something as others do, or in the way you are told to do is the formal practice.


And knowing what is the actual reason, maybe, and practice something is more spiritual way.  But actually, you know, Zen is not something which you can understand it.  Intellectual understanding cannot reach the true understanding of Zen.  So only way is by actual practice to find out the meaning of it is our way because intellectual understanding does not make much sense.  If you have no way-seeking mind, your, you know—even though the only way to—only approach to the enlightenment is practice, but practice without way-seeking mind is dead practice.


That is why we put emphasis on way-seeking mind, because intellectual understanding does not work.  If, you know, intellectual understanding is proper approach to the enlightenment, then there will not be—no need to put emphasis on way-seeking mind.  But intellectual understanding—we do not, you know, take intellectual approach, but actual—by actual practice, we find the true approach to the enlightenment.  But without way-seeking mind, you know, the practice cannot be actual practice because of the lack of the spirit.


November 25th, 1969

Tuesday, November 25th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Evening Lecture

November 25, 1969

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-25

[Katagiri-rōshi spoke before Suzuki-rōshi.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  I am very happy to be with you.  I am rather tired, and pinch hitter[1]  hit a home run [laughs, laughter].  So maybe at the end of the ninth inning.  So game was [1-2 words unclear], and we won.  So [laughs, laughter] I am sorry I have no chance to, you know, to play for this evening.


I think it is almost one year since I caught Hong Kong or Asian flu.  Right now, in spite of heavy work, I feel very good.  So I think I am almost all right if I have a cup of water when I give you lecture [laughter].  I think I’m quite all right.


But, as I said, we won the game, so [laughs] only thing we should do is go home and go to your bed and have a nice sleep [laughs, laughter].


Thank you very much.  [Laughter.]


Source:  Original City Center tape transcribed by Diana Bartle (10/23/00) and checked by Bill Redican (10/23/00).

 [1]  Earlier, Katagiri-rōshi referred to himself as a “pinch hitter” for Suzuki-rōshi until the latter arrived.

November 22nd, 1969

Saturday, November 22nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



November 22, 1969

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-22

I am so grateful with you to have chance to practice zazen in this, maybe, magnificent [laughs] building.  I think we must be very grateful for Buddha and our successive patriarchs.


Can you hear me?  Can you hear me?


I don’t think I have much time to speak, but first of all, I want to express my gratitude and—and my confidence or my—I want to express my confidence in practicing with you.  Whether we will be successful or not is, for me, out of question.  I—if we [are] bothered by that kind of idea, we cannot do anything because our practice is always concentrated on present moment.  If our practice in this moment is good, then next moment we will have good practice.  And in this way, if we continue our practice, naturally we will have good practice forever.  That is, as you know, our confidence in our practice.


Our group is now pretty many.  We have many students now.  When Hyakujō-zenji[1]—Hyakujō—established monastic life in China, many people came to monastery and wanted to practice with him.  So Hyakujō-zenji set up Hyakujō ShingiHyakujō Shingi means—I—because Hyakujō established the rules of monastery, we call it—shingi is monastic—”pure rules.”  And because he established, for the first time for the Zen monk, the “pure precepts” or “pure rules.”  We call it Hyakujō Shingi.


November 16th, 1969

Sunday, November 16th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi performing a ceremony at the Pagoda in Japan-town (San Francisco)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday Morning, November 16, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-16

This morning, I want to talk about our practice.


And here in America, something special is happening:  that is our group.  Our students cannot be categorized in the same way we define Zen student—Zen Buddhist in Japan, because you are not—you are not priest and you are not complete—completely layman.  I understand it this way.


That, you know, you are not priest is easy to understand, but that you are not completely layman is—I think you are special, you know, people in our society.  [Laughs.]  Not hippie.  [Laughs.]  But something like that.  [Laughs, laughter.]  So I don’t know what to say.


So—that is, I think you want some special practice, you know:  not exactly priest practice, not exactly layman’s practice.  And—but we are on the way to have special, you know—to have some different way of life for us.  That is our Zen community, I think—not community, but our group.  And—and so we have to have some—some appropriate practice for—for us.


Before I talk about our special way of practice, I think it is better to understand—better to understand what is original—what is Dōgen’s practice.  He says, “Some may,” you know, “attain enlightenment.  Some may not,” he says.  This is, you know, the point I am very much interested in.  “Some may attain enlightenment and some may not,” what mean—which means although we practice same way, same fundamental practice, but some may attain enlightenment and some may not.  It means that even though we do not have enlightenment experience, you know—experience, as long as we sit in proper way, proper right understanding of practice, that is Zen.  The main point is to have right understanding of practice and practice our way seriously.  And what is important point in understanding of our practice is—we say “big mind,” or “small mind,” or “buddha-mind,” but that kind of, you know, words means something—something we cannot—something we should not try to understand in term of experience.


November 13th, 1969

Thursday, November 13th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi 

Thursday Evening, November 13, 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-13 part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-13 part 2

Tonight I am supposed to explain “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”  In—last night, we came to the point to make to clarify especially “emptiness is form,” which is rather difficult to make it clear.  But actually, form is so-to-say “big mind”—no, emptiness is “big mind.”  And big mind as sky, which contains—which doesn’t—air or sky, empty sky.  But—”empty sky,” we say, but everything grow—when plants and everything grow into the sky, sky doesn’t care, you know.  And the sky is always ready to accept things in it.


And—but our mind is not—should be like a sky, you know, our big mind.  We should accept things as it is, and we should not discriminate things, as the sky doesn’t discriminate things in which many ex- [partial word]—in which many things exist.  Various being is quite free in the big sky.  But our mind is not so.  “I like this.  I don’t like this.  This is beautiful.  But this is not so beautiful.  I like him, but I don’t like him.  I like this part of him, but the other part is not so good.”  In this way, our small mind always discriminate things and sometime reject things.  That is small mind.  So small—in the realm of the small mind there are many objects, there are many beings, and that beings exist as if they have self-nature, good nature or bad nature—a beautiful nature or ugly mean nature.


But Mahāyāna—in this way, even though Theravādan teaching accept the teaching of selflessness, their way is more like small-mind way—small-minded way because they acknowledge things, various being which has—which is not empty.  Dharma[1]—when we say dharma, you know, it include our sense organs and mind.  So we have six—five sense organs and mind.  That is six.  And sense object, object of thinking and objects of our sense organs.  And the world which sense organ and sense objects create—get [?] with and create some world—world of sight, world of sound, world of taste, world of feeling.  In this way, each sense organs has world, its—their own world.


November 11th, 1969

Tuesday, November 11th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, November 11, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-11 part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-11 part 2

Suzuki-rōshi:  If you—if you have some question, I am happy to answer for the question.  And in that way, if necessary, I will refer to the Lotus Sūtra.  Hai.


Student A:  What is “no outflows” mean in the Lotus Sūtra?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hmm?  No?


Student A:  “No outflows.”


Suzuki-rōshi:  No outflows.  “No outflows” means, you know, by—because our practice is not, you know, sincere or not complete, there are many leakage [laughs] in your life and practice.  That [“no outflows”] is the opposite of to have many leakage.  It means mostly desires, you know:  to let your desire, you know, as it goes this way, that way.  That is leakage.  And to control our desires [is] like to build a big leather [?] ball [?] without any leakage.  That is “no outflow.”  It is more, you know, more arhat kind [of] practice:  very, maybe, negative practice.  Some other questions?  Hai.


Student B:  In the Lotus Sūtra they say the Buddha-seed arises from conditions.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Buddha’s what?


Student B:  The Buddha-seed—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Seed.  Uh-huh.


Student B:  —arises from conditions.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student B:  Do you know what that means—what they mean there?


Suzuki-rōshi:  What—conditions—seed—if you, you know, sew a seed, seed will be the cause of—because of the seed, of course, plants comes out.  And it will have fruits—flower or fruits or branches.  But without aid of rain or manure it will not, you know, grow.  It means, you know, aid or things, you know, result by seed and by aid of something.  I think you—your culture put more emphasis on aid.  If aid is good, you know, result will be—you have good fruits.  And how to improve the social condition is the most important point in your culture.  But some other culture put emphasis on seed more, maybe like Communism.


November 9th, 1969 – Interview

Sunday, November 9th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, November 9, 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-09 part 1

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-09 part 2

[Tape starts with background group chatter.  Then the mike is set up, and more group chatter follows.  Then Peter Schneider asks Suzuki-rōshi a question.]


Peter Schneider:  I would like to ask Rōshi a question for the Wind Bell that I was going to type—tape just with him, but I think it’s a—would interest you, so—.  It will appear in the next Wind Bell.[1]   And the question is to have Rōshi talk about Mrs. [Miss] Ransom.


Suzuki-rōshi:  No.  [Laughter.]  I must tell you she was my old, old girlfriend [loud laughter].


Peter Schneider:  I’ll have some water.  [Loud laughter.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Almost, but not quite [laughter].  When I was young, even from a boy, I couldn’t [wasn’t] satisfied with Buddhist life, you know, because of many reasons.  So I wanted to—to be a good teacher when I was very young, and I wanted to [1-2 words unclear] people who—who did not priest—did not respect priests so much.  But I—at that time, my ambition may be directed to wrong direction [?].


But anyway, I made up my mind to leave my home and to study to practice under strict teacher.  So I went to my master’s temple.  And my master [Gyokujun So-on] was a disciple of my father.[2]   And my father, when he was young, [was] very strict with his disciples.  And my master was one of the—his—my father’s disciple who [was] raised up in very, very strict way.  And he was—my master was always talking about my father’s strictness with him.  And I—that was very, you know—that was hardest situation for me to accept, you know.  My master almost blaming of my father.  “Your father,” [tapping repeatedly] you know, “raised me in this way.”  [Laughs.]  That was very hard to—to listen to.  Anyway, this is not what I want to talk [about].  But—


November 7th, 1969

Friday, November 7th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi in the Buddha hall at City Center with Katagiri-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


[Third Lotus Sūtra Series]

Friday Evening, November 7, 1969

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-07 part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-07 part 2

In this sūtra in Chapter II, “Skillful Means,” he—he is correcting our misunderstanding about the vehicle of shrāvakas and vehicle of pratyekas.  You know, why we call pratyeka vehicle or shrāvaka‘s vehicle “Small Vehicle” is because their understanding is not right.  When you understand those teaching is the—just skillful means of Buddha, to suggest the only one Great Vehicle, which is the perfect teaching—so-called-it perfect teaching or teaching which Buddha had in his own mind before he, you know, explain it, that is the teaching which is complete.  And this is—development of the Buddhist thought is always concentrated on this point:  how to get approach to the perfect teaching.  The Mahāyāna Buddhist tried to treat the Buddha’s teaching which was told by him already, so that we can understand what he meant actually.  But as Zen student says, all those teaching are the finger to point at the moon.  And what will be the perfect teaching was the problem which we have had since Buddha.


May be better to explain it more complete way.  Although it is difficult to explain it, so accordingly for you it may be difficult to [laughs] understand what I say.  But—not only teaching but also this is the understanding of life and understanding of reality.  When you think there is something—in this chapter from Page 25[1]  is referring to this point.  When, you know, they think this is the final teaching, or when they think, “I understood completely what Buddha said,” or when they think they attained final stage, which is for arhat—the arharship, then that is not final stage because—just because he thinks this is final stage.  If he doesn’t think in that way, and if he [is] continuously striving for the final stage, he—he is said to be a good disciple of Buddha.  But when he said—when he say, “I attained arharship,” or when they think this is the complete teaching, you know—when you listen to four noble truths or eight holy paths, then that is already mistake.


And this is also true with Mahāyāna Buddhist.  Mahāyāna Buddhist thinks, you know, the—all the teaching is, in one word, emptiness.  A teaching of emptiness is the true teaching.  But if you think in that way, that is also wrong.  Then what is the real teaching is—real teaching is teaching which could be, you know, verbal teaching, and which could be teaching of emptiness, and which is not just verbal teaching, and which is not just teaching of emptiness.  That is real teaching [laughs].  You know, I—you—you already studied, “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form, and form is form, and emptiness is emptiness.”  That is real teaching.