Posts Tagged ‘Impermanence’

December 21st, 1969, second talk

Sunday, December 21st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


December 21, 1969       

San Francisco



Everyone seeks for true happiness, but happiness cannot be true happiness if the happiness is not followed by perfect composure.  The—usually happiness does not stay long.  Happiness is mostly just very short time and it will be lost in next moment when you have it.  So, sometimes we will think rather not to have it because after happiness usually followed by sorrow and this is, I think, everyone experiences it in our everyday life.  Buddha, when he escaped—can you hear me?—when he escaped from his castle, he felt this kind of—he had this kind of happiness in his luxurious life in the castle, he at last forsake all of those, this kind of life, so we say he started his religious trip because of evanescence, because he felt evanescence of life.  That is why he started study of Buddhism.  I think we have to think about this point more.  I think everyone seeks for happiness, that is alright, but the point is what kind of—how to seek for happiness is the point.  But whether our way, whether the happiness we seek for is something which we can … it is something which is possible to have it .…  Surely there is—we have to seek his teaching more carefully.  He taught us the Four Noble Truths and first of all he taught us this world is world of suffering.  When we seek for suffering—happiness—to say this world is world of suffering is very, you know … you may be very much disappointed with your teacher.  World of suffering.  This world anyway is world of suffering, he says.  And he continues.  Why we suffer is this world is world of fantasy, everything changes.  When everything changes we seek for some permanent thing, we want everything to be permanent.  Especially when we have something good or when we see something beautiful or we want it to be always in that way.  But actually everything changes.  So that is why we suffer.  So if we seek for happiness even though we seek for happiness it is not possible to have it because we are expecting something to be always constant when everything changes.  So naturally we must have suffering.  So far, according to this teaching, we are—there is no other way for us to live in the world of suffering—that is the only way to exist in this world.


August 2nd, 1969

Saturday, August 2nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-roshi

Saturday, August 2, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-02

I’m afraid I will—I am making you hotter [laughs] because I cough
and my lecture is maybe pretty difficult to understand because of my English especially.  Last night I was trying to—my skeleton of lecture was like this [laughs].  Can you read it?


The first teaching—the—we—we have four or three series of Buddhist teaching.  The teaching—the teaching that [laughter]—the teaching that everything is changing—in Japanese, shogyō-mujō[1]—or Chinese shogyō-mujō—teaching that everything is changing.  This teaching can be—could be understand in two ways:  the one—the teaching as the law of the truth.  This teaching is always true, you know, whether we observe it or not.  The—so—if everything is changing, that means non-substantiality.  There is no substantial being, you know.  We are only composed being from various elements.  So we are non-substantial being.  (a) Non-substantiality.


(b) As a—as the presupposed teaching of the teaching of the selflessness.  Teaching of selflessness is the teaching that everything changes.  And teaching of selflessness, the second one, is two of the four important teachings.  The four teaching are:  teaching that everything changes, and teaching of selflessness, and teaching of suffering, and teaching of nirvāna.  Those are the four important teaching of Buddhism.  So we call it “four seals of Buddhist teaching.”


August 1st, 1969

Friday, August 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Friday, August 1, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-01

As a Buddhist, of course, the most important precept is to—to believe in Buddha and his teaching and his disciples.  Buddha, you know, for us is someone who attained enlightenment—not only historical Buddha but also Buddha’s disciples who attained enlightenment is buddha.  And still this is its—in its narrow sense.  In its wider sense, whether we attain enlightenment or not we are buddha—not only human being but also various beings, animate and inanimate.  Even something like stone is buddha, in its wide sense.  So everything is buddha in its wide sense.


But the religion is mostly for human being who saw—when we said “buddha” usually someone who attain liberation is buddha.  It may be better to understand in this way to avoid the conflict.  And “his teaching,” we say, but when we say “his teaching” we do not mean something which is written in scriptures.  Mostly, you know, even though you read so-called-it king of the scripture Lotus Sūtra, it may be difficult to understand for you because it is written pretty, you know, in ancient times.


And we know that it is not directly told by Buddha, so this point makes us more difficult to—to have faith in that scripture.  So nowadays or from ancient time, when we say dhamma,[1]  dhamma is truth in its wide sense.  So which is written by—written in scripture is not all the dhamma we mean.  It is a part of dhamma, or it is dhamma in its narrow sense.  In its wide sense, truth is the dhamma, especially in Zen, you know.  We believe in no teaching [laughs].  [Coughs.]  Excuse me.


July 20th, 1969

Sunday, July 20th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, July 20, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-20

If you go to some library you will see many books.  And those—in those books, we will find out our achievement, our human knowledge, which is almost impossible to study out.  And now we are going to arrive to the moon.[1]   And [laughs] actually I don’t know anything about, you know, how they reach to the moon and what kind of feeling they may have when they arrive at the moon.  To me it is not so interesting a thing.


When I reflect on myself, especially when I feel, on this occasion, I have to speak about the moon trip [laughs, laughter], I have no time to study about those things.  So if I try to speak about it, it is nothing but to tell you how foolish I am, you know.  That is what I can do, you know.  If I talk about the moon trip you may think, “Ah, he is so ignorant about [laughs, laughter] the moon trip.”  And I think I may see many people today or tomorrow to speak about the moon trip as if he knows everything about it [laughs].  When I hear them speak about the moon trip, you know, how I feel is—maybe because I don’t know or he has—he is interested, actually really interested in the moon trip, you know.  And because I know that, I may not respect him so much.


The first—even the first one who may arrive at the moon—I don’t think, you know, if he is very much proud of his achievement.  How I feel is I cannot think he is a great hero.  I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t feel he is a great hero.  But on television, you know, he may be, you know, for some time, a great hero.  At least he will be treated like a great hero.


March 13 1966 2nd Talk

Sunday, March 13th, 1966

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture:  SHUSHŌGI, Section 1

Sunday, March 13, 1966[1]

Lecture B

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-03-13 2nd talk

Suzuki-rōshi: We started to recite Lotus SūtraShushōgiShushōgi is the—consist of various teachings from Shōbōgenzō written by Dōgen-zenji.  From 95 fascicle of his work, we compiled various teaching in a handy way so that you can recite it.  This is Shushōgi.

I want to explain Shushōgi—the meaning of Shushōgi little by little.  Shushōgi.  This is translate—translation by Doctor [Reihō] Masunaga, Page 48.[2]

To arrive at thorough understanding of birth and death—this is a crucial problem for all Buddhists.  If the Buddha dwells in birth and death, birth and death disappear.  Understand only that birth-and-death is itself nirvāna; there is nothing to avoid as birth-death and nothing to seek as nirvāna.  You then slough off the chain that bind you to birth-death.  This—the supreme problem in Buddhism—must be thoroughly penetrated.


September 16 1965

Thursday, September 16th, 1965

Suzuki-roshi in the dokusan room at City Center

September 16, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lectures


The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transcendence or change.  Everything changes is the basic teaching.  And this truth is eternal truth for each existence.  And no one can deny this truth.  And all the teaching of Buddhism will be condensed in this teaching.  This is the teaching for all of us and wherever we go this teaching is true.  This teaching is also interpreted as the teaching of selflessness because our self nature of each existence is nothing but the self nature of all existence.  There is no special self nature for each existence.  And this teaching is also called teaching of nirvana.  When we realize this truth and when we resume, when we find our composure in the everlasting truth which is everything changes, we find ourselves in nirvana.  Or if we cannot accept this teaching, that everything changes, we cannot be in composure…perfect composure.


August 5 1965

Thursday, August 5th, 1965

August 5, 1965

Rev. Suzuki’s talk on Great Prajna Paramita Sutra

I want to give the conclusion to this Prajna Paramita Sutra this morning.  In short, this sutra suggests to us how everything exists.  Everything exists in two ways, visible and invisible.  Something visible is not invisible.  Actual existence has two faces, visible and umm…invisible.  Something visible is not visible.  Something not visible is visible.  That is true.  Because you think only something visible is only existence so you attach to something visible.  And when you think only thing exists is something visible you become attached to some particular thing.  If you understand something visible is not …is at the same time invisible, and something invisible…is something invisible actually exists, there will be no need to be attached to something visible only and there will be no need for you to be afraid of losing your existence in visible realm.  If you understand two faces of ultimate existence there is no more fear and you own everything.

The practice… practice of zen you will have actual feeling of this feeling.  So in this sutra says… “Form is emptiness”.  Form is something visible and emptiness is something invisible.  If I say in this way it is too abstract, so it may be rather difficult to understand.