Posts Tagged ‘Problems’

August 21st, 1971

Saturday, August 21st, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, August 21, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-21


Excuse me.  [Laughs.]  I feel rather stiff.  Maybe I worked too hard.


Since we have Tassajara and the city zendō, we are—our practice is rather concentrated on city practice or Tassajara practice.  But the most important point is to know what is Zen practice, which is not only city practice, but also Tassajara practice, and city zendō practice.  Wherever you are, we have Zen way of practice.  No matter where you are, you must have proper understanding of our practice.


In Shōbōgenzō “Genjo-kōan,” Dōgen-zenji says, referring to this point:


“When all things are Buddhism, there are birth and death—there are defilement, practice, birth and death, buddhas, and sentient beings.  When all things has no self, there is no delusion, no buddha, no sentient beings, no birth, no death.  Buddhism originally is beyond the all positive or neg- [partial word]—positivity or negativity, so there are birth and death, defilement and enlightenment, and sentient beings and buddha.”


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.


February 12, 1971

Friday, February 12th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday Morning

February 12, 1971

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-02-12 first talk


This is the seventh day of the sesshin, and you came already too far.  So you cannot, you know, give up [laughs, laughter].  So only way is to stay here.  And I feel I had a very good crop [laughs].  You may feel you are not yet ripened.  But even though you are still ripening, but if you stay in our storehouse anyway, it will be a good apples [laughs]—Page Street apples, ready to be served [laughs, laughter].  So I have nothing to worry [about], and I don’t think you have any more worry about your practice.


Perhaps some of you started sesshin because you have too many things to solve, or some of you must have thought if you come and sit here, maybe your problem will be solved.  But, you know, the problem which you—which is—any—whatever problem it may be, something which is given to you could be solved anyway because Buddha will not give you anything—any more than you can solve and you need.  Whatever it is, whatever problem it may be, the problem you have is just enough problems [laughs, laughter] for you.


So I think you should trust him, you know, just enough—not too much.  And, you know—and his—if it is not too much, Buddha is ready to give you some more problems [laughs, laughter] just to survive, you know, just to appreciate problems.  Buddha is always giving you something, because if you have nothing to cope with, you know, it may be terrible life—as if you are, you know, it is like—problem without life [life without problems] is to sit in this zendō for seven days without doing anything.


September 16th, 1969, Talk

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, September 16, 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-09-16V


I have not much chance to think about why I came to America or why I became a priest, but today when—while I was talking with Peter[1]  about something—my personal history—I had to think about, you know, why I came to America.  And right now, I am thinking about why I became a priest [laughs].


My father[2]  was a priest, and his temple[3]  was quite—not small, but very poor temple.  We haven’t not—we had very difficult time, even though he—my father wanted to give me some better clothing, he—he haven’t—he hasn’t—he hadn’t not much money.


I know—I remember his father was making candle.  When I came to America, you know, sometime I made a candle by the left-over candle, you know, with left-over candle.  It is pretty, you know—usually no one make candle, you know, to sell, but he—he made a lot of—he was making a lot of candle with iron, you know, he made himself some—something to make candle, and he sold it—not near my temple, but he went [to] Ōiso City,[4]  maybe four, five miles from my temple.


And I think that was the time when my father [was] expelled from [laughs] another temple[5]  and came to that temple.[6]   I can imagine how poor we are by that—only by that story.  So even children wear hakama.  Do you know hakama? [7]   A kind of skirt—skirt-like—ceremonial, you know.  When we have celebration we would wear hakama.


But I haven’t any hakama, so I have to—I would attend the ceremony[8] at—in my school without hakama, and I was, you know, very much—I didn’t feel so good, you know, because I had no hakama to wear.  But somehow he bought hakama and gave it to me to wear for the ceremony.  And he, you know, gave [me] the hakama, and—and I—when I wear that hakama in the—as my friend did, my father said:  “That is not the right—correct way to wear it.  You should wear like this, and you should tie hakama this way,” you know.  [Sounds like he is gesturing.]  No one tie hakama at that time in that way.  Maybe that is too formal [laughs].


July 1st, 1969

Tuesday, July 1st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, July 1, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-01

[the audio only includes half of the lecture – I will look into finding the rest of this talk – Korin 8/5/2011]

It is rather difficult for us to figure out why we started to practice zazen.  It is rather difficult, and I think it may be same for you.  But the more you think why you started zazen practice, the more you will find out how deep it is—the meaning you started zazen practice.  And once you start our practice, even though your determination is not so strong, or you don’t feel your determination is not so strong, but you will find out how strong the determination has been.


It is rather difficult, you know.  You think—when you are here, you think sometimes or, you know, once in a while it may be better to give up [laughs].  But actually to give up our study or practice is not so easy.  But you have some, you know—when you—your determination—you think your determination is not so strong—when you think in that way, your—you will not make much—much progress.  So anyway once you study—start to study zazen, it’s better for you to have strong, you know, determination not to give up our study or our practice.  That is why we Sōtō students put emphasis on way-seeking mind or determination to practice our way forever.  And trust in our true nature, who—which is always seeking for our true nature.  You know, we say, “True nature is seeking for true nature.”  You know, true—because we have true nature, so naturally we seek for [it].  It is quite natural for us to seek for true nature.  So, “Buddha seek for buddha,” we say.


Anyway, you know, even though—once you study—start to practice zazen, even though you stop it, or you leave Tassajara, or Zen Center, I am sure you will come back [laughs, laughter].  I am quite sure about that.  But it is rather, you know, waste of time.  So once you st- [partial word]—anyway, you are caught [laughs, laughter] by buddha-nature which you have, you know.  So it is better to continue it until you have complete freedom even from sitting zazen.  That is much better.


March 16th, 1969

Sunday, March 16th, 1969


Gyokujun So-on-roshi, Suzuki-roshi's ordination and early training teacher

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday Morning, March 16, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-16

Our practice should be based on the idea of selflessness.  This selflessness is very difficult [to] understand.  If you try to be selflessness, you know, that is already selfish idea.  [Laughs.]  We don’t know what to do, what—how to cope with it.  Perhaps you may—you must have tried various way, but selflessness is not something which you can try, you know.  It—selflessness should—should be there when you do not try anything.  Selflessness is not something which you can be aware of.  But for us, we have to—it is necessary to try and to know—it is necessary to know how difficult it is.

And because it is difficult, you want some guidance or teacher.  Maybe when you have good teacher and when you are practicing with good teacher, you will be naturally not so selfish.  Why our teacher is so hard on us is because of our selfish attitude.  Whenever he see our selfish attitude he may point out—or he may be angry with it.  Usually—for an instance, you know, when I was a little boy, I was going [to] primary school at that time—grammar school, you know.  And I learned something about animal—small animal and—like, you know, some—some—some animal which live on fish[‘s] body.  When we were working in the pond to clean the water from the muddy—mud and worm in it, I, you know, picked up a small goldfish and found a small worm on the body.  So that was the worm I studied at primary school.  So I point out that worm and said:  “This is”—in Japanese—”mijinko!”  You know, “This is mijinko!”  Maybe I proudly, you know, pointed out that mijinko.  And my teacher said:  “Shut up!” [Very loudly.  Laughs, laughter.]


August 31, 1967

Thursday, August 31st, 1967

Dated 67-08-31, Thursday

Rev Suzuki

September 1, 1967

Los Altos, Calif.

Zen story or Zen koan is very difficult to understand before you understand what we are doing moment after moment.  But if you know exactly what we are doing moment after moment it is not so difficult to understand.  There are many and many koans.  Recently I talked about a frog (several times).  Whenever I talked about a frog they laughed and laughed.  When you come and sit here you may think you are doing some special thing while your husband is sleeping you are here practicing zazen.  And you are doing some special thing and your husband is lazy.  That is…maybe your understanding of zazen.  But look at the frog.  A frog also sits like this but it has no idea of zazen.  And if you watch what he does…if something annoys him he will do like this (making a face).  If something to eat comes he will eat (imitating a frog snapping at an insect) and he eats sitting.  Actually that is our zazen.  We are not doing any special thing.  We should think that we are doing some special thing.


August 1st, 1967

Tuesday, August 1st, 1967

Suzuki-roshi carrying the kyosaku during zazen at Sokoji

Rev S. Suzuki

August 1967

It is a pretty long time since I saw you all.  But if we sit with you in this way

I don’t feel so…I feel as if I were in San Francisco or Los Altos, always.  When I was in Tassajara I think about San Francisco or Los Altos, I feel as if many things to talk about, but in this way when I meet you I have nothing to say.  This is very funny.  Nothing to say at all.  This is…but this is the way it should be.  When we have something to talk about that is not so healthy, sometimes, but when we have nothing to say, that is very healthy situation…especially when I see young people I lose my…I lose every thing…I forget everything.  And sometimes I am ashamed of preaching to them.  It’s much better not to say anything.  That is how I feel, actually.


July 8 1965

Thursday, July 8th, 1965


JULY 8, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki’s talk on Great Prajna Paramita Sutra

I want to still continue to speak about topsy-turvy views. When your understanding of life is based on some concrete concept of material or spiritual, this view is called topsy-turvy idea. When your understanding is based on your true nature or your true inmost request, this aspect is the right aspect. Dogen Zenji, founder of our sect (this is Dogen’s picture he did himself), he says, “Practice should be established in our topsy-turvy idea. Practice should be established in our defilement or delusion. We should attain enlightenment before, we should attain identity before we attain enlightenment.” This is very subtle understanding of Zen. Usually we say enlightenment and your practice is quite different thing. After you practice zazen you will attain enlightenment, but Dogen Zenji said, “You should study your practice in your defilement.” If your understanding of your life which is always dualistic, which is always based on the idea of right or wrong, good or bad, this is our usual ‑‑ how we live in this world. Wherever you go there is a problem, good or bad, right or wrong, but this problem itself is, if your understanding of the problem is right, it is the practice itself. Because of your poor understanding of the problem, you cannot establish your practice in defilement. You have problem now. You have many problems I think, and some of the problems is pretty hard to control. Why it is difficult to control your problem is your orientation of the practice is wrong. If the – your orientation of the practice is right, your problem itself is a kind of practice.