Posts Tagged ‘Just Sitting’

June 5th, 1971

Saturday, June 5th, 1971
Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Setting up for zazen at Sokoji

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 5, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-06-05


First of all, I want to explain, you know, I want you to understand what is our practice.  You know, our practice we say, “just to sit.”  It is, you know, “just to sit,” but I want to try to explain as much as possible what do we mean by “just to sit.”  Practice is usually, you know, practice to expect something:  at least, if you practice, you know, some way, some practice, your practice will be improve.  And if there is a goal of practice, you know, or if you practice aiming at something, you know, you will—your practice supposed to reach, you know, eventually, the goal of practice you expect.  And actually, you know, if you practice, your practice itself will be improved day by day, you know.


That is very true, you know, but there is another, you know, one more, you know, understanding of practice, you know, like, you know, our practice is, you know, another understanding of practice.  We practice it—our zazen—with two, with different, you know, understanding from this.  But we cannot ignore the—our imp- [partial word]—progress in our practice.  Actually, if you practice, you know, day by day, you make big progress.  And actually it will help, you know, your practice will help your health and your mental condition, you know.  That is very true.


But that is not, you know, full understanding of practice.  Another understanding of practice is, you know, when you practice, you know, there there is—goal is there, you know, not, you know, one year or two years later.  But when you do it right there, there is goal of practice.  When you practice our way with this understanding, there is many things you must take care of so that you could be or you will be—you can—you will be concentrated on your practice.  You will be completely involved in the practice you have right now.  That is why you have various instruction, you know, about your practice, so that you can practice hard enough to feel, you know, the goal of practice right now, when you do it.


July 15th, 1969

Tuesday, July 15th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 15, 1969

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 1

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-15 part 2

Again, I have nothing in my mind [laughs, laughter].  I think I want you to hit my head, you know, like this, and try what kind of sound I make—my head make—makes.  Would you hit my, you know, head like this?  If possible, you know, hit my head with long, long talk, maybe one hour long.  It will be a great help.  Do you have some long, long stick to hit my bell?  If you have some long stick—longer the better.  Do you have some question?  Long, long question [laughter].  No question?  Some question?  Hai.


Student A:  [4-6 words unclear] on shikantaza?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Shikantaza?  Oh.  Practice of shikantaza or—?  We say there is no such thing like shikantaza, you know, actually.  But in comparison to kōan practice, we—because we don’t use, you know, kōan, people say that is shikantaza. 


Shikan means, you know, to be involved in zazen completely.  That is shikan.  Taza is zazen.  So to—if you practice our way, even without any gaining idea, or even without any idea of enlightenment, that is shikantaza.  So sometime it may be actually—kōan practice may be also shikantaza.  When you are completely involved in kōan practice, that is actually shikantaza.


And there is—there may be various misunderstanding about shikantaza.  If you think shikantaza is just to sit, you know, without making not much effort, you know:  just sit, like this, is shikantaza.  And we say, when, you know—sometime we say when some im- [partial word]—you have some image, you know, let it come and let it go away.  That is shikantaza, we say.  It looks like, you know, if you just sit with some idea in my mind, or without some idea in my—in our mind—if you just sit, you know, that is shikantaza.  But that is not actually shikantaza.


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.


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.