Posts Tagged ‘Schools of Buddhism’

January 25th, 1970

Sunday, January 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, January 25, 1970 

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-01-25


The difference between so-called-it Therāvada Buddhism and Sarvāstivādian or Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna is very important and directly, you know, concerned with our present problem.  We are supposed [laughing] to be Mahāyāna Buddhist, but I think most of us are Hīnayāna, actually.  There is not much Mahāyāna students.  Almost all of us may be Hīnayāna or sectarian Buddhists because we study Buddhism as something which is already given to us, like Hīnayāna Buddhist thought Buddha already gave us—have given us—the wonderful teaching.  So what we should do is to preserve his teaching as you like—as you put food in refrigerator [laughs].  That is Hīnayāna way.  And to study, you know, Buddhism is to take out food from refrigerator.  So wherever you want it, it is already there.  That is Hīnayāna way of understanding.


But Mahāyāna students rather interested in how to produce food from the field—from the garden.  So naturally Mahāyāna Buddhist, you know, put the emphasis on ground or garden which has nothing in it, you know, which you don’t see anything in it.  You know, if you see the garden, you don’t see anything.  But if you take care of seed, it will come out.


So we—Mahāyāna Buddhist make our effort to, you know, to see something come out from ground.  And joy of the Mahāyāna Buddhist is joy of take care of the garden.  That is Mahāyāna Buddhist.  So we—Mahāyāna Buddhist—that is why Mahāyāna Buddhist, you know, put emphasis on emptiness.  Emptiness is—is a garden where you cannot see anything.  But it is, actually, mother of everything from which, you know, everything will come out.


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.


July 21st, 1968

Sunday, July 21st, 1968

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, July 21, 1968


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-07-21 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 68-07-21 Part 2

[1] … I don’t think [laughs] we can reach conclusion.

I was asked to talk about—about some—something like sectarianism.  What is Sōtō and what is Rinzai?  Or—and what is the position, or what is the attitude as a Sōtō priest to other schools of Buddhism?  This is the subject I was given to—I was given to speak about it.  But this is not so, you know, simple question.  It is very big problem.

First of all, we should understand how—why we have so many schools of Buddhism.  As you know, various schools arised [arose]—or especially Buddhism, various schools which we have now is the—almost all the schools are Mahāyāna Buddhism.  So-called-it Theravāda Buddhism is also—is not just Hīnayāna school or Theravāda school.  The scholars of Hīnayāna Buddhism or Theravāda Buddhism knows what is Mahāyāna, you know, and intellectually, or so far as the teaching [is] concerned, there is not much difference between—excuse me—all of—all the Buddhists, I think—most of the Buddhist understand not only their own teaching of their own school but also the teaching of various schools too.

So, so far as the understanding goes—actually there is no particular school.  But here Zen is not, you know—Zen school or Zen Buddhism is very much different from the other schools of Buddhism.  The other schools of Buddhism put emphasis on understanding, but we Zen Buddhist put emphasis on practice, you know, actual practice.


September 1st, 1967

Friday, September 1st, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

September 1967

Zen Mountain Center


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-09-00 part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-09-00 part 2

Student: Please come up front if you’d like.

Suzuki-rōshi: Yeah, please come nearer.

Student: Those in the back come up to the front, please.

Suzuki-rōshi: Tonight my talk will be quite informal.  You are, of course, interested in Zen.  But Zen is also Buddhism, you know.  So it is necessary for you to understand Buddhism in general.  Although it will not help you—my talk will not help you immediately, but it is necessary for you to have some understanding of original teaching of Buddha, and, at the same time, various understanding of original teaching of Buddha or else, I am afraid, you will miss the point.

Tonight I want to talk about the three-fold body of Buddha.  The other day, Bishop Sumi[1] explained about what is the various understanding of Buddha, like historical Buddha, buddha as a—as the truth, and buddha as a teaching or dharma.  This concept originated from, of course, historical Buddha, who is so great.  And he was so great that Hīnayāna Buddhism—Buddhist or [are?] direct disciple of Buddha, had a kind of supernatural nature of form—some—some supernatural being—idea of supernatural being like Buddha who had the 32 marks[2] or eighty holy figures.  Those concept already—already formed some Buddha as a embodiment of the truth—of Buddha who attained buddhahood after unusual practice.  So in Mahāyāna school—Hinayāna Buddhist had no such elaborate aspects of Buddha, but Mahāyāna Buddhist started—had the three aspects of Buddha.  And this three aspect forms a trinity, like three [pre-?] Buddhistic religion.


June 11th, 1967

Sunday, June 11th, 1967

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture:  THREE TREASURES

Sunday, June 11, 1967

[Rōshi seems to be commenting on Shi Sho Ku (?) of Dōgen.

When this is evident, Dōgen’s words are in quotation marks.]

Today I will explain Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.  Originally, Buddha is, of course, the one who attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and became a teacher of all the teachers.  Dharma is the teaching which was told by Buddha, and Sangha is the group who studied under Buddha.  This way of understanding Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha is called the “manifested three treasures,” or as we say in Japanese, Genzen sanbōGenzen is “to appear.”  Of course, whether Buddha appeared or not, there is truth.  But if there is no one who realizes the truth, the truth means nothing to us.  So in this sense we say the manifes­ta­tion of truth:  the manifestation of truth is Sangha.


May 17th, 1967

Wednesday, May 17th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

May 17, 1967

You may think that the various religions of the world will, as a natural course of events, tend to become unified, until a single religion answers to the whole world. But this is not so, because such a tendency towards unity is not the natural way a religion develops.

In Buddhism for example, there are many different sets or schools. These differences arose from the same teachings because of the differences in the way of life e.g. “national character”(?) of those who studied the Buddha’s teaching. In this way the one religion of Buddhism of the Buddha’s time developed into the range of schools existing since then.

It is not possible for a true religion to be limited to one school; when one school develops, it is at the same time the beginning of further divisions. This is not surprising since each one of us is unique; and religion strictly speaking is for yourself.

Realizing the naturalness of different schools, etc., there is harmony among the various sects of Buddhism.


April 6th, 1967

Thursday, April 6th, 1967

Rev Suzuki lecture

April 6, 1967

Los Altos

Zazen is not one of the four activities: to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down, we say, are the four activities or four ways of behavior.  Zazen is not one of the four ways of behavior according to Dogen-zenji , the Soto school is not one of the many schools.  Chinese Soto School is one of many schools of Buddhism, but according to Dogen, his way is not one of the many schools.  You may say, if it is so, why do you put emphasis on just sitting posture, or why not put emphasis on having a teacher if our way is not one of the many schools, or one of the four ways of behavior.  Why do you put emphasis on just sitting, or why should you have your teacher.  Why we put emphasis on sitting posture, or zazen, is because zazen is not just one of the four ways of behavior.  Zazen is the practice which is one of the many and many and many activities, innumerable activities which will continue to the eternal future which was started even before Buddha.  So, and this activity, at the same time, includes so many activities which were started even before Buddha and which will continue to the endless future.  So this sitting posture cannot be compared with the rest of the four behaviors.


January 13, 1966

Thursday, January 13th, 1966

Suzuki-roshi on his way to the US

Suzuki-roshi on his way to the US

January 13, 1966

Rev. S. Suzuki

Buddhism is, maybe, rather difficult to understand for you because Buddhism is not monotheism or pantheism.  This is….Buddhism is something different from your understanding of religion.  It may be better to consider…to accept Buddhism something quite different from your understanding.  It looks like pantheism, but in Buddhism also there is several ways of believing in our life….


December 9 1965

Thursday, December 9th, 1965

December 9, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

Here we recite the sutra just once but in Zen Center we recite three times.  The first one is for direct disciples of Buddha.  We call them arhat.  Arhat means the disciples who completed their way.  Arhat.  But Mahayana Buddhists called them Hinayana which means small vehicle.  Small vehicle means Hinayana.  They called themselves great vehicle while direct disciples of Buddha was called Hinayana or small vehicle.  That is not so fair but actually they called themselves great and called other Buddhists small vehicle.  But in Soto way we respect the direct disciples.  So first of all we recite the sutra for the Hinayana Buddhists.  This is one of the characteristics of Soto way.  And our way is not Hinayana or Mahayana.  Our way is Buddha’s way – not small vehicle or great vehicle.  There’s no vehicle in Buddha’s way.  Our way is not only Buddha’s way, but also it is, maybe, we, human beings way.  So before Buddha we count seven Buddhas.  Buddha is the seventh one.  Buddha is not the first one.  But this is another characteristic of our way.  So teachers of Buddha is also…we should respect them, but….so Dogen Zenji did not like to call Zen…to call themselves Zen.  He says, “We are just disciples of Buddha”.  So some people say Soto zen….zen which transcend zen is Soto zen.


October 21 1965

Thursday, October 21st, 1965

October 21, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

As you know, in Buddhism there are many schools.  But you can classify Buddhism into Mahayana and Hinayana schools.  Almost all schools in Japan belong to Mahayana school.  Mahayana people called original Buddhists, old Buddhists or direct disciples of Buddha, called Hinayana Buddhists.  It means small vehicle while Mahayana is big or large vehicle.  But Mahayana school originated from Hinayana school.  Development of Buddhism take place and Mahayana school is supposed to be more advanced school.  But it is not exactly so.  Even in the time of Buddha there were many Mahayanistic disciples.  And it is pretty difficult to say which is better, Mahayana or Hinayana.  So in Soto school we do not say Mahayana is good or Hinayana is good.  Just the same, and from standpoint of zen Buddha practiced zen, and Hinayana Buddhists and Mahayana Buddhists have been practicing zazen.  So, if we become…if we discriminate the teaching which was told by him, or forms which he set up at the time of Buddha, or the rules which were set by some other disciples is based on his character, and his character is based on his practice.  And so, from this standpoint, for zen Buddhists, there is no need to say Mahayana Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism.