August 1st, 1971

Originally offered: August 1st, 1971 | Modified January 22nd, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, August 1, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-01


At the time of Yakusan—Yakusan Igen-daioshō[1]—we—every morning we recite chant names of Buddha.  Daikon Enō-daioshō.[2]   Daikon Enō is the Sixth Patriarch.  And Seigen Gyōshi—Seigen Gyōshi is the Seventh Patriarch.  And Eighth Patriarch is Sekitō Kisen.  And [the Ninth Patriarch is] Yakusan.


At this time, Zen Buddhism was very—became very popular or—and stronger.  Every master—there were lots of students.  But in Yakusan’s monastery there were only twenty, you know.  He—he was total [?] strict teacher.  And one day, the temple—a monk who is taking care of temple asked him to give a lecture.  “You haven’t—you haven’t given lecture for so long time, so students want to hear you.  So please give us some lecture today,” he said.[3]


So Yakusan asked ino-sho to hit the bell, so students came to lecture hall.  And at the third round, Yakusan appear and mounted the pulpit, and sitting for a while.  He without giving anything—saying anything, he went to his room [laughs].  [Words] taken care of [Zen master] asked him, “Why didn’t you say anything?”  Yakusan said, “Because I’m teacher who give lecture and there’s some teachers who discuss Buddhism but [words] to give lecture is not my [word].”  And his—that was his answer.  And then if he doesn’t give any lecture.  What is his purpose?   No one knows but it is difficult to figure out what was his purpose.  That there’s no reason is actually his teaching.

Read the rest of this entry »

August, 1971

Originally offered: August 1st, 1971 | Modified January 22nd, 2015 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


August 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-00


Assistant:[2]  … to make it record [verb].


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … like that.


[Gap, scattered fragments of words and sentences.]


Assistant:  … push it hard enough so the buttons stay down.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


[Long silent gap in tape.]



Suzuki-rōshi dictating as he translates a text:


“Therefore, no buddha attained enlightenment without the form of shaving head—not in the form of a shaved head.  No patriarch—no patriarch—is in the—no patriarch is not in the form of shaved head.  So the most virtuous things is the virtue of shaved head.


Even though you built a stūpa, which—stūpa adorned by seven jewels to reach the thirty—the thirty-third heaven, the virtue is great, but in comparison to the merit of shaved head, it is not so good as even one hundredth.  And any [1 word unclear] cannot be—cannot describe.  Stūpa could be destroyed, and once it destroyed, it—the shape cannot be—the form cannot be seen.  But merit of shaved head will increase more and more until it reach to the Buddha foot.  And its merit will not be lost.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 30th, 1971

Originally offered: July 30th, 1971 | Modified January 16th, 2015 by korin


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Friday Evening, 30 July 1971

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-30


This evening we observed—this evening is called Fusatsu.  As I explained last night,[1]  this ceremony actually started even before Buddha.  And after Buddha, the ceremony more and more include more positive elements:  just, you know, to observe—not only just to observe, to keep their life, human life, from evil spirits, observing some good, and acquiring some strength—and throughout [?] protecting themselves from the evil.


That also—to attain the perfection of human practice, Buddha started—observed this ceremony.  The form is merely what we must do, and more and more exactly.  But must be nearly the same.  But meaning changed little by little.


So if we study what kind of [1 word unclear:  sūtra?] [in] Buddha’s time—Buddhists observe, then we will find out various elements.  Last night I explained about it.  Better to, you know, to see various kinds of flower in a basket, you know.  There are—there—there is many kinds of flowers.  Some of the flower is about the precepts about—about our human nature, or buddha-nature.  And some—some of them is to—to stop doing something bad.  And some of them is about life style of Buddhists—like the last one:  “Don’t eat after twelve o’clock [noon].”  This is, you know—it means—it is the life style of Buddhists at that time.  And we are still—we Buddhists, even though we eat three times a day, we have this kind of spirit.  And when we chant and you read meal chant, you will find out this kind of spirit.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 29th, 1971

Originally offered: July 29th, 1971 | Modified December 27th, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday Evening, July 29, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-29


As you know, at Tassajara Ryaku FusatsuRyaku Fusatsu[1]  may be observed as we observe it at Eihei-ji.  I want to talk about Ryaku Fusatsu tonight and maybe tomorrow night, if I have time.  I want to continue the spirit of practice of Ryaku Fusatsu.


Ryaku Fusatsu is one of the most interesting practices at Eihei-ji.  I haven’t, since I left Eihei-ji it is almost thirty-seven—or seven—maybe almost forty years [laughs]—so—but still, I have the impression now—a feeling of, you know, observing Ryaku Fusatsu.


And the history of Ryaku Fusatsu is very long, even before Buddha.  In India, there were same kind of observation.  And in Japan too we have still very primitive, you know, custom or annual ceremony or observation in some part of Japan.


In Japan, as I remember, January 14th is the day when we gather the old memorial tablets or old symbols of shrine.  And childrens or boys go something holy—some equipment we need to observe something holy.  And when it is very smoky, you know, because at that time we burn—we burned firewood, kerosene lamps, or things in [throughout] one year.  Things become very dusty and smoky.  [Aside:]  Smoky?  Smoky?  No.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 26th, 1971

Originally offered: July 26th, 1971 | Modified December 19th, 2014 by korin


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 61: 


Monday, July 26, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-26




Setting up the Dharma banner and establishing the Dharma teaching—such is the task of the teacher of profound attainment.  Distinguishing a dragon from a snake, black from white—that is what the mature master must do.  Now let us put aside for a moment how to wield the life-giving sword and the death-dealing blade, and how to administer blows with the stick:  tell me, what does the one who lords it over the universe say?  See the following.




Fuketsu said to the assembled monks, “If one particle of dust is raised, the state will come into being; if no particle of dust is raised, the state will perish.”


Setchō [at a later time], holding up his staff, said to his disciples, “Is there anyone among you who will live with him and die with him?”




Let the elders knit their brows as they will;

For the moment, let the state be established.

Where are the wise statesmen, the veteran generals?

The cool breeze blows; I nod to myself.][1]




Last night[2]  I talked about our practice as a Zen Buddhist.  Whether you are layman or monk, there is some important point which we should make clear.  The point was to—to put more emphasis on big mind rather than small mind.  That is the point we should make clear in our practice.  In this way, more and more, you will develop your buddha-mind, which is buddha-mi- [partial word]—big mind.


And when you have big mind, when you are involved in some practice, experiencing big mind or expressing the big mind, at first you will feel you are developing big mind.  And you feel you have big mind, and you developed your big mind to everything:  to your friend, to your food, to your household, or to your monastery.  But actually, if you continue to practice, developing the big mind, you—eventually you do not feel as if you have big mind or you are developing big mind.  That is so-called-it “no-mind.”

Read the rest of this entry »

July 25th, 1971

Originally offered: July 25th, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Sunday Evening, July 25, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-25

Tonight I want to explain the outline of our practice.  As a monk and as a layman, without understanding of what is practice, it is rather difficult to make actual progress in your practice.  And what I will talk about tonight is a kind of universal practice for laymen and monks both, you know—which could be true for both laymen and priests.


We say, or you say [laughs] whatever you do, that is practice, our practice:  to drink tea or to eat or to sleep, to walk, or to sit down.  Whatever you do, that is practice, you know, we say.  But how you, you know—with—with what kind of understanding you do things is very important point.  Actually, whatever you do, if you do not do the point—that is true.  But if you miss the point, even though you look like [you are] doing a proper practice, actually it doesn’t work.  The point is, whether you do it for yourself or for the sake of the truth, or for sake of Buddha, or for sake of people—this point is a very important point.


I—I didn’t discuss or argue with you, but my way, you know, if there is many things in the basket, my way is to finish the fruit is—you know, start with—I st- [partial word:  “start with”?], eat the worst [laughs] one first.  I will make—eat best one first.  And why you eat best one first is—according to the people who eat best one first—if you eat best one first always, you will always eat best one [laughs].  The last one, you know, will be also best one [laughs].  If—if—we eat worst one first, you will always eat worst—worst one.  Last one is also worst one.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 24th, 1971

Originally offered: July 24th, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Suzuki-roshi at Sokoji

Shunryu Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, July 24, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-24


This evening I want to talk about Buddhist practice. In one of the fascicle of Shōbōgenzō there—there is fascicle about virtue of mountain and river.[1]   Virtue of mountain and river. This is very interesting and give us a great benefit to understand what is our practice. Virtue of mountain and river.


He [Dōgen] says usual people think mountain is solid, mountain does not move and permanent; but river flows. That is usual understanding of mountain and river. Mountain and river. It is exactly the same as—people say Rinzai practice or Sōtō practice [laughs]. And the Sōtō practice is such-and-such; and Rinzai practice is such-and-such. And it looks like Sōtō way is more rigid and Rinzai way is more free. But Sōtō way is not so strict, but Rinzai way is very strict. They may say many things about Sōtō or Rinzai because it looks like so. And there must be various arguments about what is Sōtō and what is Rinzai. But there are—there are not so many arguments [laughs] when we say: “Mountain does not move, but water flows, river flows.” And there’s not much [laughs] arguing about that.


But Dōgen-zenji or—no—no—but Daokai-zenji Master[2] said: “Mountains flow [laughs]; mountains—mountains goes but river doesn’t. Mountains flow. Or East Mountain flows over—over the—over the river. Mountain goes and river stays.” And about this statement, because it is difficult for us to understand, so people say—people say: “True Zen is beyond words [laughs]. It is not possible for us to say what is Zen practice actually. Zen practice is beyond words.” That is why Daokai-zenji said, “Mountain—East Mountain goes over the water.”

Read the rest of this entry »

July 22nd, 1971

Originally offered: July 22nd, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, July 22, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-22


This evening I want to explain about san-pachi-nenju[1]  which we practice.  Can you hear me?


Student:  No.


Suzuki-roshi:  No.  Okay.  [Laughs, laughter.]  San-pachi.  San-pachi-nenju  which we practiced this evening.  Some of you must have joined the ceremony, and some of you must have seen it.  But before I explain about san-pachi-nenju, I want to explain our—what is our practice and what will be each one of yours practice—practice of each one of you should be or will be.


Before everyone—before we become Buddhist, you are lay Buddhist.  And before you become lay Buddhist, you are laymen which does not belong to—member of Buddhists.  Now can you hear me?  Member of Buddhist.  So [there are] non-Buddhist people and Buddhists.  And Buddhist can be classified in four:  lay Buddhist—lay Buddhist man and lay Buddhist woman and maybe layman and laywoman, and nun, and priest.  Those are five class—classes of Buddhist group.  Four—we have four groups.


And each layman accept Buddhists precepts.  If usual person accepts precepts, we become Buddhist.  And I have been explaining what is precepts.  So tonight I will not speak—talk about it; but if you become Buddhist, what kind of practice you will have is next thing—is the thing I want to talk [about]—to study.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 21st, 1971

Originally offered: July 21st, 1971 | Modified December 3rd, 2014 by korin
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday Evening, July 21, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-21
We discussed already last night[1]  about what is something which we can experience or which we can understand, and what is something which we cannot understand.  I was trying to explain, you know, the difference [between] something which you can understand and something which you cannot understand, and how you, you know, have an approach to something which you cannot understand is by practice.


But it is necessary for us at the same time to have understanding of Buddhism.  It is necessary to read, and it is necessary to listen to lecture, and it is necessary to think about what is Buddhism.  That is also important.  And most important thing will be to have actual, you know, difficulties in our human life.  That is very important.


But as I told you, the problem—you have enough problem already [laughs, laughter].  So don’t make home-made problems—cookies.  That was what I told you last night.  We are practicing zazen, so it is a great help.  And those things—those points are very difficult and very important for our prefect understanding of Buddhism.  If you mix up—mixed up those points, you will never understand what I am saying.

Read the rest of this entry »

July 20th, 1971

Originally offered: July 20th, 1971 | Modified October 10th, 2014 by korin

Shunryu Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday Evening, July 20, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-20

I wanted to see you earlier, but I was too busy so I couldn’t come.

Can you hear me?  Can you hear me?

Student:  Yes.

Oh.  Okay.

Anyway, it is very good to see you and Tassajara, which has improved a lot since I left here.  Tonight my—I didn’t have any idea of giving talk, but I—as, you know, we have many guests and some of you may leave tomorrow, so I decided to talk a little bit—maybe I said ten minutes [laughs].  But it is rather difficult to say something in ten minutes, so I don’t know how many minutes my lecture last.

What I want to talk about tonight is something—some idea or some understanding of Buddhist which is not—may not be unfamiliar to you.

We observe things in two ways.  We understand things has two—two side.  One is phenomenal side; the other is, maybe, more ontological side.  Something—some—most of us, you know, understand things from the light of difference, like big or small, black or—black and white, material or spiritual.

Usually, maybe, spiritual—  If we say “spiritual,” usually it is something which is not material.  But, according to Buddhism, even though you say “spiritual” that is, you know, not much different from—different of physical or materialistic side.  “Spiritual” or “materialistic” we say, but those are, according to Buddhism, not much different.  It belongs to the understanding of phenomenal side of the reality—spiritual too, spiritual understanding too include phenomenal understanding.

Read the rest of this entry »