Posts Tagged ‘Ceremony’

July 30th, 1971

Friday, July 30th, 1971


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.


July 29th, 1971

Thursday, July 29th, 1971

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.


August 25th, 1970

Tuesday, August 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Tuesday, August 25, 1970

[No audio.]

I am so grateful to have this ordination ceremony for you, our old students.  This is actually the second time … the second ordination ceremony for Zen Center.  Because why we didn’t have lay ordination ceremony more often was because I didn’t want to give you some special idea of lay Buddhists.  Bodhisattva way, according to Bodhisattva teaching, every … actually every sentient beings are Bodhisattva, whether or not they are aware of it they are actually disciples of the Buddha.  As this is our conviction, we didn’t I didn’t want to give you some special idea of lay Buddhists, but time has come for us to strive for more sincerely to help others.


As we have so many students here, inside and outside of Zen Center, we need more help.  And I decided to have Lay Ordination for you just to help others but not to give you some special idea of lay Buddhists, because all of us are Buddhists actually.  This is not conceited idea, this is idea of spirit transmitted from Buddha to us.  Accordingly, our way is like Avalokiteshvara Buddha, Bodhisattva.  When he wants to save ladies, he took, he takes the form of ladies; for boys, he takes form of boys; for fisherman, he will be a fisherman.  More sophisticated Chinese expression is to be like white bird in the snow—white bird in the snow.  When people are like snow, we should be like snow.  When people become black, we should be black.  And being always with them without any idea of discrimination, and we can help others in its true sense without giving anything, any special teaching or materials, this is actually Bodhisattva way.


And now … how we actually … this kind of freedom from everything, and this kind of asking, and this kind of soft-minded spirit is to practice our way.  You may think we are forcing you in same form, forcing some rituals on you or forcing some special teaching on you and forcing you to say, “yes, I will.”  But, those things are provided for you just to be like a white bird in the snow.  When you go through those practice, and when you practice zazen in this way, you have point of zazen and point of practice and point of helping others.  This is why we had ordination ceremony today, all of us, including various great teachers. It is not at all easy to be like white bird in the snow.


August 23rd, 1970

Sunday, August 23rd, 1970


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, August 23, 1970

San Francisco



Tape operator (possibly Yvonne Rand):  First part of Rōshi’s address here is inaudible on the original tape.




… and obtain similar to result according to [1 word unclear] like our [1-2] bodhisattva way.  [2-3] bodhisattva spirit.  [3-4] of our practice.  And how you, you know, actually practice may be in [1-2].  You say “Hai!”  That is the point of practice.  When you say “Hai,” you are one with your “hai.”  One with your Zen.  One with your [1].  And one with your [1].


So when you say Hai!—or when you say “Yes, I will!”—then there is true mind of helping, you know.  And if you cannot say “Hai!” from the bottom of heart, with all of your strength, that practice doesn’t work.


[5-7] start with this practice of “Yes, I will!”  That is the fundamental practice of bodhisattva practice.  And to have complete perfect understanding of how important it is to say “Hai” is your whole life’s practice.


August 9th, 1970

Sunday, August 9th, 1970
This photo of Suzuki-roshi and Tenshin Reb Anderson appears to be of the ordination ceremony at City Center transcribed below.

This photo of Suzuki-roshi and Tenshin Reb Anderson appears to be of the ordination ceremony at City Center transcribed below.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

PRIEST ORDINATION CEREMONY:  Paul Discoe and Reb Anderson

Sunday, August 9, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-09


Suzuki-rōshi (speaking formally):[1] … Paul Discoe and [1 word unclear] Reb Anderson, who have come here to be ordained as a disciple of the Buddha.  Listen to—listen calmly and attentively.


Due to surpassing affinities, this ordination ceremony become possible.  As Buddha’s disciple, you have acquired the opportunity to receive the teaching transmitted from Shākyamuni Buddha through the patriarchs to me and to manifest the Buddha’s way forever.


Even the buddhas and patriarchs cannot help but admire you who are earnestly seeking the Buddha’s path in this world.  With sincere belief in—in his dharma and practicing his way with [2-3 words] for all sentient beings.


It is rare indeed to receive a human body in this cosmic world.  However, since we cannot avoid the reality of birth and death, we must deeply and gratefully appreciate how meaningful and marvelous this present existence is.  There indeed is the opportunity to listen to the dharma, and the appearance of Buddha in this world is our great joy.


July 28th, 1970

Tuesday, July 28th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi with ??

Suzuki-roshi with ??

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Sunday Evening, July 28, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-28


This evening I want to talk about some problems you have when you come to Zen Center.  And you understand why we practice—zazen practice, pretty well.  But why we observe this kind of ritual—rituals, is maybe rather difficult to understand why.  Actually, it is not something to be explained [laughs] so well.  If you ask me why we observe or why I observe those rituals, you know, without much problem is difficult to answer.


But first of all, why I do it is because—because I have been doing for a long time [laughs].  So for me there is not much problem [laughs, laughter].  So I—I tend to think that because I have no problem in observing my way, there must not be problem—so much problem for you [laughs].  But actually, you are an Amer- [partial word]—you are Americans, and I am Japanese, and you have been—you were not practicing Bud- [partial word]—Buddhist way, so there must be various problems [laughs].


So this kind of problem is almost impossible to solve.  But if you, you know, actually follow our way I think you will reach—you will have some understanding of our rituals.  And what I want to talk about is actually about precepts, you know.


April 25th, 1970

Saturday, April 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, April 25, 1970[1]

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-04-25

[This audio file is a recording of the entire ceremony. The transcribed text below begins at 41:47.]

Suzuki-rōshi (speaking formally):  On this day of the opening of Mahābodhisattva Zendō and main office of Zen Center, we arranged this altar, making offering of fruits and vegetables which were produced in this land of Mahābodhisattva, reciting sūtra of Daihi-shin Darani, the Sūtra of the Great Compassionate One.


With this merit, we want to express our way-seeking mind with our deceased friend Trudy Dixon, Baiho Sesshin [1 word],[2] and Zenkei Dosaku Koji, Sōtō Sanjō,[3] and Sister F. Carlson, and all those who helped our activity by the spirit of Buddha or by various kinds of offering.


Hereby, we want to practice bodhisattva way step by step, so that our practice of step by step was paying back the mercy of Buddha and great bodhisattvas in India, China, and Japan.


Hereby, now, I have one statement which has been in my mind for more than ten years:  Even on top of the mountain of great merit, we should try not …  [Tape recorder stopped!]




Source:  City Center tape first transcribed verbatim by Katharine Shields (6/19/00).  Checked against tape by Bill Redican (9/28/00).

 [1]  The tape on which this transcript was made was a compilation tape numbered SR-70-08-09.  The original tapes appear to be SR-70-04-25A
and -B.  The original tapes may contain the complete lectures, but they are afflicted with sound problems that must first be remedied.

 [2]  Two Buddhist names were given to her at her lay ordination in 1967:  Baiho Sesshin (“Fragrant Plum, Pure Mind”).

 [3]  Sanjō may mean “delegate” or “visitor”:  e.g., delegate from the Sōtō-shū (school) headquarters.

April 12th, 1970

Sunday, April 12th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, April 12, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-04-12

The April—April the eighth is the day we celebrate Buddha’s birthday in China and Japan.  As you know, Buddha was born as a prince of Shākya tribe—a king of Shākya tribe.  And when he was born in the Lumbinī Garden,[1]  nāgas[2]  poured sweet tea.  That is why we pour the sweet tea.  But actually we don’t know the historical origin about this because we have not much record about the sweet tea.


But—but we have record about the festival we have—we had right now.  Maybe in Japan they started to mix this kind of tea for the infant Buddha.  And in China and in Japan, the infant Buddha statue is very lovely and very tiny.  The largest one in Japan is maybe fifteen inches high, which is in Todai-ji Temple, where the big Buddha is.[3]   As the Vairochana Buddha in Todai-ji is big, the infant Buddha is also big.  But usually infant Buddha for this ceremony is as small as this [gestures?].


In Japan, right n- [partial word]—nowadays we celebrate around eighty—around eighth of April on Sunday.  Here in America, Japanese people celebrate his birthday mostly also around eighth on Sunday.  The other day when we have meeting, we had, you know, beautiful cake for the birthday, and then some of them celebrated Buddha’s birthday right here, singing “Happy Birthday” [laughs, laughter].  I think that is the first, you know, happy birthday song for the Buddha [laughs, laughter].  Many things is happening here!  [Laughter.]


January 11th, 1970

Sunday, January 11th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

ORDINATION CEREMONY:  Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley

Sunday, January 11, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-11


We have ordination ceremony for Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley after this lecture—immediately after this lecture.  I wanted to talk about ordination ceremony, but I think it is pretty difficult to explain it, you know, because even—because you have no idea of, you know, Buddhist priesthood.  And what you have in your mind is priest in America, you know, so [laughs] I have no word to communicate.


[Hum on tape for several minutes.  Then Suzuki-rōshi resumes.]


… inanimate and animate beings.  So everything has its own position in Buddha’s—in Budd- [partial word]—as a Buddhist.  That is fundamental teaching of Buddhism, and that is the structure of the teaching.


So we cannot say “priest is highest.”  Or “animal is lowest.”  Tentatively, as we are, you know, human being, or as we are teacher or disciples, but we are all friends of—of Buddhist.  We are all Buddhist.  Tentatively, we take some responsibility to express Buddha’s teaching.  But each one of us—because each one of us has one’s own position and responsibility.  So the value of each one is the same.  That is fundamental, you know, structure of sangha.


December 4th, 1969

Thursday, December 4th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, December 4, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-12-04


Our sesshin is already nearing to the end.  As I said before, this sesshin will not come back again.  So we must make best effort in our practice.  And when you want to [make] best effort in our practice, of course we have to practice zazen seriously.


But at the same time, tomorrow we will have shōsan[1]  ceremony.  And the day after tomorrow morning we will have jōdō-e.[2]   Those ceremonies should be observed as if you practice zazen.  And when you [are] in zendō, when you do something, there is some—there is rules.  Rules we have in zendō is called “pure rules.”  Pure means oneness—oneness of the rules and who observe rules.  And the students and rules should be always one.  That one student—where one student is, there should be rules.  And rules should be taken care of by all of us as if you take care of your zazen.  That is why we call it pure precepts—pure rules.  So rules we have in zendō is not some rules which is set up by someone for some purpose.


So the difference between the usual rules and our rules is [that] our rules has freedom in it.  The rules which has no freedom in it is not pure rules.  The restricted side and freedom side in our pure rules is one.  And how we take care of rules is how we take care of our practice—zazen practice.