Posts Tagged ‘Study the Self’

July 25th, 1971

Sunday, July 25th, 1971

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi

Sunday Evening, July 25, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-25

Tonight I want to explain the outline of our practice.  As a monk and as a layman, without understanding of what is practice, it is rather difficult to make actual progress in your practice.  And what I will talk about tonight is a kind of universal practice for laymen and monks both, you know—which could be true for both laymen and priests.


We say, or you say [laughs] whatever you do, that is practice, our practice:  to drink tea or to eat or to sleep, to walk, or to sit down.  Whatever you do, that is practice, you know, we say.  But how you, you know—with—with what kind of understanding you do things is very important point.  Actually, whatever you do, if you do not do the point—that is true.  But if you miss the point, even though you look like [you are] doing a proper practice, actually it doesn’t work.  The point is, whether you do it for yourself or for the sake of the truth, or for sake of Buddha, or for sake of people—this point is a very important point.


I—I didn’t discuss or argue with you, but my way, you know, if there is many things in the basket, my way is to finish the fruit is—you know, start with—I st- [partial word:  “start with”?], eat the worst [laughs] one first.  I will make—eat best one first.  And why you eat best one first is—according to the people who eat best one first—if you eat best one first always, you will always eat best one [laughs].  The last one, you know, will be also best one [laughs].  If—if—we eat worst one first, you will always eat worst—worst one.  Last one is also worst one.


February 7th, 1971

Sunday, February 7th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


February 7, 1971

Sunday Afternoon or Evening

San Francisco

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


This morning I said you must find yourself in each being.  That is actually what Tōzan [Ryōkai]-zenji said:  Don’t try to seek yourself.  Don’t try to figure out who is you.  “You” found out in that way is far away from real you.  He is not anymore you.  But if I go my own way, wherever I go, I see myself.  You know, if you, you know, take your own step, it means bodhisattva way.  Wherever you go, you will see yourself. You will meet with yourself.  And, he says, the image you see in the water when you want to figure out who is you is not you, but actually just what you see in the water is you yourself.


In Sandōkai we have same statements:  You are not him, and he is you, you know [laughs].  It is paradoxical, you know.  It is to catch your mind, they use some paradoxical, you know, statement like this.  You are not him, but he is you.  It means that when you try to figure out who is you, even though you see yourself in the mirror, he is not you.  But if you just see your, you know, figure in the mirror, without any idea of, you know, trying to figure out what is you—  Why it is not you when you figure out who is you [laughs] is, you know [laughs], because of your self-centered mind, you know, limited mind, you cannot see.


A self-centered, you know, practice doesn’t work [laughs].  You know, if you try to attain enlightenment, or if you want to be some great Zen master, you cannot be actually great Zen master.  When you don’t try to be so, you know, or before you try to do so, or before you practice our way, you are buddha.  But because of your limited practice, self-centered practice, even though you practice your way, you cannot have real practice.  You will miss, you know, yourself, lose yourself in small, self-centered practice.


January 23rd, 1971

Saturday, January 23rd, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Saturday, January 23, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-23


Most of us, maybe, want to know what is self.  This is a big problem.  Why you have this problem, you know, and is—I want to understand [laughs] why you have this problem.  I’m trying to understand.  And even though, it seems to me, even though you try to understand who are you, it is, you know, it is endless trip, you know, and you will never see your self.


You say to sit without thinking too much is difficult.  Just to sit is difficult.  But more difficult thing will be to try to think about your self [laughs].  This is much more difficult.  To do is maybe easy, you know, but to have some conclusion, you know, to it is almost impossible, and you will continue it until you become crazy [laughs, laughter].  That is, you know, when you don’t know what to do with your self.  Or when you don’t know, when you find out it is impossible to know who you are, you know, you become crazy.


Moreover, your culture is based on the idea of self and science and Christianity [laughs].  So those element, you know, idea of Christianity or sinful idea of Christianity or, you know, idea of science, scientific-oriented mind, makes your confusion greater.  You try to always, when you sit, you know, perhaps most of you sit to improve your zazen.  That idea to improve, you know, is a very Christian-like, you know, idea and, at the same time, a scientific idea:  to improve. You acknowledge some improvement of our culture or civilization.  We understand our civilization, you know, improved a lot.  But, you know, when we say “scientific” in sense of science, you know, or “improve” means before you went to Japan by ship, now you go to airplane or jumbo [laughs] plane.  That is improvement.


January 3rd, 1971

Sunday, January 3rd, 1971
Suzuli-roshi conducting a lay ordination ceremony at City Center.

Suzuli-roshi conducting a lay ordination ceremony at City Center.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, January 3, 1971

San Francisco

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-01-03


Last Sunday I remember I talked about our surrounding, which is civilized world and busy world, and world of science and world of technique.  Although I couldn’t talk about fully about those things, but I tried [laughs] anyway.  And I talked about something about practice or why we practice zazen.  But I did not talk about self—who practice zazen—who practice zazen.


What is self is a big problem, you know.  Unless we don’t understand what is self, unless we don’t reflect on our self, whether our everyday life is self-centered or a life of selflessness, we cannot, you know, have right practice:  the practice to settle oneself, you know, on self.  That is, you know, [Dainin] Katagiri-sensei’s [laughs] word:  “to settle oneself on the self.”  You cannot understand what does it mean.


So most people, I think, you know, especially the people who are here, are the people who knows who, you know, who has pretty good prospective [perspective] to our surrounding, to our modern life.  But, you know, I don’t think you understand what is self fully.  And those who are more, you know—in Zen Center, I think, there are two kinds [laughs] of students, if I classify, you know.  One type of the student is a student who practice a hermit-like practice [laughter], and other is, you know, the other group of people are the people more radical and intellectual.


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].


September 9 1965

Thursday, September 9th, 1965

September 9, 1965

Rev. S. Suzuki

Thursday morning lecture

The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism but to study ourselves.  It is impossible to study ourselves without some teaching.  If you want to know what is water, because it is impossible to know what is water, so you want science….scientist wants laboratory and in various ways they may study what is water.  So it is possible to know what kind of element water has, or when wind come what kind of form water takes, and what is the nature of water, always calm, comes down but we…it is impossible to know water itself.  It is same thing with ourselves.  It is impossible to know what is I.  That is why we have teaching.  By teaching we will understand what is ourselves.  But teaching is not ourselves.  It is some explanation of ourselves.  So if you attach to the teaching or to the teacher that is big mistake.  The purpose of…to study teaching is to know yourselves…through teaching you should know yourselves.  So that is why we do not attach to…even to teaching or to the teacher.  The moment you meet a teacher you should leave the teacher and you should be independent.  So that you can be independent you want teacher.  So you study yourselves.  You have teacher for yourselves not for the teacher.