Posts Tagged ‘Suffering’

August 3rd, 1971

Tuesday, August 3rd, 1971


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Tuesday, August 3, 1971

Zen Mountain Center

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-03 Part 1

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-08-03 Part 2

I want to explain why we become Buddhist [laughs] or why I myself became a Buddhist.  Perhaps here in America, because you have some wish, you know, hope in your future life—future life of a—future—personally your own future life. and sociologically you’re concerned about your future society.  But to tell the truth, we Buddhists do not have any hope [laughs].  We do not have any hope for our human, you know, life because we understand this life is originally full of suffering.  That is, you know, how we understand our society.  From the beginning we understand that our world is world of suffering.  And we understand why we suffer, you know, is because we expect too much.  We always expect something more than you will obtain or acquire.


For an instance, everyone knows that we cannot stay young, but we want to be always young [laughs].  Once in a while, you know, when—even though you are young, once in a while you may feel, “Oh gee, I am twenty-five now [laughs].  Oh, I am not anymore young.”  [Laughs, laughter.]  You may feel in that way.  That is, you know, good evidence that you want to be always young.  But that is not possible, you know.  We want to experience what you have, but that is not also possible.


Things are changing always, so nothing can be yours.  So whatever you want—you want to be or you want to have, nothing can be possible for you to obtain or to have it.  That is actually how our human world is.  Actually it is so.  But still, we want to be fooled by [laughs] something.  That is maybe why we say human beings do not like something real.  But human being like something unreal.  That is very true.  You don’t like anything real.  So after, you know, give up all the hopes you have in mundane world, we become Buddhist.


March 12th, 1971

Friday, March 12th, 1971

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Not Verbatim                                          

March 12, 1971

[No Audio Source]


It is not so easy to say what actual practice is, what Zen is. But anyway, I want to try. First of all, why we practice Zen may be the question most of you have. As you know, Buddha’s first teaching is the Four Noble Truths. According to him, our life is a life of suffering. And if you know the cause of suffering, you will know how to go through our suffering, and you will attain Nirvana or enlightenment.


Tonight maybe it is better to explain why we suffer. Suffering includes various kinds of confusion or fears we may have because of our lack of understanding of our life. The reason we suffer, according to the Buddha, is because we have desire. Desire cannot be broken, because we have too much desire-there is no limit to our desire. That is why we suffer-because we have interest in strong desire. So our suffering will be limitless, deep and long. The suffering you feel is as deep as a night when you cannot sleep is long. When you cannot sleep, the night maybe very very long for you. That is why we suffer. The root of desire is so-called “ignorance” or “darkness.” Ignorance means ignorance of our life, ignorance of human nature. If we know human nature and how we live in this world as a human being, then we will know why we suffer and how to go through suffering. I don’t say that you will go beyond it, or that you eliminate suffering. But if you know the cause of suffering, which is ignorance of our life, then maybe this knowledge will be a great relief for you. Moreover, you will find out how to cope with our suffering. For instance, if you sit in a cross-legged position like this, at first you will have pain in your legs, as some of you must have experienced already. It is not so easy to deal with the pain you have in your legs as you sit. If some of you sit thirty or forty minutes, without any instruction, you will know how you can deal with suffering. The way to deal with, or to overcome your suffering is actually the precepts which the Buddhists observe. But the precepts still will not be good enough, because you don’t know how to limit your original ignorance. So to work on the source of suffering and also to hunt the many big branchings of suffering is the true way to cope with the suffering you have. That is actually zazen practice. Through the practice of zazen you can cope with original sin, original ignorance, or darkness, and with the weaker branchings of suffering. I think the everyday lives of all of us are actually involved in this kind of suffering which originates from the source of ignorance.


June 27th, 1970

Saturday, June 27th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Suzuki-roshi and Okusan (Mitsu Suzuki)

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 27, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-27

[The following lines of the Sandōkai are discussed in this lecture:

Line 33        Bammotsu onozukara kō ari,

Line 34        masani yō to sho to wo iu beshi.

Line 35        Ji sonsure ba kangai gasshi,

Line 36        ri ōzure ba sempō sasō.

                                      (Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)

Line 33        Everything––all beings––have their own virtue.

Line 34        You should know how to apply this truth.

Line 35        Things and emptiness are like a container and its

cover fitting together,

Line 36        like two arrows meeting head-on.

(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]


[Begins with indecipherable whisper.]  Today’s lecture will be about how we observe everything—how we understand everything and how we should treat things—with what kind of understanding is the—will be the purpose of tonight’s lecture.  Everything has the—[sudden loud feedback from the sound system.  Suzuki-rōshi stops speaking.  Whispering exchange takes place about the sound system.]  Oh.  Okay.


Before I talk about the value of things or how we understand things, we should—I think I must explain those words [referring to the text on the blackboard].*  The important words here is—this is, you know—bammotsu  is “myriad of things.”  It means “many things,” “all things.”  [Ari means]* “has.”  [Onozukara means]* “naturally”—”naturally.”  [ means]* has “function” or—this means “function” or “virtue.”


Because, you know, if something has some function, you know, that function will be virtue for us—value, you know, exchange value.  Or—value as a, you know—mostly we—when we say “value” it is exchange value, but this value [kō ] means more—it—a wider meaning.  This has more wider meaning, you know.  The —this   Kō is not [exactly?] function or—utility [searching for word and seemed to find it in “utility”].  So utility is more like value, you know.  But it means more—it has more wider sense.


August 21st, 1969

Thursday, August 21st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Thursday, August 21, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-21

Suzuki-rōshi:  If you want, please come here.


I am sorry I haven’t prepare anything for lecture—for this lecture.  So I should be very happy if you have some question and—so that I can say something about it.  Do you have some questions?  Hai.


Student A:  Rōshi, you speak about the relationship of conditioned origination and free will and our everyday life?  Is it possible to say anything about that?  [Laughter.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Condition of?


Student A:  The relationship of conditioned origination or the—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Origination?


Student A:  —the chain of causation and free will—free will to determine our own actions in our daily life.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Free will?  I don’t—you know—what will—conditioned origination, what is it, do you think?


Student A:  The twelve-fold chain of causation?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Hmm?


Student A:  The twelve-fold-chain of causation—


Suzuki-rōshi:  Oh, oh I see.


Student A:  —and free will—the relationship of those two things.


Suzuki-rōshi:  That’s deep.  [Laughs, laughter.]  Do you know twelve links of causation?  Twelve links of causation.  The—our life originated from—started from ignorance.  We came out of ignorance.


Excuse me.  I have something in my mouth still [laughs, laughter].


Do you know something about it?


Student A:  No.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Why we came, you know, this world is because of ignorance.  Ignorance is the origin of—not “species,” but origin of being, maybe.  Yeah.  Why we say so is because we think we exist here with some self-nature.  So—but actually there is nothing to be called as self-nature.  So that we think, “I am here with some self-nature” is actually not right.  Why we have this kind of imperfect understanding of being—not only our self but also all being.  Mis-[partial word]—not “misunderstanding,” but a kind of delusion.  To see something which does not really exist is delusion.


August 2nd, 1969

Saturday, August 2nd, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-roshi

Saturday, August 2, 1969


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-08-02

I’m afraid I will—I am making you hotter [laughs] because I cough
and my lecture is maybe pretty difficult to understand because of my English especially.  Last night I was trying to—my skeleton of lecture was like this [laughs].  Can you read it?


The first teaching—the—we—we have four or three series of Buddhist teaching.  The teaching—the teaching that [laughter]—the teaching that everything is changing—in Japanese, shogyō-mujō[1]—or Chinese shogyō-mujō—teaching that everything is changing.  This teaching can be—could be understand in two ways:  the one—the teaching as the law of the truth.  This teaching is always true, you know, whether we observe it or not.  The—so—if everything is changing, that means non-substantiality.  There is no substantial being, you know.  We are only composed being from various elements.  So we are non-substantial being.  (a) Non-substantiality.


(b) As a—as the presupposed teaching of the teaching of the selflessness.  Teaching of selflessness is the teaching that everything changes.  And teaching of selflessness, the second one, is two of the four important teachings.  The four teaching are:  teaching that everything changes, and teaching of selflessness, and teaching of suffering, and teaching of nirvāna.  Those are the four important teaching of Buddhism.  So we call it “four seals of Buddhist teaching.”


November 9th, 1966

Wednesday, November 9th, 1966


Wednesday, November 9, 1967

Suffering comes from desires.  Zazen leads to the strength to cut off the root of suffering.  When we are free from our suffering we are called Buddhas.  But our evil [?] desires are limitlessly deep.  Hence it is impossible totally to cut off our human suffering.

For a while zazen will alleviate suffering, but zazen is not a complete remedy.

[Suzuki emphasizes improving oneself little by little rather than by trying to cut off one’s suffering at a single stroke .…  “A little fire is still fire.  It is not necessary to have a big fire.”]  In this world we live by constant effort.  Even though gains are small, the act of sincerely trying to improve little by little is salvation—a way to transcend the troubles e.g., desires, we could not have occasion to make efforts at improvement.  So even [evil] desires are necessary [to the overall “scheme”].  The Buddhist way is the way of eternal effort.  True eternity is not that which is contrasted with the momentary.  True eternity is the eternal present.


March 13 1966 2nd Talk

Sunday, March 13th, 1966

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sesshin Lecture:  SHUSHŌGI, Section 1

Sunday, March 13, 1966[1]

Lecture B

Soko-ji, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 66-03-13 2nd talk

Suzuki-rōshi: We started to recite Lotus SūtraShushōgiShushōgi is the—consist of various teachings from Shōbōgenzō written by Dōgen-zenji.  From 95 fascicle of his work, we compiled various teaching in a handy way so that you can recite it.  This is Shushōgi.

I want to explain Shushōgi—the meaning of Shushōgi little by little.  Shushōgi.  This is translate—translation by Doctor [Reihō] Masunaga, Page 48.[2]

To arrive at thorough understanding of birth and death—this is a crucial problem for all Buddhists.  If the Buddha dwells in birth and death, birth and death disappear.  Understand only that birth-and-death is itself nirvāna; there is nothing to avoid as birth-death and nothing to seek as nirvāna.  You then slough off the chain that bind you to birth-death.  This—the supreme problem in Buddhism—must be thoroughly penetrated.


July 28 1965 2nd Talk

Wednesday, July 28th, 1965


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, July 28, 1965

Lecture D

Soko-ji Temple, San Francisco

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 65-07-28 2nd Talk

Tape operator: This is Reverend Suzuki’s six o’clock lecture on Wednesday.

Suzuki-rōshi: I cannot think of anything to talk [about] for this evening.  So if you have some question please ask me, and I will talk about your question as an answer, and—and then we will have discussion.  Do you have some—will you give me some subject to talk about?


February 1965

Monday, February 1st, 1965




Translation and Commentary by Reverend Suzuki

Introductory Word:

Introducing, Engo said:  Only a man with open eyes knows the catgut line of the fishing rod.  Only an advanced mind catches the true idea of the extraordinary procedure.  What is the catgut line of the fishing rod and the extraordinary procedure?

Main Subject:

Attention!  A monk asked Dairyū, “The physical body is disintegrating, but what about the immutable spiritual body?”


As you may see, this monk is apparently asking a question based on a dualistic idea: an immutable spiritual body and as a disintegrating physical body. However, not speaking of Zen experience or pure Enlightenment, according to the Buddhist philosophical canon: every existence has the same essential nature which is spiritual and physical, permanent and impermanent.