Posts Tagged ‘Precepts’

July 30th, 1971

Friday, July 30th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Friday Evening, 30 July 1971

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-30


This evening we observed—this evening is called Fusatsu.  As I explained last night,[1]  this ceremony actually started even before Buddha.  And after Buddha, the ceremony more and more include more positive elements:  just, you know, to observe—not only just to observe, to keep their life, human life, from evil spirits, observing some good, and acquiring some strength—and throughout [?] protecting themselves from the evil.


That also—to attain the perfection of human practice, Buddha started—observed this ceremony.  The form is merely what we must do, and more and more exactly.  But must be nearly the same.  But meaning changed little by little.


So if we study what kind of [1 word unclear:  sūtra?] [in] Buddha’s time—Buddhists observe, then we will find out various elements.  Last night I explained about it.  Better to, you know, to see various kinds of flower in a basket, you know.  There are—there—there is many kinds of flowers.  Some of the flower is about the precepts about—about our human nature, or buddha-nature.  And some—some of them is to—to stop doing something bad.  And some of them is about life style of Buddhists—like the last one:  “Don’t eat after twelve o’clock [noon].”  This is, you know—it means—it is the life style of Buddhists at that time.  And we are still—we Buddhists, even though we eat three times a day, we have this kind of spirit.  And when we chant and you read meal chant, you will find out this kind of spirit.


July 29th, 1971

Thursday, July 29th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday Evening, July 29, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-29


As you know, at Tassajara Ryaku FusatsuRyaku Fusatsu[1]  may be observed as we observe it at Eihei-ji.  I want to talk about Ryaku Fusatsu tonight and maybe tomorrow night, if I have time.  I want to continue the spirit of practice of Ryaku Fusatsu.


Ryaku Fusatsu is one of the most interesting practices at Eihei-ji.  I haven’t, since I left Eihei-ji it is almost thirty-seven—or seven—maybe almost forty years [laughs]—so—but still, I have the impression now—a feeling of, you know, observing Ryaku Fusatsu.


And the history of Ryaku Fusatsu is very long, even before Buddha.  In India, there were same kind of observation.  And in Japan too we have still very primitive, you know, custom or annual ceremony or observation in some part of Japan.


In Japan, as I remember, January 14th is the day when we gather the old memorial tablets or old symbols of shrine.  And childrens or boys go something holy—some equipment we need to observe something holy.  And when it is very smoky, you know, because at that time we burn—we burned firewood, kerosene lamps, or things in [throughout] one year.  Things become very dusty and smoky.  [Aside:]  Smoky?  Smoky?  No.


July 17th, 1971

Saturday, July 17th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday Morning, July 17, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-17


[In my last lectures][1] … I explain about our precepts.  As you must have found out, “the precepts,” we say, but it is nothing so unusual—it is just about the things as they are and about what we are.  And that is precepts.  You may wonder why then is it necessary [laughs] to accept precepts.  But this is very important point.  I want you to understand.  It is very very common understanding which you can accept quite easily.


You know, what I say—what I said was there are three—the three kind of precepts.  One precept is—first one is indivisible three precepts.[2]   Even though we say “three,” but that three is one.  So it is not possible to—cannot be three.  It is actually to repeat one precepts three times from various angle.  That is the first one.


There’s—  In—  Where things exist, there is some rules.  And rules, we say, but it is nothing but way of—it is nothing but the function of great being which we cannot understand.  It is something which is beyond our reach.  But that something [is] always doing something, or has some function.  So there is some rule in the way of—the function of the great being.  But the function and the great being is one, not two, in Buddhism.  But in Christianity, God is here, and it gives some rules to everything.  That is more Christian understanding.  But in Buddhist—according to Buddhism, it is not two.  So this point is called “harmony.”  Harmony does not mean harmony between each being, but harmony between the function and the great being.  Those are one.


July 2nd, 1971

Friday, July 2nd, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, July 2, 1971

City Center

“Real Precepts Are Beyond Words”

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-02


[Today I would like to][1]  … lecture about precepts.  I—when I say “precepts,” the first thing you will think of is something like Ten Commandment or ten grave prohibitory precepts.  But Zen precepts is not like that.  The Zen precepts is—to study Zen precepts means to understand zazen.  So it is—another interpretation of zazen is precepts.  Using words—word “precepts” we explain what is Zen actually.


The purpose of receiving precepts, observing precepts, is not just to remember what we should do or what we shouldn’t do.  And how we observe precepts is to practice Zen or to extend our practice to our everyday life.  So the idea of precepts is completely different from the usual understanding of precepts.


The precepts, you know, which is—or foundation of precepts or—true meaning of precept—precepts is various way of understanding of one reality, one reality which is always with you—reality, which cannot—which is not individable in three, or in sixteen, or in ten.  Tentatively we divide—we explain it from various angle, but that is just words.  Real, you know, precept is beyond word.  We cannot—if we talk about it, it is not real precepts already.  So if you think precept is just to observe some various rules is precepts, it is very different or very far away from the true understanding of the true prac- [incomplete word:  “practice”?]—precepts.


June 12th, 1971

Saturday, June 12th, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 12, 1971

San Francisco

[The audio of this talk is not currently available.]


We say “Zen Center student,” you know.  Or, we say “Zen Center.”  But it is—tonight—today—I want to make this kind of idea clear, you know, as much as possible.  Although, you know, I say, “You are Zen Center students,” and although you say, “You are Zen Center students,” you say, “I am Zen Center student.”  I don’t know!  [Laughs.]  I am not so sure who you are.  But to me, as long as you are here, you know, to me you are Zen Center students.  [Laughs.]  That’s all.  And if you go out from this building, I don’t know who you are.  [Laughs.]


Do you know who you are?  [Laughs.]  Is there any particular, you know—do you belong to some particular, you know, religion?  Are you member of some particular church, or member, you know—do you strictly belong to some group?  I don’t know.  Perhaps not.  Most of you does not belong to any group in its strict sense.  But some of them [you] may belong to—strictly belong to Zen Center.  And if someone belong [laughs] to Zen Center in its strict sense, and some of you do not belong to any school and yet practicing our way in the same building, you know, how that is possible [laughs], you know?  How is it possible to practice, you know, same—some certain way, you know, with someone who strictly belong to some group.  How is it possible?  If that is not possible, you know, should I accept student who belong to Zen Center in its strict sense?  Should I do that?


Maybe some student thinks in that way, but, you know, I accept, you know, students from various religion.  Some of you may be Christian.  Some of you may be Rinzai students.  Some of you may be, you know—may, you know, still, you know, have some other teacher in your mind—always, maybe.  But still I accept them.  Why is it possible for me to accept students, you know, from various religion as a Zen Center student without any discrimination?  It’s, you know—we, you know—I or we (same thing [laughs])—if I say “we” [laughs] you will be very much concerned about word “we.”  If I say  “I,” it may be okay, you know, but if I say “we,” [laughs] it looks like, you know, there is some, you know, group, and so-called-it “Sōtō” or “Rinzai” group or, you know, Sōtō group.  So if we say “we,” you know, you may not feel so good, but to me it is same thing, you know.  “We.”  “I.”  Same.


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.


August 23rd, 1970

Sunday, August 23rd, 1970


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, August 23, 1970

San Francisco



Tape operator (possibly Yvonne Rand):  First part of Rōshi’s address here is inaudible on the original tape.




… and obtain similar to result according to [1 word unclear] like our [1-2] bodhisattva way.  [2-3] bodhisattva spirit.  [3-4] of our practice.  And how you, you know, actually practice may be in [1-2].  You say “Hai!”  That is the point of practice.  When you say “Hai,” you are one with your “hai.”  One with your Zen.  One with your [1].  And one with your [1].


So when you say Hai!—or when you say “Yes, I will!”—then there is true mind of helping, you know.  And if you cannot say “Hai!” from the bottom of heart, with all of your strength, that practice doesn’t work.


[5-7] start with this practice of “Yes, I will!”  That is the fundamental practice of bodhisattva practice.  And to have complete perfect understanding of how important it is to say “Hai” is your whole life’s practice.


August 9th, 1970

Sunday, August 9th, 1970
This photo of Suzuki-roshi and Tenshin Reb Anderson appears to be of the ordination ceremony at City Center transcribed below.

This photo of Suzuki-roshi and Tenshin Reb Anderson appears to be of the ordination ceremony at City Center transcribed below.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

PRIEST ORDINATION CEREMONY:  Paul Discoe and Reb Anderson

Sunday, August 9, 1970

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-09


Suzuki-rōshi (speaking formally):[1] … Paul Discoe and [1 word unclear] Reb Anderson, who have come here to be ordained as a disciple of the Buddha.  Listen to—listen calmly and attentively.


Due to surpassing affinities, this ordination ceremony become possible.  As Buddha’s disciple, you have acquired the opportunity to receive the teaching transmitted from Shākyamuni Buddha through the patriarchs to me and to manifest the Buddha’s way forever.


Even the buddhas and patriarchs cannot help but admire you who are earnestly seeking the Buddha’s path in this world.  With sincere belief in—in his dharma and practicing his way with [2-3 words] for all sentient beings.


It is rare indeed to receive a human body in this cosmic world.  However, since we cannot avoid the reality of birth and death, we must deeply and gratefully appreciate how meaningful and marvelous this present existence is.  There indeed is the opportunity to listen to the dharma, and the appearance of Buddha in this world is our great joy.


August 4th, 1970

Saturday, August 8th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday Evening, August 4, 1970

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-08-04

In—in everyday life, to observe precepts and, in our practice, to continue our zazen looks like different, but actually it is same.  In actual zazen, whether—even though your practice is not perfect, if you practice our way, there there is enlightenment because originally, you know, our practice is expression of our true buddha-mind.


Because you—your—because of your discrimination, you say your practice is not good.  But if we do not, you know—if we do not discriminate [in] our practice, that is really the expression of the—our true nature, which is buddha-nature.


And in our everyday life, if we observe precepts even for a moment with this—with our mind—with our mind which is changing always, then the momentous change—on the momentous changing mind, real, you know, moon of the buddha-mind will appear:  bodhi-mind will be there.  So actually there is no difference.


August 3rd, 1970

Monday, August 3rd, 1970
Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Suzuki-roshi at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Monday, August 3, 1970


In our practice two important practice is zazen practice and to listen to pure teacher, or right teacher.  This is just like two fields of _________.  Without practice, you cannot understand teaching.  You cannot listen to your teacher and without practice, without listening to your teacher, your practice will be, cannot be right practice.  Right practice, by right practice we mean practice, fundamental practice from which you can start … from which various teaching will come out.  So from right practice, if you have right practice you have already right teaching there.  So right practice is the foundation of all Buddhist activity.  Right practice.  It is–it cannot be compared to various practice or training.  There are many ways of Zen practice.  There are many practice, zazen practice, meditation practice, but our practice is, cannot be compared to other practice.  I don’t say which is important or which is better but anyway without foundation various practice does not work.  So if you practice some particular practice which has no foundation, your practice–you will eventually, you know, fall into a pit hole.  You will be caught by it and you will lose your freedom.  But if you have–if you have the foundation to your various practice, the various practice will work and will help you.  Right practice we mean that kind of foundation of practice.  It is not–it is more than practice.  So when you have foundation to your practice even though your practice is not perfect, it will help you.  That is right practice.  And what is–if you want to know actually what is right practice, as I told you, it is necessary to practice with right teacher, who understands what is right practice.