Posts Tagged ‘Effort’

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 14th, 1969

Tuesday, October 14th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi talking to a park ranger

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, October 14, 1969

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-10-14 part a

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-10-14 part b

Suzuki-rōshi:  Since I resigned from Soko-ji Temple, I—my mind become more busy than before.  It is ridiculous, but actually it is so.


Physically I am feeling much better.  But mentally [laughs]—I’m not confused, but I’m reflecting on what I have been doing for ten years.  And as I do not stay with you so long time when our members [are] increasing a lot, I feel a great distance, you know, between you and me.  That is another problem for me.  Anyway, I think we must find our way.  And I think it is a time for us to find out some way to develop our buddha’s way.


As I have nothing to talk about tonight, so I want you to give me some question.  And I want especially new students to give me some questions.  Whatever it is, that is all right.  So please give me some questions.  Hai.


Student A:  I just finished reading something that said everything in life is necessary.  Do you agree?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Excuse me?


Student A:  I just finished reading something that referred to everything in life as necessary:  the actions, the things that happen, are all necessary.  In other words, the war, peace, love, hate, they’re all necessary in life.  Is that right?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Necessary.  You mean there is some reason for everything to happen?  Or—


Student A:  I guess you could call it that, or something that—no matter what happens, it’s the individual that counts.  It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the whole.  It’s just the individual that will eventually count in the end.  That’s what I’m referring to—that you can’t do anything about the whole but you can do something about yourself.


Suzuki-rōshi:  That’s pretty big question.  It is—I think you are asking me about Buddhist view of life—human life.  Is it?


Student A:  I guess I’m asking a question about the way I’ve felt in the past months—the way I look at things.  And it seems as though when I look at things in this way, everything seems to have fallen in place.  Everything seems to have meaning.  It doesn’t seem to trouble you at all.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Meaning.  Yeah.  When we say—you know, you—your question, I think, more than, you know—actually what you mean—that question may be the question of why we practice zazen, you know, or why is it necessary to set up some rules or why is it necessary for human being to have some certain culture.  The meaning of life—when we say “meaning,” it is already problem of—question of some certain view of life.  When you see or when you understand our life from some certain viewpoint, we say, “It is meaningful,” not “It does not mean anything.”  But when you say, “Everything is meaningful,” maybe it means we should have a wider viewpoint without sticking to some certain viewpoint.  Then everything will have some—will have meaning.  Everything which happens in our human life or in nature has some meaning—has meaning.


June 1st, 1969

Sunday, June 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

June 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-06-01

A famous Chinese Zen master, Yakusan,[1] did not give lectures for a long time.  So his student asked him to give a lecture.  So he came to lecture hall and mounted the altar, and sitting on the altar for a while, and came back to his room without saying anything.  And his jisha asked him why he didn’t give them lecture—some talk.  Yakusan said:  “I am a Zen master.  So if you want—if you want to listen to lecture, you should go to some—some other master, like some Buddhist philosopher or someone who knows many scriptures.  But I am Zen master, so you should know that I am Zen master,” he said.

Last night Reverend Katagiri[2] was talking about how we should make our effort.  When we say “to make some effort,” [it] means to make effort with some goal or with some aim.  For many hundreds of years, especially after Renaissance, we human being are involved in how to make our life easier and happy.  So we are involved in scientific research.  And to make effort means to find out some—to be involved in some scientific research, or to make freeway, or to work, to find a job, to earn some money, and to make our life happier—mostly in materialistic way.

So “to make effort” means, I think—mostly, we understand in that way.  But to make effort or to study something means—does not mean that kind of study like the student of Yakusan who asked him to give some lecture.


November 2nd, 1967

Thursday, November 2nd, 1967

Rev. S. Suzuki

November 2, 1967

We say our practice without gaining idea, practice without expecting even enlightenment, but what we mean by those statements is…it does not mean just to sit without any purpose.  Of course this practice of…without gaining idea, based on the gaining idea we have in the Prajna Paramita Sutra:  “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”.  But when we say ‘Form is emptiness” or “emptiness is form” this is still dualistic.  But when we say ‘form is form’ and ‘emptiness is emptiness’ here there is no dualism.  When you find it difficult to stop your mind in your sitting and are still trying to stop your mind, this is the stage of form is emptiness and emptiness is form.  But while you are practicing this way, more and more your practice will…in your practice you will have oneness of your goal and your practice without effort, you can stop your mind.  This is the stage of form is form and emptiness is emptiness.


May 18th, 1967

Thursday, May 18th, 1967

Rev S. Suzuki

May 18, 1967

Los Altos

The most important point in our practice is to have right effort.  The right effort which is directed to right direction is necessary.  Usually our effort is making towards wrong direction.  Especially, if your effort is making…your effort is directed towards wrong direction without knowing it means so-called deluded effort.  Our effort in our practice should be directed from being to non-being, from achievement to non-achievement.  Usually when you do something you want to achieve something but in our practice from achievement to non-achievement means to get rid of some evil result of the effort.  Whether or not whether you make your effort you have good quality.  So if you do something that is enough but when you make some special effort to achieve something, some excessive quality or element is involved in it.  So you should get rid of some excessive things.  If you…when your practice is good, without being aware of it you will become proud of it.  That is something extra.  Pride is extra.  What you do is good but something more is added to it.  So you should get rid of that something which is extra.  This point is very, very important.  But usually we are not subtle enough to realize that.  And you are going to wrong direction.  So this kind of effort to get rid of something extra is very important point and that is the effort we make. (more…)

November 18 1965

Thursday, November 18th, 1965

November 18, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lectures

When you get up early in the morning by alarm, I think you don’t feel so well.  It is not so easy to come and sit even though….even after you started sitting at first, you have to encourage yourself to sit well.  This kind of…those are the waves of our mind—just waves and in pure zazen there should not be any waves in our mind.  But while you are sitting those waves will more and more become smaller and your effort change into some subtle feeling.  We say ‘pulling out the weed’.  We make it nourishment of the plant.  We pull the weed and bury the weed near the plant to make it nourishment of the plant.  So even though you have some difficulty in your practice….even though you have some waves while you are sitting, those weeds itself will help you.  So we should not be bothered by the weeds you have in your mind.  We should be rather grateful to the weeds you have in your mind because eventually will enrich your practice.


October 21 1965

Thursday, October 21st, 1965

October 21, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

As you know, in Buddhism there are many schools.  But you can classify Buddhism into Mahayana and Hinayana schools.  Almost all schools in Japan belong to Mahayana school.  Mahayana people called original Buddhists, old Buddhists or direct disciples of Buddha, called Hinayana Buddhists.  It means small vehicle while Mahayana is big or large vehicle.  But Mahayana school originated from Hinayana school.  Development of Buddhism take place and Mahayana school is supposed to be more advanced school.  But it is not exactly so.  Even in the time of Buddha there were many Mahayanistic disciples.  And it is pretty difficult to say which is better, Mahayana or Hinayana.  So in Soto school we do not say Mahayana is good or Hinayana is good.  Just the same, and from standpoint of zen Buddha practiced zen, and Hinayana Buddhists and Mahayana Buddhists have been practicing zazen.  So, if we become…if we discriminate the teaching which was told by him, or forms which he set up at the time of Buddha, or the rules which were set by some other disciples is based on his character, and his character is based on his practice.  And so, from this standpoint, for zen Buddhists, there is no need to say Mahayana Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism.


October 7 1965

Thursday, October 7th, 1965

October 7, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

I am so glad to see you again.  For two weeks I studied many things and I found that to have so many friends in this area is quite unusual.  Back East they find pretty difficult to have good students.  Of course there are many people who are interested in Buddhism, but quite few people are interested in pure form of Buddhism.  They are interested in studying the teaching of Buddhism, or philosophy of Buddhism and they are comparing our Buddhism to another religion and they understand intellectually how Buddhism is good for intellectual mind.  But whether Buddhism is philosophically deep or good or perfect is not our point.  To keep our practice in its pure form is our purpose.  When I felt something even blasphemous when they talk about how Buddhism is perfect as a philosophy or teaching without actually knowing what it is.