Posts Tagged ‘Koan’

August 13th, 1971

Friday, August 13th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi:

Friday, August 13, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-13


Last night,[1]  when we have question and answer, we came across the very important point.  In the—in Japanese, we say [phonetic] sabetsu-soku-byōdō, or shinkū-myōu.[2]   Sabetsu-soku byōdō.  This is—sabetsu means “speciality,” and byōdō means “equality.”  Speciality means, you know—speciality means various being which is special.  Each being are special, and each being has its own meaning of existence.  When something exist, there is some reason why something exist.  That is speciality.  And equality is even though things is different—different, but strictly speaking each things does not exist in that way, because they are changing, constantly changing.


So if it is changing, we cannot say something really exist, you know, something we see [laughs] does not exist.  You think you exist here, but it is not so.  And which is easier for you to understand is, you know—maybe intellectually it is easier for you to understand things does not exist.  Equality is easier to understand, and speciality is difficult to understand.


When you say “freedom,” the meaning of freedom or feeling of freedom is more like equality.  We are, you know, each—”We are equal, so we must have freedom.”  [Laughs.]  That is what you say, but to us it is absurd.  You know, if—if—if you want to be special, then it is not possible [laughs] to have freedom at the same time.  When you are special, there is—you have some special reason to exist, you know.  So, for an instance, a woman should be a woman, you know, and a man should be a man [laughs].


August 7th, 1971

Saturday, August 7th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Evening, August 7, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-07 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-07 Part 2

I want to discuss with you about, you know, how you study Zen.  Zen is actually, in short, maybe, communication—communication—communication between your friend, and communication between your teacher and disciple—


Can you hear me?  Oh.


—communication between teacher and disciple, and communication between we human being and our surrounding—communication between man and nature.  This is, in short, Zen.  To have perfect communication—wherever you are—to have perfect communication and you and the outside world.


Communication—if we say “communication,” it looks like there is subject and object, but true—if you understand real relationship between each existence, it is originally one, and tentatively we understand in two ways—two duality—dualistic way, so it is quite natural for us to have perfect communication between each being, and why it is difficult to communicate with each other is because our mind is always in duality.


That is why it is difficult to communicate.  So perfect communication—there is actually nothing to say, even, and when there is nothing to say, that is zazen practice [laughs].  You don’t have to say anything when you sit.  And yet you have perfect communication with everything.  So when you understand—if you want to study Zen, first of all you should know how to study Zen.  How to study Zen is to—to be acquainted always, you know, to your surroundings, and that is how you have, for an instance, dokusan with your teacher.  Perhaps when you come to dokusan you feel as if you want—you must have some question to ask [laughs], you know, but it is not necessary so.  It is not always so.  When you are very attentive, then even though you have no question to ask, if you enter the room and see your teacher, then—and you should be very alert—alert enough to see what is the mood of the teacher today [laughs].  Is he happy or unhappy [laughs], you know, is—is—is he busy or not so busy, or is he ready to accept you or not?  You should be very attentive.  And that is how you practice Zen.


August 5th, 1971

Thursday, August 5th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi with Anagarika Govinda

Suzuki-roshi with Anagarika Govinda

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, August 5, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-05 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-05 Part 2

If you want to practice in its true sense so that you may not regret what you have been doing, it is necessary for you to—to have good confidence in your practice.  This is very important, or else it is not possible for [you to] practice true way.  There may be many great teachers in various countries, but even though there are great teachers, if your way-seeking mind is not strong enough you cannot study.  Even though you meet him, you don’t know who he is.


Tonight I want to introduce the story between Bodhidharma and Butei in China.[1]   Bodhidharma went to—arrived at China [in] 520, according to traditional record, and he lived with the King of the Liang.  And he—the king, who was a great supporter of Buddhism, he built many temples, and he studied himself—by himself—you know, he studied Buddhism and a great teacher—daishi.[2]


He himself was already good scholar, and at the same time a great scholar—supporter of the Buddhism.  As soon as Bodhidharma arrived at China he visited the king.  And this is a very famous story, as you may know.


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.


July 26th, 1971

Monday, July 26th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

The Blue Cliff Record, Case 61: 


Monday, July 26, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-26




Setting up the Dharma banner and establishing the Dharma teaching—such is the task of the teacher of profound attainment.  Distinguishing a dragon from a snake, black from white—that is what the mature master must do.  Now let us put aside for a moment how to wield the life-giving sword and the death-dealing blade, and how to administer blows with the stick:  tell me, what does the one who lords it over the universe say?  See the following.




Fuketsu said to the assembled monks, “If one particle of dust is raised, the state will come into being; if no particle of dust is raised, the state will perish.”


Setchō [at a later time], holding up his staff, said to his disciples, “Is there anyone among you who will live with him and die with him?”




Let the elders knit their brows as they will;

For the moment, let the state be established.

Where are the wise statesmen, the veteran generals?

The cool breeze blows; I nod to myself.][1]




Last night[2]  I talked about our practice as a Zen Buddhist.  Whether you are layman or monk, there is some important point which we should make clear.  The point was to—to put more emphasis on big mind rather than small mind.  That is the point we should make clear in our practice.  In this way, more and more, you will develop your buddha-mind, which is buddha-mi- [partial word]—big mind.


And when you have big mind, when you are involved in some practice, experiencing big mind or expressing the big mind, at first you will feel you are developing big mind.  And you feel you have big mind, and you developed your big mind to everything:  to your friend, to your food, to your household, or to your monastery.  But actually, if you continue to practice, developing the big mind, you—eventually you do not feel as if you have big mind or you are developing big mind.  That is so-called-it “no-mind.”


March 9th, 1971

Tuesday, March 9th, 1971
Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the City Center Buddha Hall

Suzuki-roshi and Katagiri-roshi in the City Center Buddha Hall

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, March 9, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-03-09

(Note: the audio file only covers the first half or so of the transcript)


One day a Chinese famous Zen master was making a trip with a—with his disciple.[1]   A [flock of] geese, you know, fly—were flying over—passed, you know, over their head, like this [probably gestures].


And disciple [teacher] said, “Where are they going?” or “What are they?”—oh—teacher said, “What are they?”


The disciple said, “They are geese.”


“Where they are going?” [laughs] the teacher asked.


Disciple say, “I don’t know,” disciple said quite honestly because he didn’t know [laughs].


Disciple [teacher] twisted his disciple’s nose, like this [laughs, probably gestures].


As a disciple of Buddha, we should know what we are doing, you know, especially, you know, when we, you know, we are with his teacher, you know [laughs].  We should extend our practice, you know, in our everyday life, as you know.  That is our practice.  So if you know secret of your, you know, life, you will understand, you know, the meaning of practice.  And if you know the meaning of practice, you can extend our practice to your everyday life.  That is why—must be why the teacher twisted his disciple’s nose.  [Laughs.]  “What are you doing now?”  Actually, he was not talking about geese.


We feel very serious—we become [laughs] very serious when you—when you have problem, without knowing that you are creating problems always.  And even though you, you know, you have a lot of trouble, somehow, you know, you can manage—you think you can manage it.  “Oh, this is not big trouble,” you know.  “I can manage it quite easily”—without, you know, knowing how you should cope with the trouble.


July 11th, 1970

Saturday, July 11th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi at City Center.

Suzuki-roshi at City Center.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Friday Evening, July 11, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-11

[This is the third in a series of six lectures by Suzuki-rōshi on

the four ekōs chanted at the conclusion of morning services at

San Francisco Zen Center and other Sōtō Zen temples and monasteries.


The Second Morning Ekō:


Chōka ōgu fugin


Line 1.  Aogi koi negawakuwa shōkan, fushite kannō o taretamae.

Line 2.  Jōrai, Maka Hannyaharamita Shingyō o fujusu, atsumuru

                  tokoro no kudoku wa,

Line 3.  jippō jōjū no sambō, kakai muryō no kenshō,

Line 4.  jūroku dai arakan, issai no ōgu burui kenzoku ni ekō su.

Line 5.  Koinegō tokoro wa,

Line 6.  sanmyō rokutsū, mappō o shōbō ni kaeshi goriki hachige,

                  gunjō o mushō ni michibiki.

Line 7.  Sammon no nirin tsuneni tenji, kokudo no sansai nagaku shō

                  sen koto o. 


Dedication for the Morning Service Arhat’s Sūtra


Line 1.  May Buddha observe [see?] us and respond.

Line 2.  Thus, as we chant the Maha Prajñā Pāramitā Hridaya Sūtra,

we dedicate the collected merit to

Line 3.  the all-pervading, ever-present Triple Treasure,

the innumerable wise men in the ocean of enlightenment,

Line 4.  the sixteen great arhats and all other arhats.

Line 5.  May it be that

Line 6.  with the Three Insights and the Six Universal Powers,

the true teaching be restored in the age of decline.

With the Five Powers and Eight Ways of Liberation,

may all sentient beings be led to nirvāna.

Line 7.  May the two wheels of this temple forever turn

and this country always avert the Three Calamities.]


Last night I—I explained—oh, excuse me—already about arhat.  The second sūtra—second sūtra reciting of Prajñā Pāramitā Sūtra is for arhats.  And in ekō it says:


[Line 1.]  Jō—Aogi koi negawakuwa shōkan, fushite kannō o


[Line 2.]  Jōrai, Hannya Shingyō o fujusu, atsumuru tokoro no

                           kudoku wa,


Some people say, Jōrai, Maka Hanyaharamita Shingyō o fujusu, but some other people say, Jōrai, Hanya Shingyō—don’t—without saying Maka.  That is more usual.  Jōrai, Hanya Shingyō o fujusu.


July 6th, 1970

Monday, July 6th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

SANDŌKAI  LECTURE XIII:  “Don’t Spend Your Time in Vain”

Monday, July 6, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-07-06


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu,

mayōte senga no ko wo hedatsu.

Tsutsushin de sangen no hito ni mōsu,

kōin munashiku wataru koto nakare.

(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


The goal is neither far nor near.

If you stick to the idea of good or bad,

you will be separated from the way

by high mountains or big rivers.

Seekers of the truth,

don’t spend your time in vain.

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]


Here it says:


Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu,

mayōte senga no ko wo hedatsu.

Tsutsushin de sangen no hito ni mōsu,

kōin munashiku wataru koto nakare.


Ayumi wo susumure baAyumi is “foot” or “step.”  Susumure ba:  “to carry on.” Susumure ba gonnon ni ara zuGon is “near”; on is “far away.”  Ayumi wo susumure ba.  Ayumi is actually “practice,” you know.  Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni ara zu.


“There is no idea of far away from the goal or nearer to the goal.”  This is very important.  When you [are] involved in selfish practice, there is, you know—you have some idea of attainment.  And when you have—you strive for to attain enlightenment or to reach the goal, you have naturally, “We are far away”—you know, idea of, “We are far away from the goal.”  Or, “We are almost there,” you know.  Gonnon:  “near” or “far away.”
But if you really practice our way, enlightenment is there.  Mmm.  Maybe this is rather difficult to accept [laughs], you know.  When you practice zazen without any idea of attainment, there is actually enlightenment.  Or you may understand in this way like Dōgen-zenji explained:  In our selfish practice there is enlightenment and there is practice.  Practice and enlightenment is two—a pair of opposite idea.  But when we realize—when we understand our practice and enlightenment as an event in realm of great dharma world, enlightenment and practice is two event which appears in a great dharma world.  The both practice and enlightenment is also events, you know, which will have—which many events in our life or in our dharma world.  When we understand in that way, enlightenment is one of the event which symbolize the dharma world, and practice is also an event which symbolize our big dharma world.  So there is—if both symbolize or express or suggest the big dharma world, you know, actually we sh- [partial word], there is no need for us to be discouraged because we do not attain enlightenment or why we should be extremely happy with our enlightenment.  Actually there is no difference.  Both has equal value.


June 13th, 1970

Saturday, June 13th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi with Phillip Wilson (I think) at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi with Phillip Wilson (I think) at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 13, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-13


[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:


Line 17        Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu,

Line 18        ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.

Line 19        Hi wa nesshi kaze wa dōyō,

Line 20        mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.


Line 17        The four elements resume their nature

Line 18        as a child has its mother.

Line 19        Fire is hot, wind blows,

Line 20        water wets, and earth is solid.]


Next—as we have big blackboard, I want to explain those characters.  This is—those characters are, of course, Chinese characters, and—but Japanese people read those characters in—in Japanese, you know, without changing the order of characters.  How we read those characters is—this is one word, shidai:




Shidai—Shidai no.  We put here no.[1]   Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu.  [Writing on blackboard.]




Shidai no shō onozukara—we write here, you know, in kana—fukusu:



Ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.  We read in this way, you know.


In Chinese:


[Line 17]     Shi dai sho ji fuku  

[Line 18]     nyo shi toku go bo.

[Line 19]     Ka net su do yo,     

[Line 20]     sui su shi ken go.   


This is, you know, Chinese way of reading.  But we—Japanese people read Chinese sentences like this:


[Line 17]     Shidai no shō onozukara fukusu,

[Line 18]     ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.

[Line 19]     Hi wa nesshi kaze wa dōyō,

[Line 20]     mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.


And we put Shidai no—Shidai no shō:  “Nature of,” you know, “of—of” is no.  “Nature of four elements.”  Onozukara, “naturally.”  Fukusu or “resume.”


February 25th, 1970

Wednesday, February 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture No. 3:


Wednesday, February 25, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-02-25


Yesterday I talked about how to, maybe—two ways of practice:  one is zazen practice under the guidance of the right teacher, and the other is how to extend our practice in our everyday life.  And the—it—our teaching mostly—especially Mahāyāna Buddhist teachings—mostly directed how to extend our practice to our everyday practice.


The teaching of emptiness or teaching of interdependency—those teaching are to explain how, you know, from our practice which is non-dualistic—to be extended dualistic everyday life.  And that was what I told you last—yesterday.


So in our practice, you know, our practice is not the practice to attain something, you know, but to start our practice from the beginning, jump—jumping into the non-dualistic pure practice.  That is our practice.  [Sounds like tape was stopped here and then started again.]  Without, you know, realizing there is nothing to depend on and even ourselves—our physical body is transient, so we cannot depend upon ourselves physically and mentally.


And things exist looks like permanent, but it is not so.  It looks like existent, but it is nonexistent, and that is true.  With this understanding, we devote ourselves completely in our practice.  That is our practice.  Then your question may be what kind of effort, you know, you should make to practice that kind of practice of non-attainment [laughs].  That will be, you know, your, you know, question.