Archive for the ‘Verbatim’ Category

July 6th, 1971

Tuesday, July 6th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday Evening, July 6, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-06 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-06 Part 2

I want to continue my talk about precepts—Buddhist precepts.  And last time I talked about the indivisible three treasures, which is buddha, and dharma, and sangha.  But we have three—we say “three treasures,” but the three treasures could be understood by you in three ways.  It is indivisible, three precepts, because it is one:  buddha, and dharma, and sangha are actually one.  It is not three.  So we say indivisible three treasures.


The next one is, actually, since we have Shākyamuni Buddha who attained enlightenment, realizing the indivisible three treasures.  And what he told was dharma, which was—as he realized what is the indivisible three treasures, he talked about it.  That is dharma.  And his disciples are sangha.  So this is—we call this three treasures, is called “manifested three treasures.”  And right now we have, you know, temples, and in temple we have buddha, you know, big or small, or bronze or wood, or gold or wood, wooden buddha, bronze buddha, buddha image.  That is buddha, you know, for us.  And we have scriptures, you know, many scriptures, piled up somewhere [laughs], sometime in library [laughs].  Those are dharma too.  We call it dharma.  And sangha—sangha is priests and—priests or nun—priests, nuns, and laymen and laywomen.  They are, you know, all sangha.  Those are, you know, also three treasures.  Three treasures, maintaining, which maintains Buddha and Buddhism as a religion.  So those are called, maybe, jūji sanbō[1]“maintaining three treasures,” the three treasures which maintain or sustain Buddhism, which protect Buddhism.


Tonight I want to talk about Buddha’s—excuse me—three treasures, manifested—the manifested three treasures.  It is not different, but the difference—difference is, difference between indivisible three treasures[2]  and manifested three treasures[3]  is—Buddhism which was told by Buddha is the manifested three treasures, manifested buddha.  And Buddhism which exist, you know, before Buddha, even before Buddha, that is indivisible three treasures.  After Buddha, you can say “he is Buddha,” you know; he can say “this is Buddha.”  And this is the teaching which was told by Buddha.  That is dharma.  And those are Buddha’s sangha, which include priest, and laymen, and laywomen—Buddha’s sangha.


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 20th, 1971

Sunday, June 20th, 1971
Service at City Center

Service at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, June 20, 1971


San Francisco


This sesshin—we call it “sewing sesshin“—sesshin and, actually, rakusu sewing—okesa-sewing sesshin.  Our okesa is not just—just symbol of our teaching, but it is actually dharma itself.  But unless you have proper understanding of it, the rakusu is something which you wear as a symbol of Buddhist.  But that is not proper understanding.


The proper understanding of our zazen or rakusu is same, not different.  Proper understanding of zazen is, at the same time, proper understanding of rakusu.  So unless you have real experience of zazen—zazen experience, rakusu is not actually rakusu; it is just something which you wear.  It is not dharma itself.


You may think I told you yesterday[1]  about rakusuokesa, and okesa Buddha made—okesa.  Gathering various material and sewed together and design it in this way after the shape of paddy field.  But here[2]  Dōgen-zenji says, refer to the ten—ten names of okesa.


By the way, Dōgen-zenji wrote more than 95 fascicles of teaching about transmitted teaching.  And two of them is about okesa, two of—two fascicles about okesa.  “Kesa-kudoku” nomaki and “Den-e” nomaki.[3]   So you may understand how important okesa is for us, you know, and those two fascicles are very long in comparison to other fascicles.


June 12th, 1971

Saturday, June 12th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 12, 1971

San Francisco

[The audio of this talk is not currently available.]


We say “Zen Center student,” you know.  Or, we say “Zen Center.”  But it is—tonight—today—I want to make this kind of idea clear, you know, as much as possible.  Although, you know, I say, “You are Zen Center students,” and although you say, “You are Zen Center students,” you say, “I am Zen Center student.”  I don’t know!  [Laughs.]  I am not so sure who you are.  But to me, as long as you are here, you know, to me you are Zen Center students.  [Laughs.]  That’s all.  And if you go out from this building, I don’t know who you are.  [Laughs.]


Do you know who you are?  [Laughs.]  Is there any particular, you know—do you belong to some particular, you know, religion?  Are you member of some particular church, or member, you know—do you strictly belong to some group?  I don’t know.  Perhaps not.  Most of you does not belong to any group in its strict sense.  But some of them [you] may belong to—strictly belong to Zen Center.  And if someone belong [laughs] to Zen Center in its strict sense, and some of you do not belong to any school and yet practicing our way in the same building, you know, how that is possible [laughs], you know?  How is it possible to practice, you know, same—some certain way, you know, with someone who strictly belong to some group.  How is it possible?  If that is not possible, you know, should I accept student who belong to Zen Center in its strict sense?  Should I do that?


Maybe some student thinks in that way, but, you know, I accept, you know, students from various religion.  Some of you may be Christian.  Some of you may be Rinzai students.  Some of you may be, you know—may, you know, still, you know, have some other teacher in your mind—always, maybe.  But still I accept them.  Why is it possible for me to accept students, you know, from various religion as a Zen Center student without any discrimination?  It’s, you know—we, you know—I or we (same thing [laughs])—if I say “we” [laughs] you will be very much concerned about word “we.”  If I say  “I,” it may be okay, you know, but if I say “we,” [laughs] it looks like, you know, there is some, you know, group, and so-called-it “Sōtō” or “Rinzai” group or, you know, Sōtō group.  So if we say “we,” you know, you may not feel so good, but to me it is same thing, you know.  “We.”  “I.”  Same.


June 9th, 1971

Wednesday, June 9th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 9, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-09


[I thought there was another day of sesshin, but today is our last day.][1]


I think you, you know, have understood—  (Can you hear me?  Yeah?  Not so well.  Okay?  Mmm?)  You have understood what is zazen as your practice.  But I didn’t explain how you sit—I didn’t give you instruction how you sit in detail, but I told you, you know, how I practice shikantaza—or zazen.  Maybe that is my way, so I don’t know how another teachers will, you know, sit, I don’t know, but that is anyway my shikantaza.


I started this practice, actually, maybe two—two years ago, after I went to [2-4 words unclear; one earlier transcript states, “cross the creek at Tassajara”] [laughs, laughter], not because I saw many good place to sit, you know.  There’s two [or] three caves where you can sit.  But not because of that.  Perhaps some of you were swimming, you know, with me at that time.  Some beautiful girl students [laughs, laughter] and Peter [Schneider?] was there [laughs, laughter].  And as you—I cannot swim, actually [laughs], but because they were enjoying swimming so much, so I thought I may join [laughs].  But I couldn’t swim.  But there were so many beautiful girls over there, so I tried to, you know, go there [laughs, laughter], without knowing I couldn’t swim [laughs], so I was almost drowned [laughs, laughter].  But I knew that, you know, I will not die, I will not drown.  I shall not be drowned to death, you know, because there are many students.  So someone will help [laughs].  But I was not so serious.


But, you know, feeling was pretty bad, you know.  Water is, you know—I am swallowing water [laughs].  So feeling was too bad, so I stretch my arm, you know, so that someone catch me [laughs].  But no one [laughs, laughter]—no one helped me.  So I decided, you know, to go to the bottom [laughs, laughter], to walk, but that was not possible either [laughs, laughter].  I was, you know, I couldn’t reach to the bottom, or I couldn’t get over the water.  What I saw is beautiful girls’ legs [laughs, laughter].  But I couldn’t, you know [laughs], s- [partial word]—take hold of their legs, you know.  I was rather scared [laughs, laughter].


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 6th, 1971

Sunday, June 6th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 6, 1971

San Francisco 

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-06

[The tape begins with Tenshin-sensei Reb Anderson reciting the verse attributed by Shākyamuni Buddha, quoted in the fascicle “Kesa-kudoku,” in Dōgen-zenji’s Shōbōgenzō.  The translation may have been by Suzuki-rōshi.]

Tenshin-sensei:  I will read now a translation of the sūtra we just chanted:

Listen carefully, Chiko Bisshu,[1]  to the ten precious virtues intrinsic to the garment of the great field of blessedness.  While common clothing encourages the growth of delusion, the Buddha’s garment of the dharma, the okesa, is by no means like that. 

          The okesa enables one, first of all, to achieve the completion of clear conscience.  The okesa covers the dishonorable conduct.  It is worthy to be called “the field where perpetual blessedness grows.” 

          Secondly, the okesa enables one to rest in the ultimate repose, eliminating discomfort from cold and heat or a poisonous insect with the preserving way-seeking mind. 

          Thirdly, the okesa enables one to be free from greed in the homeless life of a monk and eradicates the five false views.  It directs one’s effort towards the right practice. 

          Fourthly, the okesa enables one to elicit the same blessedness as King Brahmā by paying homage on one’s knees to the okesa like a banner woven with gems. 

          Fifthly, the okesa enables one to enjoy happiness in heavenly and human worlds under no influence of sinfulness, always in the belief that wearing the okesa identifies itself with the worship of a stūpa

          Sixthly, the okesa enables one to realize that as a true monk wears and reveres the okesa, made by the three proper methods and arrangement of its materials, color, and measurement, all his conduct is uncontaminated by upward attraction. 

          Seventhly, the okesa enables one to realize that all the buddhas admire its virtues and call it the fertile field, because to wear it is the best way to confer benefit on all beings. 

          Eighthly, the okesa enables one to cultivate the root of the enlightened mind and to practice under the inspiring influence of the okesa.

          Ninthly, the okesa enables one to realize that the germ of the religious awakening is like a spring seedling—that it is growing, and the surpassing result of the enlightened mind is like an autumn fruit. 

          Tenthly, the okesa enables one to be unspoiled by the poisonous arrow of delusion due to wearing the indestructible armor. 

          The Buddha has, as mentioned briefly above, admired the ten precious virtues of the okesa which surpass all description, even if one were to spend an incredible time to describe it. 

          A dragon with even a thread of the okesa is able to escape the hazard of falling prey to the garuda,[2] king of birds. 


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.


March 9th, 1971

Tuesday, March 9th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the City Center Buddha Hall

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the City Center Buddha Hall

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, March 9, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-03-09

(Note: the audio file only covers the first half or so of the transcript)


One day a Chinese famous Zen master was making a trip with a—with his disciple.[1]   A [flock of] geese, you know, fly—were flying over—passed, you know, over their head, like this [probably gestures].


And disciple [teacher] said, “Where are they going?” or “What are they?”—oh—teacher said, “What are they?”


The disciple said, “They are geese.”


“Where they are going?” [laughs] the teacher asked.


Disciple say, “I don’t know,” disciple said quite honestly because he didn’t know [laughs].


Disciple [teacher] twisted his disciple’s nose, like this [laughs, probably gestures].


As a disciple of Buddha, we should know what we are doing, you know, especially, you know, when we, you know, we are with his teacher, you know [laughs].  We should extend our practice, you know, in our everyday life, as you know.  That is our practice.  So if you know secret of your, you know, life, you will understand, you know, the meaning of practice.  And if you know the meaning of practice, you can extend our practice to your everyday life.  That is why—must be why the teacher twisted his disciple’s nose.  [Laughs.]  “What are you doing now?”  Actually, he was not talking about geese.


We feel very serious—we become [laughs] very serious when you—when you have problem, without knowing that you are creating problems always.  And even though you, you know, you have a lot of trouble, somehow, you know, you can manage—you think you can manage it.  “Oh, this is not big trouble,” you know.  “I can manage it quite easily”—without, you know, knowing how you should cope with the trouble.