Archive for the ‘No audio source’ Category

January 18th, 1968

Thursday, January 18th, 1968

Rev. S. Suzuki

January 18, 1968

In (Agama) Sutra there is a funny story.  A man who had…There was a man who had four wives.  One wife always lived with him and he complied with everything that she wanted, providing good furniture for her rooms and everything.  Whatever she wanted he bought it for her.  And the second wife was…he did not like the second wife so much, but when she was not with him he missed her very much and when he did not see her he felt very uneasy.  That was the second wife.  The third one was almost like the second, but the difference was that whenever something serious happened to him he would go and talk to her about what had happened to him.  And once in awhile on New Years Day or Christmas, he would visit her or she would visit his home.  That was the third one and the fourth one was like a servant.  She was with him always, and helped him like a servant but he never said, ‘Thank you’ to her.  That was the fourth one.

I was rather interested in this story.  Moreover, when the man was going to die he felt so lonely that he asked the first wife to die with him.  But the first wife refused.  And so he asked the second one to go to heaven or hell with him, but she said, “Why should I go with you when the first wife refused.  So I won’t go”.  And the third one said…the third one, who had not much relationship between them, of course refused him, but when he asked the fourth one to die with him she said, “Of course I will.  When I was…when I came to you I already fixed my mind to be with you forever, so I will die with you.”


December 14th, 1967

Thursday, December 14th, 1967

Rev S. Suzuki

December 14, 1967

It’s been a pretty long time since I saw you.  I am still studying hard to find out what is our way.  Recently I reached the conclusion that there is no Buddhism or there is no Zen or anything.  Yesterday, when I was preparing for the evening lecture (in San Francisco) although I tried to find out something to talk about, I couldn’t find out anything so I was just reading.  And I thought of the story which I was told in Obon Festival when I was young.  The story is about the water or the story is about the people in Hell.

Although they have water, the people in Hell cannot drink it because the water burns like a fire, or water which they want to drink looks like blood, so they cannot take it.  While the celestial beings…for the celestial beings it is jewel and for the fish it is their home and for the human being it is water.  You may think, if you think water is water (if you understand that water is water, as we do ) is right understanding the water sometimes looks like…although water sometimes looks like jewel or house or blood or fire that is not real water…you may think in this way.  As you think that zazen practice is real practice and the rest of the everyday activities is the application of zazen, but this (zazen) is fundamental practice.  But Dogen zenji, amazingly said, ‘Water is not water’.  If you think water is water your understanding is not much different from the understanding of fish’s understanding, and hungry ghost’s understanding of water, or angel’s understanding of water.  There is not much difference between our understanding and their understanding.


November 2nd, 1967

Thursday, November 2nd, 1967

Rev. S. Suzuki

November 2, 1967

We say our practice without gaining idea, practice without expecting even enlightenment, but what we mean by those statements is…it does not mean just to sit without any purpose.  Of course this practice of…without gaining idea, based on the gaining idea we have in the Prajna Paramita Sutra:  “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”.  But when we say ‘Form is emptiness” or “emptiness is form” this is still dualistic.  But when we say ‘form is form’ and ‘emptiness is emptiness’ here there is no dualism.  When you find it difficult to stop your mind in your sitting and are still trying to stop your mind, this is the stage of form is emptiness and emptiness is form.  But while you are practicing this way, more and more your practice will…in your practice you will have oneness of your goal and your practice without effort, you can stop your mind.  This is the stage of form is form and emptiness is emptiness.


September 27, 1967

Wednesday, September 27th, 1967

Rev Suzuki

September 27, 1967

The more you understand our thinking, the more you find it difficult to talk about it, because the purpose of talk is to give some idea of our way, but originally our way is not for something to talk, but something to practice.  So best way is just to practice without saying anything.  When we talk about our way we are apt to create some misunderstanding of our way.  Because true way is always…has at least two sides, negative side and positive side which is opposite.  So when we talk about negative side, the positive side is missing and when we talk about the positive side the negative side is missing, and it is impossible to talk positive way and negative way at the same time.  So we don’t know what to say.  So not to say anything, and to do it, is the best way.  Showing one finger or drawing a round circle may be the best way, or bow.


August 31, 1967

Thursday, August 31st, 1967

Dated 67-08-31, Thursday

Rev Suzuki

September 1, 1967

Los Altos, Calif.

Zen story or Zen koan is very difficult to understand before you understand what we are doing moment after moment.  But if you know exactly what we are doing moment after moment it is not so difficult to understand.  There are many and many koans.  Recently I talked about a frog (several times).  Whenever I talked about a frog they laughed and laughed.  When you come and sit here you may think you are doing some special thing while your husband is sleeping you are here practicing zazen.  And you are doing some special thing and your husband is lazy.  That is…maybe your understanding of zazen.  But look at the frog.  A frog also sits like this but it has no idea of zazen.  And if you watch what he does…if something annoys him he will do like this (making a face).  If something to eat comes he will eat (imitating a frog snapping at an insect) and he eats sitting.  Actually that is our zazen.  We are not doing any special thing.  We should think that we are doing some special thing.


August 24th, 1967 Shosan

Thursday, August 24th, 1967



August 24, 1967


INTRODUCTION:  [Opening sentences missed.]

… teaching of Dōgen-zenji.  The main point of practice is to listen to your teacher and to practice zazen.  We have you practice zazen and study the Prajna Paramita Sutra. If someone ask me:  What is Prajna Paramita?  I will answer:  practice of zazen.  If someone ask again:  What is the practice of zazen?  I will answer:  To open Buddha’s eating bowl and to take bath in evening.  If someone who understands what I said right now, come and express your way to me in the form of question and answer.

Question 1 (Dick): For the Big Mind, the bridge flows.  If everything has such independence, how can we find our own responsibility?

Roshi: Your responsibility is under your own feet.

Dick: Thank you very much.

Roshi: [LOUD]  Ehhhhhh!  What is that?  What is that is the question and at the same time the answer.  That is what.


August 24th, 1967

Thursday, August 24th, 1967

Student offering incense at a Jukai (receiving the precepts) ceremony


Thursday, August 24, 1967

Z.M.C.  Sesshin Lecture

Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara

Edited by Brian Fikes

(Again, the opening sentences were missed.  According to Dick [Baker], they were something like:  “This is the last lecture of sesshin.  We have talked of form and emptiness, but have not understood it well.”—B. F.)

…  She was a part of the world, and whatever she said from the top of the mountain was in her mind.  She felt an unusual warm feeling even for mountain range after mountain range, but at the same time, she felt very lonely.  Something is missing in that understanding.  What is it?  What is it?  Today, for my last lecture, I want to qualify this point.

Do you know the famous story of Gutei’s one‑finger Zen?  I think everyone knows it.  Gutei Osho lived in a small hut deep in the mountains.  One day a nun called [Jissai] came to the hut.  As soon as she arrived, she went around and around the altar with her hat on her head.  Gutei Osho said, “Why don’t you take off your hat?”  She said, “If you can say something good to me, I will take off my hat.”  But he couldn’t say any­thing, so he was very ashamed of himself.  He left his an, his small temple, and started visiting famous Zen masters.  First of all, he thought he must see Tenryu Osho.  And before he said anything, Tenryu Osho held up one finger, like this, and Gutei was enlightened.  You understand?


August 23rd, 1967

Wednesday, August 23rd, 1967


Wednesday, August 23, 1967

Sesshin Lecture No. 4 [sic]

Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara

Edited by Brian Fikes (Not Verbatim, the tape is no longer available)

Buddhism is not any special teaching, and enlightenment is not any particular stage that you attain.  When you understand your life completely, that is enlightenment.  So though the approach to it is not the same, as long as you study sincerely, you will reach the same goal.  You may think you have discovered a new teaching, but almost all the teachings we discover have already been discovered by Buddhist teachers.  You may say Buddhism is the accumulation of our human experience.  So whatever you make effort on, there is the way.

Some people are always trying to discover some particular way for themselves.  That is not the true way to study; this kind of idea is utterly wrong.  So we say, “Don’t seek for any particular enlightenment.”  Enlightenment is not something particular.  When you start to study Buddhism, thinking that it is good to expect that Buddhism will give you some particular teaching, if you cannot satisfy your expectations, you will give up.  This is not how we study.


August 21st, 1967

Monday, August 21st, 1967

Suzuki-roshi and Lama Govinda

GENJŌ-KŌAN NO.  2 [1?]

Monday, August 21, 1967

Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara

Edited by Brian Fikes

There is a slight difference between your usual activity and the activity in our monastery.  Of course, we do our best in our everyday work in order to support our activity.  The work you do should be done with your very best effort and to the best of your ability.  But you should not be too attached or take pride in your ability.  Forgetting all about your ability and the result of your effort, you should still do your best in your work.  This is how you work in a monastery as a part of practice.

And everyone has their own responsibility.  We should work within our responsibilities; we should not invade someone else’s responsibility.  This is also the teaching of “form is emptiness and emptiness is form.” We are working on something right now, and we do not know what we will work on tomorrow.  But right now, what you are working on is your practice, and when you work, just work in your position.  In your posi­tion and in your work there is meaning.  So each one’s responsibility or position is very important for us.  If this is the case, we should not invade someone else’s work.  Each of us should work on our position.  When you do so, there is our practice.  Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.  When you work on the form which is your responsibility, which is your work, there is empti­ness.  But the form, or the position, you have right now is not a permanent one.  Right now you are working on it, and right now you should work on it.  Through your position, you can attain your own enlightenment.  We should work in this way.


August 20th, 1967

Sunday, August 20th, 1967

GENJŌ-KŌAN NO.  1 [3?]

Sunday, August 20, 1967

Morning Sesshin

Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara

Edited by Brian Fikes

(Note from Brian Fikes:  The first portion of this lecture was not recorded.  This is the first [sic][1] in a series of [three] lectures on the Genjokoan given      during the sesshin ending the first training period at Tassajara.)

There are four ways of understanding the relationship of form and emptiness: form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is form, and emptiness is emptiness.  “Form is emptiness” may not be so difficult to understand, but it will be misunderstood by some advanced, hasty people.  “Yes, form is emptiness.  There is no need for us to attach to some particular thing.  Form is emptiness.”  This looks very clear, and this view of life is better than attaching to some particular form or color, because in it there are actually many, many views of life.  And this view of non‑existence is deeper than the view of seeing many things which actually look per­manent and which look like they have some self‑na­ture.  But as we explained already, and as you have already understood, there is no special self‑nature for anything, and everything is changing.  As long as everything is changing, nothing is permanent.  So this [form is emptiness] may be a more advanced view of life.

But “emptiness is form” is rather difficult to understand.  The empti­ness which is the absolute goal we will attain, which is enlightenment itself, is form.  So whatever you do is enlightenment itself.  This is rather difficult to understand, or to accept, because you think emptiness is some unusual thing.  Something unusual is something very common.  This is rather difficult to understand, especially when you practice zazen.  Even though your practice is not perfect, that is enlightenment.  This statement is very difficult to accept.  “No, my practice is not perfect.”  But when we under­stand form is emptiness, and emptiness is form, back and forth in this way, and form is form, and emptiness is emptiness, when emptiness comes, everything is emptiness, and when form comes, form is form, and we accept things as it is.