Archive for December, 1969

December 21st, 1969, second talk

Sunday, December 21st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


December 21, 1969       

San Francisco



Everyone seeks for true happiness, but happiness cannot be true happiness if the happiness is not followed by perfect composure.  The—usually happiness does not stay long.  Happiness is mostly just very short time and it will be lost in next moment when you have it.  So, sometimes we will think rather not to have it because after happiness usually followed by sorrow and this is, I think, everyone experiences it in our everyday life.  Buddha, when he escaped—can you hear me?—when he escaped from his castle, he felt this kind of—he had this kind of happiness in his luxurious life in the castle, he at last forsake all of those, this kind of life, so we say he started his religious trip because of evanescence, because he felt evanescence of life.  That is why he started study of Buddhism.  I think we have to think about this point more.  I think everyone seeks for happiness, that is alright, but the point is what kind of—how to seek for happiness is the point.  But whether our way, whether the happiness we seek for is something which we can … it is something which is possible to have it .…  Surely there is—we have to seek his teaching more carefully.  He taught us the Four Noble Truths and first of all he taught us this world is world of suffering.  When we seek for suffering—happiness—to say this world is world of suffering is very, you know … you may be very much disappointed with your teacher.  World of suffering.  This world anyway is world of suffering, he says.  And he continues.  Why we suffer is this world is world of fantasy, everything changes.  When everything changes we seek for some permanent thing, we want everything to be permanent.  Especially when we have something good or when we see something beautiful or we want it to be always in that way.  But actually everything changes.  So that is why we suffer.  So if we seek for happiness even though we seek for happiness it is not possible to have it because we are expecting something to be always constant when everything changes.  So naturally we must have suffering.  So far, according to this teaching, we are—there is no other way for us to live in the world of suffering—that is the only way to exist in this world.


December 21st, 1969

Sunday, December 21st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi offering the kyosaku during Zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday, December 21, 1969

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-21 1st talk


Since I moved in this building,[1]  people ask me how do you feel [laughs].  But I haven’t find myself in this building.  I don’t know what I am doing here [laughs, laughter].  Everything is so unusual to me. So actually I haven’t [laughs]—not much feeling.  But I am thinking about now how to adjust myself to this building.  And first of all, what I felt seeing people, you know—seeing our students bowing in this way or cleaning our building, I found special meaning of putting—our putting hands together like this.


Wherever we are, this, you know, putting hands together is very suitable posture.[2]   You know, this is pretty universal way of expressing our sincerity, I think.  So wherever we are, if our behavior is based on this putting hand together, we will be beautiful wherever we are.  And our—we will suit to the surrounding.


As a Buddhist, I think fundamental Buddhist way is, I think, how to, you know, adjust myself—ourselves to the surrounding rather than changing our surrounding.  So when, I think, Buddhists moved in, you know—when Buddhist which was developed in Eastern culture moved in Western culture, if possible—as much as possible, without changing the furniture or building—how to adjust ourselves to the building or the culture will be the most important work for us, you know.  I think in that way now.


December 4th, 1969

Thursday, December 4th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, December 4, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-04


Our sesshin is already nearing to the end.  As I said before, this sesshin will not come back again.  So we must make best effort in our practice.  And when you want to [make] best effort in our practice, of course we have to practice zazen seriously.


But at the same time, tomorrow we will have shōsan[1]  ceremony.  And the day after tomorrow morning we will have jōdō-e.[2]   Those ceremonies should be observed as if you practice zazen.  And when you [are] in zendō, when you do something, there is some—there is rules.  Rules we have in zendō is called “pure rules.”  Pure means oneness—oneness of the rules and who observe rules.  And the students and rules should be always one.  That one student—where one student is, there should be rules.  And rules should be taken care of by all of us as if you take care of your zazen.  That is why we call it pure precepts—pure rules.  So rules we have in zendō is not some rules which is set up by someone for some purpose.


So the difference between the usual rules and our rules is [that] our rules has freedom in it.  The rules which has no freedom in it is not pure rules.  The restricted side and freedom side in our pure rules is one.  And how we take care of rules is how we take care of our practice—zazen practice.


December 3rd, 1969

Wednesday, December 3rd, 1969

Suzuki-roshi monitoring Zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, December 3, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-03


I explained briefly about bodhisattva mind.  And we have also bodhisattva practice—bodhisattva practice—we count six and sometime four [bodhisattva practices].


Of course, [1] most important one is zazen practice.  That is the most important one, maybe.  And [2] to keep precepts and [3] to—to practice almsgiving—almsgiving, to offer something or to Buddha or to people to help, and to keep precepts, and [4] to vigorously practice all those practice, and [5] endeavorance to be patient, and [6] wisdom—to have wisdom.  Those are six practice of bodhisattva.


And Dōgen-zenji might [?] count four practices:  [1] and one is dāna-prajñāpāramitā, which is to give something; and [2] to give kind words; and [3] to benefit others; and [4] last one is to be friendly with others.  Those are four bodhisattva’s practice.  I want to explain it according to Shōbōgenzō.


The “to give something” does not mean just to give something—some words or some dharma.  Those are, you know—so, it may be divided, classified into:  one is material, the other is spiritual giving.  But when we practice this, we must not have any idea of selfish—self.  So it means that something—according to the nature of something, you know, if rice or food is something to eat, you know, let them eat the food.  Let the food go to something hungry—someone who is hungry [laughs].  That is—according to him, that is almsgiving.


So, you know, without any idea of “me” or “you,” you know, to give—let the things goes where the things want to go [laughs].  That is almsgiving.  That is bodhisattva spirit.  In this way, we treat things, we practice bodhisattva way.


December 2nd, 1969

Tuesday, December 2nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Winter Sesshin Lecture No.  4



Tuesday, December 2, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-02


To accomplish something is difficult.  And, you know, the difficulty you have moment after moment, which you have to work on, will continue forever [laughs, laughter].  I thought if I say so, if I say so, I thought you know, you may laugh [laughter].  And you are, you know, entrapped [laughs].


We say—we have saying:  to—to attain enlightenment may not be so difficult, but to continue our practice is difficult.  So after all, you know, why we practice zazen is to continue our practice.  Or else, I think, our practice doesn’t make much sense.  We say we have to live on each moment, and we have to make our best in each moment.  And moment after moment, if, you know, our practice continue with pain, with difficulties, it doesn’t make much sense.  Even though you have wonderful practice moment after moment [laughs], what will become of it?  What is the purpose of life, then?


The purpose of life is not, actually, to accomplish something, but to continue our buddha way.  So to continue our buddha way forever is to accomplish our way.  “To accomplish” does not mean to reach some stage where we don’t need to work anymore.  So the most important point and most difficult thing is to continue our way and to have good successor for us who may, you know, succeed our way.  That is the meaning of the transmission.


December 1st, 1969

Monday, December 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi (on the right) as a young monk

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Winter Sesshin, Day 3, Lecture No. 3


Monday, December 1, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-01


Our way-seeking mind is buddha-mind.  And our practice is—makes sense when you practice with buddha-mind, or way-seeking mind.  But usually, when we say the way-seeking mind or dōshin—dōshin—dō is dao, and shin is mind—it also means bodhi- [partial word]—bodhisattva-mind—bodhisattva-mind:  to—not only to help ourselves but also to save or to help others.  Strong nuance of this kind is always there when we say dōshin.


Right now we recited:  “This perfect and penetrating dharma is rarely met with even [in a] hundred thousand kalpas of time.”  The moment we have right now doesn’t come back again.  I don’t know how old are you, but if this day pass, you will not have the same day.  So not only dharma you listen [to], but also your life you have right now doesn’t come back.  Even [in a] hundred thousand kalpas of time, you cannot repeat your life again.  And it is so.  So it is foolish to stick to something and ignore our life which does not come again.  We should not be regretful after many years.