Posts Tagged ‘Windbell’

December 1962

Saturday, December 1st, 1962


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


December 1962  (Published Dec. 1962, Wind Bell No. 12)

The more we attempt to manage religious activity, the more we lose our fundamental way.  The more we study the teaching of Buddhism as if it were philosophy, the more we lose the original teaching.

The founder of Eihei-ji Monastery, Dōgen-zenji, respected students who sincerely practiced zazen (cross-legged meditation) rather than intelligent or learned students.  Dōgen emphasized organizing everyday life as the practice of Zen.  He felt that this was the proper activity for Buddhist.  When he spoke of the basic teaching of Buddhism, the transiency of life, he stressed it as an actual fact and not as a teaching of the sūtras.

Dōgen-zenji lost his father when he was three and his mother when he was eight.  His mother was a Fujiwara, the most eminent family of the time.  She had full experience of the teaching of transiency, and she wanted Dōgen to be a priest of great sincerity.  He decided to follow her will.  After his mother died and he sat by her cold body; he reached a profound understanding of impermanence, watching a few lines of incense smoke drift.  Dōgen said, “I can walk on the edge of a white blade.  I can do without food and drink, but it is not possible for me to forget my mother’s last words.”


November 1962

Thursday, November 1st, 1962

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



[Date unknown; thought to be 1962]

Um-mon Bun-en (Yun-men Wen-yen) was a disciple of Sep-pō (Hsueh-feng I-ts’un).  He died in 949.

Introductory Comments by Suzuki-rōshi

Each existence, animate and inanimate, is changing during every moment day and night.  The change is like flowing water which does not ever come back and which reveals its true nature in its eternal travel.

Water flowing and clouds drifting are similar to a well-trained old Zen master.  The true nature of water and clouds is like the determined, single-minded, traveling monks, who do not take off their traveling sandals even under the roof of sages.  Worldly pleasure, philosophical pursuit, or whimsical ideas do not interest the traveling monk, sincere to his true nature, for he does not want to be fat and idle.  Such a monk does not care for hospitality which would stop his travels.  He recognizes as true friends only those who travel with him on the way.


October 1962

Monday, October 1st, 1962


Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi



[Date unknown; thought to be 1962]

(Suzuki Roshi read first from R. D. M. Shaw’s translation of the Blue Cliff Record)

Introduction by Shaw[1]

The principal character in this model subject is Baso Dōitsu (Ma-tsu Tao-i) (704-768), the chief disciple of Nangaku Ejō (Nan-yueh Hai-jang), one of the disciples of the Chinese Sixth Patriarch, Daikan Enō (Hui-neng).

Introductory Word by Engo

Introducing, he said:  One gesture, one posture.  One word, one verse!  Now, if one plans such an approach (in teaching disciples), that is like gouging out wounds in good meat, making holes and cavities in it.  The Great Activity[2] is before us, manifest.  There are no regulations in it. If you plan to make known to men that there is an Absolute, throughout the whole heaven and the whole earth the search for it will not succeed.  Supposing one does attain, and what if one does not attain?  An extremely small matter.  Supposing one does not attain, what if one does attain?  An extremely critical matter.  And if you do not pass along either of these roads, what is the right thing to do? I tentatively put the matter before you.  Ponder it.

Main Subject by Setcho

Attention!  Baso the great teacher was unwell.  The temple’s chief accountant visited him.  “Sir, during these recent days, how is your health?”  The great teacher said:  “Sun-faced buddhas, moon-faced buddhas.”[3]


September 1962

Saturday, September 1st, 1962


(published September 1962, Wind Bell #10)

The Emperor Wu built many temples, translated many scriptures, and encouraged many men and women to believe in the monastic life.  The Emperor thought he would attain Nirvana as a result of these works he considered meritorious.

When Bodhidharma came to the Emperor’s land, the Emperor asked, “What is the Holy reality?”

Bodhidharma answered, “Emptiness, no Holiness.”

The Emperor asked again, “Who are you then?”

Bodhidharma said, “Something intangible (Holy reality).”


August 1962

Wednesday, August 1st, 1962



(published August 1962, Wind Bell #9)


A government official named Shiba visited Hyabujo Mountain and was taken by the great beauty there.  He decided to ask a monk to build a monastery on the mountain.

He chose between two monks, Karin and Isan (Reiyu Zenji).  Isan was chosen when Shiba watched the way he walked.  Karin, who was seen first, was not discouraged by not being chosen.  Years later when Karin was known as a famous Zen Master, he lived on a remote mountain and his Zen was known by birds and animals.

One day a government surveyor came across a hermitage on a mountain and found a great tiger standing at the gate.  The tiger disappeared into the hut, and soon an old Zen Master came out.  He was Karin.


July 1962

Sunday, July 1st, 1962


(published July 1962, Wind Bell #8)

Originality and universality are the same thing for a sincere student.  Universal truth must have an original approach for everyone.  Mind and body are one; subjective and objective worlds are one in our single minded practice.  Observing that mind and body are one, and that subjective and objective worlds are one, many people fear death.  Reasoning will not solve this problem.  Hakuin Zenji said, “If you want to know about life after death, ask the man who wants to know.” Thus there is no other way than to ask yourself, for this problem does not belong to the category of knowledge.  You yourself must solve it by practice.  Buddha’s practice after his enlightenment is not different from each individual’s practice before enlightenment, if there is no idea of self.  When you are engaged in selfless practice, you are free from the idea of past, present and future; from the idea of this world or another; from the idea of coming or going.



Checked by Gordon Geist 1999

June 1962

Friday, June 1st, 1962



(published June 1962, Wind Bell #7)


While you do zazen you will come to understand yourself completely and realize that there is no such thing as an “I” which exists.  Still, in this moment, there is something participating in cosmic activity.  In this moment, something exists as a part of cosmic activity, or as a part of temporal existence and in this way “I” has an absolute value in itself.

If you think, “I practice zazen,” that is a misunderstanding.  Buddha practices zazen, not you.  If you think, “I practice zazen,” there will be many troubles.  If you think, “Buddha practices zazen,” there will be no trouble.  Whether or not your zazen is painful or full of erroneous ideas, it is still Buddha’s activity.  There is no way to escape from Buddha’s activity.

Thus you must accept yourself and devote yourself to yourself, or to Buddha, or to zazen.  When you become yourself, zazen will become zazen.


May 1962

Tuesday, May 1st, 1962


(published May 1962, Wind Bell #6)

One day the World Honored one mounted the pulpit, and the first principle was proclaimed. Manjusri struck the table with a gavel and said, “The Law. Understand the Law. The Royal Law is like this.” The World Honored One came down from his seat. If you think what he proclaimed is the Royal Law, that is not right. The Royal Law was there when he was on the pulpit.

“Like this” was as strong as the sound of the gavel. If Manjusri had not struck the gavel, no one could know what was the Royal law. The World Honored One would not have had the chance to come down from his seat. You may say when Manjusri struck the gavel, Buddhism as we practice it began. If the World Honored One were to be always on the dais, no one could mount the dais after him.


Checked by Gordon Geist 1999

April 1962

Sunday, April 1st, 1962



(published April 1962, Wind Bell #5)

In an old scripture told by Buddha there are four lands, two of which are Hokkuroshu (uttara-kura) and Nanenbudai (jampudipa). In Hokkuroshu the people obtain their food without any farming. In order to cook, they just put a fire-stone under their pan. When they eat, there is always enough food. They are quite innocent. There are no thieves or bandits, no king or law. Life is without hazards.

However, in the land Nanenbudai life has many difficulties, as well as pleasures. Where there is joy there is sorrow, and where there is good there is evil.

In which land would you like to live?

Hokkuroshu is full of gold and jewels, and although you cannot stay in Hokkuroshu forever, you are supposed to live there for one thousand years.

Now then, which land would you prefer?


Checked by Gordon Geist 1999

March 1962

Thursday, March 1st, 1962


(published March 1962, Wind Bell #4)

The idea of emptiness does not mean annihilation. It means selfless original enlightenment, which gives rise to every existence. Once selfless enlightenment takes place, every subjective and objective existence resumes its own nature (Buddha-nature) and becomes valuable jewels to the person who has attained it and to us all.

In Mahayana Buddhism every teaching is supposedly based on the idea of emptiness. The Tendai Sect emphasizes the Lotus Sutra, the highest of all the sutras. The Kegon Sect bases their teaching on the Kegon Sutra, the first sutra told by Buddha about his original enlightenment. However, each sutra has its own incomparable absolute value when it is accepted under special circumstances.

Original enlightenment makes this acceptance possible. How we accept is the practice of zazen. This practice is called “the wondrous practice.” Oneness of enlightenment and wondrous practice is the ultimate purport of Zen Buddhism as well as Buddhism in general.


Checked by Gordon Geist 1999