Archive for the ‘Sandokai’ Category

July 6th, 1970

Monday, July 6th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SANDŌKAI  LECTURE XIII:  “Don’t Spend Your Time in Vain”

Monday, July 6, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-06


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu,

mayōte senga no ko wo hedatsu.

Tsutsushin de sangen no hito ni mōsu,

kōin munashiku wataru koto nakare.

(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


The goal is neither far nor near.

If you stick to the idea of good or bad,

you will be separated from the way

by high mountains or big rivers.

Seekers of the truth,

don’t spend your time in vain.

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]


Here it says:


Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu,

mayōte senga no ko wo hedatsu.

Tsutsushin de sangen no hito ni mōsu,

kōin munashiku wataru koto nakare.


Ayumi wo susumure baAyumi is “foot” or “step.”  Susumure ba:  “to carry on.” Susumure ba gonnon ni ara zuGon is “near”; on is “far away.”  Ayumi wo susumure ba.  Ayumi is actually “practice,” you know.  Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu.


“There is no idea of far away from the goal or nearer to the goal.”  This is very important.  When you [are] involved in selfish practice, there is, you know—you have some idea of attainment.  And when you have—you strive for to attain enlightenment or to reach the goal, you have naturally, “We are far away”—you know, idea of, “We are far away from the goal.”  Or, “We are almost there,” you know.  Gonnon:  “near” or “far away.”
But if you really practice our way, enlightenment is there.  Mmm.  Maybe this is rather difficult to accept [laughs], you know.  When you practice zazen without any idea of attainment, there is actually enlightenment.  Or you may understand in this way like Dōgen-zenji explained:  In our selfish practice there is enlightenment and there is practice.  Practice and enlightenment is two—a pair of opposite idea.  But when we realize—when we understand our practice and enlightenment as an event in realm of great dharma world, enlightenment and practice is two event which appears in a great dharma world.  The both practice and enlightenment is also events, you know, which will have—which many events in our life or in our dharma world.  When we understand in that way, enlightenment is one of the event which symbolize the dharma world, and practice is also an event which symbolize our big dharma world.  So there is—if both symbolize or express or suggest the big dharma world, you know, actually we sh- [partial word], there is no need for us to be discouraged because we do not attain enlightenment or why we should be extremely happy with our enlightenment.  Actually there is no difference.  Both has equal value.


July 4th, 1970

Saturday, July 4th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi at a Precepts Ceremony at City Center

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi at a Precepts Ceremony at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, July 4, 1970


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-04

[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


          Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi.

          Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare.

          Sokumoku dō wo ese zumba,

          ashi wo hakobu mo izukunzo michi wo shiran.

(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


If you listen to the words, you should understand the source of
the teaching.

Don’t establish your own rules.

If you don’t practice in your everyday life as you walk,

how can you know the way?

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]



Tonight and tonight lecture and one more lecture will be the last concluding lecture for Sandōkai.


And here it says Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shū wo esu beshi.  Koto means “the first character.”  We read from this side, you know:  Koto wo—  Koto?  Koto wo uke te waKoto means “words.”  Uke te wa:  “to receive” or “to listen to”; “to receive,” you know.  This is something like “hand,” you know.  The same type [?] character—”to receive.”  If you receive words, it means that if you receive teaching, you should—subekaraku—you should—subekaraku—shouldyou should.


Shū wo—shū is “source of the teaching”—shū—source of the teaching which is beyond our words.  Esu beshi is “to have actual understanding of it.”  So if you listen to the words, you should understand—e—understand— shū—source of the teaching.  Usually we, you know, stick to words, and it is difficult, because we stick to words, it is difficult to see the true meaning of the teaching.  So we say, “words or teaching is finger pointing at the moon.”  If you stick to the finger pointing at the moon, you cannot see the moon.  So words is justto suggest the real meaning of the truth is the words.  So we shouldn’t stick to words, but we should know actually what the words mean.


At his time, you know, at Sekitō’s time, many people stick to wordsor each one’s, each Zen masters [taught] personal characteristic of Zen.  Each masters had, at that time, their own way of introducing the real teaching to the disciples.  And they stick to some special teacherssome particular way, so Zen was divided in many schools, and it was very hard to the student [to know], “Which is the true way?”  And actually, to wonder which is the true way is already, you know, wrong.  Each was, you know   Each teachers is suggesting the true teaching by his own way, so each teachers, you know, true  Each teachers is suggesting same truthsame source of the teaching which was transmitted from Buddha.  Without knowing the source of the teaching, to stick to words was wrong, and actually that was what the teachers at his [Sekitō’s] time was doing, or students’ way of studying Zen.


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.


June 27th, 1970

Saturday, June 27th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 27, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-27

[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:

Line 33        Bammotsu onozukara kō ari,

Line 34        masani yō to sho to wo iu beshi.

Line 35        Ji sonsure ba kangai gasshi,

Line 36        ri ōzure ba sempō sasō.

                                      (Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)

Line 33        Everything––all beings––have their own virtue.

Line 34        You should know how to apply this truth.

Line 35        Things and emptiness are like a container and its

cover fitting together,

Line 36        like two arrows meeting head-on.

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]


[Begins with indecipherable whisper.]  Today’s lecture will be about how we observe everything—how we understand everything and how we should treat things—with what kind of understanding is the—will be the purpose of tonight’s lecture.  Everything has the—[sudden loud feedback from the sound system.  Suzuki-rōshi stops speaking.  Whispering exchange takes place about the sound system.]  Oh.  Okay.


Before I talk about the value of things or how we understand things, we should—I think I must explain those words [referring to the text on the blackboard].*  The important words here is—this is, you know—bammotsu  is “myriad of things.”  It means “many things,” “all things.”  [Ari means]* “has.”  [Onozukara means]* “naturally”—”naturally.”  [ means]* has “function” or—this means “function” or “virtue.”


Because, you know, if something has some function, you know, that function will be virtue for us—value, you know, exchange value.  Or—value as a, you know—mostly we—when we say “value” it is exchange value, but this value [kō ] means more—it—a wider meaning.  This has more wider meaning, you know.  The —this   Kō is not [exactly?] function or—utility [searching for word and seemed to find it in “utility”].  So utility is more like value, you know.  But it means more—it has more wider sense.


June 25th, 1970

Thursday, June 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, June 25, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-25


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


          Meian ono-ono aitaishite,

          hisuru ni zengo no ayumi no gotoshi.


(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


Darkness and brightness stand with each other

like when one foot is forward and the other is behind in walking.


(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]



Now we are still talking about the reality from the light of independency.  Even though we are discussing about independency, we always refer to the dependency-interdependency, so you may, you know, feel as if I am always [laughs] talking same thing.  But actually it is not so.  We are talking about, you know, independency now, not dependency.


“Dependency and independency,” we say, but it is actually two side of the one coin.  People say, you know, Japanese people [laughs] are very tough.  People may say [so].  But that is the one side of the Japanese, you know, people.  The other side is, you know, softness.  Should be, but I don’t know exactly [laughs].  I hope so [laughs].  But they are very kind.  Some people, you know, who visited Japan may say Japanese people are very kind.  But some people may say Japanese people are very tough.  But for a long time, because of the Buddhistic training, they are trained in that way, you know.  Even in children’s song, we say, he is, you know, describing hero called Momotaro.  Momotaro.  Peach Boy.  Peach Boy.  Do you know Momotaro?


Momotaro was born when an old couple—old couple lived in the riverside.  One day, old mother picked up a peach from the stream and came back [to] her home.  And from the peach, you know, Momotaro was born.  Momotaro came out [laughs], and he was very strong but very gentle [laughs]—very kind and gentle.  But he was very strong.  Japanese children sing a song:  Ki wa ya sa shi ku te—chi ka ra mo chi.[1]  “He was very kind, but he was very strong.”  That was Momotaro.  Not only he was strong, but he was very kind.  It is Japanese idealistic character.  What do you call?  You must have some, you know, some—


June 20th, 1970

Saturday, June 20th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi in monk's pilgrimage gear.

Suzuki-roshi in monk’s pilgrimage gear.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 20, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-20


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:

Line 27        Meichū ni atatte an ari,

Line 28        ansō wo motte ō koto nakare.

Line 29        Anchū ni atatte mei ari,

Line 30        meisō wo motte miru koto nakare.


Line 27        Within brightness actually there is utter darkness;

Line 28        but you should not meet someone just with darkness.

Line 29        Within darkness there is brightness

Line 30        but you should not see others only with the eyes of brightness.]


First I will explain the two terms mei and an, “brightness” and “darkness.”  Brightness means relative, dualistic world of term and words, you know—the thinking world or visible world in which we live.  And darkness means, you know, absolute world where there is no exchange value or materialistic value or spiritual value even—the world our words does not reach—the world our thinking mind cannot reach.  Beyond words, beyond thinking there is world.  This is the world of absolute—the opposite to the world of relative or dualistic world.


And it is necessary for us who live in realm of—realm of duality to have good understanding of the absolute, which may be the idea of deity or god, usually.  But in Buddhism, we do not, you know, have any idea about deity or about god because the absolute is the absolute because it is beyond our understanding or dualistic thinking.  But we cannot deny this world of absolute, or a kind of idea of deity.


June 17th, 1970

Wednesday, June 17th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 17, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-17


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line 21 Manako wa iro, mimi wa onjō,

Line 22 hana wa ka, shita wa kanso.

Line 23 Shikamo ichi-ichi no hō ni oite,

Line 24 ne ni yotte ha bumpusu.

Line 25 Hommatsu subekaraku shū ni kisu beshi.

Line 26 Sompi sono go wo mochiu.


Line 21 For eyes there is color and form, for ears there is sound,

Line 22 for the nose there is smell, and for the tongue there is taste;

Line 23 Each being comes out from the root

Line 24 as branches and leaves come out from the trunk.

Line 25 But both root and end should return to their original nature.

Line 26 The words we use are different––good and bad, respectful and

mean—but through these words we should understand the
absolute being or source of the teaching.]



In last lecture I explained the everything—independency of everything. “Independency of everything” means—of course, things are interdependent with each other, but at the same time, each being is independent because each being include the other being—the rest of the being. So when each being include whole world, then each being is actually independent. But at the same time, you know, each being, you know, looks like— When each being understood, you know, in term of big or small, black or white, heavy or light, man or nature—


June 13th, 1970

Saturday, June 13th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi with Phillip Wilson (I think) at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi with Phillip Wilson (I think) at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 13, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-13


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line 17        Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu,

Line 18        ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.

Line 19        Hi wa nesshi kaze wa dōyō,

Line 20        mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.


Line 17        The four elements resume their nature

Line 18        as a child has its mother.

Line 19        Fire is hot, wind blows,

Line 20        water wets, and earth is solid.]


Next—as we have big blackboard, I want to explain those characters.  This is—those characters are, of course, Chinese characters, and—but Japanese people read those characters in—in Japanese, you know, without changing the order of characters.  How we read those characters is—this is one word, shidai:




Shidai—Shidai no.  We put here no.[1]   Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu.  [Writing on blackboard.]




Shidai no shō onozukara—we write here, you know, in kana—fukusu:



Ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.  We read in this way, you know.


In Chinese:


[Line 17]     Shi dai sho ji fuku  

[Line 18]     nyo shi toku go bo.

[Line 19]     Ka net su do yo,     

[Line 20]     sui su shi ken go.   


This is, you know, Chinese way of reading.  But we—Japanese people read Chinese sentences like this:


[Line 17]     Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu,

[Line 18]     ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.

[Line 19]     Hi wa nesshi kaze wa dōyō,

[Line 20]     mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.


And we put Shidai no—Shidai no shō:  “Nature of,” you know, “of—of” is no.  “Nature of four elements.”  Onozukara, “naturally.”  Fukusu or “resume.”


June 10th, 1970

Wednesday, June 10th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 10, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-10


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi,

shō moto rakku wo kotonisu.

An wa jōchū no koto ni kanai,

mei wa seidaku no ku wo wakatsu.


Things have various natures, various forms.

There is good and bad, taste, sound, and feeling.

In darkness, superior and inferior cannot be distinguished;

in brightness, the duality of pure and impure is apparent.]



In my last lecture, although I did not literally explain about those sentences, but I almost explained about it.


Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki is, you know, in Prajñāpāramitā SūtraShiki soku zekuShiki.  Same character as shikiShiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki means, you know, “form and color.”  It has two meanings:  form and color.  Things which—form and color.  Shitsuzō wo kotonishi, shō moto rakkuShō [is] in Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.  We have many [of] this character—shō, voice, which is the object of, you know, ears.  Shō moto—shitsuzō wo kotonishi—rakku wo kotonisu:  means that whatever you see, you know—shitsuzô—shitsu  means “quality” or “nature.”  “Quality” or “nature” is shitsu, like human nature or buddha nature or good nature, evil nature.  Nature is shitsu means “figure.”


So in things there is various—  Things has various nature and various figure, various forms.  And voice—  When you hear voice, voice has—some voice is good and some voice is not good:  agreeable or disagreeable.  Rakku means—  Something which you care for is raku.[1]   Ku[2]  is something which will create some bitter feeling or, you know, some—not—”suffering” is too big word, but, some, you know—  It will create suffering.  This is just—  He is now talking about just form and voice, but same thing is true with taste, or sound, or know [no?]—or his feeling or taste.  There is good taste and bad taste, and good sound and bad sound, and good feeling and bad feeling—something agreeable idea or disagreeable idea.  There are many things.


June 6th, 1970

Saturday, June 6th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Saturday, June 6, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-06


[Note.  This lecture was given—as a general introduction—to Prof. Jack Weller’s visiting philosophy class following Lecture IV in Suzuki-rōshi’s series of lectures on the Sandōkai.]



Purpose of study of Buddhism is to have perfect understanding of things, and subjectively to understand ourselves, and especially what we are doing in our everyday life—what kind of activity we are involved in, [to] know why we suffer, [and why] we have such a conflict in our society or in our, you know, family, or within ourselves.  So to understand with good understanding of subjective world and objective world and what is going on in objective world and in within ourselves.


If we, you know, realize—  If we see things-as-it-is, and if we know—[are] aware of what we are doing actually, with good understanding of those things, we will, you know, know what we should do.  And this is, you know, intellectual understanding of—study of Buddhism.  And this intellectual study include dualistic study and non-dualistic study.  There are two ways of studying Buddhism.  And then what you should do is to have real experience of Buddhist way.  So study and our practice is different, you know.  Even though you have good understanding, you know, if you do not follow the way—follow your understanding, it will not help you.


We are now studying a kind of scripture, which was written by Chinese great Zen master, entitled Sandōkai.  And last night I explained, you know, what do we mean by “darkness” and what do we mean by “brightness,” you know.  Darkness means, you know, something which we cannot, you know, see or think about, you know.  It is something which is beyond our intellectual, you know, understanding.  That is darkness.  Darkness does not mean, you know, something—some dark, you know [laughs], place which you do not know.  Of course, we do not know what is going on at the darkness.  But you will [be] afraid of it.  You have a kind of fear if you are in dark place.  But what we mean by utter darkness means, you know, something which is beyond our understanding, you know.  This, you know, room is pretty dark right now, you know, but still you can see, you know, things in this room.  If there is no lighting, in utter darkness you cannot see anything.  But it does not mean there is nothing.  There is many things, but you cannot see, that’s all.