Posts Tagged ‘Soto & Rinzai’

July, 1969

Tuesday, July 1st, 1969

Suzuki-roshi with students at Tassajara

Shunryū Suzuki-Roshi

July 1969

San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-07-00 




In—in America, between Rinzai Zen and Sōtō Zen there—there must be some clear understanding of—of the two, or relationship of the two.  Dōgen-zenji’s, you know, problem of, or kōan was, “If we have buddha-nature,” you know, “why we should practice zazen?”  That was his, you know—that is why he went to China.  All—all—in all the scriptures say that everyone has buddha-nature.  If so, why we should practice zazen?


And Sōtō more put emphasis on the statement that we have buddha-nature.  And Rinzai put emphasis on practice to attain enlightenment, you know.  If we have buddha-nature, like Sōtō student says, why is it necessary [laughs] to attain enlightenment?  And usually, you know, people understand that “we have buddha-nature” means that potentially we have buddha-nature.  We have buddha-nature within ourselves, but that nature—buddha-nature is covered by many things:  many evil desires.  Or because of the bad karma we cannot, you know, reveal—we cannot realize buddha-nature.  But if we practice zazen, or if we get rid of evil nature, the buddha-nature, which is innate nature, will reveal itself.  Usually people understand in that way.  But, as the Sixth Patriarch said, that is annihilism [nihilism?].  But anyway, people understand in that way to explain why we must practice zazen.


But this understanding is not true understanding, even according to usual understanding of sūtra.  There are many, you know—we try to understand Buddhism just our ordinal [ordinary] way of thinking—ordinal [ordinary way].  That is maybe why we cannot understand what—why Dōgen has to go to China to understand that point.  If he understand in that way, you know, it is—for him it was not—there was no need for him to go to China.  You know, if—by practice, by our practice, by stopping all sort of evil desires, and we will attain enlightenment, and we will have no trouble, you know, and our buddha-nature reveal itself because there is no evil desires which covers our innate nature.  If he understand in that way, there was no need for him to go to 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.