Posts Tagged ‘Breath Counting’

July 31st, 1970

Friday, July 31st, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, July 31, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-31


… [laughter].  What he—she meant is if you stand up, you know, with painful legs or sleeping legs, you will [laughs]—it will be dan- [partial word]—dangerous [laughs, laughter].  That is why she said so—so, you know.  I think that is very important, you know, and even though you feel your legs, okay.  But it is better to make it—make them sure [laughs], rubbing, you know, your knee.


Student A:  I thought what she was saying was that once we stood up, we were supposed to stand there without—before we started walking.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Excuse me, I don’t—


Student A:  I thought that, you know—


Suzuki-rōshi:  —I don’t know what she said, you know, so it is difficult [laughter].


Student A:  I just won’t move [laughing] until the person in front of me leaves.


Suzuki-rōshi:  When you make kinhin, you know, walk, you know, so that you give them—  You know, if you walk too slowly or if you have too much, you know, distance, between you and someone ahead of you, that will make other person difficult to walk, so you should be careful, you know, abo- [partial word]—about distance between you and a person ahead of you.  So keep certain, you know, distance.  And if, you know, someone like me, you know, walk—naturally I walk slowly, you know.  That will give others some difficulties.  And as I walk very slowly, we—I will have big distance from [laughs] a person who is walking ahead of me.


March 1st, 1970

Sunday, March 1st, 1970

Suzuki-roshi in the Buddha-hall at City Center for a service or lecture

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday morning, March 1, 1970

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-03-01

 (this audio file covers about three-quarters of the transcript below)


Actually, because of my bad throat, I don’t speak for people outside, you know.  I o- [partial word]—I hardly manage to keep my lecture in Zen Center.  But this time, because of Dr. Lancaster, whom I met at dinner, I was very much encouraged by him.  And hearing hard [hardship?] of—name of Senzaki,[1] you know, who is, I think, pioneer of Zen in America [and] who did not have also any temple whatsoever.  He did not like to spend his time managing—management or a business-like thing, you know, which will follow by our church or organization activity.  So he just had a small room available for maybe ten or twenty people.  And he spent his life in that way in Los Angeles.  [Gap in tape of 27 seconds.]  … worldly things, but he wanted to make more effort to establishing the foundation of Zen in America.  I think that is why he end up as a wandering monk in America.  I did—before I come to America, I didn’t know anything about him.  But after I came to America, I met many students who studied Zen by him, and I read a book written by him,[2]  and I was very much impressed by his profound understanding of Zen.  Since then, I was very much encouraged to be here and to study with you.


I came this morning without preparing anything to speak.  But I wanted to share the feeling we have right here, right now.  Sharing the feeling right here, right now is the fundamental or basic thing for Zen practice.  Zen is, in one word, to share, you know, our feeling with people or with trees and with mountains wherever we are [laughs].  That is Zen practice.


But usually, you know, our mind is always filled with something, you know:   something like ice cream [laughs, laughter] or lemonade [laughs, laughter] or banana or, you know, soap—how much the soap cost in one, you know, store, how much will it cost in other store.  And looking out the newspaper [laughs] and seeing ad, you know, where there is some sale, you know.  That kind of thing—filled with that kind of thing.  So it is almost impossible to share the actual feeling, you know, where they are right now.


February 22, 1970

Sunday, February 22nd, 1970

Suuzki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, February 22, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-22


I think most of you participate one-week sesshin from tomorrow.[1]  So far, we have been practicing counting breathing or following breathing.  But maybe tomorrow—from tomorrow, in one-week sesshin, we will, you know, practice shikantaza.


I want to explain, you know, what is shikantaza.  Shikantaza is, as you know—excuse me—just to sit, you know.  We say “shikantaza.”  Just to sit.  But there is—if you, you know, it is not proper or it is not enough to say “just to sit.”  For an instance, you know, everything is just there, you know.  Things are just where they are.  But that is not enough.  If we say just things are just where they are, the relationship between things is ignored.  When we think about the relationship between things, we will reach the idea of one whole being, you know.


We say “things,” but actually things are already some divided materialistic and idealistic being.  So before we have—when we have idea of things, you know, we actually have the idea of one whole being.  And one whole being exist in the state of divided being.  That is actually how things exist.


And things are incessantly, you know, changing.  So, you know, time span—things is not just things as they are.  It is changing as a one whole being.  This point is—should be understood when we practice zazen.  So Dōgen-zenji says, “If your practice does not include everything, that is not right practice.”  That is why we, you know, bow to Buddha and why we, you know, call our practice—practice of Buddha’s—Buddha’s practice, not your practice.


November 13th, 1969

Thursday, November 13th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi 

Thursday Evening, November 13, 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-13 part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-13 part 2

Tonight I am supposed to explain “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”  In—last night, we came to the point to make to clarify especially “emptiness is form,” which is rather difficult to make it clear.  But actually, form is so-to-say “big mind”—no, emptiness is “big mind.”  And big mind as sky, which contains—which doesn’t—air or sky, empty sky.  But—”empty sky,” we say, but everything grow—when plants and everything grow into the sky, sky doesn’t care, you know.  And the sky is always ready to accept things in it.


And—but our mind is not—should be like a sky, you know, our big mind.  We should accept things as it is, and we should not discriminate things, as the sky doesn’t discriminate things in which many ex- [partial word]—in which many things exist.  Various being is quite free in the big sky.  But our mind is not so.  “I like this.  I don’t like this.  This is beautiful.  But this is not so beautiful.  I like him, but I don’t like him.  I like this part of him, but the other part is not so good.”  In this way, our small mind always discriminate things and sometime reject things.  That is small mind.  So small—in the realm of the small mind there are many objects, there are many beings, and that beings exist as if they have self-nature, good nature or bad nature—a beautiful nature or ugly mean nature.


But Mahāyāna—in this way, even though Theravādan teaching accept the teaching of selflessness, their way is more like small-mind way—small-minded way because they acknowledge things, various being which has—which is not empty.  Dharma[1]—when we say dharma, you know, it include our sense organs and mind.  So we have six—five sense organs and mind.  That is six.  And sense object, object of thinking and objects of our sense organs.  And the world which sense organ and sense objects create—get [?] with and create some world—world of sight, world of sound, world of taste, world of feeling.  In this way, each sense organs has world, its—their own world.


September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



September 1969

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


[Beginning of ceremony was not recorded.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  … it will be the foundation of the everyday activity.  That is real [1 word].


Student A:  Thank you very much.


Student B:  Dōchō-rōshi, if our karmic thoughts interfere with our breath counting, just as do the flies in the zendō, should we not try to rid ourselves of them, even though it is a nice aid our practice?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Excuse me [2-3 words]—


Student B:  If our karmic thoughts interfere with our breath-counting—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student B:  —just as do the flies in the zendō—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student B:  —should we not try to get rid of them, even though it is an aid to our practice?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Karma is actually something really exist—something you created, and something you feel [1-2 words] or something which you—or which drive you in some certain direction.  That is karma.  But that karma is not like flies.  It is not substantial being.  It is just our habit.  So it is—there is no need to try to get rid of it.  To have right understanding of it through right practice is to get rid of it.  So when you practice zazen, you should not have any idea of karma.


Student B:  Thank you very much.


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.


August 28th, 1969

Thursday, August 28th, 1969

Kobun Chino-roshi on the left, Suzuki-roshi on the right, I don't know who is in the middle

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, August 28, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-28


Suzuki-rōshi:  I want you to ask me a question.  [Laughs.]  I have nothing in my mind to say.  Something—some question about our practice, maybe, or zazen practice, or our everyday practice.  Hai.


Student A:  I have two days—I am leaving Tassajara to live in the city after being here for one year.  I wonder what you might have specifically to say to me about that right now.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Right now [laughs].  What time did you actually come back?


Student A:  Come to—back?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Yeah.  What time today?


Student A:  Today?  Today, it was about 5:15.


Suzuki-rōshi:  5:15.  [Laughs, laughter.]  The feeling—I think when you—you are at Tassajara, you know, you don’t find anything special [laughs].  But if you come back, you know, from city you will have—you will find Tassajara something quite different from city.  I had same feeling when I came back to Eihei-ji Monastery after staying outside of the monastery for maybe one or two days.  When you are here, you know, you don’t feel anything special.  But, you know, even [if] you feel something special when you come back to Tassajara, if you compare, I think proper understanding should be like this:  Tassajara should be like a water, you know.  That you feel something special about it [is] to see the wave on the water.  So even though you feel you have some special feeling about Tassajara, but that is not true Tassajara.  It is—you feel very good, but Tassajara should be greater than that.  The wave is, you know—wave you see is, according to Dōgen-zenji, you know, the wave is a part of—a part of—part of water, or—or one—many ways of observing one of the feature of water.


July 20th, 1969

Sunday, July 20th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, July 20, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-20

If you go to some library you will see many books.  And those—in those books, we will find out our achievement, our human knowledge, which is almost impossible to study out.  And now we are going to arrive to the moon.[1]   And [laughs] actually I don’t know anything about, you know, how they reach to the moon and what kind of feeling they may have when they arrive at the moon.  To me it is not so interesting a thing.


When I reflect on myself, especially when I feel, on this occasion, I have to speak about the moon trip [laughs, laughter], I have no time to study about those things.  So if I try to speak about it, it is nothing but to tell you how foolish I am, you know.  That is what I can do, you know.  If I talk about the moon trip you may think, “Ah, he is so ignorant about [laughs, laughter] the moon trip.”  And I think I may see many people today or tomorrow to speak about the moon trip as if he knows everything about it [laughs].  When I hear them speak about the moon trip, you know, how I feel is—maybe because I don’t know or he has—he is interested, actually really interested in the moon trip, you know.  And because I know that, I may not respect him so much.


The first—even the first one who may arrive at the moon—I don’t think, you know, if he is very much proud of his achievement.  How I feel is I cannot think he is a great hero.  I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t feel he is a great hero.  But on television, you know, he may be, you know, for some time, a great hero.  At least he will be treated like a great hero.


May 18th, 1969

Sunday, May 18th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi cutting (Birthday?) cake

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday Morning, May 18, 1969

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-05-18

I don’t know what to say.  I am already 65 years old.  Today I became 65.  And I am—in one way, I am very—I feel very good to become older.  And on the other hand, I regret, you know, for my past practice.  Not regret—I am not so regret—regretful, but reason why I am not so regretful is we have now pretty sincere students here in America.  That is big encouragement for me.  Why I am regretful is—on the other hand, why I am regretful is because I am not so good teacher for you, because of my past practice.  I try to be sincere, but I find now that I was not sincere enough [laughs].  That is my feeling.  So I don’t know what to say [laughs].

But let us, anyway, have more sincere practice.  Even though you think you are sincere, [you] may not be sincere enough.  That will—that will be how you feel when you become old.

You know Jōshū,[1] famous Zen master Jōshū—he joined—or he attained enlightenment when he was eighteen, and he was practicing hard until he was sixty.  And after sixty he started new practice, making trip to visit various famous Zen masters.  And he never sit in perfect chair like this.  His chair was always broken—he sit always on broken chair, mending, you know, the chair by piece of wood and rope, like this [probably gesturing].