Archive for March, 1970

March 29th, 1970

Sunday, March 29th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, March 29, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-29

How do you feel now?  [Laughs.]  Excuse me.  I thought of funny thing right now [laughs].  I feel as if, you know—I don’t know how you feel, but I feel as if I—I have finished, you know, things in restroom [laughs].  As I am pretty old, you know, I go to restroom so often.  Even when I was young, I went [to] restroom more than, you know [laughs], usual person.  I had, I think, some advantage, you know [laughs, laughter], because of that.  When I went to tan- [partial word]—Eihei-ji and sit in tangaryō,[1]  for seven days [laughs], I could go to restroom without any guilty conscience because I had to [laughs, laughter].  I was so happy [laughs, laughter] to go to restroom.  I think someth- [partial word]—to go to restroom is something to do, you know [laughs, laughter], with our practice.


Ummon[2]  may be the first one to make some connection between our practice and restroom.  “What is our practice?”  Or “What is buddha?”—someone asked him.[3]   He said, you know, “toilet paper”—no, not toilet paper.  Nowadays it is toilet paper, but he says [laughing, laughter], “something to scratch your—scratch yourself after you—after finishing restroom.”  That is what he said.  And since then, you know, many Zen masters [are] thinking about or practicing on that kōan:  What is toilet paper?  [Laughs.]  What he meant by it?


Anyway, our practice is closely related to our everyday life.  Physiologically it may be—our—to go to—we go—we have to go to restroom, but psychologically I think we have to practice zazen.  In our everyday life, we, you know, eat many things, good and bad:  something fancy or something simple, something tasty or something tasteless like water.


March 28th, 1970

Saturday, March 28th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Saturday, March 28, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-28

[First 1-2 sentences of lecture may be missing.]  Way-seeking mind is the most important.  This kind of chance is—usually in some difficult situation—when you have some difficulty in your everyday life, I think you will have, you know—there you will have chance to arise way-seeking mind.  Once you arise the way-seeing mind, your practice is on the track.


Watanabe—Watanabe Genshu-zenji,[1]  who passed away several years ago, arise way-seeking mind when famous Arai-zenji[2]  came to his temple.  He [Watanabe] was—he was a chest-maker or what do you call?—he was making, you know—he is—he is not a carpenter—was not a carpenter, but he was—hmm?—[comments from students]—oh, cabinetmaker.  He was cabinetmaker.  And he—when he went to his temple, you know, to hear Arai-zenji’s lecture or to—to see him, maybe [laughs], to see the zenji—famous zenji, he arosed way-seeking mind.  And he made up his mind to follow him, and asked his family to let him go.  And he joined Arai-zenji’s order.


He [Watanabe] had—when he was young, he had a very difficult time at his home always.  But he didn’t complain about it.  He rather enjoy his—to make cabinets.  But Arai-zenji was so great Zen master that he, you know, made up his mind to follow him.  And so, you know, he doesn’t forget his—his life in his—when he was young.


March 15th, 1970

Sunday, March 15th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi with Dainin Katagiri-roshi and Kobun Chino-roshi in the background

Suzuki-roshi with Dainin Katagiri-roshi and Kobun Chino-roshi in the background

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, March 15, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-15


I think most of you are rather curious about what is Zen.  But Zen is actually our way of life, and zazen practice is actually as—like as you set your watch—alarm, maybe.  Unless you set your alarm, alarm clock will not serve the purpose.


So it is necessary for us to start our activity from some standpoint—to some ground or we must have—every day we must have starting point.  Where to start is most important thing.  The sun arise at certain time and setting at certain time.  And the sun, you know, always repeats same thing.  And we do too [laughs, laughter].  But we do not feel in that way, you know.  We—our life is not so organized, and we don’t know even how important it is to—where to know where to start our life.  Zen student start our life from zazen practice.  We come back to zero and start from zero.  We have various activity, and how our activity arise from zero is most important thing to know, to feel, or to realize.


Usually, I think, most people practice zazen to attain something, to achieve something.  But more important thing is to start, you know, to start our everyday activity—to know where to start to everyday activity and to know how to practice zazen.  When we—before actually you practice zazen, you know, or at the moment you decided to sit, it means that you, you know, already started to set your alarm.  And when you have that kind of confidence or you have made that kind of decision and start to zazen, that is zero.


March 8th, 1970

Sunday, March 8th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday, March 8, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-08


[Recently my thought is concentrated on the idea of emptiness.][1]  Whatever I say, I am actually talking about what is emptiness, because this emptiness is something which we must understand literally and completely through experience.  But if it is difficult to experience it through experience, you can tentatively understand it as a kind of idea in comparison to your way of thinking or in comparison to the idea you have, [the] various idea you have.


And we classify our idea in two:  one is idea of emptiness, another is idea of being.  And when we say, usually, idea it is idea of being.  And the idea of—your way of thinking belongs to the idea of being, and idea of emptiness makes a pair of opposite with your idea you—ideas you have.  So whatever the idea may be, you can say those idea is idea of being.  So we should know that.


Besides the ideas about things you have, there is another—another ideas which is not same as—same—which is not same idea you have and which is not brought about in your concept.  Actually that is why we practice zazen, you know.  You cannot reach the idea of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling as an conception.  And to practice—to actualize the emptiness is shikantaza.


This morning I want to point—I want to point out some points in our usual understanding what kind of mistake there is and how different idea Buddhists have.  We say emptiness is—in Japanese or Chinese is .[2]   is, of course, a noun, and it is—sometime we use it as a verb, kūzuru.  Kūzuru means—is verb and maybe—so you can say “empty”—you can use words “empty” in two ways.  One is noun and the other is verb.  “To empty.”  To empty is—to empty a cup is to empty, you know, maybe.


March 1st, 1970

Sunday, March 1st, 1970

Suzuki-roshi in the Buddha-hall at City Center for a service or lecture

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday morning, March 1, 1970

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-01

 (this audio file covers about three-quarters of the transcript below)


Actually, because of my bad throat, I don’t speak for people outside, you know.  I o- [partial word]—I hardly manage to keep my lecture in Zen Center.  But this time, because of Dr. Lancaster, whom I met at dinner, I was very much encouraged by him.  And hearing hard [hardship?] of—name of Senzaki,[1] you know, who is, I think, pioneer of Zen in America [and] who did not have also any temple whatsoever.  He did not like to spend his time managing—management or a business-like thing, you know, which will follow by our church or organization activity.  So he just had a small room available for maybe ten or twenty people.  And he spent his life in that way in Los Angeles.  [Gap in tape of 27 seconds.]  … worldly things, but he wanted to make more effort to establishing the foundation of Zen in America.  I think that is why he end up as a wandering monk in America.  I did—before I come to America, I didn’t know anything about him.  But after I came to America, I met many students who studied Zen by him, and I read a book written by him,[2]  and I was very much impressed by his profound understanding of Zen.  Since then, I was very much encouraged to be here and to study with you.


I came this morning without preparing anything to speak.  But I wanted to share the feeling we have right here, right now.  Sharing the feeling right here, right now is the fundamental or basic thing for Zen practice.  Zen is, in one word, to share, you know, our feeling with people or with trees and with mountains wherever we are [laughs].  That is Zen practice.


But usually, you know, our mind is always filled with something, you know:   something like ice cream [laughs, laughter] or lemonade [laughs, laughter] or banana or, you know, soap—how much the soap cost in one, you know, store, how much will it cost in other store.  And looking out the newspaper [laughs] and seeing ad, you know, where there is some sale, you know.  That kind of thing—filled with that kind of thing.  So it is almost impossible to share the actual feeling, you know, where they are right now.