Archive for May, 1970

May 30th, 1970

Saturday, May 30th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, May 30, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-30


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line 2          tōzai mitsuni aifusu.

Line 3          Ninkon ni ridon ari,

Line 4          dō ni namboku no so nashi.


Line 2          was handed down closely from west to east.

Line 3          People may discriminate the dull from the keen,

Line 4          but in the true way there is no Patriarch of North or South.]



I explained in last lecture about the title of this scripture, Sandōkai—what does it mean by San-dō-kai and Chikudo daisen no shin.  Tonight, maybe, it is necessary to explain about the background of this poem—why Sekitō-zenji—Sekitō Kisen-daioshō, wrote this poem.


As you know, under the Fifth Patriarch[1]  there were outstanding teacher who is called Jinshū,[2]  and when the Fifth Patriarch announced that he will give transmission to someone, and everyone thought that, of course, Jinshū will receive the transmission.  But actually Enō,[3]  the Sixth Patriarch—Enō who became the Sixth Patriarch—Enō who was pounding rice in the corner of the temple received the transmission.


But Jinshū was a great scholar.  So later Jinshū became—went to the northern country and became a great teacher.  And Jinshū’s school was called Northern—Hoku Zen—Northern School of Zen, Hoku Zen, Hoku Zen.[4]  And the Sixth Patriarch, who went to south, spread his teaching in southern countries, and his school was called Nan Zen, Southern—South Zen.[5]


Later, as you know, Jinshū’s school became—after Jinshū, his school became weaker and weaker.  But in north, the Sixth Patriarch’s school became, after the Sixth Patriarch, stronger and stronger.  But at Sekitō’s time, you know—Sekitō is the Eighth Patriarch, Enō is the Sixth Patriarch, and Seventh Patriarch is Seigen.[6]   And Seigen’s disciple is Sekitō.  Sekitō is the author of this poem.  In Sekitō’s time, Hōkō-shū or Northern Zen was still powerful.  But there were another disciple.  Of course, Sixth Patriarch had many, many disciples.  Maybe more than fifty.  We can count fifty, but there must be more disciples under the Sixth Patriarch.


May 27th, 1970

Wednesday, May 27th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, May 27, 1970


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-27

[This is the first in a series of lectures on the Sandōkai

(Chin. Cantong qi or Tisan-tiung-chii), a poem by Sekitō Kisen. Japanese transliteration in all lectures is by Kazuaki Tanahashi (1999).  English translation in all lectures is by Suzuki-rōshi.]



[The following line of the Sandōkai is discussed in this lecture:


Line 1      Chikudo daisen no shin


Line 1      The mind of the great sage of India]



I am so grateful to have chance to discuss about or to talk about Sandōkai.  This is one of the most important teaching for us.  And meaning is so deep, and the expression is so smooth, that it is, you know, pretty difficult to have some feeling, you know, when you read it.


Sekitō Musai-daishi[1]  (his posthumous name is Musai-daishi), and he is [dharma] grandson of the Sixth Patriarch[2]  [Enō] and son of Seigen,[3]  the Seventh Patriarch.  As you know, under the Sixth Patriarch there were many disciples, but the most important disciples are Nangaku[4]  and Seigen—Seigen and Nangaku.  And later, under Seigen, Tōzan[5]  appeared, and under Nangaku, Rinzai [6]  appeared.  And Rinzai and Sōtō is the most powerful schools under the Sixth Patriarch.


Sekitō’s, you know, way—Seigen’s way is more gentle in comparison to Nangaku’s way.  And Sekitō’s [Seigen’s] way may be, you know, elder brother’s way, you know, who is mostly gentle [laughs], you know.  Nangaku’s way is, you know, maybe like second boy or third boy’s way, who is rather naughty [laughs].  You know, in Japan, mostly, if someone is very gentle, you may be the first son [laughs], we say, you know.  And sometime the first boy is not so able [laughs].  We say “Soryo no jin roku.”[7]   You know, Soryo no—the first one, first boy is mostly very gentle.  And we, you know, understand in that way when we talk about Sōtō and Rinzai.  Tatsugami-rōshi[8] put emphasis on memmitsu no kafu.[9]   That is more Sōtō way.  Memmitsu is “very careful” and “very considerate” and “very,” anyway, “very careful” in doing things.  That is more Seigen’s way.


May 24th, 1970

Sunday, May 24th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday Morning, May 24, 1970

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-24

Good morning.  Actually this morning I asked Yoshida-rōshi[1]  to give some talk to you, but as he—as she has just arrived from Japan, and she said she is not ready to speak yet, so I am going to speak [say] something.


I introduced her already to you, but some of you here may not know her, so I think I have to introduce Yoshida-rōshi first.  [Aside of 1-2 sentences in Japanese.]  Yoshida-rōshi.  [She answers briefly in Japanese.  Suzuki-rōshi then whispers Dōmo arigatō.]


She is one of the important disciples of Hashimoto-rōshi who passed away—


[Susuki-rōshi asks Yoshida-rōshi a question in Japanese about Hashimoto Ekō-rōshi.  She answered briefly in Japanese.]  Ah.


—who passed away four years ago.[2]   Hashimoto-rōshi is famous teacher who studied various old rituals and form of especially okesa and robes and—besides study of Shōbōgenzō.  By Hashimoto-rōshi our rituals improved a lot, so we are so fortunate to have her here.


Joyce—Zenkosan—has been studying with—under her at Kaizen-ji[3] near Nagoya Temple, and we expect her always to come and give more fundamental understanding of our rituals and way of observing things—not only just rituals, but also how we should behave according to Dōgen-zenji’s way.


May 17th, 1970

Sunday, May 17th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi (right) and Katagiri-roshi (left). I do not know who is in the middle.

Suzuki-roshi (right), Katagiri-roshi (left). and Togen Sumi (center), abbot of Zenshuji and bishop of Soto Zen in North America at the time.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday Morning, May 17, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-17


This morning I want to talk about Zen—Zen precepts.  As you know, precepts is not—real meaning of precepts is not just rules.  It is rather our way of our life.  When we, you know, organize our life, there you see something like rules, you know.  Even though you are not intending to observe some particular rule, but there you see some rules.


As soon as you get up, you know, to wake you completely up, you wash your face, you know.  That is our precepts—one of the precepts.  And at a certain time you eat breakfast, when you become hungry.  That is, you know—it looks like you are observing some rules to eat breakfast at some certain time.  But it is actually the way of life you follow or you are doing, you know, naturally in that way.  So if you practice zazen, you know, there is some rules in your practice.  So zazen practice is, at the same time, precepts—one of the precepts.  So zazen and precept, if you really understand how we—how Buddhist get the idea of precepts, you will understand the relationship between Zen and precept.  The precept is just the way of life.


As a Zen students, we rather, you know, put emphasis on our everyday practice, including zazen practice.  But when you think about how to, you know, cope with the problem you have in your everyday life, you will realize how important it is to practice zazen.  The only power of practice will help you in its true sense.


May 10th, 1970

Sunday, May 10th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, May 10, 1970

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-10


This morning I want to reflect on our long, long practice, which we started maybe more than ten years ago.  The purpose of Zen Center is, as you know, to provide a Zen meditation hall or whatever it is, you know:  some place to practice zazen, and practice with some teacher, was the original intention of Zen Center.  And with this purpose we organized non-profit organization.  And now, here, when we, you know, acquired this building, we named this building Mahābodhisattva Zendō.  It is—reflecting on our practice that was, you know, nothing but the bodhisattva way:  to help others and to help ourselves.


In the meantime we had Tassajara zendō because we needed some place where we can practice our way, putting everything aside and being completely involved in our practice—not—maybe not completely, but [laughs] more completely [laughs]—almost completely.  For a human being this “almost” is always necessary [laughs], or else we cannot survive.  “Almost” is, you know, actually the secret of practice.


But anyway, we can practice our way almost completely putting everything aside.  That was the purpose of Tassajara zendō, and that we have that—this special zendō means at the same time to—we can understand actually what is Zen—Zen practice in more traditional way, or else, you know, or else we do not know what we are doing here—unless we know some background of our practice.  In here, it is difficult to, you know, have—to have full understanding of our practice here and with—what we are doing here.


It is something like to know your family, you know.  When we know your friend’s family, you will know your friend, you know, much better.  Even though your—you know your friend—you think you know your friend, if you do not know the background of your friend, you—sometime it is difficult to understand your friend.


May 5th, 1970

Tuesday, May 5th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, May 5, 1970

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-05


Once a time of one thousand or two thousand is not so long time in comparison to our idea of time.  It is just, you know, one thousand or hundred years of time, maybe, one month or less than one month.


We came to the point where we must study Buddhism from various direction, and here we are started to study Buddhist way from various angle.  And this is not so easy task.  I think that is why we must have Buddha or Dōgen-zenji, because each one of our effort—by each one of our effort cannot be satisfy.


Our purpose of studying Buddhism—in Japan this kind of study started, maybe, from Meiji period—early part of Meiji period.  Of course there were some exceptionally great teachers before Meiji period.  But after Meiji period, we started to study Buddhism, applying Western way of study.  Very strong:  more scientific way of study, like you study anthropology or sociology.  So Buddhism culture [was] analyzed from various angle and criticized from various angle:  whether Buddhism is—has been helping human being or not.  Now in this way, after Meiji period, we started to study Buddhism very sincerely and very objectively and very critically.


May 3rd, 1970

Sunday, May 3rd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture No. 3


Sunday, May 3, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-03

To have—to have sincere practice means to have sincere concern with people.  So our practice is actually based on our humanity.  So Dōgen-zenji says to accomplish humanity is to raise—to hold up Buddhism and help people.


So what is the way to establish humanity?  That is the way to establish humanity is tao or practice, he says.  By practice we can establish humanity, and our practice is based on humanity, so human being practice true human nature is our zazen.  And he says the way is not something which was established by Buddha or some particular patriarch.


We must have spirit to attribute various good things to others, and accept various evil or mistake as your own.  That is the spirit.  With this spirit, we should establish our human way.  And how to establish our human way is how to practice zazen.  So you may understand zazen practice is not some special practice for special person.  And this is the only way to accomplish or to establish our human way in this actual world.  If you want to seek for the way for human being—if you try to seek for the way for human being some other way, it is almost impossible.


And so Dōgen-zenji was very strict, you know, with our human way.  That is why his way is called it menmitsu no kafu,[1]  you know.  He doesn’t, you know, ignore even a drop of water, like a well—well-made rice paper.  And—and he, you know, is always asking us, you know, “Your way is like this, and—do you—can you accept that kind of way as your own way?”  [Laughs.]  And he criticize, you know, our weakness and our darkness or carelessness in our everyday activity—treating things, treating your friend, receiving teaching from your teacher.  And after all, what he will say is, “practice zazen.”  That is only way [laughs] to polish up your everyday life, and to do it without making so much effort.  That is the only way.


May 2nd, 1970, second talk

Saturday, May 2nd, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Kendo Okamoto at Zoun'in

Suzuki-roshi and Kendo Okamoto at Zoun’in

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture, No.  2


Saturday, May 2, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-05-02 2nd talk

First of all, a sincere—our practice—sincere practice—our sincere practice is not, you know, practice just for himself.  This is not so difficult to understand.  Bodhisattva practice is not just to help himself, but to help others.  We put more stress to help others.  That is bodhisattva practice.


I think because you are not so considerate in your everyday life, you have that question:  you know, why we have to practice zazen, or what is sincere practice?  If you find out how difficult it is to help others, with bodhisattva mind, with mind of selflessness, you may, you know, imagine how difficult it is to practice to help others.  And actually, all the problems we human being has [are] caused by our carelessness, careless activity, or selfish activity.  That is, you know—those small careless activity one by one accumulated will cause a big trouble for our society.  If we realize this point, you know, we find out the reason why we must practice zazen.


I think you have—you must have read—some of you must have read Zuimonki.[1]   You know, in Zuimonki, Dōgen-zenji is discussing about this everyday problems we have, and he, you know, explain what is bodhisattva mind.


Last night, Yoshimura-sensei,[2]  you know, was asked to help someone’s schedule of trip [laughs], and he had to sit up until half past twelve [laughs].  [Laughter.]  He knows, you know, of course, we have sesshin, you know.  Even though he may sleep, you know, today—today’s sesshin, knowing that he has to help someone who [is] making trip—this is, you know, already a big problem to discuss, you know:  whether he should help others, sacrificing his sesshin, or whether he should refuse—refuse it because practice of zazen is more important than making a trip.


May 2nd, 1970

Saturday, May 2nd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture, No. 1


Saturday Evening, May 2, 1970

San Francisco


Right now you—your feeling has changed from the feeling you had in your sitting.  This is important.  When you start a two-day sesshin you think, “I must sit two days continuously.”  But that is not the way you should practice [laughs].  If you, you know, think in that way, you may feel—you may be very much discouraged:  “Oh my!  I have to sit two days or seven days.”


It is actually better to sit one period after one period:  “Okay, I will sit one period.”  Then, after kinhin, you must say to yourself, “I must sit one more period.”  [Laughs, laughter.]  And then, you know, you start kinhin.  And after kinhin you think “one more period.”  In that way, if you practice zazen, you don’t feel so bad.  [Laughs, laughter.]  I think—if I say so, you may say, “You are fooling me” [laughs].  But actually, it is not so.  That is, you know, how things is going—how things are going always.  And so, you know, according to our teaching, time is like, you know, like a circle of fire, you know.  This is, you know—here there is burning fire.  This is actually—time is going, you know.  It looks like one red circle, but—it is not so—actually it is continuation of, you know, each fire.  It looks like so.  This is famous, you know, parable:  senkarin.[1]


Usually you understand time something continual from past to future.  But actually it is the successive, continuous—continuation of events—each events.  One after another, events take place.  So it—one after another, it takes place—things take place.  You naturally think, you know, there is something—there is some—something like time which is always continuing—continuously exist.  Or you have idea of some line which, you know, [extends] from past to future, you know.  But this is just abstract idea from each event.