Posts Tagged ‘Fish in the Water’

October 23rd, 1969

Thursday, October 23rd, 1969

Suzuki-roshi at the wind caves in the ventana forest near Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


[Third Lotus Sūtra Series]

Thursday Evening, October 23, 1969

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-10-23


[The recording starts with Suzuki-rōshi reading from:  Saddharma-Pundarika or The Lotus of the True Law, translated by H. Kern, New York:  Dover, 1963 (an unaltered reprint of the 1884 edition of “The Sacred Books of the East,” Vol. XXI), Chapter II, “Skillfulness,”
p. 30.  He is continuing from approximately the point where he left off in SR-69-10-20.]



out things difficult to understand.


The mystery of Tathāgata is difficult to understand, Shāriputra, because when they explain the law (or phenomena, things) that have their cause in themselves, they—they—they do so by means of skillfulness, by the display of knowledge, by argument, reasons, fundamental ideas, interpretations, and suggestions.  By a variety of skillfulness they are able to release creatures that are attached to one point or another.  The Tathāgata, Shāriputra, have acquired the highest perfection in skillfulness and the display of knowledge; they are endowed with wonderful properties, such as the display of free and unchecked knowledge; the power; the absence of hesitation; the independent conditions; the strength of the organs; the constituents of Bodhi; the contemplation; emancipations; meditations; the degree of concentration of mind.  The Tathāgata, Shāriputra, are able to expound various things and have something wonderful and marvelous.  Enough, Shāriputra, let it suffice to say that the Tathāgata have something extremely wonderful, Shāriputra.  None but Tathāgata, Shāriputra, can impart to a Tathāgata those laws which the Tathāgatas knows—Tathāgata knows.  And all ways [laws], Shāriputra, are taught by the Tathāgata, and by him alone; no one but he knows all laws, what they are, how they are, like what they are, of what characteristic and of what nature they are.


And on that occasion, to set forth the same subject more completely [copiously], the Lord uttered the following stanzas:



This chapter is, for us Sōtō students, a very important chapter.  If you understand this chapter so far as I read, you will understand what is our transmission, what is our practice, what kind of life we have as a Sōtō Zen priest or Sōtō Zen children—disciples [laughs].  It is so important.  But usually they don’t think this chapter is so important, and the most explanation of this chapter is very superficial.  So I want you to, you know, read it over and over again [during] study period.  I will take time and Dick [Baker] one line after one line very deeply and very widely.


August 23rd, 1967

Wednesday, August 23rd, 1967


Wednesday, August 23, 1967

Sesshin Lecture No. 4 [sic]

Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara

Edited by Brian Fikes (Not Verbatim, the tape is no longer available)

Buddhism is not any special teaching, and enlightenment is not any particular stage that you attain.  When you understand your life completely, that is enlightenment.  So though the approach to it is not the same, as long as you study sincerely, you will reach the same goal.  You may think you have discovered a new teaching, but almost all the teachings we discover have already been discovered by Buddhist teachers.  You may say Buddhism is the accumulation of our human experience.  So whatever you make effort on, there is the way.

Some people are always trying to discover some particular way for themselves.  That is not the true way to study; this kind of idea is utterly wrong.  So we say, “Don’t seek for any particular enlightenment.”  Enlightenment is not something particular.  When you start to study Buddhism, thinking that it is good to expect that Buddhism will give you some particular teaching, if you cannot satisfy your expectations, you will give up.  This is not how we study.


July 30 1965 3rd Talk

Friday, July 30th, 1965


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, Thursday, July 30, 1965

Lecture D

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-30 3rd Talk

Suzuki-rōshi: Do you have some question?

Student A: Sensei, D. T. Suzuki wrote that “Zen was religion of the will,” is what he said.  What do you think about that?

Suzuki-rōshi: Religion?

Student A: Of the will, he said.

Suzuki-rōshi: Oh.  I—I haven’t read it.  What does he say?

Student A: Oh.  He just said—I just remember this sentence.  He said Zen is the religion of the will.

Suzuki-rōshi: Will?

Student A: Will.

Suzuki-rōshi: I don’t understand.

Student: Willpower.

Suzuki-rōshi: Will?

Several Students: Willpower.  Will.

Suzuki-rōshi: Uh-huh.  Yeah, I know [laughs, laughter] what is.  Wheel.  No?

Student: No.

Suzuki-rōshi: Will.

Student: Will.

Suzuki-rōshi: Will.

Student: Yeah.

Suzuki-rōshi: Uh-huh.  [Laughs, laughter.]

Student: “I will do it.”

Suzuki-rōshi: Yeah.

Student: “I will.”  Willpower.

Suzuki-rōshi: Yeah.  It is—he may say [laughs] religion of will.  But willpower is not only power we have, you know.  Will, and emotion or feeling, and moral—morality.  Willpower may be the driving power, but in contrast with European religion, they say emotion is deepest.  They think it is—emotion is deepest, and willpower is not so deep.  And intellect is most superficial [laughs].

But Zen is not just willpower—religion of just willpower.  Sōtō is more—more, you know, maybe emotional.  And religious feeling is something like emotional, but just emotional power—emotion [is] blind.  The willpower is also sometime [laughs] blind.  So that is why we want rational power.  But rational power will correct the mistake of—will blind [blend?] or help blend willpower and feeling or emotional power.  I don’t exactly figure out why he said so, but because in practice we want big willpower.  Zen is religion of practice, so he must have said Zen is religion of will.  But I don’t think Zen is just will, religion of will.  [It is a] religion of whole mind.  Some more question?


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.