Posts Tagged ‘Buddha-nature’

March 22nd, 1967

Wednesday, March 22nd, 1967

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Lecture by Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday, March 22, 1967

[Suzuki-rōshi read a rendition of “Jōshu’s Mu.”  He said Jōshu began serious study, including travel and visits to various masters, after the age of 60.  Before that he spent most of his time caring for his old Zen teacher.]

“Has a dog Buddha nature?” Everyone knows that Buddha nature is everywhere and includes everything. (It is so stated in a sutra). But if we all are Buddha, i.e., if buddha-nature is everywhere, why practice zazen? Consider the air; it too is everywhere; but until we use a fan, we are not aware of it. Zazen may be likened to the fanning. However, awareness of Buddha nature, or the solution to mu are not our only problems. So there is no need to be narrowly over-concerned with what Buddha nature refers to. You should not strain too hard to know what Zen is. One cannot study Zen in the usual manner. The way to study Zen is to be always aware of yourself, to be careful, to be sincere with yourself. Awareness means that when reading (including Zen materials), your mind should not get caught by any idea. It should remain open. Similarly with sights and sounds… don’t allow your mind’s self-awareness to get lost or absorbed. In other words, always remain conscious of what you are doing, of what is going on. In all our activities we should have “inward eyes.” This is especially so during physical actions, because then our minds are not as full of activity. When we are reading or thinking, our minds are not as full of activity. When we are involved in physical activity, then the mind is at full operation…it is open. When we are thus attentive and one with our activity, we can deepen our understanding. When we practice this way, everything that happens is within our mind and everything we are involved in is the content of our practice. Such awareness of body-mind means that sounds, for example, arise from within the mind. Here (in body-mind) there is no duality. Body-mind arises when practice is within yourself-Zen conduct is occurring when there is no duality.


January 5, 1967

Thursday, January 5th, 1967

Rev. Suzuki lecture

January 5, 1967

Los Altos

In our practice the important thing is our physical posture we take, and breathing…way of taking breathing.  Those are very important because we have…we are not so much concerned about our deep understanding of Buddhism.  As a philosophy Buddhism has very deep and wide and firm system in our thought, but Zen does not concerned about those philosophical understanding but we emphasize our practice.  But why it is so important…we must understand why our physical posture and breathing exercise is important is…there is some reason and instead of discussing or having deep understanding of the teaching we want strong confidence, or you may say faith, a kind of faith in our teaching that we have originally Buddha Nature.  And our practice is based on this faith.  Originally we have Buddha Nature.  If so we have to behave like Buddha is why we practice zazen.  You may feel rather funny in our reason why we practice zazen but if you compare the various practice or training with our…to our practice you will understand our practice better.


December 8, 1966

Thursday, December 8th, 1966

At Zoun-in, c. 1930. (Left to right) Shunryu's father Butsumon Sogaku, Shunryu (squatting), Hino-san (Tori's husband), Shunryu's sister Tori Hino and baby, temple caretaker, and Shunryu's mother, Yone.

Rev. S. Suzuki lecture

December 8, 1966

I am very glad to be here the day Buddha was born … when Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.  When he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree he said, “It is wonderful to see Buddha nature on everything and in each individual.”  What he meant was when we practice zen…zazen we have Buddha nature and we are all Buddha himself.  By practice he did not mean just to sit under the Bodhi tree or to sit in cross-legged posture.  Our cross-legged posture is the basic posture or original posture for us…most fundamental way of being here.  But what he meant actually was that mountain is or trees are or flowing water or flowers and plants and everything as they are is the way Buddha is.  (more…)

July 30 1965

Friday, July 30th, 1965


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, July 30, 1965

Lecture B

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-30

Tape operator: The sentence about “your mind”[1] was in the meditation before breakfast, and beginning here is the instruction at nine o’clock Friday morning.

Suzuki-rōshi: I have to give the conclusion to my talk for this sesshin.  The science or philosophy is like a dissection.  It is possible to analyze what we did after we did something [1 word].  But it is already dead corpse [laughs]—dead corpse of our practice.  So even though you analyze what you have done, it will not work.  It will not help you so much.  It is nearly the same as to count your lost child’s age [laughs].  So we cannot help counting our lost boy’s age.  It is our nature, but actually it will not help us so much.

So the most important thing is to understand our true mind or inmost nature in our practice.  How we understand our actual mind is the most important point—should be the most important point.  That is why Zen emphasize to live on each moment.


July 29 1965

Thursday, July 29th, 1965

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday Morning, July 29, 1965

Lecture A

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-29

Tape operator: Nine o’clock instruction, Thursday morning.

Suzuki-rōshi: Purpose of practice is to have direct experience of buddha-nature.  That is purpose of our practice.  So whatever you do, it is—it should be the direct experience of buddha-nature.

We say—in fifth precept we say, “Don’t—don’t—don’t be attached”—not “attached,” but—”don’t be—don’t violate even the precepts which is not here.”  [Laughs.]  It is rather difficult to understand.  In—in Japanese it is not so difficult, but in English it is rather difficult to understand.  It means, anyway—we say when you sit, you say I have something—something occurred in your mind which is not so good.  Some image come.  Something covered your wisdom or buddha-nature.  When you say so, you have the idea of clearness, you know, because you have—you think you have to clear up your mind from all images; you have to keep your mind clear from various images which will come to you, or which you have already—you have—which you have already should be cleared up.  This—so far you understand it, but Dōgen-zenji says:

Don’t—don’t even try to clear up your mind, even though you have something here.  Don’t want to be pure.  If you want to be pure, it means you have attached in—to pureness—purity.  That is also not so good.  Don’t attach to purity or impurity.


September 1963

Sunday, September 1st, 1963




Commentary by Reverend Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Zen Center

September 1963

There is no Introductory Word to Model Subject No. 30 from the Blue Cliff Records, but I will apply the following statement from a Buddhist Guide for the Layman by Sita Paulickpulla Renfrew [publisher: Cambridge Buddhist Association, Cambridge, Mass.] as an introduction.

According to Buddhist ethics, no person or authority can ever impose upon another any code of conduct lower in morality or humanity than the individual himself wishes. Neither can anyone make another act on a higher plane than the individual himself desires. Each individual can act only according to the level of his state of evolution, and he has to live by the consequences thereof.

Main Subject from the Blue Cliff Records:

Attention! A monk asked Joshu, “I hear by rumor that you were at one time closely associated with Nansen. Is that so, or not?” Joshu replied, “Chin-shu produces very large radishes.”