Archive for February, 1970

February 28th, 1970

Saturday, February 28th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Last Lecture of Sesshin:  PRACTICE TO BE LIKE A STONE

Saturday, February 28, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-28


Before we sit, six-day sesshin was too long.  But after we completed, it was too short [laughs, laughter].  I think you feel, you know, quite different feeling.  For an instance, when you walk, you know, you have quite different feeling.  You feel as if you—your legs have become shorter [laughs, laughter], and your legs stick to floor, you know, and you feel very heavy [laughs] in your walking.  It should be, you know, great joy for you, you know, when you completed such a long torch,[1]  you know.  But, you know, it is strange, you know, not to have so much joy, you know.  I think that is because you have more composure in your feeling.  And this is, I think, important.


Zen student is not, you know, so expressive, you know.  Mostly they keep silent.  They do not walk so fast.  They don’t act so actively, you know.  You know, they have some—something, you know—something different, anyway.  Especially when you sit for so long time, you yourself feel you changed a lot.  You feel, you know, it is difficult even to smile [laughs]—even to say something, you know.  That will be the feeling you have.  And if you continue your practice, you will be more and more so.  And even though you will not change into a strong buddha [laughs, laughter], a great change will happen to you, you know, and you will be someone which you didn’t like at all.  “I don’t want to be like this.”  [Laughs.]  But although this kind of experience is not the experience you wanted to have, but this is the experience anyway you will have through [laughs, laughter] zazen.


But there is—there is no need for you to worry, you know, because this is the way, you know, upwards, and soon you will find out the way downwards, and you will find yourself in the city again as a normal person.  So there is nothing to worry, but in zendō it is necessary for us to have this kind of experience through practice.


February 25th, 1970

Wednesday, February 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture No. 3:


Wednesday, February 25, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-25


Yesterday I talked about how to, maybe—two ways of practice:  one is zazen practice under the guidance of the right teacher, and the other is how to extend our practice in our everyday life.  And the—it—our teaching mostly—especially Mahāyāna Buddhist teachings—mostly directed how to extend our practice to our everyday practice.


The teaching of emptiness or teaching of interdependency—those teaching are to explain how, you know, from our practice which is non-dualistic—to be extended dualistic everyday life.  And that was what I told you last—yesterday.


So in our practice, you know, our practice is not the practice to attain something, you know, but to start our practice from the beginning, jump—jumping into the non-dualistic pure practice.  That is our practice.  [Sounds like tape was stopped here and then started again.]  Without, you know, realizing there is nothing to depend on and even ourselves—our physical body is transient, so we cannot depend upon ourselves physically and mentally.


And things exist looks like permanent, but it is not so.  It looks like existent, but it is nonexistent, and that is true.  With this understanding, we devote ourselves completely in our practice.  That is our practice.  Then your question may be what kind of effort, you know, you should make to practice that kind of practice of non-attainment [laughs].  That will be, you know, your, you know, question.


February 23, 1970

Monday, February 23rd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi 

Sesshin Lecture No. 1: 



Monday, February 23, 1970 

San Francisco 

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-23


In this sesshin I suggested to practice shikantaza.  For—anyway for beginner, you know, it doesn’t make much difference [laughs].  I am sorry to say so, but shikantaza or counting breathing—it doesn’t make much sense.  But anyway, you know, to have strong determination to sit, you know, for seven—six days is enough, you know.  If you have that much conviction in your practice I think that is pretty good.


So anyway, those who just started practice zazen, don’t give up, and [laughs] stay six days.  And it is also good to practice counting breathing, you know, whether you are counting, you know, like you count something, you know—1, 2, 3, 4—that is also good.  But I want to give you some fundamental understanding of teaching of Buddhism.


Zazen practice, our zazen practice is based on—can you hear me?—based on the teaching of shūnyatā or emptiness.  If you do not have a thorough understanding of emptiness, even emptiness intellectually, I don’t think you can practice our way in its true sense.


February 22, 1970

Sunday, February 22nd, 1970

Suuzki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, February 22, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-22


I think most of you participate one-week sesshin from tomorrow.[1]  So far, we have been practicing counting breathing or following breathing.  But maybe tomorrow—from tomorrow, in one-week sesshin, we will, you know, practice shikantaza.


I want to explain, you know, what is shikantaza.  Shikantaza is, as you know—excuse me—just to sit, you know.  We say “shikantaza.”  Just to sit.  But there is—if you, you know, it is not proper or it is not enough to say “just to sit.”  For an instance, you know, everything is just there, you know.  Things are just where they are.  But that is not enough.  If we say just things are just where they are, the relationship between things is ignored.  When we think about the relationship between things, we will reach the idea of one whole being, you know.


We say “things,” but actually things are already some divided materialistic and idealistic being.  So before we have—when we have idea of things, you know, we actually have the idea of one whole being.  And one whole being exist in the state of divided being.  That is actually how things exist.


And things are incessantly, you know, changing.  So, you know, time span—things is not just things as they are.  It is changing as a one whole being.  This point is—should be understood when we practice zazen.  So Dōgen-zenji says, “If your practice does not include everything, that is not right practice.”  That is why we, you know, bow to Buddha and why we, you know, call our practice—practice of Buddha’s—Buddha’s practice, not your practice.


February 8th, 1970

Sunday, February 8th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, February 8, 1970

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-08


Each time we—we start lecture, we recite “an unsurpassed, penetrating Buddha,” and so on.  This is the essential—pointing at essential teaching of Buddha.  And it is not just opening of the [laughs] lecture.  It is—this gyātā[1]  itself is perfect dharma.


When we start—before we start lecture, or when you—when someone start lecture, and when you listen to it, and when we speak and listener start to study Buddhism, we—we must have this understanding—perfect understanding.  Only when we, you know, we give up the idea of “we,” you know, and when we have converted in—”we” in its true sense, this dharma, whatever it is, something which take place in this classroom will be the perfect dharma—will be understood as a perfect dharma.


Usually most people, you know, although you may understand the teaching of selflessness [laughs], but actually, you know, all what we do is deeply or firmly based on the idea of self.  You may think, “I am listening to—I have to study.  I have to understand what he says” [laughs].  That is already—the idea—strong idea of self and strong activity based on idea of self.


When we give up this kind of self and go beyond the idea of “you” or “speaker,” and understand you and speaker in only tentative being related with each other.  That is, you know, real classroom for us.  We are—relationship between I and you is not permanent one.  That is just tentative one.  Tomorrow, I don’t know [laughs].  Maybe if one of you speak, you know, I—I must be a listener, you know, or student.  So it is just tentative relationship.  And we are also tentative being.  So we cannot meet with—we cannot meet in this classroom in—with this relationship even one hundred thousand kalpas of time.  Never we can meet, you know, in this relationship together.  So we should not miss this moment.  That is actually what this sūtra means.  And this is very important point.


February 1st, 1970, 2nd talk

Sunday, February 1st, 1970

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi (I think at the Mountain Seat Ceremony of Zentatsu Baker)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, February 1, 1970

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-01 second talk


Sesshin is almost—sesshin has almost completed.  In this sesshin, we have learned many things.  I want to—can you hear me?—I want to, you know, say something about what I noticed.


Here we are—each one of us is a cook.  In turn we work in the kitchen, and here, you know, in zendō we take care of this zendō by ourselves mostly.  Right now, we carrying our stick in turn, and I want—I explained, you know, how to eat brown rice, you know.  The more you chew it, you will have the taste of the brown rice.  And in zendō, you are food [laughs].  You are rice and vegetables from various states, and we must cook ourselves [laughs], you know, some way.  That is what actually we are doing.


I haven’t realized how important the—to carry the stick is.  I think that is actually not only carrying the stick, but carrying the stick is, you know, how to, you know, cook ourselves.  It is actually to chew ourselves.  But effect is more strong—stronger than just to chew.  And as a, you know, at the moment you get slap, you know, you, you know, you—you die, you know, in past life and appears in new world.


We say, you know, “form is emptiness and emptiness is form.”  And Yoshimura-sensei,[1]  the other day, explaining about soku ze—form—soku ze ku.[2]   Soku ze means, he explain, that is “conversion”—the conversion, you know, without changing anything to convert one to the other.


Another thing is soku ze:  when you get slap, at that moment big, you know, conversion take place in your practice.  You will be—your experience of practice—your practice will change at that moment.  You have—anyway, you that kind of feeling, you know, when—before—when you get stick, when you sleepy [laughs] you will wake up.  That is, you know, conversion.


February 1st, 1970

Sunday, February 1st, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, February 1, 1970

City Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-01


How do you—how do you like zazen?  [Laughs, laughter.]  And maybe—maybe better to ask you how do you like brown rice?  [Laughs, laughter.]  I think this is better question, you know.  Zazen is too much.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Brown rice, I think, just right.  [Laughter.]  But actually not much difference.  [Laughter.]  Zazen has strong f- [partial word]—zazen is strong food like brown rice.  And I was very much interested in the way you eat brown rice.  [Laughs.]  I’m—I’m very much impressed, you know, the way you eat brown rice.


Can you hear me?


I think you, you know, naturally, when you eat brown rice, you have to chew it.  Unless you chew it, it is difficult to swallow, so you chew it very well.  Your mouth, you know, looks like a part of a kitchen [laughs].  You are cooking, you know [laughter, laughing], brown rice in your mouth and to be a very good food—tasty food.  While you are, you know, chewing, actually brown rice become more and more tasty.  So I think brown—your mouth—when you eat brown rice your mouth is kitchen.  But usually, you know, I realize that usually our mouth is not kitchen when we eat.  You know, we—no—when, for an instance, when we eat white rice, you know, we don’t chew so much.  We just, you know, put—put it in our mouth and without chewing so much.  And feeling is so good, so it naturally goes to our throat.  So we don’t chew it.


I think Japanese people, you know—at first I understand our ancestors who are eating brown rice.  But because white rice is easier to eat or taste good, so they become more interested in white rice instead of brown rice.  But actually when you, you know, accustomed to brown rice, the white rice is not, you know, so tasty.  We, you know—when you put it in your mouth, we think it is good, but that’s all.  No more, you know, variety or no more depth of taste.  But brown rice—at first it is not so good, and it is difficult to eat—swallow.  So while you are chewing, it become more tasty.  And when it become tasty, you know, you—you hesitate to s- [partial word]—even to swallow because it is so good [laughs, laughter].  Brown rice has that much, I think, taste in it.