Posts Tagged ‘Buddha-nature’

July 21st, 1971

Wednesday, July 21st, 1971
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.


August 2nd, 1970

Sunday, August 2nd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sesshin Lecture No.  2

Sunday, August 2, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-02


In Japan, a terrible fire broke out, and some hotel was burned down, and many sightseeing people killed in the fire.  And recently in Japan, they had many sightseeing people even to Eihei-ji, where monk—only monks practice our way.  Uchiyama-rōshi[1]—Uchiyama-rōshi said in his book[2]—if you open the book, he says recently, “Everything is going like that” [laughs].  Because we have so many sightseeing people, [laughs], so many years of hotels is built as one building after another.  So the building is very complicated.  So once something happens [laughs], they don’t—it is difficult to figure out which is entrance and which is fire escape [laughs].  [Coughs heavily.]  Excuse me.


I am very much interested in Uchiyama-rōshi’s remark, and it—it is something like that happening to us too [laughs].  Zen Center become bigger and bigger [laughs], and people—students who come here will find it very difficult which is entrance and which is fire escape [laughs].  I, you know, I thought maybe he is teasing me [laughs].  But what he said is very true, I think.  The world situation is something like that.


But we should know, you know, the right entrance for zendō.  Dōgen-zenji says in Shōbōgenzō, right entrance for the Buddha hall is zazen.  Zazen practice is right entrance.  So everyone should, you know, enter the big right—from the big wide entrance.  Because no—no Buddhist—there is no Buddhist who does not practice zazen.  So all the teaching comes out from zazen, and what we obtain by practice of zazen is transmitted mind from Buddha to us.  So when we practice zazen, all the treasures transmitted to us will come out from our transmitted mind.  And how to open up our transmitted mind is practice of zazen.


June 1st, 1970

Monday, June 1st, 1970
Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, June 1, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-01


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line  5         Reigen myōni kōkettari.

Line  6                   Shiha anni ruchūsu.

Line  7         Ji wo shūsuru mo moto kore mayoi.

Line  8                   Ri ni kanō mo mata satori ni ara zu.


Line 5          The true source is pure and stainless.

Line 6                    The branch streams flow in the dark.

Line 7          Clutching at things is delusion.

Line 8                    To recognize the truth is not always
enlightenment either.]



[Suzuki-rōshi sneezes directly into the mike as it is being set up.  He and students laugh.]  I want to know the feedback.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Oh my.  [Laughs.]


After all, it’s better to follow one character after another like this.  [Points to the blackboard where the characters of the text are written.[1]]  This part is not so difficult.  Reigen—rei is—rei  is “something wonderful,” you know, “something beyond our description, beyond our words” is reiGen  is “source—source of the teaching.”  Reigen—”source of the teaching.”


The source of the teaching of Buddha, you know—Buddha—what Buddha talked about is the source of the teaching which is beyond our words in term of right or wrong.  And this is important, you know.  Rei-gen.  Whatever we can think about is not source, you know.  It is already something comes—come out from the source.  The source is something unknown.  Only buddha knows.  Or only when you practice zazen you have it.  Or even though you don’t practice it, or whether you realize it or not, you know, something which exist before our realization is source.  The source is not like something, you know, to, you know, to put on lettuce [laughs, laughter]—not that kind of thing, you know.  It is something which you cannot taste, you know, in term of tasty or not tasty.  That is real source.


February 25th, 1970

Wednesday, February 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture No. 3:


Wednesday, February 25, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-25


Yesterday I talked about how to, maybe—two ways of practice:  one is zazen practice under the guidance of the right teacher, and the other is how to extend our practice in our everyday life.  And the—it—our teaching mostly—especially Mahāyāna Buddhist teachings—mostly directed how to extend our practice to our everyday practice.


The teaching of emptiness or teaching of interdependency—those teaching are to explain how, you know, from our practice which is non-dualistic—to be extended dualistic everyday life.  And that was what I told you last—yesterday.


So in our practice, you know, our practice is not the practice to attain something, you know, but to start our practice from the beginning, jump—jumping into the non-dualistic pure practice.  That is our practice.  [Sounds like tape was stopped here and then started again.]  Without, you know, realizing there is nothing to depend on and even ourselves—our physical body is transient, so we cannot depend upon ourselves physically and mentally.


And things exist looks like permanent, but it is not so.  It looks like existent, but it is nonexistent, and that is true.  With this understanding, we devote ourselves completely in our practice.  That is our practice.  Then your question may be what kind of effort, you know, you should make to practice that kind of practice of non-attainment [laughs].  That will be, you know, your, you know, question.


October 25th, 1969

Saturday, October 25th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


[Third Lotus Sūtra Series]

Saturday Evening, October 25, 1969

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-10-25

(note: the audio speeds up as the recording goes along)


Last night[1]  I explained the most important part of this chapter [II], which runs:




This is another translation,[2]  translated from Chinese text[3]  comparing to Sanskrit original text.


“Shāriputra, the Thus-Come One—Thus-Come One can by a variety of distinction skillfully preach the dharma.  His word are gentle, gladdening many hearers.  Shāriputra, to take the—to take the essential and—to take the essential and speak of it.  As for the immeasurable and unlimited dharmas that have never been before, the Buddha has perfected them all.”


And here—this is most important part:


“Cease, Shāriputra.  We need no more speak.  Why is that?  As for the prime, rare, hard-to-understand dharma which the Buddha has perfected, only a buddha and buddha can exalt [exhaust?] the reality of the dharma—namely,

the suchness of dharma,

the suchness of their marks,

the suchness of their nature,

the suchness of their substance,

the suchness of their powers,

the suchness of their functions,

the suchness of their causes,

the suchness of their conditions,

the suchness of their effects,

the suchness of their retribution, and

the absolute equality of their beginning and end.”


And here there is important words.  Reality of these dharmas—reality of these dharmas—reality of these dharma I explained last night:  how things exist, and namely suchness of the dharma, and the suchness of their marks, and suchness of their nature, suchness of their substance.  But all those things in word [are] another version of “things changes and things has no self-nature.”  And things are originally organic:  one whole being, which makes one whole lives [life?].  That is the fundamental teaching of this sūtra.


And to have this kind of understanding—view of life, view of nature—is the Buddha’s wisdom.  And, in this chapter—in this sūtra they—Buddha put emphasis on this point.  And I refer to the—and I refer to Shōbōgenzō:[4]   “Only dharma—only buddha and buddha can exalt [exhaust?] the reality of these dharma.”  “Only buddha and buddha can exalt [exhaust?] the reality of dharmas.”  This is very important.


September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


“I Don’t Know Zazen”

September 1969


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


In our practice, the most important thing [is] to—to know—to know.  “To know” is that we have buddha-nature.  Our practice—real practice happens when realization of buddha-nature take place.  Intellectually we know that we have buddha-nature, and that is what was taught by Buddha.


But to know buddha-nature—when you know that we have buddha-nature, at the same time you will know that even though we have buddha-nature, you know, it is rather difficult to accept it.  At the same time, we have various evil nature.  And buddha-nature is something beyond good and bad, but our everyday life is going [on] in realm of good and bad.  So there is—there is two—twofold of duality.  One is duality of good and bad, and the other is duality of good and bad—realm of good and bad, and realm of the world where there is no good and no bad.


And our everyday life is going [on] in realm of good and bad—the realm of duality.  And buddha-nature or our absolute nature is found in the realm of absolute where there is no good and bad.  Our practice is to go beyond the realm of good and bad and to realize the one absolute world—to enter the one absolute world is our practice.  If I say in this way it is rather—it may rather difficult to understand.


Hashimoto-rōshi,[1]  the famous Zen master who passed away last year or 1967, I think, explained this point.  “It is”—I think I told you once—”It is like a—to—to prepare a food,” you know.  We prepare food—various food—you separate:  rice is here, and pickles are here, and soup is in middle bowl.  We don’t cook like a gruel all the time [laughs]—soup and rice and everything in one bowl.  Even though, you know, to cook—to prepare food separately, you know, in each bowl is the—our usual world—world of seeming.  And—but when you eat it, you know, in your tummy, you know, soup and rice and pickles and everything—goma-shio[2]—and everything [gets all] [laughs] mixed up and you don’t know what is—which is goma-shio or rice.  That is the world of absolute [laughter].  As long as goma-shio is goma-shio, and separately prepared on the plate, it doesn’t work—like your intellectual understanding of Buddhism.  It doesn’t work.  [Laughs, laughter.]  That is book knowledge.


August 25th, 1969

Monday, August 25th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Monday Evening, August 25, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-25


Tonight, maybe, we will have question and answer.  As usual, will you give me some questions?  No questions?


Student A:  Rōshi?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hai.


Student A:  Could you explain how if improvement is one of the causes of suffering, how does our practice relate to it?  Zazen seems to me to be one of things that is changing my life to the better.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  “Changing better,” you know, there—there is problem, you know.  Do you mean you have some problem or suffering, and by practice you think you can stop or you can—you will be more free from suffering, or what do you mean?


Student A:  Well, for instance, in—in the practice of ōryōki


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student A:  —seems to avoid a lot of bodily [1 word] suffering.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah.


Student A:  That seems to be why we practice ōryōki.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Practice—actually, the purpose of practice is to be completely, you know, devote ourselves to the something which you do.  You know, that is the main point of practice.  When you don’t or when you do it carelessly, then your mind is not there.  So your mind—when your mind is not there, then you are separated by your, if I say, if I use big word, by your surrounding.  And you are here and you are separated by your place [where] you live.  If—when you are separated by objective world and there is suffering, you know, but when you are completely devote yourself to what you do there is no separation, and [that] which exist there is not subjective world or objective world for you.  Ōryōki, just ōryōki exist, you know, and that ōryōki covers everything—not only you but also everything will be covered by it or included by it.  When this oneness appears there is no suffering.  Do you understand?  Suffering is—this is suffering [writing or drawing on blackboard].  When there is only one stick there is no suffering.  Do you understand?  When—when this kind of oneness take place there is no suffering.  That is—


June 22nd, 1969

Sunday, June 22nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, June 22, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-06-22


Dōgen-zenji says:  “Everything is encourages us to attain enlightenment.  Mountains and rivers, earth and sky:  everything is encouraging us to attain enlightenment.”  So, of course, a purpose of lecture is to encourage—to encourage you attaining enlightenment.  So we call our lecture, you know, teishō.  Teishō means “with teaching—with kōan,” to help people to attain enlightenment.


And usual lecture—sometime to explain the context of teaching—like to explain philosophy—to understand our teaching in philosophical way is more a “lecture”—a kōwa.[1]   Kōwa is more philosophical.  And purpose of to listen to kōwa is to have intellectual understanding of the teaching.  While teishō is to encourage students to attain enlightenment, or to have perfect understanding of—to have real experience of—to have real Buddhist experience.


So same thing will be subj- [partial word]—topic of our everyday life in its ordinal [ordinary?] sense.  And same thing will be kōan [definitely said “kōan” here] to encourage—to encourage us to attain, to have direct experience of our life.  Even though you think you are studying Buddhism, actually, you are, when you are just reading, you know [laughs]—it is—it may be—it may not be true or it will not help to have direct experience of Buddhism but just intellectual understanding of it.


April 20th, 1969

Sunday, April 20th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday Lecture

Sunday, April 20, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-04-20

It’s—it is pretty difficult, but I will try—try to speak about purpose of our practice.

Before I try to explain our practice, I think I should explain why we practice, you know—why we should practice Zen when we have buddha-nature.  And this is the great problem Dōgen-zenji had.  And he worked for this question before he went to China and met with Nyojō-zenji.[1]

And this is not, of course, so easy problem, but if you understand what do we mean when we say everyone has buddha-nature, and everything has buddha-nature.  What does it mean?  And he explained very carefully in Shōbōgenzō, on the—in the first chapter.

When we say “buddha-nature,” you know, you may think buddha-nature is some innate nature, you know, because we say nature.  In Japanese we use same words—nature—buddha-nature.  But actually it is not nature like nature of human being or nature of plant—or nature of cats or dogs, you know.  It is not, strictly speaking, it is not that kind of nature.

“Nature” means something which is there whatever you do.  Whatever you do, there is nature.  Nature is not something which is there, you know, before you do something.  When you do something, you know, at the same time, nature appears.  That is nature, you know.  What he meant.

You know, you—you think, you know, we have buddha-nature within ourselves or innate—as a innate nature.  And because of this nature, you do something, you know.  That is usual understanding of nature [laughs].  But that is not his understanding.  Or it is not like some seed, you know, which is there before plant come out you know.  “That is not the nature which I mean,” Dōgen-zenji said.  That kind of understanding of nature is, you know, heretic understanding of nature [laughs].  It is not correct understanding of nature.


December 6th, 1967 2nd talk

Wednesday, December 6th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Evening Sesshin Lecture

Wednesday, December 6, 1967


Lecture B

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-12-06 2nd talk

We say everything has buddha-nature, so we have to treat as a buddha.  To say “everything has buddha-nature” is not appropriate, because if I say—to say—if I say everything has buddha-nature, then [?] buddha-nature and everything is dualistic.  Actually, everything itself is buddha.  “Buddha-nature,” we say, but this word is not so appropriate.  Buddha-nature, you know—if I say “buddha-nature,” it looks like we have many nature:  human nature, buddha-nature, and nature of animal.  But buddha—by—what we mean by buddha-nature is some special nature in comparison to other nature, or human nature—human nature itself, buddha-nature.  So there is nothing but buddha-nature.

So, when we say “buddha-nature”—”everything has buddha-nature,” this is already wrong.  But tentatively, we must say everything has buddha-nature.  In Japanese, for an instance, I have, you know, two eyes.  You say I have two eyes.  But we do not say I have two eyes.  We say, “There is two eyes.”  The meaning is different, and in Chinese character, “I have”—the word “have” means “skin,” you know, which is part of our body.  So when we say “I have two eyes,” it means our eyes is a part of ours.  Or we do not say even “I.”  “There is two eyes,” we say.  So I is—we do not say I, you know:  Mega futatsu arimas.  Mimiga futatsu arimasKuchiga hitotsu arimas.[1] “There is one mouth.”  “There are two eyes.”  And, “There are two ears.”  It means, you know:  “I have two eyes.”  And, “I have one mouth.”  And “I have one nose.[2]”  And that “have” is—means a part of us.  It means “flesh” or “skin.”  So when we say “I have—everything has buddha-nature,” what we mean is not so dualistic.