Posts Tagged ‘Enlightenment’

February 12th, 1971, Second Talk

Friday, February 12th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi in the City Center courtyard

Suzuki-roshi in the City Center courtyard

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday Evening

February 12, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-12 second talk

[Note: The audio for this lecture starts at 23:50 of the mp3 file.]


The Sixth Patriarch[1]  said:  “To dwell on emptiness and to keep calm mind is not zazen,” he said.  Or he said, you know:  “Just to sit in squatting—sitting position is not Zen.”  But we say, you know, you—you have to just sit [laughs].  If you don’t understand what is our practice and stick to those words, you will be confused.  But if you understand what is real Zen, it is quite usual warning, you know—a kind of warning for us.


Now our sesshin is almost [at an] end.  But—and some people, maybe, you know, go back to their home and participate or involved in previous everyday activities.  But if you practice—if you have been practicing true zazen, you will not, you know—you may be happy to go back to your everyday life.  You may be encouraged, you know, by our practice to—in going back to your everyday life.  But if you feel, you know, if you feel hesitate [hesitant] to go back to your or—go back to your city life or everyday life, it means that, you know, you will still stick to zazen.


So that is why the Sixth Patriarch said:  “If you,” you know, “dwell on emptiness and stick to your practice, then that is not true zazen.”  When you practice zazen, moment after moment, you accept what you have now and what you have in that moment, and satisfying with everything you do, and you don’t—you do not—you don’t have any complaint because you just accept it, then that is zazen.  Or even though you cannot do that, you know what you should do.  Then sitting zazen will encourage you to do some other thing.  Just as you accepted your painful legs, you accept difficult everyday life.  Because city life may be more difficult than your zazen practice, so zazen practice will encourage you to have more difficulties.


September 1st, 1969

Monday, September 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi at Rinsoin (1940s)



September 1969


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


We have been talking about—discuss—discussing about reality, actually, and how we practice our way in our zazen and in our everyday life.  And Dōgen-zenji talked about the reality in—by using the Japanese or Chinese word, inmo.[1]   Inmo means—inmo has two meaning.  It is—it means like this, you know [probably gestures]—and also it means question:  “What is that?”  Or it is, you know, “it,” you know.  “It” means—sometime it is question mark, and sometime “it” means—pointing at something, we say, “it.”


In English, you know, you say, “It is hot.”  That “it” is the same words—same meaning when you say, “It is nine o’clock,” or “It is half-passed eight.”  You know, it—you use [“it” for] only time or weather, you know.  Time or weather is “it.”  But not only time or weather.  Everything should be “it”—can be “it.”  We are also “it,” you know, but we don’t say “it.”  Instead of “it” we say “he” or “she,” or “me” or “I.”  But actually it means “it.”  So everything is—if everything is “it,” you know, it is—at the same time, question mark, you know.  When I say “it,” you know, you don’t know [laughs] exactly what I mean, so you may say, “What is it?” [laughs] you may ask.


“It” is not—it does not mean some definite, special thing, as it does not mean when we talk about time, it is not—it does not mean some special time, or meal time, or lecture time.  We don’t know.  So “it” is—it means also ques- [partial word]—it may be question mark for everyone.  If I say “it,” you know, you may say, “What time is it?” you may say.


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.


July 28th, 1969

Monday, July 28th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Monday, July 28, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-28


[1]… mind.  That is the purpose of counting.  Not just count, you know.


Student A:  But, like, in daily life, are we to count when we are walking, or would you just walk?


Suzuki-rōshi:  In daily life if you walk as a practice of Zen, you know, you, you know, you steady [steadily] walk step-by-step like you count your breathing.  Hai.


Student B:  Rōshi, I found in the past three months at Tassajara that I’ve uncovered tremendous anger in myself from time to time—


Suzuki-rōshi::  Uh-huh.


Student B:  —with no fixed object, just great force of anger.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Uh-huh.


Student B:  Can you tell me what the root of that is and how to deal with it—that anger?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Maybe your confidence is not strong enough.  That is why you become angry.  You see, you have, you know—I think most people, you know, try to solve psychological—special conditions by psychology, you know, by knowing why, you know, and by knowing how to treat it, you know, like a mother treat their children, you know.  But our way is a little bit different from that.  Actually, you know, for an instance, I am very impatient, you know.  But sometime I sh- [partial word]—I may—I shall be most patient person.  Why is it?  [Laughs]  Same person, you know, sometime became—become very patient, and sometime very impatient.  When I think I should not be angry, I am never angry.  [Laughs.]


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.


March 10th, 1969

Sunday, March 9th, 1969

At Sokoji: Suzuki-roshi seated, on the right, Katagiri-roshi.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Nansen’s “Everyday Mind Is Dao

Monday Morning, March 10, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-10

(first part of the talk is Katagiri-roshi speaking which is untrascribed. The transcription below begins at 2:48 in the audio file).

… it was very, very cold.  It was November?  I don’t remember exactly.  November or—he said [?]—I told you [him], you know:

“Don’t wear so—so much clothing.  Even though we wear many clothing, you will not be so warm.  And if your practice is sincere enough, even though you do not wear so much, you will not be so cold.  If you are involved in intense practice, you know, actually you don’t feel so cold.”

And so he appeared in zendō [with] only one thin shirt [laughs, laughter].  And he practiced.  I said to him, “It may be too thin.  You have to wear little bit more ” [laughs, laughter].

But he say, “It’s all right.”  And he sits [with] just one shirt on his body.  Why I, you know, talk about his experience is because I want to talk—talk about one kōan:  the famous kōan of Nansen[1]—between Nansen and Jōshū,[2] Nansen’s disciple.  “Everyday—Everyday Mind Is Dao.[3] I think you may know that kōan.

Kōan is not something to—something to explain.  Why we talk about is to give some suggestion, you know, about how you practice zazen.  It is suggestion.  We don’t talk about what kōan means directly.  We give you just suggestion, and you, according to the introduction or suggestion, you work on kōan.  That is how we explain kōan and how you listen to kōan.

So you don’t—you must not think—if I, you know—if you remember what I said or if I—if you understand what I said, you—that is—there is no need for you to solve the kōan, you know.  So I am not trying to explain what is everyday mind or what is dao, but through this kōan—by this kōan, I want you to—I want to give you some suggestion how you practice shikantaza.


August 15, 1966 2nd Talk

Monday, August 15th, 1966

Suzuki-roshi monitoring zazen (in Japan)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Monday, August 15, 1966

August Sesshin:  Lunch Lecture

Lecture B

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-08-15 2nd Talk

[2-3 words] those who cannot appreciate the—the food we are serving [?] to you cannot appreciate our teaching in its true sense.  When you listen to the teaching—our teaching, we should accept it, but if you have some prejudice, you cannot accept the teaching.  Those [?] do not appreciate—appreciate [?] in its true sense, meaning [?] we should not have any discrimination with our food.  This is good test for ourselves.  The food you have now will not be complete for you.  Something will be quite strange or unfamiliar to find [?].  We should appreciate the food you have on each meal.


March 13, 1966

Sunday, March 13th, 1966

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture:  GENJŌ-KŌAN, PARAGRAPHS 1–3

Sunday Morning, March 13, 1966

Lecture A

Sōkō-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-03-13

Good morning.  This lecture is for advanced student in his practice, but I think this lecture will help you even though you haven’t advanced practice.  And at least some day you will understand this lecture.  This is the gist of Dōgen’s teaching, and various offshoot are the 95 fascicle of—fascicles of his work.  This is basic teaching—basic teaching of Dōgen.


August 26 1965

Thursday, August 26th, 1965

Suzuki Roshi in the courtyard of Beginner's Mind Temple (City Center)

Suzuki Roshi in the courtyard of Beginner's Mind Temple (City Center)

August 28, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture (26th – DC note 2008)

In zen poem says, ‘after the wind stop I see the flower falling….I see a flower falling.  Because of the singing bird I find the mountain…mountain calmness’.  When something happens in the realm of calmness we find the calmness.  Before anything happens to the calmness we do not feel the calmness.  In Japanese saying it says, ‘for the moon there is the cloud.  For the flower we have wind’.  Actually….usually it means the effervescence of life which we find it very difficult to live in it – effervescence of life.  But in effervescence of life we should find….we can find the joy of eternal life.  When you see the moon covered by cloud…a part of it covered by cloud…you will find the roundness of the moon.  If you…when you see the moon…clear moon without any cloud over…anything…trees or sun or weed…you do not feel the moon so round as you see it through something.


July 30 1965 2nd Talk

Friday, July 30th, 1965

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, July 30, 1965

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-30 2nd Talk

Tape Operator: This is the beginning of the 1 pm lecture, Friday.

Suzuki-rōshi: If you have a question, please give me.  I want to answer about what I told you during sesshin.

Student A: Sensei?  I’d like to refer to a question someone else asked a couple of mornings ago, about helping other people.  At that time you said that unless a person were enlightened, it wouldn’t do much good to help other people.  It seems to me that that would mean that probably most people in this room should not do anything for anyone else.  I doubt we’re all enlightened in this room, and since I have been thinking of [it], I wonder if you could expand on this idea?

Suzuki-rōshi: Oh.  “Enlightened” means, maybe, many things.  And in the word “enlightenment” is very wide.  So “enlightenment” does not mean to attain perfection, you know.  Bodhisattva—for bodhisattva—bodhisattva’s way is to help others, even before he save himself.  That is bodhisattva’s way.  So the point is how to help others, you know.  Enlightenment—enlightenment, or bodhisattva’s mind—I have to go back to my talk about bodhisattva or bodhisattva-mind.