Archive for the ‘Nothing Special Collection’ Category

January 10th, 1971

Sunday, January 10th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 10, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-10


[1]  were given about our practice referring to Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva?  What is, you know, who is Avalokiteshvara?  I don’t mean a man or a woman [laughs].  He is, by the way—he’s supposed to be a man who take sometime figure of a woman, you know.  In disguise of a woman he help people.  That is Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva.  Sometime, you know, he has one thousand hands—one thousand hands—to help others.  But, you know, if he is concentrated on one hand only, you know [laughs], 999 hands will be no use [laughs].


Our concentration does not mean to be concentrated on one thing, you know.  Without, you know, trying to concentrate our mind, you know, without trying to concentrate, concentrated on something, we should be ready to be concentrated on something, you know.  For an instance, if I am watching someone, you know, like this [laughs], my eyes is concentrated on one person like this.  You know, I cannot see, you know, even it is necessary, it is difficult to change my concentration to others.  We say “to do things one by one,” but what it means is, you know, without [laughs]—ah, it may be difficult—maybe not to try to explain it so well [laughs].  Nature [of] it is difficult to explain.  But look at my eyes, you know.  This is eyes, you know, I am watching someone [laughs].  And this is my eyes, you know, when I practice zazen.  I’m [not] watching anybody [laughs], but if someone move, I can catch him [laughs, laughter].


December 27th, 1970

Sunday, December 27th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, December 27, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-12-27


Dōgen-zenji said sickness does not, you know, destroy—destroy people, but no practice will destroy people.  Sickness does not destroy people, but no practice destroy people.  What do you mean [laughs]?  What does it mean?  “No practice destroy people.”


If, you know, we have no idea of practice, sickness—even sickness does not mean anything, you know, because when we cannot practice, we call it sick- [partial word]—sickness.  But, you know, if you have no idea of practice, what is sickness?  Maybe for the people whose purpose of life is to enjoy life, you know, when he cannot enjoy his life, it is sickness.  But it is—that idea is self-contradiction, you know, because sickness is also a part of [laughs]—part of life.  Maybe because he want to enjoy our life, he want to enjoy in its—enjoy in its more common sense—common sensitivity—enjoy our life.  When you cannot enjoy our life, it is sickness [laughs], but, you know, sickness also, you know, [is] a part of life, especially when you become old.  You will be al- [partial word]—almost everyday you will be sick [laughs].  So that—that does not, you know, mean anything to the old people.


So how to enjoy our old life is, you know, to have the idea of practice.  When someone cannot [laughs] practice, you know:  “Oh, I am sick.”  [Laughs.]  “It means something.”  But even in their bed, you know, they have, you know, something to do:  to have more better practice or more formal practice.  So they—they will try to, you know, keep up more ordinal [ordinary?] way of practice, having medicine or—or something.  Anyway, he will try.


July 19th, 1970

Sunday, July 19th, 1970
This may be lunch at Sokoji

This may be lunch at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, July 19, 1970

City Center, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-19


After—after forty days of my leaving from here I feel I am a stranger to the building, not to you but [laughs] to the building and my cups and [laughs, laughter].  I forgot where is my—where was my things.  Each time I need something, I have to try to think about “Where is it?  Oh!  There.”  [Laughs.]  Something like that.


I am thinking about now, at the same, time Dōgen-zenji’s teaching:   “There are people who is in enlightenment over enlightenment and delusion in delusion.”  You know, enlightenment over enlightenment [laughs].  It does not mean after attaining enlightenment he lost himself, and he—that he became a hermit or something.


“Enlightenment over en- [partial word]—over enlightenment” may be too much enlightenment [laughs, laughter] for you.  But “enlightenment over enlightenment”—maybe tr- [partial word]—my translation is wrong, but I don’t know how to translate it.


“Enlightenment over enlightenment” means to forget enlightenment after attaining enlightenment.  Such people, you know, because they have no idea of enlightenment anymore because they already have gone through enlightenment, so there is no trace of enlightenment in their mind.  So they have, you know, they do not stick to enlightenment anymore.  They do not stick to Buddhist way anymore.  So they are quite common.  And you—common enough—to be a ordinary person.


July 8th, 1970

Wednesday, July 8th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi in front of San Francisco Zen Center

Suzuki-roshi in front of San Francisco Zen Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, July 8, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-08



[This is the first in a series of six lectures by Suzuki-rōshi

on the four ekōs chanted at the conclusion of morning services

at San Francisco Zen Center and other Sōtō Zen temples and monasteries.

The lectures were delivered from July 8 to July 15, 1970.

The Japanese transliteration and English translation of the ekōs

are based, with minor changes, on David Chadwick’s

“Ekō Study Book:  A Tassajara Project,” December 1970

(unpublished manuscript, San Francisco Zen Center).



The First Morning Ekō:


Chōka butsuden fugin


Line 1.  Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite shōkan o taretamae.

Line 2.  Jōrai, Maka Hannyaharamita Shingyō, shōsai myō kichijō

                   darani o fujusu,

Line 3.  atsumuru tokoro no shukun wa

Line 4.  daion kyōshu honshi Shakamuni Butsu;

Line 5.  Shintan Shoso Bodai Daruma-daioshō;

Line 6.  Nichi-riki Shoso Eihei Dōgen-daioshō;

Line 7.  Daishō Monjushiri Bosatsu no tame ni shi tatematsuri.

Line 8.  Kami jion ni mukuin koto o.



Morning Service Buddha Hall Sūtra


Line 1.  May Buddha observe [see?] us, and may we receive his true


Line 2.  Thus, as we chant the Maha Prajñā Pāramitā Hridaya Sūtra

and the Dharani for Removing Disasters,

Line 3.  we offer the collected merit to

Line 4.  the great kind founder, the original teacher, Shākyamuni


Line 5.  the First Patriarch of China, the great Bodhidharma;

Line 6.  the First Patriarch of Japan, the great Eihei Dōgen;

Line 7.  and the great sage Mañjushrī Bodhisattva.

Line 8.  Let us reflect their compassion and mercy.]



I want to explain ekō.[1]  The ekō is—after reciting sūtra, we—[it is] a sort of explanation of why we recite sūtra.  And this sūtra is for such-and-such buddha, or next sūtra is for arhats, or third one is for our patriarchs, and fourth one is for disciples and students who is related to this monastery and the ancestors or relative who passed away.  Those are ekō.


June 28th, 1970

Sunday, June 28th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday Morning, June 28, 1970


[No audio source]


You should sit zazen with your whole body; your spine, mouth, toes, mudrā.  Check on your posture during zazen.  Each part of your body should practice zazen independently or separately; your toe should practice zazen independently, your mudrā should practice zazen independently; your spine and your mouth should practice zazen independently.  You should feel each part of your body doing zazen separately.  Each part of your body should participate completely in zazen.


Check to see that each part of your body is doing zazen independently.  This is also known as shikantaza.  To think, “I am doing zazen” or “My body is doing zazen” is wrong understanding.  It is a self-centered idea.


The mudrā is especially important.  You should not feel as if you are resting your mudrā on the heel of your foot for your own convenience.  Your mudrā should be placed in its own position.


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 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.


March 29th, 1970

Sunday, March 29th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, March 29, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-29

How do you feel now?  [Laughs.]  Excuse me.  I thought of funny thing right now [laughs].  I feel as if, you know—I don’t know how you feel, but I feel as if I—I have finished, you know, things in restroom [laughs].  As I am pretty old, you know, I go to restroom so often.  Even when I was young, I went [to] restroom more than, you know [laughs], usual person.  I had, I think, some advantage, you know [laughs, laughter], because of that.  When I went to tan- [partial word]—Eihei-ji and sit in tangaryō,[1]  for seven days [laughs], I could go to restroom without any guilty conscience because I had to [laughs, laughter].  I was so happy [laughs, laughter] to go to restroom.  I think someth- [partial word]—to go to restroom is something to do, you know [laughs, laughter], with our practice.


Ummon[2]  may be the first one to make some connection between our practice and restroom.  “What is our practice?”  Or “What is buddha?”—someone asked him.[3]   He said, you know, “toilet paper”—no, not toilet paper.  Nowadays it is toilet paper, but he says [laughing, laughter], “something to scratch your—scratch yourself after you—after finishing restroom.”  That is what he said.  And since then, you know, many Zen masters [are] thinking about or practicing on that kōan:  What is toilet paper?  [Laughs.]  What he meant by it?


Anyway, our practice is closely related to our everyday life.  Physiologically it may be—our—to go to—we go—we have to go to restroom, but psychologically I think we have to practice zazen.  In our everyday life, we, you know, eat many things, good and bad:  something fancy or something simple, something tasty or something tasteless like water.


March 8th, 1970

Sunday, March 8th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday, March 8, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-08


[Recently my thought is concentrated on the idea of emptiness.][1]  Whatever I say, I am actually talking about what is emptiness, because this emptiness is something which we must understand literally and completely through experience.  But if it is difficult to experience it through experience, you can tentatively understand it as a kind of idea in comparison to your way of thinking or in comparison to the idea you have, [the] various idea you have.


And we classify our idea in two:  one is idea of emptiness, another is idea of being.  And when we say, usually, idea it is idea of being.  And the idea of—your way of thinking belongs to the idea of being, and idea of emptiness makes a pair of opposite with your idea you—ideas you have.  So whatever the idea may be, you can say those idea is idea of being.  So we should know that.


Besides the ideas about things you have, there is another—another ideas which is not same as—same—which is not same idea you have and which is not brought about in your concept.  Actually that is why we practice zazen, you know.  You cannot reach the idea of emptiness with your thinking mind or with your feeling as an conception.  And to practice—to actualize the emptiness is shikantaza.


This morning I want to point—I want to point out some points in our usual understanding what kind of mistake there is and how different idea Buddhists have.  We say emptiness is—in Japanese or Chinese is .[2]   is, of course, a noun, and it is—sometime we use it as a verb, kūzuru.  Kūzuru means—is verb and maybe—so you can say “empty”—you can use words “empty” in two ways.  One is noun and the other is verb.  “To empty.”  To empty is—to empty a cup is to empty, you know, maybe.


March 1st, 1970

Sunday, March 1st, 1970

Suzuki-roshi in the Buddha-hall at City Center for a service or lecture

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday morning, March 1, 1970

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-01

 (this audio file covers about three-quarters of the transcript below)


Actually, because of my bad throat, I don’t speak for people outside, you know.  I o- [partial word]—I hardly manage to keep my lecture in Zen Center.  But this time, because of Dr. Lancaster, whom I met at dinner, I was very much encouraged by him.  And hearing hard [hardship?] of—name of Senzaki,[1] you know, who is, I think, pioneer of Zen in America [and] who did not have also any temple whatsoever.  He did not like to spend his time managing—management or a business-like thing, you know, which will follow by our church or organization activity.  So he just had a small room available for maybe ten or twenty people.  And he spent his life in that way in Los Angeles.  [Gap in tape of 27 seconds.]  … worldly things, but he wanted to make more effort to establishing the foundation of Zen in America.  I think that is why he end up as a wandering monk in America.  I did—before I come to America, I didn’t know anything about him.  But after I came to America, I met many students who studied Zen by him, and I read a book written by him,[2]  and I was very much impressed by his profound understanding of Zen.  Since then, I was very much encouraged to be here and to study with you.


I came this morning without preparing anything to speak.  But I wanted to share the feeling we have right here, right now.  Sharing the feeling right here, right now is the fundamental or basic thing for Zen practice.  Zen is, in one word, to share, you know, our feeling with people or with trees and with mountains wherever we are [laughs].  That is Zen practice.


But usually, you know, our mind is always filled with something, you know:   something like ice cream [laughs, laughter] or lemonade [laughs, laughter] or banana or, you know, soap—how much the soap cost in one, you know, store, how much will it cost in other store.  And looking out the newspaper [laughs] and seeing ad, you know, where there is some sale, you know.  That kind of thing—filled with that kind of thing.  So it is almost impossible to share the actual feeling, you know, where they are right now.