Posts Tagged ‘Big Mind’

August 17th, 1971

Tuesday, August 17th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, August 17, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-17 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-17 Part 2

In—in my lecture, sometime I say everyone has buddha-nature, and whatever you do, that is, you know, Buddha’s activity, I say.  But on the other hand, I say you must follow the rule, and when you practice zazen you should practice in some certain way:  Keep your spine straight, cross your legs, and pull your neck as if you are supporting something.  And pull in your chin.  There are many, you know, instructions.


So you will be confused when I say, you know—it looks like contradiction to say to rule—to put emphasis on rules and to follow our schedule.  If it is—if whatever you do that is, you know, Buddha’s activity, then why we must have rule?  This kind of, you know, question you may have.


The other—the other day, I said long bamboo is Buddha—long Buddha.  Short bamboo is short Buddha [laughs].  And my statement discouraged [laughs] some sincere students, didn’t it?  As if I am talking about something—as if I am encouraging some, you know, easy way.  And—for an instance, you know the Sun-Faced Buddha and the Moon-Faced Buddha.  When he is sick, he is Moon-Faced Buddha.  When he is healthy he is the Sun-Faced Buddha.  And when it is hot, we are hot—we should be hot Buddha.  When it is cold, we should be cold Buddha.  This kind of statement invite many misunderstanding.


July 26th, 1971

Monday, July 26th, 1971


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.”


February 5th, 1971

Friday, February 5th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Suzuki-roshi in a gathering of Buddhist leaders

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, February 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-05


Purpose of sesshin is to be completely one with our practice.  That is purpose of sesshinSesshin.  Sesshin means—  We use two Chinese characters for setsuSetsu means to treat or, you know, like you treat your guests or like a teacher [student?] treat his teacher, is setsu.  Another setsu is “to control” or “to arrange things in order.”  Anyway, it means to have proper function of mind.


When we say “control,” something which is controlled is our five senses and will, or mind, Small Mind, Monkey Mind which should be controlled.  And if—why we control our mind is to resume to our true Big Mind.  When Monkey Mind is always take over big activity of Big Mind, you know, we naturally become a monkey [laughs].  So Monkey Mind must have his boss, which is Big Mind.


And when we say “Big Mind,” then while we practice zazen, it is the Big Mind controlling the Small Mind.  It is not so, you know, but only when Small Mind become calm, the Big Mind, you know, start to start its true activity.  So in our everyday life, almost all the time, we are involved in activity of Small Mind.  That is why we should practice zazen and we should be completely involved in this kind of practice.


September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



September 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-00 D


We discussed about the question and answer between the Seventeenth Patriarch and Eighteenth Patriarch.[1]


“Whether bell is ringing or wind is ringing?” the teacher said.


Disciple said:  “Not wind nor bell ringing, but our mind is ringing.”


And the teacher said:  “What kind of mind is it?”


And the disciple said:  “The mind of complete calmness.”


And usually when we hear someone say:  “No bell—or not bell or wind, but mind is ringing”—then, most people say:  “Oh, that is very good answer.”  But that is not a complete answer.  “Mind is ringing” means—if we don’t hear the bell, you know, we—we can—we cannot—there is no sound.  Because we—our mind hear it and our mind recognize the sound, the sound exist.  That is true, but that is not perfect answer [laughs].  Why, you know?


The sound of the bell, you know, is the activity of whole universe, and blow of the—blowing window—wind is also activity of whole universe which, you know, covers everything.  That we hear our activity of mind is also the activity of whole universe, not only my activity but also activity of whole universe.  So one activity include everything.  In this case, that mind is called “big mind” or “capital mind.”  My mind, you know is—our mind is our small mind.  But mind which include everything is capital mind.  Although the character is same, but we understand this character in two ways:  small mind and big mind.


So the [teacher asked], “What kind of mind is it?”  Small mind or big mind, you know.  Although the teacher didn’t say so, but he meant—what he meant:  “What kind of mind is it?  Is it the mind which hear something, which recognize something?”  And disciple said:  “No.  That mind is big mind, which is in complete calmness.”  That was his answer.


Now this is, you know, how we practice zazen.  How our mind work or exist is—how our—each one’s own mind exist is so-called-it in “inter-relationship.”  You know, my mind is supported by all of you, you know, and each one’s mind is supported by all of mind.  So, you know, and at the same time, each one’s mind is supporting, you know, supporting everyone’s mind.


December 6th, 1967

Wednesday, December 6th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi conducting a Precepts ceremony in the Buddha hall at City Center

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Afternoon Sesshin Lecture

Wednesday, December 6, 1967


Lecture A

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-12-06

The mind which [we] will acquire or obtain by our pure practice is, as I said, something which is not graspable—which is beyond our words.  But at the same time, the mind will respond to everything.  So positively speaking, our mind is like a mirror which reflects various object on it.  But when there is no—no object, the mirror is something which you cannot even see.  This is the mind we will obtain by our pure practice.

This afternoon I want to make the relationship between our big mind and everyday activity.  In everyday life, how the big mind reveal itself will be the point I will talk [about] right now—or the function of—you may say the function of the great mind.

Dōgen-zenji explained this mind in his Tenzo Kyōkun.[1] Tenzo Kyōkun is the instruction for the monks who works in the kitchen.  Those who work in the kitchen must have this mind.  And work in the kitchen is the extended practice of zazen, or their way should be—their way working in the kitchen should be based on our pure practice or big mind.  Especially [for] those who work in kitchen, it is necessary to have big mind because they will have various difficulties.