Posts Tagged ‘Two Sides’

July 20th, 1971

Tuesday, July 20th, 1971

Shunryu Suzuki-rōshi


Tuesday Evening, July 20, 1971


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 71-07-20

I wanted to see you earlier, but I was too busy so I couldn’t come.

Can you hear me?  Can you hear me?

Student:  Yes.

Oh.  Okay.

Anyway, it is very good to see you and Tassajara, which has improved a lot since I left here.  Tonight my—I didn’t have any idea of giving talk, but I—as, you know, we have many guests and some of you may leave tomorrow, so I decided to talk a little bit—maybe I said ten minutes [laughs].  But it is rather difficult to say something in ten minutes, so I don’t know how many minutes my lecture last.

What I want to talk about tonight is something—some idea or some understanding of Buddhist which is not—may not be unfamiliar to you.

We observe things in two ways.  We understand things has two—two side.  One is phenomenal side; the other is, maybe, more ontological side.  Something—some—most of us, you know, understand things from the light of difference, like big or small, black or—black and white, material or spiritual.

Usually, maybe, spiritual—  If we say “spiritual,” usually it is something which is not material.  But, according to Buddhism, even though you say “spiritual” that is, you know, not much different from—different of physical or materialistic side.  “Spiritual” or “materialistic” we say, but those are, according to Buddhism, not much different.  It belongs to the understanding of phenomenal side of the reality—spiritual too, spiritual understanding too include phenomenal understanding.


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.


June 25th, 1970

Thursday, June 25th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Thursday, June 25, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-25


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


          Meian ono-ono aitaishite,

          hisuru ni zengo no ayumi no gotoshi.


(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)


Darkness and brightness stand with each other

like when one foot is forward and the other is behind in walking.


(Translation by Suzuki-rōshi.)]



Now we are still talking about the reality from the light of independency.  Even though we are discussing about independency, we always refer to the dependency-interdependency, so you may, you know, feel as if I am always [laughs] talking same thing.  But actually it is not so.  We are talking about, you know, independency now, not dependency.


“Dependency and independency,” we say, but it is actually two side of the one coin.  People say, you know, Japanese people [laughs] are very tough.  People may say [so].  But that is the one side of the Japanese, you know, people.  The other side is, you know, softness.  Should be, but I don’t know exactly [laughs].  I hope so [laughs].  But they are very kind.  Some people, you know, who visited Japan may say Japanese people are very kind.  But some people may say Japanese people are very tough.  But for a long time, because of the Buddhistic training, they are trained in that way, you know.  Even in children’s song, we say, he is, you know, describing hero called Momotaro.  Momotaro.  Peach Boy.  Peach Boy.  Do you know Momotaro?


Momotaro was born when an old couple—old couple lived in the riverside.  One day, old mother picked up a peach from the stream and came back [to] her home.  And from the peach, you know, Momotaro was born.  Momotaro came out [laughs], and he was very strong but very gentle [laughs]—very kind and gentle.  But he was very strong.  Japanese children sing a song:  Ki wa ya sa shi ku te—chi ka ra mo chi.[1]  “He was very kind, but he was very strong.”  That was Momotaro.  Not only he was strong, but he was very kind.  It is Japanese idealistic character.  What do you call?  You must have some, you know, some—


June 20th, 1970

Saturday, June 20th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi in monk's pilgrimage gear.

Suzuki-roshi in monk’s pilgrimage gear.

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Saturday, June 20, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-20


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

Line 27        Meichū ni atatte an ari,

Line 28        ansō wo motte ō koto nakare.

Line 29        Anchū ni atatte mei ari,

Line 30        meisō wo motte miru koto nakare.


Line 27        Within brightness actually there is utter darkness;

Line 28        but you should not meet someone just with darkness.

Line 29        Within darkness there is brightness

Line 30        but you should not see others only with the eyes of brightness.]


First I will explain the two terms mei and an, “brightness” and “darkness.”  Brightness means relative, dualistic world of term and words, you know—the thinking world or visible world in which we live.  And darkness means, you know, absolute world where there is no exchange value or materialistic value or spiritual value even—the world our words does not reach—the world our thinking mind cannot reach.  Beyond words, beyond thinking there is world.  This is the world of absolute—the opposite to the world of relative or dualistic world.


And it is necessary for us who live in realm of—realm of duality to have good understanding of the absolute, which may be the idea of deity or god, usually.  But in Buddhism, we do not, you know, have any idea about deity or about god because the absolute is the absolute because it is beyond our understanding or dualistic thinking.  But we cannot deny this world of absolute, or a kind of idea of deity.


June 17th, 1970

Wednesday, June 17th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 17, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-17


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


Line 21 Manako wa iro, mimi wa onjō,

Line 22 hana wa ka, shita wa kanso.

Line 23 Shikamo ichi-ichi no hō ni oite,

Line 24 ne ni yotte ha bumpusu.

Line 25 Hommatsu subekaraku shū ni kisu beshi.

Line 26 Sompi sono go wo mochiu.


Line 21 For eyes there is color and form, for ears there is sound,

Line 22 for the nose there is smell, and for the tongue there is taste;

Line 23 Each being comes out from the root

Line 24 as branches and leaves come out from the trunk.

Line 25 But both root and end should return to their original nature.

Line 26 The words we use are different––good and bad, respectful and

mean—but through these words we should understand the
absolute being or source of the teaching.]



In last lecture I explained the everything—independency of everything. “Independency of everything” means—of course, things are interdependent with each other, but at the same time, each being is independent because each being include the other being—the rest of the being. So when each being include whole world, then each being is actually independent. But at the same time, you know, each being, you know, looks like— When each being understood, you know, in term of big or small, black or white, heavy or light, man or nature—


June 10th, 1970

Wednesday, June 10th, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 10, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-10


[This lecture is concerned with the following lines of the Sandōkai:


Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi,

shō moto rakku wo kotonisu.

An wa jōchū no koto ni kanai,

mei wa seidaku no ku wo wakatsu.


Things have various natures, various forms.

There is good and bad, taste, sound, and feeling.

In darkness, superior and inferior cannot be distinguished;

in brightness, the duality of pure and impure is apparent.]



In my last lecture, although I did not literally explain about those sentences, but I almost explained about it.


Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki is, you know, in Prajñāpāramitā SūtraShiki soku zekuShiki.  Same character as shikiShiki moto shitsuzō wo kotonishi.  Shiki means, you know, “form and color.”  It has two meanings:  form and color.  Things which—form and color.  Shitsuzō wo kotonishi, shō moto rakkuShō [is] in Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra.  We have many [of] this character—shō, voice, which is the object of, you know, ears.  Shō moto—shitsuzō wo kotonishi—rakku wo kotonisu:  means that whatever you see, you know—shitsuzô—shitsu  means “quality” or “nature.”  “Quality” or “nature” is shitsu, like human nature or buddha nature or good nature, evil nature.  Nature is shitsu means “figure.”


So in things there is various—  Things has various nature and various figure, various forms.  And voice—  When you hear voice, voice has—some voice is good and some voice is not good:  agreeable or disagreeable.  Rakku means—  Something which you care for is raku.[1]   Ku[2]  is something which will create some bitter feeling or, you know, some—not—”suffering” is too big word, but, some, you know—  It will create suffering.  This is just—  He is now talking about just form and voice, but same thing is true with taste, or sound, or know [no?]—or his feeling or taste.  There is good taste and bad taste, and good sound and bad sound, and good feeling and bad feeling—something agreeable idea or disagreeable idea.  There are many things.


June 6th, 1970

Saturday, June 6th, 1970
Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Suzuki-roshi sitting in the old Tassajara Zendo

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



Saturday, June 6, 1970


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


[Note.  This lecture was given—as a general introduction—to Prof. Jack Weller’s visiting philosophy class following Lecture IV in Suzuki-rōshi’s series of lectures on the Sandōkai.]



Purpose of study of Buddhism is to have perfect understanding of things, and subjectively to understand ourselves, and especially what we are doing in our everyday life—what kind of activity we are involved in, [to] know why we suffer, [and why] we have such a conflict in our society or in our, you know, family, or within ourselves.  So to understand with good understanding of subjective world and objective world and what is going on in objective world and in within ourselves.


If we, you know, realize—  If we see things-as-it-is, and if we know—[are] aware of what we are doing actually, with good understanding of those things, we will, you know, know what we should do.  And this is, you know, intellectual understanding of—study of Buddhism.  And this intellectual study include dualistic study and non-dualistic study.  There are two ways of studying Buddhism.  And then what you should do is to have real experience of Buddhist way.  So study and our practice is different, you know.  Even though you have good understanding, you know, if you do not follow the way—follow your understanding, it will not help you.


We are now studying a kind of scripture, which was written by Chinese great Zen master, entitled Sandōkai.  And last night I explained, you know, what do we mean by “darkness” and what do we mean by “brightness,” you know.  Darkness means, you know, something which we cannot, you know, see or think about, you know.  It is something which is beyond our intellectual, you know, understanding.  That is darkness.  Darkness does not mean, you know, something—some dark, you know [laughs], place which you do not know.  Of course, we do not know what is going on at the darkness.  But you will [be] afraid of it.  You have a kind of fear if you are in dark place.  But what we mean by utter darkness means, you know, something which is beyond our understanding, you know.  This, you know, room is pretty dark right now, you know, but still you can see, you know, things in this room.  If there is no lighting, in utter darkness you cannot see anything.  But it does not mean there is nothing.  There is many things, but you cannot see, that’s all.


June 3rd, 1970

Wednesday, June 3rd, 1970

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Wednesday, June 3, 1970


Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 70-06-03


[Lecture starts 3/4 of the way through Side B of the original tape.]


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


Line   9        Mommon issai no kyō,

Line 10        ego to fuego to.

Line 11        Eshite sarani aiwataru.

Line 12        Shikara zare ba kurai ni yotte jūsu.


Line   9        The five sense gates and the five sense objects

Line 10        are interdependent and absolutely independent.

Line 11        Interrelated endlessly,

Line 12        yet each stays in its own position.]


Tape operator:  The beginning of the lecture, given on June third.


Suzuki-rōshi:  Last night [lecture?], I explained ri and ji.  And usual person stick to ji.  That is quite, you know, usual.  And characteristic of Buddhist—Buddha’s teaching is, you know, to go beyond things.  “Things” means the various being and various idea we have and we think.  Even though we say “truth,” truth usually means something we figure out, [something] we think.  That is truth.  But this truth as a—something which we can figure out or think about is also ji in Buddhism.  When we go beyond subjective and objective world, which is ji, we come to the understanding—oneness of everything, oneness of subjective—subjectivity and objectivity, oneness of inside and outside.


For an instance, if you sit zazen you are not thinking anything.  You are not watching anything.  Your focus is, you know, four feet—four, five feet ahead, but actually we are not watching anything.  Just focus is there, but we don’t watch anything.  Even though many ideas come, we do not think, you know.  It comes in and goes out, that’s all.  We do not entertain various idea, you know.  We do not serve [laughs] food or anything, you know.  If they come in, okay, and if they go out, okay [laughs].  That’s all [laughs].  That is zazen, you know.  When we, in that condition—in this kind of mind—when we have this kind of mind, our mind actually, you know, include everything.  Even though you do not try to include, you know, everything, actually everything is in your mind.


December 21st, 1969, second talk

Sunday, December 21st, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


December 21, 1969       

San Francisco



Everyone seeks for true happiness, but happiness cannot be true happiness if the happiness is not followed by perfect composure.  The—usually happiness does not stay long.  Happiness is mostly just very short time and it will be lost in next moment when you have it.  So, sometimes we will think rather not to have it because after happiness usually followed by sorrow and this is, I think, everyone experiences it in our everyday life.  Buddha, when he escaped—can you hear me?—when he escaped from his castle, he felt this kind of—he had this kind of happiness in his luxurious life in the castle, he at last forsake all of those, this kind of life, so we say he started his religious trip because of evanescence, because he felt evanescence of life.  That is why he started study of Buddhism.  I think we have to think about this point more.  I think everyone seeks for happiness, that is alright, but the point is what kind of—how to seek for happiness is the point.  But whether our way, whether the happiness we seek for is something which we can … it is something which is possible to have it .…  Surely there is—we have to seek his teaching more carefully.  He taught us the Four Noble Truths and first of all he taught us this world is world of suffering.  When we seek for suffering—happiness—to say this world is world of suffering is very, you know … you may be very much disappointed with your teacher.  World of suffering.  This world anyway is world of suffering, he says.  And he continues.  Why we suffer is this world is world of fantasy, everything changes.  When everything changes we seek for some permanent thing, we want everything to be permanent.  Especially when we have something good or when we see something beautiful or we want it to be always in that way.  But actually everything changes.  So that is why we suffer.  So if we seek for happiness even though we seek for happiness it is not possible to have it because we are expecting something to be always constant when everything changes.  So naturally we must have suffering.  So far, according to this teaching, we are—there is no other way for us to live in the world of suffering—that is the only way to exist in this world.


March 30th, 1969

Sunday, March 30th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi

Sunday, March 30, 1969

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-03-30

[The point of][1] … my talk is just to give you some help in your practice.  So it is just help, you know.  So there’s, as I always say, there is no need for you to remember what I said as something definite, you know.  I’m just trying to help you, so it is just support of your [laughs] practice.  So if you stick to it, it means that you stick to the support—not, you know, tree itself.  You know, a tree, when it is strong enough, it may want some support.  But the most important one is the tree itself, not support.

I have, you know, I am one tree, and each one of you are a tree of itself.  And by itself, you should, you know, stand up.  And when one tree stand up by itself, we call that tree a buddha.  In other word, when you, you know, practice zazen in its true sense, you are really buddha.  So buddha and tree is one, in that sense.  It may be sometime we call it a tree; sometime we call it a buddha.  “Buddha” or “tree” or “you” is many names of one buddha.

When you sit, you know, you are independent from various being, and you are related to various being.  And when you have perfect composure in your practice, it means that you include everything.  You are not just you. You are whole world or whole cosmos, and you are a buddha.  So when you sit, you are ordinary man, and you are buddha. So in this sense, you are both ordinary man, ordinary man, and buddha.  So you are not just ordinary man—ordinary man.  Before you sit, you know, stick to the idea of “you” or idea of self.  That is sheer [fear?] old [?] ordinary man.  But when you sit, you are both, you know, ordinary man and buddha.  So you are not the same being.  When you sit you are not same being before you sit.  Do [laughs] you understand?  Because, when you sit, you are ordinary man and buddha.