Archive for January, 1970

January 31st, 1970

Saturday, January 31st, 1970

Suzuki-roshi with other priests in Japan

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 31, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-31


Our—our effort in our practice is quite different effort you make in our usual life.  This point should be very clear for you, or else, you know, you—your practice doesn’t work.


And spiritual effort is, at the same time, is very poisonous for us.  Spiritual attainment is very, you know—sometime like a—like—will result ecstasy or sometime will result arrogance.  And in this kind of, you know, spiritual arrogance or ecstasy is worse than materialistic arrogance, you know.  You can easily [be] fooled by people by talking about something spiritual—so-called-it “spiritual,” you know.  If you—”This is very spiritual thing.”  If you say so, that is already very powerful, you know.  And there is no need for you to give any evidence to it, you know.  “This is spiritual thing.”  If you practice zazen you will understand it, or else you cannot understand it.  I practiced zazen for many years, so I understand it.  But you may not understand it.  “But this is true!”  [Laughs, laughter.]


You know, this kind of, you know, danger is always with us.  So in Buddhism—Buddhist is very strict with this point.  That is why—maybe why we practice something difficult.


The usual materialistic world in our usual life—materialistic world, we have enough difficulties [laughs].  So sp- [partial word]—in spiritual world, there should be, you know, more difficulties because we have to—not only we have to make effort to make progress in our practice, but also we have to keep ourself from various pitfall [laughs]—various desire—danger.  So we have maybe much more difficulties in our spiritual effort.


January 25th, 1970

Sunday, January 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 25, 1970 

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-25


The difference between so-called-it Therāvada Buddhism and Sarvāstivādian or Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna is very important and directly, you know, concerned with our present problem.  We are supposed [laughing] to be Mahāyāna Buddhist, but I think most of us are Hīnayāna, actually.  There is not much Mahāyāna students.  Almost all of us may be Hīnayāna or sectarian Buddhists because we study Buddhism as something which is already given to us, like Hīnayāna Buddhist thought Buddha already gave us—have given us—the wonderful teaching.  So what we should do is to preserve his teaching as you like—as you put food in refrigerator [laughs].  That is Hīnayāna way.  And to study, you know, Buddhism is to take out food from refrigerator.  So wherever you want it, it is already there.  That is Hīnayāna way of understanding.


But Mahāyāna students rather interested in how to produce food from the field—from the garden.  So naturally Mahāyāna Buddhist, you know, put the emphasis on ground or garden which has nothing in it, you know, which you don’t see anything in it.  You know, if you see the garden, you don’t see anything.  But if you take care of seed, it will come out.


So we—Mahāyāna Buddhist make our effort to, you know, to see something come out from ground.  And joy of the Mahāyāna Buddhist is joy of take care of the garden.  That is Mahāyāna Buddhist.  So we—Mahāyāna Buddhist—that is why Mahāyāna Buddhist, you know, put emphasis on emptiness.  Emptiness is—is a garden where you cannot see anything.  But it is, actually, mother of everything from which, you know, everything will come out.


January 18th, 1970

Sunday, January 18th, 1970

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 18, 1970 

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-18

In Japan now it is a season of typhoon.  And recently, on the 16th, a typhoon arrived at San Francisco from Japan [laughs, laughter].  And now typhoon has left San Francisco to Tassajara [laughs, laughter].  Now it is the time when we have clear, blue sky again.  Typhoon was so strong that I stayed in bed for two, three days [laughs, laughter].  I think you are also stayed in bed [laughs, laughter].


Each time some—at first, I came to America alone.  And two years after, my wife came.  And I had to share some difficulty we had—I had when I arrived San Francisco and culturally where I experienced cultural shock, you know [laughs].  And I had to share the same experience with my wife again, two years after.  Whenever someone come from Japan, I have to share, you know, the excitement and difficulties they have, you know.  That is not so easy [laughs]—always to have same experience and renew the difficulties and excitement again.


When Dōgen-zenji went to China as a Japanese priest—when you read Hōkyō-ki,[1]  I think you will have some different understanding [that] I have now—which we have now—I have now.  When he went Tendō monastery, which was a famous big monastery, he was given a seat in monastery.  Maybe, as he was a Japanese, he—his seat was last seat of the zendō.  And he immediately, you know, express the complaint [laughs] to the monastery, you know:  “I am a quite old Zen Buddhist.”  And in Japan and in China and everywhere, the rule is to decide the seat by the age—by the age as a Buddhist—as he joined our order.  “So I cannot be the last one.  I am a quite old Buddhist.  I was ordained when I was thirteen year old.  So I cannot be the last one.”


January 11th, 1970

Sunday, January 11th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

ORDINATION CEREMONY:  Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley

Sunday, January 11, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-11


We have ordination ceremony for Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley after this lecture—immediately after this lecture.  I wanted to talk about ordination ceremony, but I think it is pretty difficult to explain it, you know, because even—because you have no idea of, you know, Buddhist priesthood.  And what you have in your mind is priest in America, you know, so [laughs] I have no word to communicate.


[Hum on tape for several minutes.  Then Suzuki-rōshi resumes.]


… inanimate and animate beings.  So everything has its own position in Buddha’s—in Budd- [partial word]—as a Buddhist.  That is fundamental teaching of Buddhism, and that is the structure of the teaching.


So we cannot say “priest is highest.”  Or “animal is lowest.”  Tentatively, as we are, you know, human being, or as we are teacher or disciples, but we are all friends of—of Buddhist.  We are all Buddhist.  Tentatively, we take some responsibility to express Buddha’s teaching.  But each one of us—because each one of us has one’s own position and responsibility.  So the value of each one is the same.  That is fundamental, you know, structure of sangha.


January 4th, 1970

Sunday, January 4th, 1970

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 4, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-04


In our zazen practice, we stop our thinking and we must be free from our emotional activity too.  We don’t say there is no emotional activity, but we should be free from it.  We don’t say we have no thinking mind, but we should not be—our activity, our life activity should not be limited by our thinking mind.  In short, I think we can say [we trust ourselves completely, without thinking,][1]  without feeling anything, we—without discriminating good and bad, without saying right or wrong, we should trust our life activity.  Because we respect ourselves, because we trust completely, put faith in our life, we do not think, we do not discriminate, and we sit.  That is, you know, our practice.


Tentatively, this morning, my version of our practice is like this because I want to extend this kind of understanding to our everyday life.  Between —human relationship, for an instance, should be based on this kind of understanding.  If our love between us is not based on this kind of understanding, respect, and complete trust, we will not have completely peaceful life.


And relationship between ourselves and nature should be like this.  We should respect everything, especially something which we are related directly.  This morning when we were bowing, you know, in zendō, we heard big noise here, you know, because everyone fling chair [makes noise by moving a chair along the floor] like this, you know [laughs].  I thought this isn’t—may not be the way how we should treat chairs [laughs]—not only because it may cause disturbance to the people who are bowing in the zendō, but also fundamentally this will not be the way to—how we should treat things.