Archive for June, 1971

July 22nd, 1971

Tuesday, June 22nd, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, June 22, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-22


I don’t know where to start, you know, my talk, but anyway what I want to discuss with you tonight is how to, you know, apply our practice in your—to your everyday life.  That will be the point of my talk.


Whether you are a layman or priest, you know, we are all bodhisattvas, you know.  We are taking bodhisattva vow and we are practicing bodhisattva way.  And as you know, bodhisattva way is to help others as you help yourself, or to help others more—before you help yourself.  That is, you know, bodhisattva way.  We put so much emphasis on helping others.  This point is very important when you try to figure out what will be your everyday life, you know, what will be the relationship [between] zazen practice and your everyday life.  Because you forget this point, you cannot extend your practice to everyday life.


Because, you know, as a Buddhist we should see things-as-it-is, you know [laughs], to see things-as-it-is, to observe things-as-they-are—that is the most important point.  When you practice zazen, you know, actually you don’t see anything, you don’t think about anything.  But even though you do [are] not aware of what you are doing, you are actually one with everything; even though you don’t see, but you are actually with everything.  So you knows everything.  You see things, you know, not with our naked eye, but our true eyes, you know.  Even though we don’t hear, but [laughs] actually we are with everything.  We are practicing with everything, you know, actually.  When you don’t think, when you [are] one with your practice, you know, at that moment, even though you don’t see, you are already with everything and you are actually seeing things, you know, and you have perfect understanding of everything.  That is our practice.  And we feel in that way when we don’t think.  I said “feel” but [laughs] maybe “to feel” is not correct word.  That is, you know, our practice.


June 20th, 1971

Sunday, June 20th, 1971
Service at City Center

Service at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, June 20, 1971


San Francisco


This sesshin—we call it “sewing sesshin“—sesshin and, actually, rakusu sewing—okesa-sewing sesshin.  Our okesa is not just—just symbol of our teaching, but it is actually dharma itself.  But unless you have proper understanding of it, the rakusu is something which you wear as a symbol of Buddhist.  But that is not proper understanding.


The proper understanding of our zazen or rakusu is same, not different.  Proper understanding of zazen is, at the same time, proper understanding of rakusu.  So unless you have real experience of zazen—zazen experience, rakusu is not actually rakusu; it is just something which you wear.  It is not dharma itself.


You may think I told you yesterday[1]  about rakusuokesa, and okesa Buddha made—okesa.  Gathering various material and sewed together and design it in this way after the shape of paddy field.  But here[2]  Dōgen-zenji says, refer to the ten—ten names of okesa.


By the way, Dōgen-zenji wrote more than 95 fascicles of teaching about transmitted teaching.  And two of them is about okesa, two of—two fascicles about okesa.  “Kesa-kudoku” nomaki and “Den-e” nomaki.[3]   So you may understand how important okesa is for us, you know, and those two fascicles are very long in comparison to other fascicles.


June 19th, 1971

Saturday, June 19th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sewing and Wearing the Buddhist Robes and

How It Relates to Our Practice

19 June 1971

San Francisco Zendō


Last Sunday I told you that, whatever religion you belong to, it doesn’t matter when you to come and sit with us.  That is because our way of sitting, of practice, is for you to become yourself.  Katagiri-rōshi always says, “to settle oneself on oneself.”  To be yourself.  When you become you, yourself, at that moment your practice includes everything.  Whatever there is, it is a part of you.  So you practice with Buddha, you practice with Bodhidharma and you practice with Jesus.  You practice with everyone in the future or in past.  That is our practice.  But when you do not become yourself, it doesn’t happen in that way.


So if you come here and sit with us, you’re not only sitting with us, but you are also sitting with everything, including animate and inanimate beings.  Dogen Zenji said, if your practice doesn’t include everything, that is not real practice.


It is not that after practicing for long time, you attain enlightenment and your practice includes everything, and you can practice with everyone.  When you join our practice, your practice includes everything.  And if you think that in two or three years, after your practice improves, that your practice will be perfect enough to include everything, that is a mistake.  Something is missing in that practice.  The sincerity is missing.


June 12th, 1971

Saturday, June 12th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 12, 1971

San Francisco

[The audio of this talk is not currently available.]


We say “Zen Center student,” you know.  Or, we say “Zen Center.”  But it is—tonight—today—I want to make this kind of idea clear, you know, as much as possible.  Although, you know, I say, “You are Zen Center students,” and although you say, “You are Zen Center students,” you say, “I am Zen Center student.”  I don’t know!  [Laughs.]  I am not so sure who you are.  But to me, as long as you are here, you know, to me you are Zen Center students.  [Laughs.]  That’s all.  And if you go out from this building, I don’t know who you are.  [Laughs.]


Do you know who you are?  [Laughs.]  Is there any particular, you know—do you belong to some particular, you know, religion?  Are you member of some particular church, or member, you know—do you strictly belong to some group?  I don’t know.  Perhaps not.  Most of you does not belong to any group in its strict sense.  But some of them [you] may belong to—strictly belong to Zen Center.  And if someone belong [laughs] to Zen Center in its strict sense, and some of you do not belong to any school and yet practicing our way in the same building, you know, how that is possible [laughs], you know?  How is it possible to practice, you know, same—some certain way, you know, with someone who strictly belong to some group.  How is it possible?  If that is not possible, you know, should I accept student who belong to Zen Center in its strict sense?  Should I do that?


Maybe some student thinks in that way, but, you know, I accept, you know, students from various religion.  Some of you may be Christian.  Some of you may be Rinzai students.  Some of you may be, you know—may, you know, still, you know, have some other teacher in your mind—always, maybe.  But still I accept them.  Why is it possible for me to accept students, you know, from various religion as a Zen Center student without any discrimination?  It’s, you know—we, you know—I or we (same thing [laughs])—if I say “we” [laughs] you will be very much concerned about word “we.”  If I say  “I,” it may be okay, you know, but if I say “we,” [laughs] it looks like, you know, there is some, you know, group, and so-called-it “Sōtō” or “Rinzai” group or, you know, Sōtō group.  So if we say “we,” you know, you may not feel so good, but to me it is same thing, you know.  “We.”  “I.”  Same.


June 9th, 1971

Wednesday, June 9th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 9, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-09


[I thought there was another day of sesshin, but today is our last day.][1]


I think you, you know, have understood—  (Can you hear me?  Yeah?  Not so well.  Okay?  Mmm?)  You have understood what is zazen as your practice.  But I didn’t explain how you sit—I didn’t give you instruction how you sit in detail, but I told you, you know, how I practice shikantaza—or zazen.  Maybe that is my way, so I don’t know how another teachers will, you know, sit, I don’t know, but that is anyway my shikantaza.


I started this practice, actually, maybe two—two years ago, after I went to [2-4 words unclear; one earlier transcript states, “cross the creek at Tassajara”] [laughs, laughter], not because I saw many good place to sit, you know.  There’s two [or] three caves where you can sit.  But not because of that.  Perhaps some of you were swimming, you know, with me at that time.  Some beautiful girl students [laughs, laughter] and Peter [Schneider?] was there [laughs, laughter].  And as you—I cannot swim, actually [laughs], but because they were enjoying swimming so much, so I thought I may join [laughs].  But I couldn’t swim.  But there were so many beautiful girls over there, so I tried to, you know, go there [laughs, laughter], without knowing I couldn’t swim [laughs], so I was almost drowned [laughs, laughter].  But I knew that, you know, I will not die, I will not drown.  I shall not be drowned to death, you know, because there are many students.  So someone will help [laughs].  But I was not so serious.


But, you know, feeling was pretty bad, you know.  Water is, you know—I am swallowing water [laughs].  So feeling was too bad, so I stretch my arm, you know, so that someone catch me [laughs].  But no one [laughs, laughter]—no one helped me.  So I decided, you know, to go to the bottom [laughs, laughter], to walk, but that was not possible either [laughs, laughter].  I was, you know, I couldn’t reach to the bottom, or I couldn’t get over the water.  What I saw is beautiful girls’ legs [laughs, laughter].  But I couldn’t, you know [laughs], s- [partial word]—take hold of their legs, you know.  I was rather scared [laughs, laughter].


June 7th, 1971

Monday, June 7th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, June 7, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-07


Shikantaza, zazen, is—our zazen is just to be ourselves.  Just to be ourselves.  We should not expect anything, you know, just to be ourselves.  And continue this practice forever.  That is our way, you know.  Even, we say, even in, you know (what do you say?) [laughs], even in, you know [snaps fingers], [student:  “Snap of the fingers?”] [laughs, laughter], you know, in snapping your fingers there are millions of kalpasno, cetanās. [1]   The unit of time.  You know, we say “moment after moment,” but in your actual practice, moment is too long, you know.  If we say “moment,” you know, or “one breathing after another,” you still involved in—your mind still involved in, you know, following breathing, you know, to follow breathe.  We say “to follow breathe,” “to follow our breathing,” but the feeling is, you know, in each, you know—to live in each moment.


If you live in each moment, you do not expect anything.  With everything, you know, you become you yourself.  If you, you know, feel strictly yourself [your self?], without any idea of time even, you know, in smallest particle of time you feel yourself [your self?].  That is zazen.


Why we say so is if we are involved in idea of time, various desires will, you know, start to act some mischiefs [laughs]—they will become mischievous, you know.  So—but if you, you know—when you have no idea of time, with everything, you know, you bec- [partial word]—your practice will go on and on.


June 6th, 1971

Sunday, June 6th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 6, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-06

[The tape begins with Tenshin-sensei Reb Anderson reciting the verse attributed by Shākyamuni Buddha, quoted in the fascicle “Kesa-kudoku,” in Dōgen-zenji’s Shōbōgenzō.  The translation may have been by Suzuki-rōshi.]

Tenshin-sensei:  I will read now a translation of the sūtra we just chanted:

Listen carefully, Chiko Bisshu,[1]  to the ten precious virtues intrinsic to the garment of the great field of blessedness.  While common clothing encourages the growth of delusion, the Buddha’s garment of the dharma, the okesa, is by no means like that. 

          The okesa enables one, first of all, to achieve the completion of clear conscience.  The okesa covers the dishonorable conduct.  It is worthy to be called “the field where perpetual blessedness grows.” 

          Secondly, the okesa enables one to rest in the ultimate repose, eliminating discomfort from cold and heat or a poisonous insect with the preserving way-seeking mind. 

          Thirdly, the okesa enables one to be free from greed in the homeless life of a monk and eradicates the five false views.  It directs one’s effort towards the right practice. 

          Fourthly, the okesa enables one to elicit the same blessedness as King Brahmā by paying homage on one’s knees to the okesa like a banner woven with gems. 

          Fifthly, the okesa enables one to enjoy happiness in heavenly and human worlds under no influence of sinfulness, always in the belief that wearing the okesa identifies itself with the worship of a stūpa

          Sixthly, the okesa enables one to realize that as a true monk wears and reveres the okesa, made by the three proper methods and arrangement of its materials, color, and measurement, all his conduct is uncontaminated by upward attraction. 

          Seventhly, the okesa enables one to realize that all the buddhas admire its virtues and call it the fertile field, because to wear it is the best way to confer benefit on all beings. 

          Eighthly, the okesa enables one to cultivate the root of the enlightened mind and to practice under the inspiring influence of the okesa.

          Ninthly, the okesa enables one to realize that the germ of the religious awakening is like a spring seedling—that it is growing, and the surpassing result of the enlightened mind is like an autumn fruit. 

          Tenthly, the okesa enables one to be unspoiled by the poisonous arrow of delusion due to wearing the indestructible armor. 

          The Buddha has, as mentioned briefly above, admired the ten precious virtues of the okesa which surpass all description, even if one were to spend an incredible time to describe it. 

          A dragon with even a thread of the okesa is able to escape the hazard of falling prey to the garuda,[2] king of birds. 


June 5th, 1971

Saturday, June 5th, 1971
Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-05


First of all, I want to explain, you know, I want you to understand what is our practice.  You know, our practice we say, “just to sit.”  It is, you know, “just to sit,” but I want to try to explain as much as possible what do we mean by “just to sit.”  Practice is usually, you know, practice to expect something:  at least, if you practice, you know, some way, some practice, your practice will be improve.  And if there is a goal of practice, you know, or if you practice aiming at something, you know, you will—your practice supposed to reach, you know, eventually, the goal of practice you expect.  And actually, you know, if you practice, your practice itself will be improved day by day, you know.


That is very true, you know, but there is another, you know, one more, you know, understanding of practice, you know, like, you know, our practice is, you know, another understanding of practice.  We practice it—our zazen—with two, with different, you know, understanding from this.  But we cannot ignore the—our imp- [partial word]—progress in our practice.  Actually, if you practice, you know, day by day, you make big progress.  And actually it will help, you know, your practice will help your health and your mental condition, you know.  That is very true.


But that is not, you know, full understanding of practice.  Another understanding of practice is, you know, when you practice, you know, there there is—goal is there, you know, not, you know, one year or two years later.  But when you do it right there, there is goal of practice.  When you practice our way with this understanding, there is many things you must take care of so that you could be or you will be—you can—you will be concentrated on your practice.  You will be completely involved in the practice you have right now.  That is why you have various instruction, you know, about your practice, so that you can practice hard enough to feel, you know, the goal of practice right now, when you do it.