Archive for the ‘Nothing Special Collection’ Category

August 21st, 1971

Saturday, August 21st, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, August 21, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-21


Excuse me.  [Laughs.]  I feel rather stiff.  Maybe I worked too hard.


Since we have Tassajara and the city zendō, we are—our practice is rather concentrated on city practice or Tassajara practice.  But the most important point is to know what is Zen practice, which is not only city practice, but also Tassajara practice, and city zendō practice.  Wherever you are, we have Zen way of practice.  No matter where you are, you must have proper understanding of our practice.


In Shōbōgenzō “Genjo-kōan,” Dōgen-zenji says, referring to this point:


“When all things are Buddhism, there are birth and death—there are defilement, practice, birth and death, buddhas, and sentient beings.  When all things has no self, there is no delusion, no buddha, no sentient beings, no birth, no death.  Buddhism originally is beyond the all positive or neg- [partial word]—positivity or negativity, so there are birth and death, defilement and enlightenment, and sentient beings and buddha.”


August 12th, 1971

Thursday, August 12th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday Evening, August 12, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-12


Tomorrow—tomorrow is the thirteenth, is it?  In Japan tomorrow is—tomorrow—13th, 14th, 15th, 16th—is Obon[1]—Obon days.  We say Obon.  At some place, we observe it July 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th.  Thirteenth is the—thirteenth—[on the] evening of the thirteenth, old souls are supposed to visit their family—old family.  And 16th is the day old souls leave their old family.


Why we observe two months?  Before we observe it in the moon—by the moon calendar [July], but recently we observe it by your calendar [August].  That is why we observe, you know, sometime—in some place, July.  Somewhere—in some place, August.


This is—this kind of observation started even before Buddha.  Before Buddha—in India, they were—people were concerned about their future generation.  And if they do not have their children, they worried very much.  And they—they thought they are not faithful enough to their ancestors.


This kind of, you know, idea is also true in China, and maybe after Buddhism [was] introduced to Japan.  Japan [was] also concerned about their generation—future generation.  It is Chinese custom.  And after Chinese, you know, culture were introduced to Japan, they started to write Japanese history, something like China.  Nihon-shoki.[2]  Before Nihon-shoki we have Kojiki.[3]  Kojiki was written by Japanese, purely, of course, by Japanese, but only—mostly Japanese—according to Japanese custom and thought.  But Kojiki was written after Chinese culture was introduced, and Kojiki was written something like Chinese history.


July 2nd, 1971

Friday, July 2nd, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, July 2, 1971

City Center

“Real Precepts Are Beyond Words”

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-02


[Today I would like to][1]  … lecture about precepts.  I—when I say “precepts,” the first thing you will think of is something like Ten Commandment or ten grave prohibitory precepts.  But Zen precepts is not like that.  The Zen precepts is—to study Zen precepts means to understand zazen.  So it is—another interpretation of zazen is precepts.  Using words—word “precepts” we explain what is Zen actually.


The purpose of receiving precepts, observing precepts, is not just to remember what we should do or what we shouldn’t do.  And how we observe precepts is to practice Zen or to extend our practice to our everyday life.  So the idea of precepts is completely different from the usual understanding of precepts.


The precepts, you know, which is—or foundation of precepts or—true meaning of precept—precepts is various way of understanding of one reality, one reality which is always with you—reality, which cannot—which is not individable in three, or in sixteen, or in ten.  Tentatively we divide—we explain it from various angle, but that is just words.  Real, you know, precept is beyond word.  We cannot—if we talk about it, it is not real precepts already.  So if you think precept is just to observe some various rules is precepts, it is very different or very far away from the true understanding of the true prac- [incomplete word:  “practice”?]—precepts.


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 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 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.


February 27th, 1971

Saturday, February 27th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Morning, February 27, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-27

The purpose of our practice is, of course, to maybe to have full enlightenment.  Why we cannot have enlightenment is because of our, you know, delusion or mumyō,[1]  we say.  Or—because we are not—we don’t have clear picture of this world, or we do not have eyes to see, you know, clearly, to see clearly, or to have clear understanding of this world.  That is, you know, so-called-it called mumyōMumyō is delusion.  Mu is “no.”  Myō is “clear.”  “No clear light.”


We are—maybe we are—we Buddhist or we student or someone, you know, who do not have clear eyes to see, you know, what is the true way—which way to go [laughs].  So naturally you are wondering about, you know, to find out some truth, or to have—because you are wondering about, so you want to have some clear map, you know, which way to go.  And that is why you must have teacher who, you know, give you some map or some instruction or which way to go.


Even though you have map, if you have a map or, you know, and you have teacher, there is still, you know, difficulty in your practice.  The difficulty may be, you know, you have no—if you have—if you—as long as you trust your teacher, you know, you don’t have to worry about the way, you know, you take.  But because you have, you know, no worry, you know, you, you know, you are liable to, you know, to see something else, you know, because you have—you don’t have to, you know, try to find out which way you should take.  So you just follow [laughs] your teacher.  When he goes fast, you go fast, and when he goes slow, you go slow.


February 5th, 1971

Friday, February 5th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, February 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-05


Purpose of sesshin is to be completely one with our practice.  That is purpose of sesshinSesshin.  Sesshin means—  We use two Chinese characters for setsuSetsu means to treat or, you know, like you treat your guests or like a teacher [student?] treat his teacher, is setsu.  Another setsu is “to control” or “to arrange things in order.”  Anyway, it means to have proper function of mind.


When we say “control,” something which is controlled is our five senses and will, or mind, Small Mind, Monkey Mind which should be controlled.  And if—why we control our mind is to resume to our true Big Mind.  When Monkey Mind is always take over big activity of Big Mind, you know, we naturally become a monkey [laughs].  So Monkey Mind must have his boss, which is Big Mind.


And when we say “Big Mind,” then while we practice zazen, it is the Big Mind controlling the Small Mind.  It is not so, you know, but only when Small Mind become calm, the Big Mind, you know, start to start its true activity.  So in our everyday life, almost all the time, we are involved in activity of Small Mind.  That is why we should practice zazen and we should be completely involved in this kind of practice.


January 23rd, 1971

Saturday, January 23rd, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 23, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-23


Most of us, maybe, want to know what is self.  This is a big problem.  Why you have this problem, you know, and is—I want to understand [laughs] why you have this problem.  I’m trying to understand.  And even though, it seems to me, even though you try to understand who are you, it is, you know, it is endless trip, you know, and you will never see your self.


You say to sit without thinking too much is difficult.  Just to sit is difficult.  But more difficult thing will be to try to think about your self [laughs].  This is much more difficult.  To do is maybe easy, you know, but to have some conclusion, you know, to it is almost impossible, and you will continue it until you become crazy [laughs, laughter].  That is, you know, when you don’t know what to do with your self.  Or when you don’t know, when you find out it is impossible to know who you are, you know, you become crazy.


Moreover, your culture is based on the idea of self and science and Christianity [laughs].  So those element, you know, idea of Christianity or sinful idea of Christianity or, you know, idea of science, scientific-oriented mind, makes your confusion greater.  You try to always, when you sit, you know, perhaps most of you sit to improve your zazen.  That idea to improve, you know, is a very Christian-like, you know, idea and, at the same time, a scientific idea:  to improve. You acknowledge some improvement of our culture or civilization.  We understand our civilization, you know, improved a lot.  But, you know, when we say “scientific” in sense of science, you know, or “improve” means before you went to Japan by ship, now you go to airplane or jumbo [laughs] plane.  That is improvement.


January 16th, 1971

Saturday, January 16th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the old zendo at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 16, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-16


Something valuable [laughs]—not jewel or not candy, but something which is very valuable.  You recite right now, you know, a verse on unsurpassable, you know, teaching.  What is actually—how to, you know, receive this kind of treasure is, you know, to have well-oriented mind.  I have been talking about self for maybe three lectures—what is self and what is your surrounding, what kind of thing you see, how you accept things, and purpose of zazen.


Purpose of zazen, why we practice zazen is to be a boss of everything.  That is why you practice zazen.  If you practice zazen, you will be a boss of your surrounding—wherever you are, you are boss [laughs].  But if I say so, it will create some misunderstanding:  you are boss, you know, you are boss of everyone or everything.  And you is, you know, also, in your mind, you are boss of everything, you know.  When you understand in that way, you know, you are enslaved by idea of you and, you know, your friend, or everyone—all the people surrounding you.  You are, you know, you know, you exist in your mind as a kind of idea, and also people exist in your mind as a member of [laughs] delusion [laughs].  I say “delusion” because when those idea is not well-supported by your practice, then that is delusion, you know.  When you are enslaved by the idea of “you or others,” then that is delusion.  When real, you know, power of practice is supporting those idea, at that time, you know, I say you are “you” who is practicing our way is boss of everything, boss of you yourself, you know.