July 8th, 1970

Originally offered: July 8th, 1970 | Modified August 19th, 2013 by korin
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(unpublished manuscript, San Francisco Zen Center).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.

The first sūtra—first of all, we recite sūtra for—for Shākyamuni Buddha.  And here in Tassajara we recite sūtra for Bodhidharma, who is the First Patriarch of China—and next—third—excuse me [first sūtra]—and Bodhidharma and Dōgen-zenji, who is the First Patriarch in Japan.  So in India, we—Shākyamuni Buddha; in China, Bodhidharma; and in Japan, Dōgen-zenji.  The first Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra is recited for those patriarchs and buddhas.  But originally, even nowadays in Japan, we recite this sūtra—first sūtra for Buddha, and—and Dōgen-zenji, and Keizan-zenji (who is the founder of Soji-ji Monastery),[2]  and then we, you know, [invoke] Keizan-zenji and many deities who protects, you know, or who is related to Dōgen-zenji.


When Dōgen-zenji went to China—as you know, he went to China when he was twenty-four, with Myōzen.[3]  And he arrived—after he arriving—after his arriving at China, he stayed in—in the ship for three or four months, maybe three months.  When he was there [on the ship], he was—once in a while he landed [went ashore] and visited many temples and came back to the ship.  And in this way he spent three months.


During that time, his brother—dharma brother or he—who is Eisai-zenji’s[4]  disciple—who was Eisai’s disciple, Myōzen.  Myōzen did not stay in the ship.  He landed [went ashore], and he went to his teacher’s temple—a temple where his teacher studied and received transmission].[5]   So he left Dōgen in the ship, and he landed.  Dōgen, alone, [was] living in the ship and collecting information.


At last—no, before he landed, a monk, old monk about sixty-one, came—visited his ship.  And Dōgen, of course, wanted to know what is going on in China.  That monk was from Aikuō-zan Monastery.[6]  And in Aikuō-zan Monastery there was a shrine where the deity called Shōbōshichirō Dai Gongen.  And we recite, you know, in Eihei-ji, and so many monasteries we recite.  We call his name “Shōbōshichirō Dai Gen Shiribosatsu.  And that deity which is enshrined [at] Aikuō-zan, [is] also enshrined in Shōbō-zan.  Shōbō-zan means “to invite treasure mountain” [laughs]—”inviting treasure mountain.”  Shōbō-zan.


It is enshrined in the mountain where people can—from where people can see Japan and Korea.  It may be pretty high mountain.  And under [nearby] the mountain there is a big fishing port [laughs].  There various, you know, trading ship come in from Japan and Korea and many places.  So we call—they call that mountain Shōbōzō-zan.  Shōbō-zan means “to invite treasure—treasure—inviting treasure mountain.”  So inviting the treasure and many things from other country.  So this mountain—this deity is very—very closely related to Dōgen-zenji’s trip to China.


[In Japan] we say in the morning ekō, “Shōbōshichirō Dai Gen Shiribosatsu.  Gatto no shinsai ni shukensu.”  Mmm.  “Shōbōshichirō Dai Gen Shiribosatsu.”  But here in America we don’t recite, you know, [the name of this deity].  It doesn’t mean much to you.  So we skip “Shōbōshichirō Dai Gen Shiribosatsu,” or we say, “Gatto no shinsai.  “Gatto no shinsai” means the temples in Japan who has long, long history—there many deities have been enshrined.


So those—we recite sūtra [in Japan] first of all for those deities too.  But we don’t recite [in America]—we do not have this kind of [deities]—here in America we do not have this kind of deity, so we don’t—so we just recite sūtra for Shākyamuni Buddha and for Dōgen-zenji [and] Bodhidharma.  Bodhidharma is the First Patriarch in China; Dōgen-zenji is the First Patriarch in Japan.  So we recite sūtra not only [to] Shākyamuni Buddha but also to those teachers.


[Line 1]   Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji,

               fushite shōkan o taretamae.

Aogi koi negawakuwa means—aogi is “to,” you know, “to,” you know, “to”—aogu means “to look”—what do you say, you know?[7]  “To look at” or “to look up,” you know.  Altar is higher place, so Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite—.  Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite shōkan o taretamae.  Shinji means “mercy.”  “I want to receive.”  Koi negawakuwa means “we want,” you know. Koi negawakuwa.  “I want to receive.”  Shōkan is “wisdom.”  “I want to receive wisdom of the Buddha.”


[Line 2]   [Jōrai Maka Hannyaharamita Shingyō,

                shōsai myō kichijō darani o fujusu.]


We have recite—jōrai means— is, you know—means—ahh, very difficult— [laughs].  “Up and down.”  “Up” is .[8]  “Down” is ge.[9]  Jōrai means “We—,” you know, “So far we recited sūtra,” you know.  “So far we recited—the sūtra we recited so far, maybe, the sūtra we recited is four [?] jōrai—jōrai—the sūtra Maka—Maha Prajñā Pāramitā Hridaya Sūtra.  So far we recited the sūtra of Maha Prajñā Pāramitā, and we respectfully—.”  Hmm.  “So far we recited sūtra Prajñā Pāramitā, and its merit is—by its merit, we want to repay the mercy of great teacher Shākyamuni Buddha and Jōyō-daishi.[10]


[Line 5.  Shintan Shoso Bodai Daruma-daioshō,

Line 6.  Nichi-iki Shoso Eihei Dōgen-daioshō.

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


Nichi-iki ShosoNichi-iki—ah—Shintan[11] Shoso.  Shintan—Shintan means “China.”  Shoso means “the First Patriarch.”  The First Patriarch in China, Bodhidharma-daioshō.  And First Patriarch in Japan, Eihei Dōgen-daioshō.  Nichi-iki means “Japan.”  Shoso means “the First Patriarch.”  Eihei Dōgen is Dōgen’s name.  The monastery he founded is named “Eihei-ji.”  So Dōgen is called after the monastery he founded.  Dōgen is called “Eihei Dōgen.”  Eihei Dōgen-daioshō—no tame ni shi tatematsuri.[12]


And we here [Tassajara], we recite sūtra in zendō.  And [in] zendō, as you know, we have Mañjushrī Bodhisattva,[13]  you know.  So we also recite Prajñā Pāramitā—Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra is for Mañjushrī Bodhisattva too.


So we call [recite] four names:  the great benevolent teacher, Shākyamuni Buddha; the First Patriarch in China, Bodhidharma-daioshō; the First Patriarch in Japan, Eihei Dōgen-daioshō; and the great—”-daioshō” means “great sage”[14]—great sage Mañjushrī Bodhisattva.  And we want to respect or repay the benevolence of those teachers and bodhisattva.  That is what ekō means—ekō which we—which dōan[15]  recite means.  Although what we—we skip many deities which has—which is related to our history, I think it is necessary for you to know what kind of feeling we have when we recite sūtra for the—those teachers.


Let me continue something which Dōgen experienced in his voyage to China.  It was not so easy thing to go to China at that time.  Three times—once of three times, you know, a ship—big ship could go to China, according to the historical events.  So it cost a lot of money to go to China by a big ship, and it took more than one month to go to—from Japan to—to China.  So it is not at all easy thing.


After arriving [in] China, Dōgen spent three months in the ship.  During [that] time, he was very much discouraged in one way—to see bad practice of Chinese famous Zen masters [laughs].  I think this is always true [laughs].  If you go to Japan to study Buddhism, you will be also discouraged to see many famous Zen—famous Zen masters.  According—he described—Dōgen-zenji described in Shōbōgenzō what kind of experience he had at that time, good and bad.


He also. you know—he respected—after he received transmission because of Nyojō-zenji,[16]  he respected Chinese priests very much.  But before he met with Nyojō-zenji, he was pretty critical with Chinese monks.  For an instance, he said Chinese monks did not know even precepts, you know, which is described in Kegon Sūtra or many other precepts—book of precepts—sūtra of precepts.  They didn’t know [them] at all.


They—they had long fingernails [laughing] and long hair.  Very interesting.  And dirty clothing, and he did not—they did not know even to—how to rinse their mouth.  That is why he wrote Shōbō-[partial word]—in one of the fascicle of Shōbōgenzō, how to clean up our face and body after—when you go to rest room or when you get up.[17]   And he says, you know, their breathing had strong smell [laughing] from too—when he talk with some famous teachers [laughter], he—he could hardly stay with him because his—their, you know, breath exhale is too bad—smells too bad [laughs, laughter].  And, you know, even in great China, there is not much good teachers, and he was very much discouraged.  And they did not know even what is precepts.


But on the other hand, you know, the monk who visited his ship to buy mushroom, you know.  At that time, maybe, Japan—ships from Japan loaded a lot of mushroom—Japanese mushroom.  So head—head cook of Ayüwan-shan Monastery, you know, visited ship from Japan, and he wanted to buy some mushroom.  So Dōgen-zenji, you know, seeing a monk who is buying mushroom and addressed him:  “Where are you from?”


And he said, “I am a head cook of Ayüwan-shan Monastery.  Next day—next day is July 5th,[18]  and we will have, you know, noodle—we must serve noodle for monks.  So for—for noodle [soup] we want mushroom for seasoning.”  You know, if you put mushroom in noodle soup it taste very well, as you know.  So for special occasion of July 5th, he [the tenzo] came to buy some mushroom to Dōgen’s ship.  After—but he  said, “I cannot talk with you so long because I am very busy.  Tomorrow I must—by tomorrow—by this evening, I must go back to the temple because tomorrow we have to—I have to cook for monks.”


But he was over sixty, so Dōgen-zenji wondered, you know, in such a great monastery, there must be someone, you know, some young priest who may cook for monks, you know.  And so he asked him to stay for one night to tell him something about Chinese monasteries.  But he [the tenzo] said, “I am busy.  I must go home—go—go back to the temple.”


And Dōgen asked again, “You are over sixty, you know.  You don’t have to work so hard.  You must rest, and you must read some scriptures, or you must study some kōan, or you must study—you must spend your time in sitting meditation or reading sūtra,” he said.  “That is more appropriate practice for you,” Dōgen said.


That—but that monk said, “You don’t know what is practice [laughs].  You, a venerable priest from Japan, do not know what is practice.  And you don’t even know what is character to read [laughs].  You don’t know any characters!  You don’t know any Chinese character, even.  You cannot read anything.  Even though you read it, that’s—that will not help you,” he said.  So he [Dōgen] was very, you know, startled.


And Dōgen asked again, “Then what is characters, you know?  If I don’t know any characters—I think I know many characters.”  In his mind, you know, he read whole scriptures three times, you know, at that time.  It is difficult for usual person to read all the scriptures once, you know, even in his whole life.  But at age of twenty-four, he went over three times all the scriptures.


But he [the tenzo] said, you know, “You don’t know any character—Chinese characters even,” [laughs] that monk said to him.  And he [Dōgen] was very ashamed of himself, and he couldn’t say anything.


And that monk said, “If you want to know what is character, you should come to my monastery.  Then I will show you what is actual character,” that monk said to Dōgen.   And later Dōgen says, “It is because of that monk that I could understand a little bit about Buddhism—Zen Buddhism.”[19]   So not all the—in China, even though almost all the monks were not so good, but there were several good ones, including this monk, head cook of Ayüwan-shan.


The first sūtra is for Shākyamuni Buddha.  Shākyamuni Buddha means, you know, as you know, sometime he may be a historical buddha, and sometime he may be a dharma—dharma body, and sometime he may be you yourself, which is, you know, which has same buddha-nature as Buddha.  So when we say “Shākyamuni Buddha,” we mean Shākyamuni Buddha who is one with us, you know, who is one with Shākyamuni Buddha and with one with us.  Shākyamuni Buddha is nothing but each one of ourselves.  That is Shākyamuni Buddha in its true sense.  The first sūtra is Prajñā Pāramitā—is recited to the Shākyamuni Buddha which can be each one of ourselves—which can be a dharma body, or which can be a historical buddha who was born in two thousand and five hundred some years ago.  [Sentence finished.  Tape turned over.]


Do you have some question?  Hai.


Questions and Answers


Student A:  Why is Mañjushrī such a special bodhisattva for the zendō?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Bodhi- [partial word]—Mañjushrī is, you know, symbol—symbolic buddha of wisdom.  Wisdom means, you know—not wisdom in its true—usual sense.  Wisdom means something more than that, which [is] not accumulation of knowledge or wisdom to know something.  Wisdom means fundamental truth—so-called-it ri, you know, riRi/ji.[20]   So when we practice zazen, you know, what we will have is Mañjushrī’s wisdom, or Mañjushrī’s true nature.  That is why we recite sūtra—we have Mañjushrī in zendō.  So we resume the true nature of Mañjushrī.  We are supposed to resume the true nature of Mañjushrī.  That is why we have Mañjushrī in our zendō.  Hai.


Student B:  Why did Dōgen-zenji stay on the ship?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Stay on the ship?  He wanted to—he [was acting] carefully, you know.  He wanted to know where he should go, you know—where he should be.  Once in a while, of course, he visited, you know, many temples around there, but he came back to the ship.  And he was preparing to, you know—he—he was writing many letters to the many temples, you know.  He did not, you know, he did not just, without any preparation, he did not call [on] any temples.  Maybe, yeah, that is the reason.  Hai.


Student C [David Chadwick]: In the last—the last line of the sūtra, Kami jion ni mukuin koto o?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


David:  The—that word mukuin—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mukuin?


David:  —it sort of—it means “pay back” or “compensation”—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


David:  —or something.  Could you explain exactly what that means?  It seems to be a very important part of that—the ekō.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.  Kami—kami is, you know, kami jionkami means “up.”  So, you know, “towards Buddha,” you know.  Kami.  “To the Buddha.”  Kami. 


Jion means “Buddha’s mercy.”  Buddha’s mercy means Buddha who left teaching for us, Buddha who transmitted his spirit to us, and Buddha who encouraged—who is encouraging our practice, who is protecting our practice always, you know.  So we say Hō nu no jiwan.[21]   Hō nu no jiwan.  Hō is “dharma milk,” you know [laughs], the benevolence of dharma milk—giving dharma milk to—


David:  Now—now—


Suzuki-rōshi:  —pay back his— [interrupted by David].


David:  —who gives—who gives who?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hmm?  We.


Student C:  The ones who are chanting—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


David:  —are—are—are—


Suzuki-rōshi:  By merit of chanting this sūtra, or by practice of chanting—


David:  —are—


Suzuki-rōshi:  —what we want to do is to pay back [laughs] Buddha’s, you know, mercy of milk—dharma milk.


David:  —are—are we—are we paying it back by—by practicing—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yes.


David:  —too [?]?


Suzuki-rōshi:  To pay back—the way to pay back to the [his] mercy is—to practice hard is only way to pay back his mercy.  There is no other way.  So practicing—chanting—sūtra chanting sincerely, we pay back—in this way, we pay back to the mercy of Buddha.  That is what it means.  Hai.


Student D:  I don’t understand how there can be more than one buddha—how there can be—


Suzuki-rōshi:  More than—


Student D:  Bodhidharma was one personality, and—and Dōgen was another personality?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.


Student D:  How can this be?


Suzuki-rōshi:  It can be more, but we picked up [out], you know, just three.  It can be numerous—innumerable, but we pick up Shākyamuni Buddha from India, from China Bodhidharma, from Japan Dōgen-zenji.  We should call Keizan-zenji’s name, but when, you know, because we pick only one [laughing] from China, so in America we picked up only one from Japan, who is the First Patriarch in Japan.  Do you understand?


Student D:  Um, no—


Suzuki-rōshi:  It is—it is a kind of representative.


Student D:  Do they—do these men differ—did they differ in personality?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yes.


Student D:  And how can that be if they are all buddhas?


Suzuki-rōshi:  [Laughs.]  A good question.  It must be so, you know.  We should not be all, you know, we should not be like all—all of us shouldn’t—should not be like Shākyamuni Buddha, who was born in India more than two thousand years ago.  We cannot be the same.  We must—we—the—the—we say, you know, we are like a candle:  big and small candle, red and white candle, you know.  And there is big and small candle, but fire is the same, you know.  Or the stream is same—shallow and deep, and flowing fast.  And some in—in mountain—in the mountain—in the mountain it will flow fast, in the field it will go slower and maybe deeper, but it is same water.


Unless you don’t understand this point, you don’t understand Buddhism.  Spirit is the same, but how, you know, someone express it—the spirit is different.  It cannot be same.  Okay?  So should be different, but there is no contradiction.  Hai.


Student E:  After the ekō when we all say [chant] the Ji ho san shi[22]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student E:  —ekō?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student E:  Could you say something about what it means [?]?


Suzuki-rōshi:  That is—maybe I have to explain tomorrow.  Then.  Some other questions?  Hai.  Hmm?  Oh.  Hai.


Student F:  Rōshi, daioshō“great sage”—means something so big and so far away and so long ago, and this practice that we have here is so small and so new, and our flame—flame—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student F:  —of our candle is so small that it’s very hard sometimes to believe that when you say “Bodhidharma-daioshō” or Dōgen’s name in the ekō, that they really will come here, that we can feel close to these men.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student F:  I know it must be so, but it’s very hard to feel.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  I, you know, I feel for you, you know.  It is absolutely necessary, you know, to be related to this kind of, you know, spiritual history, you know.  We must make a great effort to get contact with this kind of spiritual, you know, history or effort of great sages.  You say you cannot understand.  “There is no wonder for us.  That I cannot understand,” you may say.  But it—it means that you gave up, you know [laughs], already to understand something which has been going, you know, in our human history.


Student G:  If we chant sincerely, will that help us?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mmm.  Yeah.  It—it—it will, you know, some day.  Why I say “some day” is, you know, you will see here in Tassajara many teachers—many good teachers.  Then you will—through their character they will understand—you will understand something, not literally, but you will feel something.  So, you know, we have to—we have—we come to the point where we should make one step forward in our—in our practice in Zen Center.  So far, you know, we somehow get together and started Zen Center practice so that, you know, to establish American Buddhism, you know.  So far we have [been] striving for establishing something.  But when you say “American Buddhism” or “establish something,” you know, it is something like for your convenience.  [You may think] “because this is America, America must have American—our own way of Buddhism.”


That is very true [laughs]—very true—but one point is missing.  As—what is your name? [speaking to Student D; unclear reply]—as someone said, you know, we cannot understand why we pick up—we, you know, pick up [out] Bodhidharma or Dōgen or Buddha.  They are three different characters.


Pretty soon you will have [laughs], you know, one more character, you know, in—from America.  They are—should be different.  It—they are different, but they should be connected with some spiritual relationship.  That—without this kind of effort, you cannot establish American Buddhism in its true sense.


American way—if you don’t like to say “Buddhism”—American way should be established.  And when it is established, it is—the American way should be closely related to some other country’s way too.  Your way should not be separated from other country’s way.  You know, that is—if you try to establish something special, something different from other country’s way, that is, you know, selfish practice.  It is not bodhisattva way.


So if you, you know, think about this, you have to understand, you know, Japanese Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, and Indian Buddhism too as a Buddhist.  So it is not so easy thing.  So we should be concentrated on this point from now on.  Hai.


Student H:  Rōshi, the phrase “dharma transmission”—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student H:  —what exactly does that mean?  What is the dharma transmission?


Suzuki-rōshi:  [Laughs.]  If you are ready to listen to me, I will explain it to you.  I have it and you haven’t [laughing, laughter].  So when I give you, I will explain what it is.  But if I—even though I explain it, if you don’t understand, you know, it doesn’t make any sense.  So more closer relationship between us is important and necessary—real, you know, human relationship [laughs].  Hai.


David Chadwick:  If your name were chanted in ekō, would it be “Zenshin Shunryū-daioshō,” like Eihei—Eihei-ji Dōgen—Eihei Dōgen?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh [laughs, laughter].


David:  So would—would we use this—this place’s name [Zenshin] or your personal name?


Suzuki-rōshi:  If my—my name isn’t—I don’t know.  I have—my teacher gave me my name already. [23]   Not “Zenshin Shunryū.”  [Laughs, laughter.]


David:  You mean—well I thought—I thought that he was called Eihei Dōgen—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


David:  —in there because he was—he founded Eihei-ji Temple, not because Eihei was his name.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


David:  Was Eihei his name?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Eihei, no.  Not his name—his temple’s name.  He called his temple Eihei-ji.


David:  Oh—okay.  What—what should—how should you be called?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mmm.  That up to you [laughing, laughter continuing].  Whatever you call me, it’s okay with me.  Anyway, I don’t listen to you.


David:  You wouldn’t be able to—you wouldn’t be able to listen if we were chanting your name in the ekō!


[Brief and mostly unclear exchange off-mike.  Mike volume drops severely.  Last thing S.R. says is “okay.”]


Student G [Alan Marlow]:  The name that one—I’ve been trying to figure out—the name that one’s teacher gives one—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Alan:  —when is that name used, as opposed to the—our—our name—Alan Marlow, or Shunryō [sic] Suzuki.   How is—how is that name used and when is it used—the name that you’re given by your teacher?


Suzuki-rōshi:  After you receive ordination, you know, strictly speaking, you know, we should use his n- [partial word:  name]—his Buddhist name like Sōjun,[24]  you know.  We’ll do it, you know.  “He is Sōjun!”  [Laughs.]  Uh-huh.


Mel:  Hai.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hai.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Ohh—


Alan:  No, but Rōshi you don’t use that—the name that your teacher gave you, do you?


Suzuki-rōshi:  My—my name is Shunryū.


Alan:  Shunryō [sic].


Suzuki-rōshi:  Shunryū.  This is the name.


Student I:  What does it mean?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hmm?


Student I:  What does it mean—”Shunryū”?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Not much.  [Laughs, loud laughter.]  You make me blushful [blush/bashful].


Student J:  Rōshi, would you tell me?


Suzuki-rōshi:  You—you must be a great teacher, you know.  Not me.  You must use your name, but I’m okay.  I am here, anyway, drinking a lot of water.  [Laughs, laughter.]  My ma- [partial word:  master?] teacher died when I was 32 years old.[25]   So I was not so lucky, you know, in this point.


So I want to live as much as I can [laughs], you know.  I was very weak.  I don’t think I—I didn’t think I will live more than 50—60.  But 66 is, so six is extra.  Now I become greedy [laughs, laughter], because of you.  Ten years more.  Give me ten years, all right?  I—I am asking Buddha, you know, give me ten years more.  Then you will be, you know, 40—50.  You will be a good teacher if you try hard.


If you follow Buddhist way, you will [be] sure to be a good person.  That is quite—I am so sure about that.  Each student here, you know, improved a lot.  That is very true.  So if you live—if you practice our way maybe five more years, you will be a quite different person.


Our way is difficult.  Why it is difficult is it is because it is too simple.  [Laughs, laughter.]  It’s like nothing happening at Tassajara [laughing].  All day long, day after day, we are carrying stones and building cabins, and scrubbing floors, eating same food.  You know, it looks like nothing happening here.  [Laughs, laughter.]  But something great is happening here.  I am quite sure about that.


Then you will know what is transmission, what is Bodhidharma, or Dōgen, or Buddha.  You yourself are Buddha.  Then you will recite sūtra with full joy, you know, to pay back their mercy.


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 Bill Redican (11/30/01).

 [1]  Also ekōmon:  a dedication chanted by participants in a Buddhist ceremony in which any merit thought to arise from participating in the ceremony is transferred to or offered for all sentient beings to help them in their path toward enlightenment.

 [2]  Keizan Jōkin (1268-1325):  after Dōgen, the most important Zen master in the Sōtō school.  He reestablished an ancient Hossō monastery as Sōji-ji in 1321.

 [3]  Myōzen Ryōnen (1184-1225):  dharma successor of Eisai-zenji and, after Eisai, the second master of Dōgen-zenji.  This story is recounted in Dōgen’s Tenzo Kyōkun (“Instructions for the Tenzo”), in Eihei Shingi.  The events took place in June or July of 1223.

 [4]  Eisai-zenji (1141-1215):  Japanese master of the Ōryō lineage of Rinzai Zen.

 [5]  Ching-te Monastery on Tien-tung Mountain.

 [6]  That is, the temple was located on Ayüwan(g)-shan (Jap. Aikuō) Mountain in eastern China (see T. Leighton and S. Okumura, Dōgen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community, Albany:  SUNY Press, 1996, p. 54).

 [7]  aogu (Jap.):  look up; look up to; ask for (advice); depend on.

 [8]  (Jap.):  best; upper.

 [9]  Ge (Jap.):  lower in quality or ranking; lower position.

[10]  Jōyō-daishi:  Posthumous name for Eihei Dōgen.

[11]  Shintan:  Ancient Indian name for China.

[12]  Suzuki-rōshi appears to have jumped from the end of Line 6 to the middle of Line 7 (“no tame …”).

[13]  Mañjushrī Bodhisattva :  the bodhisattva of wisdom; lit., “He Who Is Noble and Gentle.”  Throughout the lecture, Suzuki-rōshi uses the Japanese version of the name (Manjushiri).  For the sake of simplicity, the Sanskrit is used here in all cases except for the Japanese text of the ekōs.

[14]  -daioshō/-daishi (Jap.):  From dai, “great, big, or serious,” + oshō or o + shi, “priest”:  lit., “great honored teacher.”  An honorific title for Zen masters conferred after death.  Used in formal contexts such as ceremonies or chants.

[15]  Dōan (Jap.):  generally, anyone who plays an instrument such as a bell or drum in a Zen temple; specifically, the person who keeps time in the zendō and sounds the bells in a Sōtō Zen monastery.

[16]  Tendō Nyojō:  Tien-tung Ju-Ching (1163-1228).

[17]  He may have been referring either to Shōbōgenzō “Senjō” (“Rules for the Lavatory”) or “Senmen” (“Washing the Face”).

[18]  July 5th:  The fifth day of the fifth month is traditionally celebrated in Chinese and Japanese monasteries (Leighton and Okumura, op. cit., p. 54).

[19]  In Shōbōgenzō Tenzo-kyōkun” (“Instructions for the Tenzo”).

[20]  See, e.g., SR-70-06-01 and SR-70-06-03.  Ri refers to the noumenal:  the true source of teaching that is beyond words.  Ji refers to the phenomenal:  aspects of existence that can be apprehended with the senses or that can be thought about as objects.

[21]  [Phonetic guess only.]

[22]  Ji ho san shi i shi fu:  “All buddhas ten directions three times.”

[23]  Suzuki-rōshi was given the Buddhist name “Shunryū” at birth by his father Butsumon Sogaku, a Sōtō Zen priest.  The two Japanese characters for Shunryū translate as “Excellent Emerging.”  He was later given the Buddhist name Shōgaku, “Auspicious Peak,” by his master Gyokujun So-on on May 18, 1917.  [David Chadwick, Crooked Cucumber, New York:  Broadway, 1999, pp. 3, 20.]

[24]  Probably referring to Sōjun Mel Weitsman.

[25]  Gyokujun So-on Suzuki (c. 1877–1934).

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