August, 1971

Originally offered: August 1st, 1971 | Modified January 22nd, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


August 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-00


Assistant:[2]  … to make it record [verb].


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … like that.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … push it hard enough so the buttons stay down.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Long silent gap in tape.]



Suzuki-rōshi dictating as he translates a text:


“Therefore, no buddha attained enlightenment without the form of shaving head—not in the form of a shaved head.  No patriarch—no patriarch—is in the—no patriarch is not in the form of shaved head.  So the most virtuous things is the virtue of shaved head.


Even though you built a stūpa, which—stūpa adorned by seven jewels to reach the thirty—the thirty-third heaven, the virtue is great, but in comparison to the merit of shaved head, it is not so good as even one hundredth.  And any [1 word unclear] cannot be—cannot describe.  Stūpa could be destroyed, and once it destroyed, it—the shape cannot be—the form cannot be seen.  But merit of shaved head will increase more and more until it reach to the Buddha foot.  And its merit will not be lost.

Therefore, without changing our body we are beyond the commoner.  Even though we do not attain budddhahood, we are already a son of Buddha.  We are the most valuable being—being in the three world, and our life is best of the life—lives in the six conditions of life.


Think carefully now.  You change your karmic body and mind, attain enlightenment, and will born in Buddha land.  The beginningless karma—beginningless karmic attachment instantaneously stopped, and innate virtue will result.  Therefore, after you shave your head, heaven and earth cannot cover you.  You cannot be mixed with the rest of being in the six worlds.


A shaved head has nothing to cover, and square-sleeved robe is a  symbol of—symbol of emancipation.  People who see it will have great at- [partial word]—great encouragement, and your close relative will have good affinity.  Your being is the highest in the three world, and your virtue is highest in ten direction—in the world in ten directions.


Kings are not higher than you.  Your parents is not—respectable than you.  If they are not your teachers you shouldn’t bow to them; if they are not your patriarchs—if you—if they are not patriarchs—buddha and patriarchs—patriarchs, there is no one to bow to.  Therefore we say the karmic life of three worlds.


It is impossible to cut—cut off love and affection of the family—to cut off.  When we go beyond family relationship of love and passion, that is a way to return the benevolence of—benevolence—the benevolence you receive from them.  Thinking about how great it is—how great the benevolence you received from your parents, with sincerity you should refuse it.  Thinking about how great it is—the benevolence of the water and the earth—we should return the benevolence by—through real way of returning it.  This is real practice of renunciation and the most—the highest way—the most lofty and highest way to live.”



Source:  City Center tape transcribed by Sara Hunsaker (8/8/99) and checked by Bill Redican (3/23/00).

[1]  At least some of this material seems to be drawn from Dogen’s Shobogenzo essay, Shukke Kudoku, “The Virtue of Home Leaving,” or a text also quoted in that essay.

[2]  Thought to be Yvonne Rand.


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