Posts Tagged ‘Gaining Idea’

August 1st, 1971

Sunday, August 1st, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, August 1, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-01


At the time of Yakusan—Yakusan Igen-daioshō[1]—we—every morning we recite chant names of Buddha.  Daikon Enō-daioshō.[2]   Daikon Enō is the Sixth Patriarch.  And Seigen Gyōshi—Seigen Gyōshi is the Seventh Patriarch.  And Eighth Patriarch is Sekitō Kisen.  And [the Ninth Patriarch is] Yakusan.


At this time, Zen Buddhism was very—became very popular or—and stronger.  Every master—there were lots of students.  But in Yakusan’s monastery there were only twenty, you know.  He—he was total [?] strict teacher.  And one day, the temple—a monk who is taking care of temple asked him to give a lecture.  “You haven’t—you haven’t given lecture for so long time, so students want to hear you.  So please give us some lecture today,” he said.[3]


So Yakusan asked ino-sho to hit the bell, so students came to lecture hall.  And at the third round, Yakusan appear and mounted the pulpit, and sitting for a while.  He without giving anything—saying anything, he went to his room [laughs].  [Words] taken care of [Zen master] asked him, “Why didn’t you say anything?”  Yakusan said, “Because I’m teacher who give lecture and there’s some teachers who discuss Buddhism but [words] to give lecture is not my [word].”  And his—that was his answer.  And then if he doesn’t give any lecture.  What is his purpose?   No one knows but it is difficult to figure out what was his purpose.  That there’s no reason is actually his teaching.


February 23, 1970

Monday, February 23rd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi 

Sesshin Lecture No. 1: 



Monday, February 23, 1970 

San Francisco 

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-23


In this sesshin I suggested to practice shikantaza.  For—anyway for beginner, you know, it doesn’t make much difference [laughs].  I am sorry to say so, but shikantaza or counting breathing—it doesn’t make much sense.  But anyway, you know, to have strong determination to sit, you know, for seven—six days is enough, you know.  If you have that much conviction in your practice I think that is pretty good.


So anyway, those who just started practice zazen, don’t give up, and [laughs] stay six days.  And it is also good to practice counting breathing, you know, whether you are counting, you know, like you count something, you know—1, 2, 3, 4—that is also good.  But I want to give you some fundamental understanding of teaching of Buddhism.


Zazen practice, our zazen practice is based on—can you hear me?—based on the teaching of shūnyatā or emptiness.  If you do not have a thorough understanding of emptiness, even emptiness intellectually, I don’t think you can practice our way in its true sense.


August 25th, 1969

Monday, August 25th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Monday Evening, August 25, 1969


 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-25


Tonight, maybe, we will have question and answer.  As usual, will you give me some questions?  No questions?


Student A:  Rōshi?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hai.


Student A:  Could you explain how if improvement is one of the causes of suffering, how does our practice relate to it?  Zazen seems to me to be one of things that is changing my life to the better.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  “Changing better,” you know, there—there is problem, you know.  Do you mean you have some problem or suffering, and by practice you think you can stop or you can—you will be more free from suffering, or what do you mean?


Student A:  Well, for instance, in—in the practice of ōryōki


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.


Student A:  —seems to avoid a lot of bodily [1 word] suffering.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Yeah.


Student A:  That seems to be why we practice ōryōki.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Mm-hmm.  Practice—actually, the purpose of practice is to be completely, you know, devote ourselves to the something which you do.  You know, that is the main point of practice.  When you don’t or when you do it carelessly, then your mind is not there.  So your mind—when your mind is not there, then you are separated by your, if I say, if I use big word, by your surrounding.  And you are here and you are separated by your place [where] you live.  If—when you are separated by objective world and there is suffering, you know, but when you are completely devote yourself to what you do there is no separation, and [that] which exist there is not subjective world or objective world for you.  Ōryōki, just ōryōki exist, you know, and that ōryōki covers everything—not only you but also everything will be covered by it or included by it.  When this oneness appears there is no suffering.  Do you understand?  Suffering is—this is suffering [writing or drawing on blackboard].  When there is only one stick there is no suffering.  Do you understand?  When—when this kind of oneness take place there is no suffering.  That is—


July 24th , 1968

Wednesday, July 24th, 1968

Suzuki-roshi and Lama Govinda

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Wednesday Evening, July 24, 1968


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-07-24 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-07-24 Part 2

To have complete understanding of our school or—is at the same time—to unders- [partial word]—to have perfect understanding of the non-sectarianism.  I don’t know precisely [?] [1-2 words] so much, but last night I briefly talked about how various sect appeared in our history of Buddhism.  As I told you last night, at first—when—in China when various scriptures was—were introduced to China or translated into Chinese—when some group of scriptures, like Prajñāpāramitā group or Kegon Sūtra[1]—each time some important sūtra [was] introduced into China, when that sūtra was translated into Chinese, they did it under the help of the king.  All the learned scholars, not only Buddhist scholars but also Confucian scholars, all the learned scholars in China, you know, participate [in] the translation of some special scriptures, and from China—from India, of course, some teachers.  And someone who knows Chinese and Indian Sanskrit translated it into Chin- [partial word]—Chinese, and they—and many people were listening to it.  And when they agreed with the translation, they, you know, write down.

In this way, in a big scale, translation was made.  So each time the translation [was] made, the people who participated the translation or people who were listening to it, you know, naturally appreciate the big meaning of the teaching, and there they formed some kind of sect.  In this way, there were in China there—there was many sects appeared.  That is one way of, you know—it is almost by accident [laughs], you know, various schools appeared in China.


April 13th, 1967

Thursday, April 13th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 13, 1967

Los Altos

There may be various kinds of practice, or ways of practice, or understanding of practice.  Mostly when you practice zazen you become very idealistic with some notion or ideal set up by yourself and you strive for attaining or fulfilling that notion or goal.  But as I always say this is very absurd because when you become idealistic in your practice you have gaining idea within yourself, so by the time you attain some stage your gaining idea will create another ideal.  So, as long as your practice is based on gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time to attain it.  Moreover you are sacrificing the meat of practice, set up for the future attainment, which is not possible to attain.  Because your attainment is always ahead of you, you are always sacrificing yourself for some ideal.  So this is very absurd.  It is not so bad, rather not adequate.


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 17, 1966, 2nd Talk

Saturday, December 17th, 1966

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

December 17, 1966


Lecture B

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-12-17 2nd talk

The fourth instruction is:[1]

The Need for Training in Buddhism without Self-Seeking Mind

In Buddhist training we always received the true Key handed down by our predecessors.  How can we use our selfish mind for this?  We cannot gain Buddhism with mind or without mind.  Just remember that if the training will—will—training will and the Buddhist way to do—Buddhist way do not combine, our body and mind are not calm.  If not calm, our body and mind are not comfortable.

If we have gaining idea, we cannot practice Buddhism, which is something beyond our ordinal [ordinary] purpose of life.  Usually our conscious activity is directed towards some merit or some result.  We are expecting result, whatever we do.  But there may be difference—there may be two cases:  one you expect result after doing something, and you expect the result within your activity.  There is—there may be two cases.  The—to practice zazen because of the interest in practicing zazen is also, strictly speaking, a gaining idea.  Of course, to expect something after your practice, this is of course gaining idea.  “If you practice zazen you will be healthy,” or “You will have some mystic power like some magic.”  This is, of course, is not Zen.


November 1 1965

Monday, November 1st, 1965


Shunryū Suzuki

November 1965 (Wind Bell, Jan.–Feb. 1966)

Early Afternoon Lecture:

Buddhism is very philosophical, and sometimes intellectual and logical. It is necessary to be logical and philosophical to believe in the teaching completely. If it is not logical and philosophical, you cannot believe in it. Our teaching should not be doubtful. Although intellectual and philosophical understanding of the teaching is not enough, it should be at least be logical and philosophical.

Sometimes a student of Buddhism will become proud of the lofty, profound philosophical teaching. This is wrong. The philosophy is for the believer himself, not for others. Because it is difficult for us to believe in the teaching, we should enter it from an intellectual approach. However, there is no need to be proud of the profundity of it. It is just for the student, not for others. If it is possible to believe in Buddha’s teaching without philosophical understanding it may be all the better. For most of us it is quite difficult to believe in it without intellectual understanding. So philosophy is just for ourselves.


October 16 1965 2nd Talk

Saturday, October 16th, 1965

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara


Shunryū Suzuki

October 16, 1965 (Wind Bell, Nov.–Dec. 1965)

Transcribed by Trudy Dixon

Late Afternoon Lecture:

We have finished sesshin with unusual results. We have practiced in our own way and our Patriarch’s way, expressing our true nature, transmitted by Buddha to us. Our responsibility as Buddha’s disciples is to manifest his way according to time and age, according to circumstances. Although how we express his way is not the same, that which is expressed is one true nature, which is universal for everyone and every existence.


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.