July 13th, 1970

Originally offered: July 13th, 1970 | Modified September 25th, 2013 by korin
Suzuki-roshi participating in a ceremonial procession (in Japan)

Suzuki-roshi participating in a ceremonial procession (in Japan)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, July 13, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-13

[fixed audio uploaded on 9/25/2013]


[This is the fifth 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 Third Morning Ekō:


Chōka sōdō fugin


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

Line 2.  Jōrai, Sandōkai o fujusu, atsumuru tokoro no shukun wa,




































Taisō[2] Eka-daioshō,

Kanchi Sōsan-daioshō,

Dai-i Dōshin-daioshō,

Daiman Kōnin-daioshō,[3]

Daikan Enō-daioshō,

Seigen Gyōshi-daioshō,

Sekitō Kisen-daioshō,

Yakusan Igen-daioshō,

Ungan Donjō-daioshō,

Tōzan Ryōkai-daioshō,

Ungo Dōyō[4]-daioshō,

Dōan Dōhi-daioshō,

Dōan Kanshi-daioshō,

Ryōzan Enkan-daioshō,

Taiyō Kyōgen-daioshō,

Tōsu Gisei-daioshō,

Fuyō Dōkai-daioshō,

Tanka Shijun-daioshō,

Chōryō[5] Seiryō-daioshō,[6]

Tendō Sōgaku[7]-daioshō,

Setchō[8] Chikan-daioshō,

Tendō Nyojō-daioshō,

Eihei Dōgen-daioshō,

Koun Ejō-daioshō,

Tetsū Gikai-daioshō,

Keizan Jōkin-daiosho,

Line 3. sangoku dentō rekidai soshi no tame ni shi tatematsuri,

Line 4. kami jion ni makuin koto o.








Morning Service Patriarch Hall Sūtra


Line 1.  May Buddha observe us and may we receive his true compassion.

Line 2.  Thus, as we recite the Sandōkai [we offer] the merit collected      hereby to:

Vipashyin Buddha,

Shikin Buddha,

Vishvabhū Buddha,

Krakucchanda Buddha,

Kanakamuni Buddha,

Kashyapa Buddha,

Shākyamuni Buddha,






























Dazu Huike,

Jianzhe Sengcan,

Dayi Daoxin,

Daman Hongren,

Dajian Huineng “Caoxi,”

Qingyuan Xingsi,

Shitou Xiqian,

Yaoshan Weiyan,

Yunyan Tansheng,

Dongshan Liangjie,

Yunju Daoying,

Tong’an Daopi,

Tongan Guanzhi,

Liangshan Yuanguan,

Dayang Jingxuan “Jingyan,”

Touzi Yiqing,

Furong Daokai,

Danxia Zichun,

Zhenxie Qingliao “Changlu,”

Tiantong Zongjue,

Xuedou Zhijian “Zu’an,”

Tiantong Rujing,

Eihei Dōgen,

Koun Ejō,

Tetsū Gikai,

Keizan Jōkin,

Line 3.  successive generations of patriarchs who have transmitted

the true teaching through three countries.

Line 4.  Let us reflect their compassion and mercy.]



Tonight I want to explain the third ekō.  The third sūtra we chant in every morning is Sandōkai—Sandōkai.  We chant—originally, we chant it in sōdō—patriarchs [hall]—where our patriarchs are enshrined.  According to Chinese books about rules of a Zen monastery, the patriarch’s building or hall [joyoden] is left-hand side of the hattō [dharma hall].  And there were—they enshrined their Buddha.  And the other side, right-hand side of the building, Bodhidharma was enshrined.  And Hyakujō[9]  also, enshrined, right-hand side of the—you know, if this is building [sound of paper being unfolded:  probably gesturing]—hattō is here, and right-hand side, as you enter.  The building [joyoden] is [on the] left-hand side [corrected left vs. right] as you enter.  This is hattō—like this—and [on the] left-hand side as you enter, there is buddha—patriarch’s hall.  And here they enshrined Hyakujō and Bodhidharma.  This side.  And [on] the other—the other side of the building, they enshrined their resident priests.  That was, according to the record, that was how they enshrined patriarchs.


In Japan, instead of—as it is difficult to have so completed—so complete, perfect building, so we have in—in, you know, in Buddha hall, we have patriarch’s hall most—in the most temple.  In Eihei-ji we have special building, but there we enshrine patriarchs, Bodhidharma, and Dōgen-zenji, and successive patriarchs or masters for that temple.  And there—when we observe very formal service like memorial service for patriarchs we observe the ceremony in that building, but usually we observe all the dedication in hattō, the main building—center building.  Here is hattō [probably gestures], and this is—if this is hattō, this is—this is butsuden—this is hattōSam- [partial word:  sammon]—main gate is here.  And [on] this side there is kitchen.  And [on] this side there is zendō.  And we observe, every morning, dedication for the patriarchs.


In Buddhism, especially in Zen, we, you know, we have special feeling to our patriarchs.  Buddha, you know—according to our teaching, Buddha is someone who passed away more than two thousand and—two thousand five hundred years ago.  But Buddha’s spirit will last forever, as long as we have—we have descendant of the Buddha—disciple of Buddha—successive or—successive patriarchs.  So actual, you know, Buddha is your teacher.  This is our belief.


And you will be a Buddha too, and strictly speaking, each one of us are—is Buddha.  Buddha’s spirit, you know, is the spirit which will last forever.  Why, you know, Buddha’s spirit is immortal is because his spirit is supported by everyone of us and everything.  And his spirit is supported by every being.  So Buddha’s spirit is always with us and with all being.  That is how Buddha’s spirit is supported.


So that is what actually mean by absolute spirit—absolute—absolute Buddha.  So Buddha can be—once Buddha can be a Gautama Buddha, but year after year, when time changes, next Buddha will appear.  And incessant- [partial word]—incessantly, forever, Buddha’s spirit will appear.  When we, you know, realize this truth completely, we each one of us become Buddha in its true sense.  Each one of us is Buddha objectively and subjectively.  When you acknowledge yourself as a son of Buddha, how you can acknowledge yourself a son of Buddha is through your teacher.  We say we can transmit our teaching “from warm hand to warm hand,” you know, without any cessation—without any hindrance.  To be—to be completely one with your master is how to be a Buddha.


Buddha said once, according to Mahāparinibbāna Sūtra.[10]  “You should rely on self-light, light of self.  And you should rely on light of dharma.”  So we—we call—we call hōtōmyō-jitōmyō.[11]   Hōtōmyō is “dharma lamp.”  Jitōmyō is “light of self—self-lamp.”  “Self,” you know, originally “self-lamp,” and there’s no difference between “self-lamp” and “buddha-lamp.”  But so—how to—we shouldn’t—we must depend on ourselves.  He always taught us to depend on ourselves.  We should not depend on someone else.  And you yourself is someone who—whom you can depend on.  Without depend on yourself, how is it possible to find out someone—something who can depend on.  He says in Dhammapada:  “You yourself is refuge for yourself,” or “You yourself is something which you can depend on.”  Without depend on yourself, how is it possible to find out something—something to depend on?  Only you is something which you can depend on.  So we call it jitōmyō, “lamp of self.”  Hōtōmyō means, you know, “lamp of dharma”—dharma in its wide sense, everything, various being, and it—in its narrow sense, Buddha’s teaching.  Buddha’s teaching, as I said now, is immortal because it is manifestation of the real truth which is—which exist with everything, which is supported by everything, and at the same time, which is supporting by—supporting everything.


So everything is supported by dharma, and dharma is supporting everything.  So dharma is—so dharma is everything, and everything is dharma.  Dharma and teaching is one.  That is our conviction, our faith.  And it—it is actually so.  That is why we, you know, transmit our lamp to others.  You may say:  “If everyone has, you know, his own lamp, there will be no need to transmit a lamp to others.”   But even though you have it, if you don’t feel you have it, it doesn’t make sense.  How you have the feeling of having dharma lamp within yourself is to—through your teaching—your teacher.


So “transmission of dharma” means to “find your own lamp through your teacher,” you know.  That is transmission.  Ju—ju is “to give transmission” or sometime, “to receive transmission.”  Ju or “receive.”  This is hand.  To accept something is ju, and to offer something is also ju.  And ju means “realization” in Buddhism—in Zen Buddhism, you know, ju means, “realization.”  So ju equal kaku.  Kaku means sometime “enlightenment” or “realization” or “to realize something.”  That it is so is kaku.


So to, you know, when—you recei- [partial word]—how you receive transmission from your teacher is to realize your own, you know, nature, your own lamp through your teacher.  Even though you read Buddha’s saying one thousand time, Buddha is already passed away, you know.  It—he is not here.  You may say, “his spirit is here,” you may say, but we do not believe in some—some spirit like a, you know [laughs], like something—jewel, or burning fire, you know, in the air—floating in the air [laughs].


We do not believe in “Buddha’s soul” in that way.  Buddha is already with us.  That we, you know, realize our true nature is to realize Buddha’s nature.  So you—that you realize buddha-nature is the true evidence of the Buddha’s presence.  You know, when you realize, Buddha is here.  When you don’t realize, there is no Buddha for you, even though it is—is here.  If you don’t realize it, you know, it doesn’t make any sense.


I had, this evening, treat of Japanese noodle with our guest [laughs].  Noodle is something which is supposed to be long, but my lecture is not—is supposed to be short, you know [laughs].  If noodle is—is very good noodle it is very long, and if it is not so good it is very short.  So I think my lecture is not so good, so it should be short, you know [laughs, laughter].  So I am trying not to make it, you know, it is not possible for bad noodle to be long, you know [laughs, laughter].  So my lecture for tonight will be very short, especially after having a good noodle, which is very long [laughs, laughter].  But our transmission should be very long, very long, long, long—one should be.  And our transmission is “special noodle,” you know.


Dōgen-zenji said:  “When we realize buddha-nature, you know, you are the teacher—a teacher of your master too.  And you will be even a teacher of Shākyamuni Buddha.  When you attain enlightenment, Shākyamuni Buddha is—could be your disciple.”  And it is very much so.


So our noodle has no end.  Circle, you know, our noodle is circle.  So it is difficult to eat [laughs, laughter].  You know, if noodle is very good [laughs], when you eat it, you know, when you sip it [makes slurping noise]—like this, you know, even though the end of—end of the noodle is [laughs, laughter]—is arrive at you tongue, the other end should be here [probably gestures] if it is good noodle.


But Buddha’s noodle is no end [laughs, laughter continuing].  So there’s no way to eat, you know.  You cannot see it and you cannot eat it.  Only way to eat that noodle is to become noodle.  That is our way.  When you become noodle, you—you don’t know which is end, and which is the beginning, and which is the end.  That is, you know, Sōtō Zen noodle—special noodle for us.


So in here, you know, we dedicate Sandōkai for our teachers.  And after Sandō– [partial word]—reciting a sūtra, we have a kind of invocation to recite names of patriarchs from Shākyamuni Buddha to—to us.  I’m, you know, I’m supposed to be seventy-nine—ninth generation from Buddha if Bodhidharma is twenty-eighth patriarch from Buddha.  Historically, we don’t know, you know, we have no accurate record for that.  But almost, you know, it is supposed to be so.


And Dōgen-zenji is the fiftieth—fifty-one patriarch from Buddha.  And Nyojō-zenji is fifty.  And, you know, after Dōgen-zenji, in my lineage we count twenty—as I am sixty-nine—so how much?  Anyway, I am seventy-ninth.  If—you know, if—you know—I must say, if Bodhidharma is Twenty-Eighth Patriarch, why I say so is I am not so sure, you know, no one is so sure that if Bodhidharma is exactly Twenty-Eighth Patriarch from Buddha.  But after Bodhidharma it is clear—our lineage is very clear.  There is no doubt that Dōgen-zenji is the Fifty-First Patriarch from Buddha.


So the center of—the third dedication is actually the most important dedication for each one of us.  And first one and second one is—first one is for, you know, Buddha as, you know, as we are one of the schools of Zen, so-called-it Sōtō—Sōtō school.  And as a—as a school of Buddhism, we have some special—we have object of worship, which is Buddha.  And, you know, Buddha, and Dōgen-zenji, and Keizan-zenji in Japanese Sōtō.


But here we, as I said before, here we recite sūtra first of all [for] Buddha and the First Patriarch of China, Bodhidharma, and First Patriarch of Japan, Dōgen-zenji.  That is what we recite sūtra for- [partial word:  formal?]—the m- [partial word:  most?]—as a most formal, you know, dedication.


And next is for the arhats—Buddha’s disciples, which is the arhats in primitive Buddhist—Buddha’s age—original Buddhist time—Buddha’s time.  But this one, the third one, is directly related to—to us—actually, each one of us, having dedication for ourselves.  And the third one is, I think, you know, the most important dedication for each one of us.  What we say is quite simple, you know.  With the merit of reciting Sandōkai I—we dedicate to our patriarchs, and we recite names of the patriarch.  That is what we do.


Here I—I have some difference to this lecture.  Dōgen-zenji said in—in his Shōbōgenzō fascicle of patriarch:[12]  “When my form—[partial word]—my teacher Tendō Nyōjō-daioshō—when I waited for the—my teacher Tendō Nyōjō, Old Buddha-daioshō, he bowed those patriarchs.”


“Those patriarchs” is—he—he says, before Buddha, seven; after—in India, until Bodhidharma, we have twenty-eight; and in China, twenty-two.  And, until Tendō Nyōjō, my [his] teacher, “I waited for my teacher and I could bow to those teachers.”  It mean that Buddha bowing to Buddha, and each patriarchs are Buddha.


The Yuibutsu yobutsu[13]—four characters—but this—if you explain it, it is very difficult to explain.  “Only Buddha” and Yuibutsu—”only Buddha.”  Yobutsu means “with Buddha.”  “Only Buddha and with Buddha.”  It means that you are Buddha and I am Buddha.


When you are Buddha, you know, I am not Buddha, you are Buddha.  When I am Buddha, you are not Buddha.  So each one of us are Buddha.  So you can say, “You and me are Buddha.”  And sometime you can say, “I am a only Buddha.”  So he says Yuibutsu yobutsu.  This is his technical term.


Yuibutsu:  “Only Buddha,” you know, “I am only Buddha” is not perfect.  Sometime I am—when I am Buddha, you are not Buddha.  But we are, two of us, Buddha [laughs].  Do you understand?  Yuibutsu yobutsu.


You may say, you know, you—it is difficult for you to understand the idea of transmission.  Why it is difficult is, you know, when you say “transmission,” you think as if you have something to transmit, you know:  It is some traditional way of observing things or traditional understanding of Buddhism or something.  You understand in that way.  So there must be something to transmit.  “But I don’t want that kind of old tradition.”  That will [be?] what you may say.  Because you have—when you say—we say “transmission,” you say—you think there is something to transmit and your teacher is someone who transmit something to you.  So if you receive transmission, you should, you know, obey completely, you know, to your teacher.  So you should do things exactly as your teacher did.  You will be—you will have that kind of idea.


So that is why it is difficult, you know, to accept transmission.  But, you know, between teacher and disciple, if, you know, disciple receive transmission, he is a teacher [laughs].  Not me, you know.  But sometime Shunryū I may be a teacher.  When disciple bow, you know, to me, I am a voluntary teacher.  Even though two of us, different person, both with different character, with different way, you can express the, you know, Buddha’s way.  And when you express Buddha way—Buddha way in your own way, then your way include everything, including your teacher.  So …  [Sentence not finished.  Tape turned over.]


… to have vivid and refreshed way of expression of our true way.  So disciple cannot be—disciple’s way cannot be exactly like teacher’s way.  But there must be some similarity, but even though they are similar, actually what they will do is quite different.  Teacher and disciples, usually speak, you know, same language [laughs].  I don’t mean Japanese or American [laughs]—Eng- [partial word]—English language, you know.  Language—by “language,” I mean —Yo!—[laughs] [thumps something three times—possibly himself]—this kind of language.  No!  [Laughs.]  This kind of language, you know.  We should be able to understand with each other, in that way.


That is, you know, rokujinzū,[14]  the six supernatural power of arhat.  They understand things completely, you know.  They understand something which is beyond word.  They understand something which is told by Japanese or, you know, English, and more than that.  That kind of relationship should be in [between] teacher and disciple.  Even though they are living apart from teacher, there must be that kind of communication or else he is not, you know, teacher or disciple.  How that is possible is, you know, because of our true practice—through our true practice—true zazen practice.


Generally speaking, actually, before you become your teacher’s disciple, you may receive his transmission.  And, you know, after receiving transmission, long, long time after you receive transmission, you will realize [laughing] what was transmission—what was your—who was your teacher.  “Oh, he was my teacher!”  You will realize it when it is too late, maybe.  But you will come to that point if you continue in your practice.


So there is no need to worry [laughs], even though you receive transmission or lay ordination.  Before, you don’t know exactly what it was, even though you [were] ordained before you have not much understanding about ordination ceremony.  That is okay, I think.  If you, you know, feel some commitment to continue your practice, then it is okay.  Some day, you will realize it.


I thought, you know, I—from the beginning, you know, I thought Gyokujun So-on was my teacher, you know.  But, you know, but on the other hand, after many—I found out that, many years later, I was not his disciple at that time [laughs].  I thought I was, you know.  I had a strong conviction of my being disciple of my teacher, but I found out that I was not his disciple in its true sense.  Now I think I am, you know, his disciple.  But I don’t know how I feel next year [laughs].  Next year I may say, “Oh, last year I was [laughs] his disciple, yes [?].”


In this way, you know [laughs], your teacher is always with you.  Sometime with you, and—but sometime you feel he is not your teacher.  Or he was not your teacher.  He—and sometime he will not be [laughs] your teacher.  But it is okay, anyway.  You will be his teacher.  Teacher and disciple is, you know, that kind of relationship.


Day after day, we have strong conviction in our relationship, but that is not complete.  It’s—our relationship should be extended forever.  So you are, anyway, bound to be your teacher’s disciple.  But it does not mean, you know, you should stick to the idea of relationship between teacher and disciple.  Whether you stick to it or not, relationship is there.  Buddha, you know, is taking care of it, whether you understand it or not.  Our relationship between teacher and disciple is so wide and so deep, that we cannot—our small mind cannot understand what it is.  There is no other way to understand the relationship between teacher and disciple.


So anyway, you know, to, you know—day by day you should bow to him, you know, that is the only way.  It is day to day practice and practice just for that moment.  Even though you don’t bow to him, you are related to him, anyway.  So if you don’t, you don’t feel good.  If you do, you feel good, that’s all [laughs].  It is not so difficult thing to bow to him.  So better to bow to him, even though you don’t know who he is.


Perhaps you may not understand what I am saying right now, but actually, if you have someone who can trust, you will feel good.  And if you have someone who entrust your responsibility, you will feel good, you know.  In that way, we can, you know, live forever.  We will have eternal life.  Entrusting our responsibility—sharing our responsibility with many people.  That is, you know, relationship between teacher and disciple.  And that is why we recite sūtra for—for our teachers every morning.


Thank you very much.



Sources:  Contemporaneous transcript and Ekō Study Book by David Chadwick; transcript entered onto disk by Jose Escobar, 1997; transcript checked and corrected against tape by Nigel Edmonds and Bill Redican (5/29/01).

 [1]  Chadwick text gave as “Sōyanandai.”

 [2]  Also Taiso.

 [3]  Also Dajian Gūnin.

 [4]  Chadwick text gave as one word.

 [5]  Chadwick text gave as Chōro.

 [6]  Also, more commonly, Shingetsu Shōryō.

 [7]  Also Sōkaku.

 [8]  Chadwick text gave as Secchō.

 [9]  Hyakujō Ekai (Jap.) or Pai-chang Huai-hai (Chin.):  720-814.  Chinese Chan master of the Tang period and dharma successor of Baso.

[10]  Suzuki-rōshi pronounced it parinibbāna (Pali), not parinirvāna (Sanskrit).

[11]  Hōtō (Jap.):  “lamp of the dharma”; Buddhist teaching that dispels spiritual darkness as a lamp dispels shadow.

[12]  The Shōbōgenzō fascicle Busso, “Buddha Ancestors.”

[13]  “Yuibutsu yobutsu”:  “Only Buddha and Buddha,” a phrase from the Lotus Sūtra as well as the title of a fascicle of Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō.  Yui means “only” or “solely.”  Yo means “and” or “together with.”  Butsu means “Buddha.”

[14]  See SR-70-07-11, p. 3 (fn. 4).

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