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Sandokai Lecture Series
by Shunryu Suzuki that led to
Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness


For Shunryu Suzuki 's edited words see:
Szudzuki Sunrjú zen mester magyarul nyomtatásban és online:



A zen szellem, az örök kezdők szelleme
[ford. Halasi Sándor]
Buddhista Misszió, Budapest, 1987.
[Kalózkiadás: Farkas Lőrinc Imre Könyvkiadó,
Kerepes, 2002]
Online html

Zen szellem, a kezdő szellem
[ford. Boros Dókó László]
Budapest : Filosz, 2002

Nincs mindig úgy -
A zen igaz szellemének gyakorlása

[ford. Boros Dókó László]
Budapest : Filosz, 2006, 207 oldal

Tisztán ragyogó forrás -
Zen tanítások a Szandókairól
[ford. Fábián Gábor],
Budapest : Filosz, 2010, 208 oldal

Suzuki Shunryu: Te görbe uborka!
[ford. Halasi Sándor]


Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind:
Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
Weatherhill, 1970, 144 p.
PDF: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

HTML: Shunryu Suzuki original lectures
that led to "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind"

Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness:
Zen Talks on the Sandokai
Eds. Mel Weitsman and Michael Wenger,
University of California Press, 1999, 197 p.
PDF: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness

HTML: Shunryu Suzuki original lectures
that led to "Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness"

Not Always So:
Practicing the True Spirit of Zen
Edited by Edward Espe Brown
Harper Collins, 2002, 176 p.

HTML: Shunryu Suzuki original lectures
that led to "Not Always So"

Crooked Cucumber:
the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki
by David Chadwick
Broadway Books, 1999, 432 p.

Zen Is Right Here:
Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki
Edited by David Chadwick
Shambhala Publications, 2007, 160 p.

was originally published as
To Shine One Corner of the World:
Moments with Shunryu Suzuki.

Anecdote Index

Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

Chronology of Shunryu Suzuki's Life


Shunryu Suzuki
Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai

University of California Press: Berkeley, 1999, 194 p.

"The Sandokai - a poem by the eighth-century Zen master Sekito Kisen (Ch. Shitou Xiqian) - is the subject of these talks given by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, author of the influential Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Delivered in 1970 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the teachings reveal a Zen teacher in his prime elucidating for his Western students a venerated, ancient, and difficult work, one of the core texts of Zen. The poem addresses the question of how the oneness of things and the multiplicity of things coexist (or, as Suzuki Roshi expresses this complex thought, "things-as-it-is"). Included with the talks are questions from students and his direct answers to them, along with a meditation instruction."--BOOK JACKET.


Sandokai Lecture Series by Shunryu Suzuki (with cross-references to Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai. Berkeley, UC Press, 1999. ISBN 0-520-21982-1.)

Lecture 1: Wednesday, May 27, 1970
Transcripts: “I am so grateful -- ”
Branching Streams: “I am very grateful -- ”

Lecture 2: Saturday, May 30, 1970-- SR-70-05-30
Transcripts: “I explained in last lecture -- ”
Branching Streams: “In my first lecture I explained -- ”

Lecture 3: Monday, June 1, 1970-- SR-70-06-01
Transcripts: “After all, it's better to follow -- ”
Branching Streams: “'The spiritual source shines -- ”

Lecture 4: Wednesday, June 3, 1970-- SR-70-06-03
Transcripts: “Last night I explained ri and ji.”
Branching Streams: “In the last lecture I explained how people stick to ji -- ”

Lecture 5: Saturday, June 6, 1970-- SR-70-06-06 (Visiting class)
Transcripts: “Purpose of study of Buddhism is to have perfect -- ”
Branching Streams (Lecture 13): “The purpose of the study of -- ”

Lecture 6: Wednesday, June 10, 1970-- SR-70-06-10
Transcripts: “In my last lecture, although I did not literally -- ”
Branching Streams (Lecture 5): “Everything has its own nature and form -- ”

Lecture 7: Saturday, June 13, 1970-- SR-70-06-13
Transcripts: “As we have big blackboard, I want to explain -- ”
Branching Streams (Lecture 6): “According to Buddhist thought -- ”

Lecture 8: Wednesday, June 17, 1970-- SR-70-06-17
Transcripts: “In last lecture I explained the independency -- ”
Branching Streams (Lecture 7): “In my last lecture I explained -- ”

Lecture 9: Saturday, June 20, 1970-- SR-70-06-20
Transcripts: “ -- I must talk about mei and an --
Branching Streams (Lecture 8): “First I will talk about the two terms -- ”

Lecture 10: Thursday, June 25, 1970-- SR-70-06-25
Transcripts: “Now we are still talking about the reality --
Branching Streams (Lecture 9): “We are still talking about reality -- ”

Lecture 11: Saturday, June 27, 1970-- SR-70-06-27
Transcripts: “Today's lecture will be about how we observe -- ”
Branching Streams (Lecture 10): “Now I would like to talk about . -- ”

Short Zazen Talk: Sunday, June 28, 1970-- (No tape)
Transcripts: “You should sit zazen with your whole body -- ”
Branching Streams (Short Lecture): “You should sit zazen -- ”

Lecture 12: Saturday, July 4, 1970-- SR-70-07-04
Transcripts: “Tonight and tonight lecture and one more lecture -- ”
Branching Streams: (Lecture 11): “Koto means 'words' -- ”

Lecture 13: Monday, July 6, 1970-- SR-70-07-06
Transcripts: “Here it says: 'Ayumi o susumureba -- '.”
Branching Streams: (Lecture 12): “'Progress is not a matter of far -- '


Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture I
Wednesday, May 27, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 25)

[This is the first in a series of lectures on the Sandokai (Chin. Cantong qi or Tisan-tiung-chii), a poem by Sekito Kisen. Historical details of the series are appended to the end of this lecture. Japanese transliteration in all lectures is by Kazuaki Tanahashi (1999). English translation in all lectures is by Suzuki.]

[The following line of the Sandokai is discussed in this lecture:

Line 1 Chikudo daisen no shin

Line 1 The mind of the great sage of India]

I am so grateful to have chance to discuss about or to talk about Sandokai. This is one of the most important teaching for us. And meaning is so deep, and the expression is so smooth, that it is, you know, pretty difficult to have some feeling, you know, when you read it.

Sekito Musai-daishi (his posthumous name is Musai-daishi), and he is [dharma] grandson of the Sixth Patriarch [Eno] and son of Seigen, the Seventh Patriarch. As you know, under the Sixth Patriarch there were many disciples, but the most important disciples are Nangaku and Seigen-- Seigen and Nangaku. And later, under Seigen, Tozan appeared, and under Nangaku, Rinzai appeared. And Rinzai and Soto is the most powerful schools under the Sixth Patriarch.

Sekito's, you know, way-- Seigen's way is more gentle in comparison to Nangaku's way. And Sekito's [Seigen's] way may be, you know, elder brother's way, you know, who is mostly gentle [laughs], you know. Nangaku's way is, you know, maybe like second boy or third boy's way, who is rather naughty [laughs]. You know, in Japan, mostly, if someone is very gentle, you may be the first son [laughs], we say, you know. And sometime the first boy is not so able [laughs]. We say “Soryo no jin roku.” You know, Soryo no-- the first one, first boy is mostly very gentle. And we, you know, understand in that way when we talk about Soto and Rinzai. Tatsugami Roshi put emphasis on memmitsu no kafu. That is more Soto way. Memmitsu is “very careful” and “very considerate” and “very,” anyway, “very careful” in doing things. That is more Seigen's way.

Anyway, Sekito, who wrote this poem, was is the [dharma] grandson of the Sixth Patriarch. His way, in one word, to find everything in his mind. So in other word, to have the Great Mind which include everything is his way of practice. So if you read this Sandokai, you will understand this point clearly.

Usually, you know, our understanding is, you know, to-- we-- even though we say “to observe things-as-it-is,” you know, actually we are not observing things-as-it-is when we think, you know, “Here is my friend,” you know, “There is a mountain,” “There is the moon,” you know. When we say so, the friend or mountain or the moon is not, you know, the moon itself, or the mountain itself, or your friend himself. It is, you know-- friend-- You, you know, think [laughs] your friend is your friend. The friend you think, you know, the mountain. The moon, you think, the moon. It is not actually the moon itself, or friend himself, or mountain itself.

You think, you know, “Here is I. And there is mountain,” you know. In this case, when you observe things in that way, that is dualistic way of observing things. “Here is a-- There is a mountain,” you know. “I must climb up that mountain when I go to San Francisco. San Francisco is there [laughs], and I am here. So after climbing up that mountain, I have to go to San Francisco, which is,” you know, “Bay Area.” That is how we understand things.

That is not actually Buddhist way of observing things. We find, you know, the mountain, or San Francisco, or the moon within ourselves right here. That is, you know, our understanding. That is the mind, so-called-it “big mind,” you know. Within the big mind everything exist. To see things is not like, you know, to find out things which is on the-- in the shelf, you know, one, two, three, four [laughs]. That is, you know-- Most people understand things in that way. But in that case, you know, “I am here, my mind is here, and there are many things on the shelf. And one, two, three, four.”

The Sandokai, you know, Sandokai: “San” is “things,” you know, “san” is “three.” San–do–kai. “San” is “three”; “do” is “sameness.” “Do” means “same,” you know. To identify something with something else is “do”. And “san” is “three.” “Do” is actually “oneness” or “one whole being,” which means “Great Mind.” The san is “many beings.” San.

“Kai” means, you know, the-- Actually, we think there is one big whole being which include everything, and there is many things which we find in one whole big being-- great being. So san–do. Even though we say “many things,” or actually it is many parts of one whole big being, including all of us. So if you say “many,” that is many. If you say “one,” that is one. “Many” or “one” is, you know, different way of describing one whole being.

To have complete understanding of this relationship between one big whole being and many things which exist in one big whole being is kai, you know. The, you know-- Kai means, “to shake hand.” “Hi,” [laughs], “how are you?” [laughs]. When you shake hands, you know, you feel, you know, really one. You feel-- You have real feeling of friendship, you know. So “many things” and “one whole being which include many things” is a good friend, you know, or more than friend, because it is originally one. If you say “many,” that is many; if you say “one,” that is one. So two names of same thing [laughs] should be very good friend, you know. It is originally more than “good friend.” So we say, kai. “Hi, how are you?” That is kai. This is the name of the, you know, this sutra: Sandokai.

Originally this title, Sandokai, is the title of Daoist book, you know. But in the same title, you know, he [Sekito] described Buddha's teaching in almost same way, and under the same title. That is what he tried [to do].

And what is the difference between Daoism and, you know, Buddhism is-- Do you know-- someone knows what is the difference? Very similar, you know. If you read it, you know, as a book it is maybe same. But way we read is different, you know. When Buddhist read it, that is Buddhist book; when Daoist, you know, read it, that is Daoism. It is rather, you know-- It is actually same, you know, vegetable [laughs], but if Buddhist eat it, you know, that is, you know, Buddhist food; and if, you know, vegetarian people eat it [laughs], that is vegetarian food. There us it is just food [laughs]. There is that kind of difference.

Now we, you know-- The way we eat food, you know, is not just because the vegetable-- some-- a kind of vegetable has some particular nourishment, you know-- you know, yang, or acid, or alkaline. We, you know-- To eat food is part of our practice [laughs]. That is the difference. We, you know-- For sake of practice we eat food. Not just to take nourishment-- to help our way, to practice Buddha's way, we eat food-- not just to support ourselves as a, you know, human being or as a kind of animal like, you know, like this [laughs].

That is, you know, to treat-- to eat food or to understand food or things as they-- as something which exist with or without not much, you know, relationship or not much contact with our practice is Daoist way. And Buddhist way is to practice our way, we eat food. So it include always our mind, our practice: not small mind, big mind-- which include things. And if we, you know, think, “This is just vegetable,” you know, that is not our way. We must treat things as a part of ourselves, which exist in our practice or in our big mind. Do you understand this point?

Why we, you know-- In other word, in another word, small mind means mind which is under limitation of desires, or some particular emotional, you know, understanding of, or some discrimination of good or bad, you know. “this is good,” and “this is bad.” So actually, even though you think you are observing things-as-it-is, but actually you are not. Why? Because of our discrimination, because of our desires, we are not observing things-as-it-is.

So Buddhist way is, after trying very hard to eliminate, you know, this kind of emotional discrimination or prejudice of good or bad, you know-- to see things-as-it-is. After doing so, it is possible to see things-as-it-is.

So, you know, when we say “thing-as-it-is,” means to practice hard to get rid of our, you know, desires-- not to get rid of, or [but rather] to know, to count our desires-- to calculate [laughs], you know. If there is computer [laughs], you must put, you know, the data, as a-- one of the data will be our desire, you know. This much desire [laughs]. And this much nourishment. And this kind of color. And how heavy is it, you know. So one of-- We should count our desires in it. Then you will see the thing-as-it-is.

So usually we don't count our desires, you know. Without reflecting on our selfish judgment we say, “He is good” or “bad.” Someone who is bad, you know, to me is not always bad, you know. To someone else he may be a good person, you know. In this way, we see things-as-it-is. So when we have, when we understand the mind transmitted from Buddha to us, we can see things-as-it-is.

This is buddha mind. Chikudo daisen no shin, you know. Chikudo is “India,” you know, Chikudo. Daisen [means] “great sage.” No shin: Shin is “mind,” big mind which include everything. Chikudo daisen no shin. Shin of the great sage, daisen, of-- in India. Chikudo. So Chikudo is “in India.” Daisen is “great sage.” No is “of.” And shin is mind. “Mind of,” you know, “great sage in India” [laughs]. It [the order of characters] goes opposite way, you know. Chikudo daisen no shin, you know. “In India, great sage of mind.” “Mind of great sage in India.”

That is the buddha's mind which include everything. In other word, the mind we have when we practice zazen is the great mind in which we don't try to see anything, you know. We stop thinking. We stop emotional activity, you know. We just sit. Whatever happen to us, we just sit. If something happen, you know, we are not bothered by it. It, you know, it is like something happen in the great sky [laughs]. Sky doesn't care [laughs] whatever happen to the sky. What kind of bird fly, the sky doesn't care. The great sky doesn't care. Even the atomic bomb [laughs]. It doesn't care, you know. That is the mind transmitted from Buddha to us.

When we sit, you know, maybe many things will happen. You may hear the sound from the stream. You may think of something, but your mind does not care. Your great mind is there, just sitting. Even though you don't see things or you don't hear, you don't think you are hearing anything, you don't think you are thinking something, maybe, you know, something is going on in the big mind. And that is the way, you know, how we observe things, you know. We don't say “good” or “bad,” you know. We just sit. And we say, “Oh, good morning,” that's all, you know. And we enjoy, you know, things. But we have no special, you know, attachment to it. At that time, we have full appreciation of it, but that's all. One after another, things will happen to us in that way-- with full appreciation. That is the mind which is transmitted from Buddha. That is, you know, at the same time how we practice zazen.

So if you do not practice zazen, you know, even though you enjoy some event or something, later it will cause some trouble to you [laughs], you know. Do you understand this point [laughs]? I think you have various experience of this kind. You know, because you think, you know, “This is it! It should be like this.” [Laughs.] If someone makes some opposition to you, you will be angry. “No! It should be like this!” “Zen Center should be like this!” [laughs], you know. Maybe so, but it is not always so. If time changes, you know, if, you know, we-- Zen Center student lose Tassajara [laughs] and move to some other mountain [laughs], the way we have here cannot be the way we will have some other place, you know.

So we shouldn't stick to some particular way, and we should be always open our mind, you know, to observe things-as-it-is, and to accept things-as-it-is. Without this preparation, if you say, you know, “This is the mountain,” “This is your friend,” “This is the moon,” the moon will not be the moon itself. That is, you know, difference between so-called-it “naturalism” and Buddhist way.

So Buddha's teaching is the teaching of or study of human nature, you know [laughs]-- how we should study, how foolish we are, you know, what kind of desire we have, or what kind of discrepancy we have. Or what kind of tendency we have. So my motto is, you know [laughs]-- I don't know how to explain it [laughs]-- my motto is-- I am always, you know, careful-- I always remember in your word, you know, “to be liable to,” you know, liable to. We are liable to live like this. We are liable to say in this way. When, you know, we should be, you know-- We should remember this word: “liable to” or “tendency.” You know, this is-- “Tendency,” you may say, “The tendency is also the thing itself,” but if you say so, it means that you ignore yourself.

Mmm. Just before I-- When I was preparing for this lecture, someone came and asked me about self-respect, you know. “What is self-respect? How we obtain the self-respect?” Self-respect is not something which you can, you know, feel you have [laughs]. Do you understand? When you feel, “I have self-respect,” that is not self-respect anymore. When you are just like this, you know, without thinking anything, without trying to saying something special, just to talk what, you know, I have in our mind and how I feel, you know, then there is naturally self-respect.

So when we are, you know, closely related to you all and to everything, then, you know, I am a part of one big whole being, you know. When I feel something, you know, we-- I am not exactly, you know-- maybe almost a part of it [laughs], but not quite. When I don't feel anything, and when I do something without any feeling of doing something, then that is you yourself. When you are completely with everyone, you don't feel you are who you are. That is self-respect.

So when you feel you are someone, you know, you have to practice hard-- you have to practice zazen harder. Actually, it is, as you know, it is very difficult, you know, to sit without thinking, without feeling. When you don't think, you're very [laughs]-- you will sleep, you know [said quietly, almost as aside]. [Laughs.] Without sleeping, to be you yourself without thinking, that is our practice. When you are able to do that, you will be able to say things without thinking too much, without having any purpose. Just to express yourself you speak, you do something. That is self-respect. That is complete self-respect.

So how you obtain this kind of self-respect is maybe to practice zazen, to [be] strict with yourself, especially to be strict with your tendency. Everyone has, you know, their own way which is peculiar to himself and which is not universal to everyone. So we must know that. But if you try to get rid of it, it is just try to not to think in your practice. Try to not to hear the sound of the stream. That is impossible [laughs, laughter]. It is not possible. So let your ear hear it, let your mind think about something, but without trying to think, without trying to hear, without trying to stop it, you know. That is practice.

So more and more you will have this kind of habit, or strength, or whatever you say. Or power of practice. If you practice hard, you will be like a boy or a girl again, or children, you know. When we are talking about self-respect, you know, some bird [laughs] was singing outside. “Peep-peep-peep-peep.” [Laughs, laughter.] That is self-respect. “Peep-peep-peep-peep.” It doesn't mean anything [laughs]. Maybe, you know, it is-- he was just, you know, singing, or even without trying to sing, it goes some, you know, “peep-peep-peep-peep” in various way [laughs]. If you hear it we couldn't stop laughing, you know, smiling. It has-- We cannot say it is just a bird [laughs]. It controls whole world-- whole mountain. That is, you know, self-respect.

So that we can have this kind of everyday life, this kind of practice, we, you know, study hard. When we come to this point, there is no need to say “one whole big being” or -- [tape changed] big being, you know. There is no need to say “bird” or “one big whole being” or “many things which is included in one big whole being.” It may be just a bird. It may be just a mountain -- [tape changed again!] -- Sandokai, you know [laughs]. Very, you know-- If you understand really this point, there will be no need to recite Sandokai [laughs]. Chikudo daisen no shin -- [laughs]. This is Chinese. Or it is Chinese or Japanese [laughs]. There is no need-- It is not matter of Chinese or Japanese. It is just a bird. But, you know--

This is just my talk [laughs]. It does not mean much, but-- So we say Zen is not something to talk about. It is something which you experience in its true sense and which will be very difficult. Anyway, this world is difficult, so don't worry [laughs]. Anyway, this world is not so easy. Wherever you go, you will have problems you should confront with. So it may be-- It is much better to have this kind of problem rather than you know, mixed-up various kinds of problems.

Hmm. Excuse me. What time is it?

Student: 9:25.

Oh. Just right time.

Student: 9:45.

Too late? Okay.

Student: Too early.

Too early [laughs, laughter].

Student: What's the next feature?

“Next feature” [laughs, laughter].

Student A [DC]: Can I ask you a question?

Mm-hmm. “What will be the next part”? Hai.

DC: You did not say, I don't think-- I didn't hear you say what “Sandokai” means together. You said what each word means, but I didn't--

SR: San is “three,” you know.

DC: No, no. You said what each word means. But together, what does “Sandokai” mean?

SR: Sandokai means, you know-- It is difficult, you know, to say in one word [laughs]. You know-- To express, you know, one big mind, you know, he [Sekito] picked out this three words: San–do–kai. And the teaching is, “What is many? What is one? And what is oneness of one and many?” That is kai, you know. So that is-- The title is-- It is the title of Buddhist big mind or transmitted mind. There is no other way to say it. Okay? Hai.

Student B [Mel Weitsman]: The other day when I was doing the mokugyo, there was this small spider that crawled across the top of the mokugyo. And there was nothing I could do [laughs, laughter]. I went a little bit off to the side, you know, but he went right into it. It was too powerful for him to escape, you know. And the next--

SR: You didn't kill it.

Mel Weitsman: Something did [laughs, laughter].

SR: By mistake. Happened in that way.

Mel Weitsman: Yeah, but I couldn't stop.

SR: But you hit some other place.

Mel Weitsman: Some other place, but he still went right into it.

SR: Yeah. You know, it can't be helped. Buddha killed him [laughs, laughter]. He may be very happy. Mokugyo [as an aside to someone]. Yeah, you know, to live in this world is not so easy.

Mel Weitsman: No.

SR: Not at all easy, you know. When you see children playing, you know, by the stream or, you know, on the bridge, you will be really scared, you know. And I think-- I always thought, “Oh, how can I survive,” you know, “in this way? How could I survive without, you know, “making any accident? On the freeway, many cars is going zoom, zoom, zoom.” Something happens, that's all. You know, it is very-- It is-- If you think, you know, about it, if you stop and see and think, you know, you will be terrified [laughs].

You know, in Kashmir-- oh no, not Kashmir-- Do you know someone who is 165 years old who has more than two hundred, you know, boys and girls, son and grandson, and great-grandson [laughs]. He may think, you know, sometime, you know-- He may, if he think about each one of them, he may be scared of-- He may lose, you know, easily one of them in this busy life.

So if you, you know, think about our practice, it can be a very strict practice. It can be, you know. You should be ready to kill something even you are Buddhist. Whether it is good or bad [laughs], you should do that sometime. It is inevitable, you know, to survive without killing anything. So, you know, what kind-- We cannot survive by some feeling, you know. We must have deeper-- We must be involved in deeper practice than emotional practice. That is the strict side of our practice. And if it is absolutely necessary, you know, you should stop hitting mokugyo even though, you know, all of us get into confusion. Yeah. Sometime. Not so easy. Hai.

Student C: Would you explain more what you mean by “strict practice”?

SR: “Strict practice”? Things is, you know, going in very strict way. There is no exception, you know. If you read this, you know, you will see he refers to this point. Where there is something, there is some rule behind it, or truth behind it, which is always-- which is going strictly, you know, controlling things without any exception. We think we care for freedom, you know [laughs], but the other side of the freedom is strict rule. Within the strict rule there is complete freedom. The freedom and, you know, strict rule is not two separate thing. Or it does not mean to put someone in strict rule. Originally we are supported by strict rules or truths, you know. That is the other side of the absolute freedom.

Student C: Could you give us more examples in our individual lives?

SR: When you get up you should get up [laughs]. When everyone sleep you should sleep. That is example [laughs]. Hai.

Student D: Sometimes we think there is some special situation at Tassajara. How do we know if we should, at that time, follow the strict way or if we should perhaps make an exception?

SR: Mm-hmm. That is, you know, that is why we divide our responsibility, you know. With your responsibility, you know, you should decide. Almost all the time, we have no time to discuss things with someone else. If you discuss something with someone else, you will be too late [laughs, laughter]. So you have to take your [own] responsibility by name of Craig [?] [laughs]. That is inevitable. If you make mistake, that is your mistake. So if you decide things in that way, you know, the things will go more smoothly without being involved in idea of good or bad, you know. Hai.

Student E [Reb Anderson?]: My responsibility is such that it's very easy for me to follow the strict way, because that is part of my responsibility. Other people have somewhat different situations, and sometimes, because my responsibility is to follow strictly, we have some discussion, and I sometimes think that maybe they should do different than me. Is that right?

SR: Yeah. Sometime you should shut your eyes [laughs, laughter]. You are unfortunate to see something, you know. If you see it, you should say something, so maybe it help to practice your way, you know, without, you know, without looking around. And that is the best way, you know, actually. If you look around, you know, if you see this side of the people [in the zendo], the other side of the people will [laughs] will sleep, you know. If you watch this side, the other side will sleep [laughs, laughter]. Oh, it's better not to see anything [laughs, laughter]. They don't know what he is doing, you know. “He may not be sleeping,” [laughs], “so all of us will,” you know, “stay awake.” That is the advantage of zazen practice. You know, if you see something, you know, that's all. The rest of the things will be ignored. If you don't see anything [laughs], you cannot ignore anything. So that is the big mind which include everything.

If someone moves, you know, you will notice [laughs]. Even though you don't try to see it, if some sound come you will catch it. But if you stick to someone, you know, the rest of people will be very happy [laughs, laughter]. If you don't catch anyone, you know, no one can move.




Warm Hand to Warm Hand
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture II
Sunday, May 30, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 37)

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

Line 2 tozai mitsuni aifusu.
Line 3 Ninkon ni ridon ari,
Line 4 do ni namboku no so nashi.

Line 2 was handed down closely from west to east.
Line 3 People may discriminate the dull from the keen,
Line 4 but in the true way there is no Patriarch of North or South.]

I explained in last lecture about the title of this scripture, Sandokai-- what does it mean by San-do-kai and Chikudo daisen no shin. Tonight, maybe, it is necessary to explain about the background of this poem-- why Sekito Zenji-- Sekito Kisen Daiosho, wrote this poem.

As you know, under the Fifth Patriarch there were outstanding teacher who is called Jinshu, and when the Fifth Patriarch announced that he will give transmission to someone, and everyone thought that, of course, Jinshu will receive the transmission. But actually Eno, the Sixth Patriarch-- Eno who became the Sixth Patriarch-- Eno who was pounding rice in the corner of the temple received the transmission.

But Jinshu was a great scholar. So later Jinshu became-- went to the northern country and became a great teacher. And Jinshu's school was called Northern-- Hoku Zen-- Northern School of Zen, Hoku Zen, Hoku Zen. And the Sixth Patriarch, who went to south, spread his teaching in southern countries, and his school was called Nan Zen, Southern-- South Zen.

Later, as you know, Jinshu's school became-- after Jinshu, his school became weaker and weaker. But in north, the Sixth Patriarch's school became, after the Sixth Patriarch, stronger and stronger. But at Sekito's time, you know-- Sekito is the Eighth Patriarch, Eno is the Sixth Patriarch, and Seventh Patriarch is Seigen. And Seigen's disciple is Sekito. Sekito is the author of this poem. In Sekito's time, Hoko-shu or Northern Zen was still powerful. But there were another disciple. Of course, Sixth Patriarch had many, many disciples. Maybe more than fifty. We can count fifty, but there must be more disciples under the Sixth Patriarch.

And one of-- there were a disciple whose name is Kataku Jinne. Kataku Jinne denounced the Northern Zen, which is, you know, Jinshu's Zen, pretty strictly, and he was a very active person. And what he said was not exactly-- we cannot accept his teaching, you know, as a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch. Not exactly so, but he was very alert and active person. And he denounced, or his disciple, denounced the Northern Zen a lot.

So [in] Sekito's time there was, you know, some conflict between Southern Zen, which is Eno (Eno's, the Sixth Patriarch's) Zen, and Jinshu's Zen. So Sekito Kisen, the author of this poem, wanted to solve this, you know-- wanted to make this dispute clear from his own viewpoint. This is, you know, why he wrote this poem.

So he-- first of all, he started by Buddha's teaching, you know, Buddha's teaching, which is the teaching “a Great Mind of Sage in India,” you know. That is the first thing he started to say. And it says:

[Line 1] The mind of the Great Sage of India
[Line 2] Flowed unseen from west to east.
[Translation by Reiho Masunaga.]

“Flowed unseen from west to east.” Tozai mitsuni aifusu. In Chinese, tozai mitsuni aifusu. To means, you know, “China.” And zai-- ”east” [west] means India. “In India and China, Buddha's great mind [was] transmitted all over, unseen-- flowed unseen from west to east.”

And next, you know, you don't have translation. And next sentence is not like this, you know. I have here someone's translation, but next, if you follow the order of the sentences, next one will be: “People discriminate the dull from the wit.” This is-- it means, you know, dispute between-- which is better, you know, Northern School or, you know, Southern School? People, you know, say “Northern School is better,” or “Southern School is better.” People may-- people say so, you know. It is actually, you know, it means, it means the dispute between Southern School and Northern School. And a strong criticism of [by] Kataku Jinne, Kataku Jinne. Kataku Jinne. Kataku Jinne is-- was born 668 and died 670 [760]. Kataku Jinne. He is-- he was-- at that time, you know, maybe you must have studied the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. That sutra was compiled, maybe, compiled by someone who is under the strong influence of Kataku Jinne. So in that sutra , you know, Jinshu's teaching is pretty badly denounced, you know. Jinshu was not so good, you know. Only the Sixth Patriarch [laughs] was great teacher. It seems in that way because, maybe, the sutra was compiled by someone under the influence of Kataku Jinne. Anyway, this kind of dispute was very strong at that time.

[Line 1] The mind of the Great Sage of India
[Line 2] Flowed unseen from west to east.
[Translation by Reiho Masunaga.]

It means that, you know, Sekito knows, you know, the true teaching of the great sage of Shakyamuni Buddha, which will include both Southern School and Northern School without any, you know, contradiction. From his viewpoint, you know, there is no need to, you know, to fight [laughs]. Because they don't understand real teaching of Buddha, they get into dispute. That is what he mean [laughs].

[Line 1] The mind of the Great Sage of India
[Line 2] Flowed unseen from west to east.
[Translation by Reiho Masunaga.]

You know, although they may not understand, you know, the teaching of the great sage, Shakyamuni Buddha, but his teaching flowed all over. If you have the eyes to see or have the mind to understand his teaching, you will understand it. And if you understand it, there is no-- it is not necessary to be involved in this kind of dispute. Actually, it meaned this kind of thing. “Flowed unseen from west to east.”

And next sentence is-- I translate it in this way: “People discriminate the dull from the wit.” “The dull from the wit.” It does-- [laughs] does it make sense [laughs]?

Student [DC]: “The dull from the sharp.”

Mm-hmm. “Dull from sharp” or--

[Conversation in background between students: “Dull from sharp” vs. ”Dull from wit.”]

“Dull,” you know, it means that-- it is, you know, difficult to translate. Jokon gekon, we say. Jokon means “better-- those who has,” you know, “more appropriate capacity of potentiality to understand Buddha's teaching” is someone who [is] not only alert, you know, or sharp, or clever. The cleverness is sometime barrier of-- clever people sometime cannot understand Buddha's teaching. “Some,” you know, “appropriate potentiality,” you know-- that is Jokon. Gekon means, you know-- Gekon means “someone who-- people who find it difficult to understand, to accept Buddha's teaching.” But this is not so important, you know, in this sutra . This is [in] some rhetorical sense he says:

[Line 3] People discriminate the dull from the wit,
[Line 4] but true way has no patriarch of south or north.
[Translation by Shunryu Suzuki.]

You know, this is important [laughs]. “True way has no patriarch of south or west [north].” No patriarch, you know, of the Sixth Patriarch or Jinshu. Jinshu is good, and the Sixth Patriarch is good. And Jinshu is good for someone who study things literally, you know. And the Sixth Patriarch's teaching will be good for some, you know, someone who has quick, sharp mind- [partial word]-- -minded fellow.

But although, you know, according to the people, you know, teaching someone explained Buddha's teaching in detail, so that he can understand words after words. But for someone it is necessary to, you know, to point at the point without using so many words. So it is up to the people, but not-- but for the great teacher, you know, there is no difference. Great teacher can be, you know, even [if] he is really great teacher, there is no difference in his true understanding. But his way of explaining teaching will be different.

“The people discriminate the dull from the wit,” or-- ”but true way has no patriarch of south or north.” Tozai mitsuni aifusu. “Flows-- flowed unseen.” Unseen is this-- mitsuni. Mitsuni aifusu. Memmitsu no kafu. This is mitsuni. Mitsuni means, you know, “not secret.” Sometime it means “secret,” but “unseen” looks like “secret,” but this “unseen” may not be so good a translation. Mitsuni means “exactly,” you know, “exactly”-- without no gap between the two.

Here the main purpose of this Sandokai is to explain reality from both side. The title is Sandokai: San means “many”; do means “one.” And what is “many”? And what is “one”? Many is one; one is many. If you really understand reality, even though you say “many,” each one of things are not separated from the other, you know. It is closely related. If so, it is one. But even though it is one, it looks like many [laughs]. So “many” is right, and “one” is right. So even though we say “one,” we cannot ignore, you know, various being like stars and moons and, you know, animals and fish-- the various being.

But although they are many, they do not exist separately; they are not separated from each other; they are closely related. So that is-- from this point, we say they are interdependent. So “one” is-- when we, you know, discuss about the meaning of each being, we say “many.” We have many things to discuss. But if we come to the conclusion, or if we come to the real understanding or reality, you know, in fact it is just one. So all the discussion will be included [in] one real understanding of things. So “one” and “many” is very famous words. One and many.

And the other-- another way to explain it, the reality, is differentiation. Differentiation is [laughs] equality. Equality. Equal value-- things has equal value because they are different. You know, if man and woman is same [laughs], “man” and “woman” has no value. Because man and woman is different, “man” is valuable and “woman” is also valuable. So to be different is to have value. So in this sense, we have equal value-- equal absolute value. Everything has absolute value, which is equal to everyone. But usually, you know, we are involved in the standard of evaluation, exchange value, you know, materialistic value, or spiritual value, or moral value. “Morally he is good,” you know. “He is not so good.” You know, if you-- because you have some standard, you can say, “He is good.” Moral standard will define the value of people. But the moral standard changes always [laughs], so, you know, virtuous person is not always so. If you compare [him] with someone who is like Buddha, he is not so good [laughs]. So “good” or “bad” is caused by some evaluation-- standard. But the truth, you know-- things-- because things are different, you know, because of the difference, everything has its own value. That is, you know-- that value is absolute value. Mountain is not, you know, valuable because it is high. Or river is not less valuable because it is low. Because mountain is-- because mountain is high, on the other hand, you can say, because mountain is high, mountain is mountain. And it has absolute value. The water is-- because water runs lower valley, you know, it is valuable. Because, you know, mountain-- quality of mountain and quality of the river is completely different. Because it is different it is-- it has equal value. “Equal” means absolute value.

So if we say-- if we evaluate things from absolute viewpoint, it has equal value. So, you know, equality is, you know, differentiation, according to Buddhism. Differentiation is equality. So in usual sense, you know, differentiation is opposite to equal, but we understand equality and differentiation is same thing. And one and many is same [laughs]. If you think “one” is different from “many,” that is wrong-- your understanding is too materialistic and too superficial.

Anyway, so it says:

[Line 1] The true mind of the great sage of India
[Line 2] flowed unseen from west to east.
[Translation by Suzuki-- close to Masunaga's.]

This kind of true mind, you know, this kind of understanding of reality started by Buddha, flowed unseen from west to east. Whether you understand or not, what Buddha says is true. So “unseen from west to east.” But people easily get into confusion, you know, because of the evaluation of things-- discrimination. Dull from wit-- the wit. Dullness or sharpness. But from the standpoint of the patriarch, you know, it is same. There is no-- for the Patriarch-- Patriarchs-- all the Patriarchs understand this point. So there is no Northern Patriarch or Southern Patriarch.

Ninkon: nin, “human”; kon is, you know, kon, is kikon-- it-- ki-kon. And this is, you know, technical term of Buddhism-- kikon. And sometime we say rikon. Ri is “sharp,” or someone who has advantage in studying or accepting Buddha's teaching. Ri. Don is “dull.” But here [in the Sandokai], you know, [we have] ridon: “dull”-- someone who is dull has great advantage in studying Buddhism [laughs]. It is not, you know, always dull person bad to study Buddhism. Clever one is not always have advantage in studying Buddhism. But temporarily we divide our human potentiality into rikon and donkon. Dull one is good because he is dull [laughs]; sharp one is good because he is sharp [laughs]. You cannot compare, you know, and you cannot say which is good. Do you understand this point [laughs]?

I'm not so sharp so [laughs] I understand very well [laughs, laughter]. My master always called me, “You crooked cucumber!” [Laughs.] “Crooked cucumber.” The first-- I was the last disciple of my teacher, you know, but I became the first one [laughs] because good cucumber ran away [laughs, laughter]. All the good ones run away. Maybe they are too smart.

I was not smart enough to run away [laughs, laughter], so I was caught [laughs, laughter]. That is, you know, for studying Buddhism, you know, my, you know, dullness was advantage, you know. If I were a sharp, you know, fellow, I should have run away [laughs] with them [laughs]. When I was left alone, I was very sad, you know: “Oh, no-- ” But when I left home, you know, I left home by my own choice. I told my parents, “I will go.” [Laughs.] And they said, “You are too young, so you have to stay more here.” But I must go, and I left my parents, so, you know, I couldn't go back. I could, but I thought I couldn't [laughs]. So, you know, I have nowhere to go. That is one reason. Another reason was I was not smart enough [laughs].

So, you know, smart one is not-- haven't-- smart one haven't always advantage, you know, and dull one-- dull person is good because he is dull. We understand in this way. So actually there is no dull person or no smart person. It is same. Anyway, it is not so easy [laughs]. It is difficult. For the smart person, there is some difficulty for smart person. For dull one, there is some difficulty, you know, for dull person. For an instance, to study, you know, he must study hard, and he must read one book over and over again because he is not smart. But smart one forget [laughs] quite easily, you know. He may learn it very quickly, but, you know, what he learn does not stay so long for smart people's mind. But dull people, you know [laughs], for dull one it takes time to remember something, so over and over we should read it. If you read it over and over and remember it, it will not go so soon. So, you know, maybe same thing.

[Line 3] Ninkon ni ridon ari,
[Line 4] do ni namboku no so nashi.

“In the true way there is no Northern Patriarch or Southern Patriarch.” That is very true. That is, you know, Sekito's understanding. By the way, Sekito was the-- actually the Sixth's Patriarch's disciple. But after the Sixth Patriarch passed away, he became disciple of Seigen. That kind of things happens, you know, very often. I have some disciples here, maybe, you know, but if I die, those who cannot be-- couldn't be my disciple will be disciple of some of, you know, disciple of my disciple, you know. Sekito was one of them like that.

Here, you know, to study Buddhism is not like to study something, you know-- it takes time. Until you accept the teaching completely, it takes time.

And the most important point is, you know-- you yourself rather than your teacher, you know. You yourself study hard. And what you receive from your teacher is the spirit of study, you know, to spirit to study. That spirit will be, you know, transmitted from warm hand to warm hand, you know. You should do it. That's all [laughs]. There is nothing to transmit to you.

And what you learn is-- maybe from books or from the other teachers, so that is why we have teacher-- master and teacher. Teacher could be various great teacher. Master is one, and we-- master's disciple is-- we call deshi, “disciple.” And for the-- for the students, whether he is his disciple or not, the student like this, like Zen Center. Some of you are-- is my, you know, disciple. Some of you are not my disciple. Then, those who are not my disciple is called zuishin. Zuishin is “follower,” or-- and he may stay, you know, pretty long time under some teacher. Sometime longer than the period he stay with his master.

My, my tea [incomplete word-- ”teacher”?]-- when I was thirty-two, my teacher passed away-- my master passed away. So after that I studied, you know, under [Ian] Kishizawa Roshi. So most of the understanding, you know, I have is Kishizawa Roshi's understanding. But-- but my master is-- Gyokujun So-on is my master.

So, anyway, in the true way has no patriarch of south or north. True way is one, you know.

[Sentence finished. Tape turned over. It resumes with Suzuki and students laughing.]

Our practice is not to put [gather] something in your basket. We don't force it, but it is rather to find something in your sleeve. What do you have? 1 But before you study, you know, hard, you don't know what you have in your sleeve, that's all [laughs, laughter]. Buddha has the same thing, and I have the same thing. “Oh! [Laughs.] It is amazing!” you know.

So we must have-- that is the spirit we must have, you know. Anyway, you should study hard, whatever it is, whatever is said. If you don't like what I say, you shouldn't accept it [laughs]. It is okay. Eventually you will accept it [laughs, laughter]. If you say, “No!” I will say, “Okay. Go ahead. [Laughs, laughter.] Try hard!” I think that is the characteristic of Buddhism. Our, you know, approach is very wide, and as a Buddhist you have big freedom to study. And in what you say-- whatever you say, it is okay, so there is no [laughs] patriarch of south or north [laughs]. We know this. Like Sekito says here: “Born, we clutch at things and later compound our delusion by following ideals” [Masunaga's translation]. And this is very-- maybe very easy to understand, but what he is trying to say here is the relationship or the important teaching of Buddhism, you know. “Clutching at things”-- it may be better to say in this way: “Clutching at things” (I just, you know, this is my translation, so you can change it)-- ”Clutching at things is delusion.” This is more literal translation. “Clutching at things is delusion.”

[Line 7] Ji wo shusuru mo moto kore mayoi.
[Line 8] Ri ni kano mo mata satori ni arazu.

[Line 7] Clutching at things is delusion.
[Line 8] And to recognize the truth is not always
enlightenment either.
[Translation by Suzuki.]

It may be, but it is not always. “Clutching at things is delusion, but to recognize truth is not always enlightenment.” Or you can say, “Recognize the truth is not enlightenment either.”

“Clutching at things” means, you know, to stick to things, to stick [to] many, you know, many things you see. Understanding each being is different, you know, so, you know, this is something special, you know. “He is something special.” If you think so, you will stick to him. That is, you know, not-- that is illusion. But, on the other hand, even though you recognize the truth, you know, that everything is one, even though you understand in that way, it is not always enlightenment, you know. It is just, you know, understanding by your head, by your thought, by your thinking. Real enlightenment include both. Enlightened person do not ignore things and do not stick [to] things. And he does not even to stick to the truth either. There is no truth which is different from each being. Being each being itself is truth, you know. Truth is something, you know, which is beyond, which is controlling each being. You may think in that way, you know: “There is truth, like a truth of gravitation,” you know. The apple is the each things, so behind the apple there is some truth which is working on an apple is the truth of, theory of gravitation. Even though you understand things in that way, that is not enlightenment, it says. This is the backbone of all this-- all of this Sandokai.

[Line 1] The true mind of the great sage of India
[Line 2] flowed unseen from west to east.
[Line 3] People discriminate the dull from the wit,
[Line 4] but true way has no patriarch of south or north.
[Translation by Suzuki-- close to Masunaga's.]

So far is, you know, he, you know-- this is introduction, maybe. Introduction about what he want to say here at this-- under that circumstances where there were various poliminous [polemic], you know, understanding of which teaching-- which school is better.

This is, you know-- so far is the introduction, and--

[Line 7] Clutching at things is delusion,
[Line 8] and to recognize the truth is not enlightenment.
[Translation by Suzuki.]

This is the, you know-- oh, excuse me. I skipped, you know, to-- I changed the order of the sentence. In this translation, you know, something should be, you know, in-- the main backbone of the poem is translated in the introduction. So [laughs] I think I have to change the order. No, I am not changing, I [laughs] want to follow the original text.

“Clear source”:

[Line 5] Source of the teaching is clear.
[Translation by Suzuki-- close to Masunaga's.]

Source of the teaching is clear. And kept--

[Line 6] The streams of the teaching kept pure or unsullied.
[Translation by Suzuki-- close to Masunaga's.]

[S.R. unsure of pronunciation, so he spelled out “unsullied.” Students pronounced it.] And then, you know, come to this sentence:

[Line 7] Clutching at things is delusion,
[Line 8] and to recognize the truth is not enlightenment.
[Translation by Suzuki.]

This is the teaching which was started by Buddha and kept unsullied in various stream. Hmm. Okay? [Laughs.]

I think if you, you know, type this, you know, in three-- big-- three--

Student A [DC]: Double-space.

SR: Yeah, double-space or more. So that I can change the order and, you know--

Student B [Lew Richmond?]: Roshi, couldn't we just work from the Japanese and forget that translation?

SR: Hmm?

Student B: Couldn't we just work from the Japanese and forget that translation?

SR: Yeah.

Student B: Throw away that translation and work from the Japanese-- from, like, you know, we had the biggest group [?]-- what we're learning is like--

SR: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

DC: You probably know English much better than [Reiho] Masunaga, you know.

SR: [Laughs.] Uh-huh, yeah. I am trying [laughs, laughter], you know. I am trying hard to follow the order, you know, so that, you know, it is-- if you translate it in fluent English, you know, it will-- you may find it difficult to explain it. This is very, you know-- the original poem is very, you know, full of technical terms. And you cannot, you know, change it. If you change it, you will lose, you know-- it doesn't make, actually, much sense, you know.

So even though it is difficult, I think we should follow the original text. That is because I have to-- I want you to understand completely, I feel I have to follow the-- even though it is difficult-- I want to follow the original text faithfully.

So maybe it is difficulty for me and for you too. So you can forget all about Japanese, you know, but [laughs, laughter]-- but as you are reciting, you know, every morning, so I am trying to follow the meaning of those words.

Student B: But when you explain to us, for instance, San–do–kai--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student B: -- San–do–kai--

SR: Hai. Yeah.

Student B: -- it's not so difficult for us to make it into right English.

SR: Oh. Oh.

Student B: When we understand what san means and what do means and what kai means, we can make a sentence out of it.

SR: Uh-huh.

Student B: You follow what I mean?

SR: Uh-huh.

Student B: But Masunaga, for instance, he says [the title is], “The Union of the Spiritual and the Phenomenal Worlds.” Now that is not as meaningful to us. It's good English--

SR: Uh-huh.

Student B: -- but it is not as meaningful to us as translating San–do–kai.

SR: I see.

Student B: You understand?

SR: Maybe so.

Student B: And then we make it into-- then each one of us will make it into a different sentence, ultimately. [Laughs, laughter.]

SR: Some, yeah. Maybe, you know, I think that is easier eventually, you know, after all you [will] find it easier to understand if we follow one by one.

Student B: Mm-hmm

SR: And you are reciting it, you know, in Japanese, so that is why I started to, you know, talk about this one.

Mmm. I think we have no more time. [Bell rings.]



Buddha Is Always Here
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture III
Monday, June 1, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 49)

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

Line 5 Reigen myoni kokettari.
Line 6 Shiha an ni ruchusu.
Line 7 Ji wo shusuru mo moto kore mayoi.
Line 8 Ri ni kano mo mata satori ni arazu.

Line 5 The true source is pure and stainless.
Line 6 The branch streams flow in the dark.
Line 7 Clutching at things is delusion.
Line 8 To recognize the truth is not always
enlightenment either.]

[Suzuki sneezes directly into the mike as it is being set up. He and students laugh.]

I want to know the feedback. [Laughs, laughter.] Oh my. [Laughs.]

After all, it's better to follow one character after another like this. [Points to the blackboard where the characters of the text are written. ] 1 This part is not so difficult. Reigen-- rei is-- rei is “something wonderful,” you know, “something beyond our description, beyond our words” is rei. Gen is “source-- source of the teaching.” Reigen-- ”source of the teaching.”

The source of the teaching of Buddha, you know-- Buddha-- what Buddha talked about is the source of the teaching which is beyond our words in term of right or wrong. And this is important, you know. Rei-gen. Whatever we can think about is not source, you know. It is already something comes-- come out from the source. The source is something unknown. Only buddha knows. Or only when you practice zazen you have it. Or even though you don't practice it, or whether you realize it or not, you know, something which exist before our realization is source. The source is not like something, you know, to, you know, to put on lettuce [laughs, laughter]-- not that kind of thing, you know. It is something which you cannot taste, you know, in term of tasty or not tasty. That is real source.

And this source can be-- Here it says ri. Ri is “truth,” we say. But when we-- ”truth,” you know, when we say “truth,” you know, in our language, the truth is something which you can see, you can figure out. But that-- in Buddhism that is not truth. Truth is something which is beyond our description, which is beyond our thinking, is the truth. Ri. And reigen is, you know, more figuratively speaking, ri can be “the wonderful,” you know, “source,” wonderful which is beyond our language-- description. And this is source-- source of all being.

By the way, when we say “being,” you know, “being” include our thought too. You see? The being-- when we say “being,” being can be many things which we can see is being, but which we can think is also being [laughs], you know. So usually, [when] you say “truth,” the truth means something underlying theory or something is truth, you know. That the sun rise from east and set in west is truth, or that the earth is turning, you know, by itself in some certain direction, is the truth. But in Buddhism that is not truth. That is being also––being which is in our big mind, you know. So in our m- [partial word]-- Whatever it is, what is in our mind in term of big or small, right or wrong, that is “being.” So if you think about something in term of right or wrong, or you may say “This is eternal truth” [laughs], you know, but that is-- for us that is “being” too, because that is some eternal truth is something which is in your mind.

So we do not, you know, make much distinction between things which exist outside of ourselves or which exist within ourselves. You say “outside of ourself” [laughs], you know, but it is not true, you know. “Outside of yourself.” You feel in that way, you know, but actually, when you say “There is river,” river is already within your mind, you know. So, you know, hasty people may say “River is there,” but if you think more about it you will find out the river is something which is in your mind is river. So it is a kind of thought we have in our mind.

And if you say “There is river and here is my mind,” that is dualistic, you know, understanding. That is hasty, primitive, shallow understanding of things. That is so-called-it u. U, you know. [Laughs.] U. U is, you know-- maybe better to remember this words, you know: u or mu. Mu-- opposite of mu is u. U-- uken is, you know, pre-Buddhistic, you know, understanding of things. When you become Buddhist you have no more idea or [of] u or mu.

Anyway, [reigen means] the “real source,” “true source,” or “source which is beyond our thinking.”

Myoni kokettari: myo is, you know,” clear”; koketsu means-- ko is “white,” and ketsu is “stainless.” It means that-- ”stainless” means no stain of thought or, you know, thought or words. If you describe it, that is the stain, you know-- to put limitation to the truth, you know. So it means you stain the truth. You put some mark on the, you know, truth. So if it is pure, white, and stainless, that is clear. And that is, you know, how [what] the “true source” means, you know. So true source is pure, white, and stainless”-- ketsu is-- seiketsu means, you know-- seiketsu, you know-- you should keep your room seiketsu. Seiketsu means “well cleaned up” is seiketsu.

Ko is “white.” This [pointing to ko] is “white.” And this [pointing to -tari?] is “sound.” Give [poetic or spoken?] sound to the character-- ”the white”-- ”the pure white”-- and “stainless and clear.” But this two characters [kokettari?] is very interesting, you know. I will explain later.

Because he said reigen-- ”source,” you know-- he-- it is to say “branch stream” is some rhetorical way of putting words, you know. When-- Because here [pointing to reigen] is source, here [pointing to shiha] is stream, you know. To make this-- those two line of the poem beautiful, he says “shiha.” “The branch stream is”-- an is also. It means “dark.” “Dark.” This [pointing to myo] is clear. This [pointing to an] is dark. And ruchu is “flow” or “pour in,” you know. “Flow over”-- not “over”-- ”flow in.” Ru–chu. This [pointing to ru] is “flow.” This [pointing to chu] is “pour.”

So the source is, you know, pure and stainless, but this [pointing to reigen] is more noumenal word. This [pointing to shiha] is more phenomenal words. If I say, you know. But phenomenal or noumenal is not right [laughs], but tentatively I have to say so. But-- So that is why I said it is better to remember this word-- technical term, ri [noumenal]. And another important technical term is ri-- ji [corrects ri to ji, phenomenal] [writing on blackboard]. Those two technical terms is a term which you [should] remember.

Ji is, you know, something which you can see, which you can hear, or which you can smell or taste, you know, and it include object of thinking, or ideas-- is ji. Whatever it is, you know, which can be introduced into your consciousness is ri-- ji [corrects ri to ji ]. And this is something which is beyond our conscious world is ri.

So here, you know, this five characters [Reigen myoni kottari] means ri, which is beyond words, something which is stainless. In Prajnaparamita Sutra, [it says] “no taste, no,” you know, “no eyes, no,” you know, “ears, no nose,” you know. That is actually this one [the character ri].

And, Shiha an ni ruchusu. Shiha [an ni ruchusu] is “branch stream naturally or,” you know, “by itself flow or pour in everywhere like water.” Now water, even though you don't think there is no water, there is water, you know. Water will be inside of our physical body, or even in plants there is water. So even though we don't know, you know, there is water all over. So the pure source is all over, you know. So each being is itself, you know, pure source. And pure source is nothing but each being. If you want to know what is pure source, each being is the pure source. If you want to know what is each being, you know, pure source is each being. So even though-- If, you know-- There is no two things. There is no difference between ri and ji-- pure source and its stream. Stream itself is pure source, and pure source is stream.

[Line 5] Reigen myoni kokettari.
[Line 6] Shiha an ni ruchusu.

Even though you don't know, you know, there is reigen, the pure source. A pure source is flowing all over. Stainless. Pure source is all over. Even though you don't know-- that is “dark” [an]. And this “don't know” is very important, and this “clearness” [myoni?] is also important, but I have to explain it later.

And here-- so to stick to various idea, various being, or to stick to some idea of something, you know, even though [it is] Buddha's teaching, you know. And if you think you understood it, you know, [saying] “Buddha's teaching is something like this,” you know, then it mean you stick to ji. To stick to shu is to-- shusuru is--

[Line 7] Ji wo shusuru mo moto kore mayoi

-- you say. Ji is “being.” This [shu] means “to stick to.” To stick to being or thought is originally or of course [moto], is delusion. Ji wo shusuru mo-- Ji wo shusuru mo moto kore mayoi. This [mayoi] is “delusion.” And kore is “itself is delusion”-- ”nothing but delusion,” you know, “itself is delusion.” Or “nothing but delusion.” Moto-- ”of course,” you know-- ”nothing but delusion.” To stick to things is delusion, you know. To stick to some idea is delusion.

[Line 8] Ri ni kano mo mata satori ni arazu.

This [satori] is “enlightenment,” and this [arazu] is “no, not enlightenment.” Mo mata is “also.” This [character] is ri, the-- This is ri. It's better not to say [laughs] anything, you know. It's better not to say in English, you know [laughs, laughter]. Ri ni [laughs]-- If you translate-- If I translate it [into] English it can be this [pointing to ji], 2 you know [laughs] already. So--

If you, you know, think-- recognize, you know. This [pointing to kano] is “recognize,” you know, [as in] kai-- San-do-kai. Kai. The point-- If you, you know, make some point about ri [it] is not enlightenment, you know. Enlightenment is not something you can experience, actually. Enlightenment is beyond our experience. At the same time, you know, if you think enlightenment is beyond our experience, something which you cannot experience-- ”That is enlightenment.” So if someone says, “I attained enlightenment,” he is wrong.

If you say so [laughs], it means that you stick to [laughs] the explanation of enlightenment, you know. That is, you know, if you say so you are-- you stick to words. That is delusion if you say so.

So you cannot say there is no enlightenment or there is enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something, you know, which you can say “there is” or “there isn't.” And at the same time, enlightenment is something, you know, which you can experience is enlightenment too. If you understand really those two sentences--

At Sekito's time, there were big dispute about, you know, sudden enlightenment and gradual practice or enlightenment. Kataku Jinne denounced the Jinshu's way very badly. And Jinshu's way is gradual attainment, while Sixth Patriarch's way is sudden enlightenment. So in the Sutra of Sixth Patriarch, “just to sit” is not true practice. That kind of sentence is, you know, you can see everywhere [in the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch] denouncing the, you know, Jinshu's way. But maybe that is not Sixth Patriarch's idea [laughs]-- that was not Sixth Patriarch idea.

There is not much difference between Jinshu and the Sixth Patriarch's way. Later, maybe fifty years later, there was this kind of words was added by Kataku Jinne. Right after Kataku Jinne passed away, maybe his disciple [added them]. Kataku Jinne was very good. On the other hand, he was very active and he was very critical with Jinshu's zazen. But he is not so, you know, hasty so he wouldn't say something like that.

But right after the Kataku Jinne, which was great, you know, Zen master, disciple of Sixth Patriarch, you know, this kind of , you know, things was added on the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, which was written right after the Sixth Patriarch's death. So [in] seven fourteen [714 C.E.] it was compiled.

And, you know, compiling and maybe many of his disciple had it, you know-- the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. But Kataku Jinne's disciple made some, you know, correction or [laughs] changed some part, or added something, you know, like, you know, poem: “There is no bodhi tree -- ” [laughs] or “There is no mirror -- ,” you know. “There is mirror, or there is no stand for the mirror. There is nothing,” you know. “How is it possible to wipe the mirror?” That kind of poem, you know. Many people criticize that kind-- that poem because it is not so good, you know [laughs, laughter]. So many people thinks this cannot be the Sixth Patriarch's poem, you know. This kind of, you know, useless, you know, things was added.

And it was the, you know, a kind of pride or honor to own the Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. So, “Do you have this book,” you know? “Yes I have.” But the books they have is not same. There are many books-- many kinds of the-- entitled “The Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch.” Many kinds. So the oldest one is, you know, do not include that kind of, you know, denouncing [laughs] critical words to the-- for the Jinshu school.

So to, you know-- The purpose of Sandokai is to make it clear this kind of wrong understanding of which is right, or which-- Jinshu, who stick-- who looks like stick to rituals and understanding or scholarly work. All the scholarly works belongs to ji, you know. Scholarly study belongs to ji. The ri is something, you know, which you can experience by practice is ri. You see, this is-- Maybe you, you think scholarly work is ri [laughs]-- you may think so-- but for us it is not so. Scholarly work is ji. To stick to scholarly work is to stick to things. Things include our scholarly study.

To follow, or to realize, or to have complete understanding of ri-- to accept ri is our practice. But even though you practice zazen and you think that is ri-- attainment of ri, or realization of ri, but that is not always so [laughs]-- that is, you know, according to the Sekito it is so. And this is the, you know, the intention of writing this poem. So this is, you know, this is the backbone of the whole Sandokai. So if you understand this much, you understood-- you already understood Sandokai-- whole Sandokai.

So this is very important part. The first part was introduction:

[Line 1] Chikudo daisen no shin,
[Line 2] tozai mitsuni aifusu.
[Line 3] Ninkon ni ridon ari,
[Line 4] do ni namboku no so nashi.

This is introduction, you know. And then this is the first, or this is the main point of whole sutra. So, maybe, tentatively, I translate it like this:

[Line 1] The true mind of the great sage of India
[Line 2] handed down closely from west to east.

Tozai mitsuni aifusu. Chikudo daisen no shin is already understood, you know. Chikudo-- Chikudo is “India.” Daisen is “great sage.” Sen means “hermit,” you know. At that time-- at Sekito's time, there were many Taoist and there were many hermits who had some supernatural power, who were proud of various supernatural power and seeking for some medicine to, you know, to live long-- to keep long life, you know, maybe, you know, finding out some medicine is also Taoist way.

But they-- as I explained, they do not-- they were not so much interested in practice-- Buddhist practice-- and they don't, you know, find out-- they couldn't understand why we must practice zazen-- why practice is so necessary. That was also true with Dogen Zenji [laughs]: “If,” you know, “we have-- all of us have buddha nature, why is it necessary to practice?” He, you know, suffered a lot about this point. He-- Not only he couldn't understand it intellect- [partial word]-- solve this problem, you know, by study-- intellectual study-- but also he couldn't accept this point.

This is very important, you know-- why we should-- When you really know yourself, you know, you will realize how important it is to practice zazen. Before you know what you are doing, actually, you know, you don't know why we practice zazen. You know, you think you are quite free-- whatever you do, that is your choice [laughs], you say, but actually you are creating karma for yourself and for others [laughing]. And still you don't know what you are doing, so you don't think there is no need to practice zazen. But, you know--

So, we have to, you know, to pay our debt by [laughs] ourselves. No one can pay for your debt, you know. That is why it is necessary to practice, you know. To fulfill our responsibility, we practice zazen. And we have to. If we don't, you know, you will-- you don't feel so good, first of all [laughs], and, you know, you will create, you know, some karma for others too. And without knowing, you say “Why is it necessary to practice Zen?” Moreover, when you say, you know, “We have buddha nature,” you think buddha nature is something, you know, something, something like diamond which is in your sleeve, you know. The true buddha nature is not something like this [pointing to the character for ji ]. 3 It is ri-- it is not ji. Even diamond, it is ji, not ri. [Sentence completed. Tape changed.] [So we are always involved in this] 4 world only without knowing ri.

The other day, when I explained about human potentiality-- And I think I will ex- [partial word]-- This is very im- [partial word]-- For the-- In this sutra, this point is not so important. The more important thing is-- In this sutra it says:

[Line 3] Ninkon ni ridon ari.

This is just, you know, rhetorical, because-- just because [of] rhetorical need, he put [in] this sentence. But we must ha- [partial word]-- It is interesting to, you know, to understand what is human potentiality in Buddhism.

Kikon/rikon/donkon, you know, we--

[Line 3] Ninkon ni ridon ari.

Nin is “human.” Kon is “root.” And it [ninkon] means “potentiality-- human potentiality.” Ridon [rikon?] is someone who has advantage, or [and someone] who has some disadvantage is don. And one is ri [rikon], the [other] one is don [donkon].

And rikon and donkon is, you know-- There is, you know-- Ki-- kikon-- ki. Here we have no-- Ki-- ki means [refers to] kikon. Kikon, you know [is] classified into rikon and donkon. And why I start to-- started to talk about this is because I want to explain, you know, what kind of-- I want to explain what kind of understanding or practice we have, you know, and why it is necessary to practice zazen. And we-- Buddhists classified, you know, various people-- human being in various way. So one of the classification is, you know, rikon and donkon.

Ki means “potentiality.” Ki. We have potentiality to be Buddha-- to be a buddha, you know, in its true sense. So it is like a bow and arrow, you know. Arrow, you know, has potentiality to-- potentiality to fly, you know. Because bow and arrow has potentiality, if you use it, you know, the arrow will go. But if someone doesn't use, you know, bow and arrow it wouldn't go. So bow and arrow has potentiality. So does we human being, you know. We are ready to be a buddha, but if you don't practice zazen, or if Buddha doesn't help you, you cannot be a buddha even though you have potentiality.

So ki means potentiality, and rikon is-- means people who have good potentiality. And donkon means who have not much, you know, potentiality.

And so far, Buddhists classified, you know, in various way. One class- [partial word]-- one interpretation-- or you can translate, you know, ki like “potentiality.” Potentiality, you know, means-- One means two. One is possibility. Possibility. Potentiality, you know, is also possibility. The other is-- If you, you know, talk about its nature, it is, you know, possibility-- I have possibility to be a buddha. But if you observe me in term of time, you know, when, you know, in future, you know, even though I have, you know, potentiality to be a buddha, you know, if, you know, someone doesn't help me I cannot be a buddha. You see? Or if I have a chance to be a buddha by practice, we cannot be a buddha.

So from the viewpoint of nature, you know, it is possibility, you know-- I have possibility. And from viewpoint of time, it is, you know-- I don't know what to say in English, you know. Do you-- Do you find out some good word? Future possibility [laughs], maybe. Future possibility. Future possibility will be-- You know, it include the idea of time. When you don't include idea of time, it is possibility. Potentiality is possibil- [partial word]-- equal possibility.

And when you have-- you ask me when, it means future possibility: when, you know. Today or tomorrow. So when we think, you know, when we understand the word “potentiality” in term of nature, we should be very kind and very generous to everyone, you know, because everyone has potential-- possibility to be a buddha, even though they are not buddha right now. Because right-- because he has, you know, possibility to be a buddha.

So we should not, you know-- we should respect him, and we should be very generous to people. But when we think about the possibility in term of “when,” you know, sometime you should be very strict with someone. Do you understand? If you miss this time, you know, if you do not [make a] good effort in one week or in one year, you, you know, you will not have chance to attain enlightenment. If you say always “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow” [laughs], you know, even though you have possibility [laughing], you cannot attain enlightenment. So when we think when, you know, time, we should be very strict with people.

It is same thing with your practice, you know. When you don't think, you know, about time-- when-- you know, you can be very generous with everyone, you know. You will be-- you can treat people very well. Always. But if we, you know, think-- if we have to think about time, you know-- ”today” or “tomorrow” [laughing]-- we cannot be so generous because we will lose time. So “You should finish this” and “I'll finish this” and “You should help him,” you know, and “I will help some other person.” In this way, you know, we should be very strict with ourselves.

So that is why we, you know, analyze potentiality in various way. One is possibility, and the other is future possibility. So possibility, ki, means-- ki, means “possibility” and “future possibility.” When we understand potentiality in this way, you can, you know, work-- you can practice very well-- sometime very generous way and sometime very strict way. We have to have, you know, two side in our practice, or in our understanding of ki-- chance, or, you know, possibility. This is the first one [interpretation of ki].

And second one is interrelation. Ki means “interrelation.” It is relationship between, you know, buddha and good people, and buddha who has-- who is good nature-- and who has bad nature [laughs]. I am sorry to say “bad nature” [laughs] but tentatively I have to say so. So for the people who has good nature, you know, we should give-- we should encourage them, giving some, you know, joy-- joy of practice. We should enjoy our practice with good person. When we practice with someone, even though tentatively, you know, while [for] a while, who is not so good [laughs], you know, we should, you know, suffer with him. That is another understanding.

So ki means sometime “interrelationship between buddha and someone who helps, and someone who is helped.” So in the relationship between good person and you, there is-- that relationship will be to encourage, to give joy of practice is ki-- actual meaning of ki. And for the person who has-- who is suffering, you should suffer with him, you know. That is so-called-it jihi.

When we say “love” in our term, jihi. Jihi is usually translated “love,” you know, but love means-- love has two sides. One is to give joy, yoraku, and the other is bakku. Bakku is to eliminate [suffering]-- to suffer with them. To eliminate [suffering]-- to make their-- his suffering less, you know, we suffer with him. We share their suffering. That is love. So love has two side: to give joy, to give something, you know. If he is very good, you know, we can enjoy joy of practice with him by giving good cushion, good zendo, you know, and something like this.

But actually, who is suffering? Zendo doesn't mean anything [laughs]. It doesn't mean anything. Whatever you give him, he will not accept it. “No, I don't need. I suffer a lot. I don't know why. Right now, you know, to get out of suffering is most important point. Nothing can help me. You cannot help me,” he may say. When you hear that, like Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, you should be someone-- you should be like someone who is suffering, and you should suffer as he suffers. Actually, you will feel in that way, you know. You-- if you see someone who is in suffer[ing], you will suffer too. That is because of your love, you know [tapping chest], your innate love, your instinct of love, you share the suffering. That is love in its true sense. So ki may mean not only “possibility” or “potentiality,” but also “relationship.” This is second interpretation of ki.

And third one is “good means,” or “adequateness,” you know. Like, you know, pots and cover [laughs], you know. You cannot put big cover, you know, like in Japan we have bathtub, you know. You may know what is Japanese bathtub. It is wooden barrel, you know, big barrel, which has its cover. After finishing bath we cover the bath with the big wooden cover. But that cover cannot be used for the pan [laughs]. It is too big. So bath must have, you know, cover for itself.

So ki means, you know, “adequateness.” So here it says also, if you see person who is suffering because of ignorance, because of what he is-- because he doesn't know what he is doing, you must, you know, give tear-- you must suffer with him. That is, you know, to-- to have good relationship. When you see someone who enjoy his true nature, you should give ji-- ji. Ji means, you know, compassion-- not compassion-- to-- to encourage him.

And here, you know, this is what-- this is extra [laughs]. And next thing is what I am very much interested in it. You know there is-- there is Buddhist understand this way: Buddhism will not last forever, you know. It will perish, you know, after thousand year from Buddha's death. But that thousand year in some other sutra it say some other way, but anyway, we have this kind of understanding.

When Buddha-- first five hundred years-- this is not exactly-- cannot be exactly so-- but the first five hundred years, when Buddha's direct disciple or grandson of-- grand-disciple-- anyway, the first five hundred [years] will have good sages like something like Buddha. And next, you know, hundred years-- so it means after-- one thousand years after his death-- we will have, you know, people who practice zazen and who study, you know, Buddhism. That is the people after the first five hundred to one thousand. The last time [laughs]-- this is interesting-- last time, which is after one thousand year [laughs], they will not observe precepts [laughs, laughter]. It is exactly so [laughs, laughter]. They will not observe precepts. But they will read sutras [laughing] and they will chant sutras. They will not [be] interested in zazen so much. And those people we had in the first thousand years-- people like arhat or people who practice zazen or people who understood his teaching-- difficult to find out, or no one can be like that. And the people will be involved in just, you know, idea of emptiness or, you know, somethingness [laughing]-- somethingness or emptiness.

You know, we talk about emptiness, you know, and you think you understand emptiness, but if you understand emptiness, you know, even though you explain pretty well what is emptiness, but it is [laughs] this one [pointing to the character for ji ], not that one [pointing to the character for ri ]. Real emptiness will be ex- [partial word]-- not experienced, you know-- will be realized by good practice.

So here it says after-- people after thousand year after Buddha will have, you know, idea of emptiness or idea of somethingness [laughs]. But they will not understand what [is] really meant by emptiness or somethingness. So purpose of Sandokai is, you know, to make this point clear: what is, you know, emptiness, what is somethingness, what is darkness, what is clearness, what is true source of the teaching, what is various being which, you know, is supported by true source of the teaching is the purpose of his-- his intention of writing-- making this poem of Sandokai.

I borrowed, you know, a book from-- from-- from Gary [Snyder]'s wife, you know-- Mas-- Masa-- Masa-- and about Sangai-kyo, you know, a small Vajra school of Japan: Sangai-kyo. And in that book, you know, it said-- it says, the people in the last-- in after one thousand year after Buddha's death-- they will [laughs]-- people will-- may be classified in two [laughing]. Very appropriate, you know. You know, it explains what we are doing here and what they are doing here in Japan [laughs]. Good contrast. And, you know, it is explain very well, you know. Anyway, we do not observe precepts [laughs, laughter]. In Japan, you know, we eat fish, we kill animals, and in America too, you know. In its strict sense we don't observe-- that is very true.

And, you know, one is very innocent [laughs], because, you know, you don't know about what you are actually doing [when] you violate precepts. But in Japan, even though they know what they are doing, you know, they still do it because they are shameless [laughs, laughter]. They have no idea of shame, you know. I thought “You have no idea of shame,” but if I think more, you know, they do not-- knowing that what they should do, you know, to do not observe is real shameless, you know. You know, innocent people looks like shameless, but it is not, you know, real shameless [laughs]. So I was very interested in the description of the people in our time. And anyway, we will just-- we will be involved in, you know, this idea-- ji-- only.

So you may ask, you know, “What is real teaching of Buddha?” you know. If you don't, you know, understand it you will keep asking someone, you know, “What is it? What is it? What does it mean?” You are just seeking for something which you can understand. That is mistake, you know.

Dogen Zenji says, “There is no bird who flies after the limit of the sky,” you know. “There is no fish who swim after knowing the end of the ocean.” [Laughs.] We don't exist in that way. We exist in limitless world. And sentient being is, you know, numberless, and our desire is limitless, but still, you know, we have to, you know, try-- we have to continue to make our effort like fish flies [laughs]-- swims-- like bird swim [flies]. So Dogen Zenji says, “Bird fly like a bird; fish swims like a fish.” That is bodhisattva's way, and that is how, you know, we observe our practice. When we understand in this way, according to Dogen, we are not people in the, you know, we are not people in mappo. Mappo is last period.

Shobo/zobo/mappo. Shobo is Buddha's time. Zobo is imitation-- dharma imitation-- imitation-dharma time. And mappo is last period. But still, you know, in some way, in some way, Buddhism exist [laughs]. But if we understand, really, you know, what he meant, that is-- it means that we are in Buddha's time. As Dogen Zenji said, “Buddha is always here.” You should not be involved in time or space, you know. Our practice should not be disturbed by some framework of time or space.

Oh! [Sees the lateness of the hour.] Oh, my. I am sorry.

[Tape ends. No Question/Answer session.]



The Blue Jay Will Come Right into Your Heart
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture IV
Wednesday, June 3, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 61)

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

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

Line 9 Mommon issai no kyo,
Line 10 ego to fuego to.
Line 11 Eshite sarani aiwataru.
Line 12 Shikara zare ba kurai ni yotte jusu.

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.

SR: Last night, 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.

And another thing I must tell you is we do not talk about, you know, things which have no relationship with ourselves, you know. We do not think, you know-- we do not [get] concerned about-- we-- we do not accept-- expect something which may exist, you know, beyond our reach. Whatever we talk about, you know, it is, you know-- the moment we talk about, it is within our mind.

[Side A of original tape starts here, repeating the following 1-1/2 sentences. ] 1

-- we-- we do not accept-- expect something which may exist, you know, beyond our reach. Whatever we talk about, you know, it is, you know-- the moment we talk about, it is within our mind.

So everything, you know, all the thing is in our mind. But usually, you know, you think there is many things, and we are thinking about this and this and this. In cosmic world, there may be many and many stars. But the stars we can, you know, reach is right now only moon. In few years we will reach some other stars. So eventually we will reach to some other constellation [laughs]. But, you know, we do not think in that way.

We think our mind pervade everywhere. So-- our mind is, you know, not our mind. Our mind is something greater than the mind which we think is our mind. This is Buddhist thought. So in Buddhism, mind and being are one, not different. So there is no limit in cosmic being, so is our mind, you know. Our mind-- there is no limit in our mind. Our mind will reach, you know, everywhere. And our mind and outward being is one. So if you think, “This is mind,” you know, “That is mind,” if you think, “This is some other being,” that is very much so. But actually when we say “this,” you know-- when Buddhists say “this” or “that” or “I,” that “I,” or “this” or “that” include everything.

So we must, you know, listen to the sound of it, you know. The other day I explain what is sound [laughs]. 2 Sound is different from noise. Sound is, you know, something, you know, which comes out more real, and which comes out from your practice is sound. Noise is more-- something more objective [laughs], you know, something, you know, which will bother you, you know. The noise is more objective being. The sound is both objective and subjective. So, you know, if you hit drum, the sound is-- you make is, you know, sound of your own subjective practice, and it is also the sound which encourage, you know, all of us. So sound is subjective and objective.

So sound, you know, is-- we say hibiki. Hibiki means, you know, “something which goes back and forth.” Hibiki. Like echo, you know. If I say something, I will have feedback, you know, back and forth. That is sound.

Buddhists understand everything, every noise, as a sound which we make, you know. You may say, “The bird is singing there-- over there.” But we think, you know-- bird-- when we hear the bird, bird is “me,” you know, already. I-- actually I am not listening to [laughs] bird. Bird is here, you know, in my mind already, and I am singing with the bird. “Peep-peep-peep.” [Laughs.] If you think, when you are reading something, if you think, “Bird is there,” you know, “blue jay is over my roof” [laughs]-- ”blue jay is singing, but their voice is not so good,” you know [laughs, laughter]. When you think in that way, that is noise, you know. When you are not disturbed by the blue jay, you know, the blue jay will come right into your heart, and you will be a blue jay, and blue jay will [be] reading something [laughs]. Then the blue jay doesn't disturb your reading. Because-- because you think, “Blue jay is there. Blue jay should not be over my roof, “you know. When you think in that way, that is more primitive understanding of being.

Why we understand things in that way is because of our want of practice, you know. When you practice zazen more, you can accept things as your own, whatever it is, you know. That is actually the teaching of, you know, famous teaching of Kegon-- jiji-muge. Jiji-muge means “being has no,” you know, “no barrier, no disturbance.” It-- it, you know-- interrelated closely. And it is difficult to say, “This is bird, and this is me,” because it is interrelated very closely. So it is difficult to separate blue jay from me. That is jiji-muge.

And this jiji-muge or interdependency of being is-- here [Line 10] we have ego.

[Line 10 ego to fuego to.]

E-go. And here [Line 10] we have fuego. Fu is, you know-- Ego is very special technical term of Buddhism or Zen. Ego. Go is, you know, character, you know, going this way, you know-- [draws character for go on the board].

Interrelated, you know [laughs]. Two things, you know-- two line, two, you know, figure is interrelated. You see? Like this [continues to draw characters on the board] and like this. This is go.

E means “to go round”-- round and round and round. This is e.

This part of the character [points to left part of character for e] is “to go round” or “to meet”:

And this part [points to right part of character for e] is “to go”-- also “to go round.”

So this is e–go.

And fu is “not”:

[Therefore fuego means] “not ego.” “Not ego.”

[The entire Line 10 reads as follows (ego to fuego to):]

Although it is, you know-- things are interrelated, you know, or because things are closely interrelated, you know, everyone, every being, each being can be a boss, you know [laughs]. Because, you know-- each one of us can be a boss because we are so closely related. You know, if you say “Suzuki,” you know-- ”I-- I'm very much closely related to you, so I can be president of, you know, Zen Center.” So if you s- [partial word-- ”say”?]-- I say “Mel,” Mel already is not just Mel [laughs], you know. He is one of the Zen Center students, and to see Mel is to see Zen Center. If you see Mel, people understand what is Zen Center [laughs]. So, you know-- but if you think, “Oh, he is Mel” [laughs], then your understanding is not good enough. You don't know who is Mel. So if you have-- if you have good understanding of things, that, you know-- things will-- by things you will understand whole world.

So it is, you know-- because each one of us is the boss of whole world, so not-- if you understand this way, it is not, you know, interrelated. It is independent. We are independent. Each one of us [is] completely independent, absolutely independent. There is nothing to compare with you. You are you, just you. You see?

We have to understand things from both way. One is, you know, interrelated-- to understand things [as] interrelated being. The other way of understanding is to understand ourselves quite independent from everything. You know, when we include everything, you know, we are completely independent because nothing to compare to you [laughs]. Do you understand? If there is only one thing, how can you compare, you know, things to you, because there is nothing to compare to you. This is, you know, “inter-” [partial word]-- this is “absolute independency”: in Chinese, fuego-- not interrelated, but [and?] absolutely independent.

This first sentence--

[Line 9] Mommon issai no kyo,

-- this is rhetorical, you know, words. Mommon means “gates.” “Gates” means our eyes, or nose, or ears-- the-- all those sense organs-- six-- five sense organs are gates, you know. And for the gates, there are sense object, you know. For eyes, something color to see; for the ear something to hear-- some voice to hear; some smell to smell for the nose; something to taste, you know, for the-- our tongue. In this way, six sense organs has-- five sense organs have five sense object. This is, you know, our, you know-- Buddhist common sense, you know.

The purpose of, you know, referring to this-- to those things is just to say “everything,” you know. Instead of saying “everything,” we say Mommon issai no kyo. Mommon is “gates.” There is many gates, and to the gates there is many sense objects, you know. All those things-- things, you know-- all those things are interrelated, and at the same time they are independent, you know. Mommon issai no kyo. Flowers and-- it is same thing to say flowers and trees and bird and stars, you know, but instead of saying stream and mountain, we say Mommon issai no kyo.

So various being which we see, which we hear, is the things which is interrelated, and, at the same time, they are-- each being is absolutely independent and [has] its own value. I said “value” right now. That “value” means ri, you know, ri. Ri is, you know-- something which make something, you know, meaningful is ri, you know-- which is not theory or anything.

Mmm. This is rather difficult to understand, you know. Ri. It may take time [laughs, laughter] before you understand ri-- ri, you know.

When you-- even though you don't attain enlightenment, you have attained-- you have enlightenment, we say. That enlightenment means ri. That something exist here means something, you know, has already some reason why he-- it exist here. And because of that reason, it makes sense-- some sense [laughs]. I don't know [laughs] what sense. No one knows, but there must be some reason. And, you know, everything must have some virtue for itself.

And-- and it is, you know, very strange that everything has-- no things are same, you know [laughs]. One is different from other. So ea- [partial word: each?]-- there is nothing to compare, you know, with you. So you have your own value, and that value, you know, is-- is not-- is not comparative value or exchange value. It is that value something more than that. So just-- when you are just on the cushion, you have your own value. And that value-- because that value is related to everything, so that value is also absolute value.

Ahh. Maybe better not to say [laughs] too much. Ahh.

[Line 9] Mommon issai no kyo.

Mommon-- ”sense gates,” you know, “sense organs and its objects”-- it means everything-- ”is related-- interrelated.” And, on the other hand, it is absolute. It-- everything has absolute value for itself.

And here again:

[Line 11] Eshite sarani aiwataru.

E means “here” [writing on board], you know:

E is “interrelationship” or “interrelated.” So everything is interrelated. And aiwataru is “going on and on”-- ai-- to, you know, “to hike,” you know, “on and on and on,” you know. “Everywhere” means wataru. Or, you know, birds, you know, comes from north in springtime, you know, come to south. And go back to the north, you know, crossing various mountains and rivers and sometime ocean. That is wataru.

This is [pointing to the left part of the character for wataru], you know, “water”:

This [pointing to the right part of the character for wataru] is “walk”:

So [laughs], to cross many things-- water and mountain, by foot or by boat-- this [pointing to the entire character for wataru] is wataru:

So things, you know, [are] interrelated endlessly, you know, going everywhere.

And: [Line 12] Shikara zare ba [kurai ni yotte jusu].

“Or else,” you know, “or else it stand, it dwell, or it stay in its own position.” This [kurai] is “position.” “According to the pos- [partial word]-- this [yotte] is “rely on” or “according to.” “According to the position they stay.” So it means if the bird stay at some place, you know, at some lake, for an instance, his home is not only lake, but also whole world is his home. That is how a bird flies and live in the-- in their world.

So everythi- [partial word]-- things are interrelated. But, on the other hand, or else, or on the other hand, they are stay in their own position. And they are independent.

In Zen story sometime we say, “Nin nin koko heku ryu bankin,” you know. “Each one of us is,” you know, “steep like a cliff.” [Laughs.] No one can climb up on you [laughs]. You are completely independent. So no one can climb up. You are like a steep, you know, rock. No one climb up on you. Absolutely you are-- you are absolutely independent, and yet you are interrelated. This is, you know, right understanding.

So you-- when we say you are absolutely related, you know. So-- but when you hear me say so, you should understand, you know, the other side too. That is hibiki, you know. If you understand [laughs] one side of the truth only, you don't hear the, you know-- my voice. Hibiki, you know. We say kotoba no hibiki. Kotoba no hibiki means “the other side of the words.” We say, “If you do not understand Zen words”-- mmm-- there must be some-- mmm-- yeah, I thought there was-- you have some good words for that. “If you do not understand Zen colloquial” [colloquially? colloquy?], you know, “you don't understand Zen.” You are not Zen student, you know.

We have-- our word is different from usual word. It has double meaning. We say, “double-edged sword” [laughs]. Double edge. Edge is here, this side, and the other side too. It cut both way [laughs], you know. You may say, you know-- you may think I am cutting this way [laughs], but, you know, actually, I am cutting [laughing] something that way. You think you are-- I am cutting something here, but actually I am cutting here, you know, something here-- shhht. [Laughing; sounds like he is imitating the sound of a sword cutting through the air.] Do you understand?

If you-- I am, you know-- sometime I am scolding my st- [partial word]-- my disciple. No! [Laughs.] But the other student may think, “Oh, he is scolded” [laughs]. But it is not actually so. Because I cannot, you know, scold people from outside [laughs], so I have to scold my student who is near me, you know. Raaa! [Loud mockingly threatening sound. Laughing.] But most people think, “Oh, he is-- poor guy, he is scolded. Oh.” [Laughs, laughter.] If you think in that way, you know, he is not-- you are not Zen student. If one is scolded, you should listen to it, you know. You should be alert enough [laughing] to know who is scolded. We have always-- we are trained in that way.

When I was a quite young disciple, I went-- we went out and came back pretty late. There are many, you know, venomous small snakes like rattlesnake in Japan too. And my-- my teacher said, “You are wearing tabi, so you should go ahead, you know. I'm not wearing tabi, so I may bit by-- I may be bit by-- snake will bite me, so you go ahead,” he said [laughing]. And [we said] “Okay!” And we, you know, walked ahead of him. And when we reached-- as soon as we reached to the temple, he said to us: “You-- all of you must sit here. Sit here.” We didn't know what is happening-- what has happened-- but I-- we all sit in front of him [laughing]. “What a silly guys you are,” he said. “When I am not wearing tabi, you know, why, you know, you are wearing tabi? It is not fair.” [Laughs.] “Moreover, you know, I am your teacher. So it is all right with me to wear tabi when you don't wear tabi”-- socks, you know. “So,” he said, “I-- ” “So I said,” you know, “I give some warning to you: 'I am not wearing tabi.' [Laughs.] If I say so, you should notice, 'Oh-- I shouldn't'-- you shouldn't-- you should notice that: 'Oh! We disciples should not wear tabi because my teacher is not wearing tabi.' So if you put off, you know-- you should put-- put off your tabi. But you [laughs], you know-- without any idea of that, you go-- you walked ahead of us. What a silly boys you are!” [Laughs, taps on table or lectern.]

[Side A ends here. Lecture resumes at start of Side B, a few minutes from the head of the tape.]

-- just what he said, that's all. But we should, you know, realize something more than [what] he said.

When I was at Eiheiji, I opened, you know, right-hand-- right-side door-- fusuma-- shoji-- it-- because it is a kind of rule to open this side. But I was scolded, you know: “Don't open that side!” he said. So next morning [laughing] I opened this side. I was scolded again: “Why do you open that way-- that side?!” I didn't know what to do. Yesterday when I opened this side, he scolded me, so I opened this side and I was scolded again. I couldn't figure out why. And I-- at last I noticed that yesterday guest was [sitting on] this side [laughs], and this morning guest was [sitting on] the other side. So I opened, you know, where there is the side where the guest was. And this morning again I opened [laughs] where-- I opened the side where guest was-- is, you know. That was-- that is why I was scolded. They never tell us why, but just scold-- scold us. It is, you know-- the words they use is double-edged [laughs].

Those are also double-edged words. This is [pointing to ego?] interdependency. This is [pointing to fuego?] absolute independency. This [side of the?] sentence is interdependency, and this side is absolute interde- [partial word]-- absolute depe- [partial word]-- in-- independency. So every thing which we hear, which we see, is interdependent and absolutely independent. And each things-- this interdependency goes on and on to everywhere, and yet things are situated in its own place. Things stays in its own place. That is the main point of Sandokai.

[Line 9] Mommon issai no kyo.

Mommon is “sense gates.” Issai no kyo: Issai means “all-- each or all.” Each-- kyo means “objective world.” Our sense-- our five senses and its objective world is independent-- is interdependent and independent. And this interdependency goes everywhere. And each things stays [in] its own place. This is, you know, what it means.

[Line 1] Chikudo daisen no shin.

The great mind of the great sage in India
flow unseen from east to west.
There are alert-- there are alert fellow and
dull fellow in sentient being,
but there is no Patriarch of South or North.

[Line 3] Ninkon ni ridon ari.

Ninkon is, you know-- nin is “man”; kon is “root.” Root means, you know, “sense organs.” So sense organs-- human being which has sense organs. There is-- Someone is alert, someone is not so alert . But there is no Patriarch of South or North. Buddha's teaching is same.

[Line 5] Reigen myoni kokettari.

Reigen is--

Source of the teaching is pure and stainless.

But its stream is unt- [partial word]-- the source, you know, pervades everywhere. Ruchu is “to flow.” Ruchu is “pour,” like water pour into various place. And the reigen-- the source of the teaching is not, you know, so clear to every- [partial word]-- to us because the source of the teaching is not the teaching of right or wrong or this or that.

To stick to things is delusion,
and yet to recognize is not always
-- is not enlightenment also.

[Line 7] Ji wo shusuru mo moto kore mayoi.

Ji-- ji is “being” or “fact” or “event.”

To stick to event or fact or things are delusion.

Mayoi is “delusion.” Ri is, you know-- Ri is ri [laughs].

To recognize ri is not enlightenment also.

[Line 9] Mommon issai no kyo.

Mommon means various being and its various sense organs and its objects. So it means “everything.”

[Line 10] ego to fuego to.

Ego is “interdependency.” Fuego is “dependency.”

[Line 11] Eshite sarani aiwataru.

This interdependen- [partial word]-- dependency goes on and on. And everything stays [in] its own place. This is independency.

Okay. Do you have some question? Hai.

Student A [DC]: You said that Reigen myoni kokettari-- that means, “The source of the teaching is clear.”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Chadwick: Now, Shiha an ni ruchusu. Does that mean that the branches of the stream-- of the source of the teaching [?] flow in the darkness? Or what does that mean-- how does it fit in the sentence?

SR: An-- an-- okay. An, you know-- an means-- I must explain an more later. But right now, you can understand in this way: The source, you know, stream of the source or maybe like a spring, you know-- pure spring-- will, you know, as it flows down, like Tassajara Creek or, you know, it will vanish into somewhere-- fade into somewhere.

But it does not mean source [of the] water vanished or anything. Water may be everywhere-- moistened all over. An means, you know-- an-- ”darkness.” Darkness means opposite of brightness. In bright light like this [laughs], you know, you can count your hair even [laughing]. If it is dark, you know, you cannot see anything. But even though you don't see anything, it does not mean no one is here-- no one is here. You know, all of us is here. All of us are here, but it is bec- [partial word]-- only because it is dark. So, you know, reigen-- the pure source of the teaching is always there, but sometime we can see it, and sometime we don't see it. When we see it, you know, it means that we count everything. It is ji. When we don't see it, it is ri, you know.

Chadwick: Is reigen “ri” and shiha “ji”?

SR: Hmm?

Chadwick: Is reigen “ri” and shiha “ji”?

SR: Yeah. Shiha is “ji.” Hai.

Student B: Is ego mean “the bird is the whole world,” and fuego means “the bird is just the bird?”

SR: Mm-hmm. Bird is just bird. Shiki, you know, in Prajnaparamita-Hridaya [Heart] Sutra we say, Shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki, you know. 3 That is-- Shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki is ego. And Shiki-- ze shiki-- ku soku-- ku is fuego. [Knocks on table with stick.] This is fuego [laughs]. You cannot say, you know-- it is difficult to say what it is. [Knocks again. Laughs.] Hai.

Student C: Is there any particular reason that we strike the bell on the word mon?

SR: When?

Student C: Mommon issai no kyo?

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student C: That's when we hit the bell.

SR: Yeah. Mommon--

Student C: Is there a reason for this?

SR: To hit bell?

Student C: Mm-hmm.

SR: To hit bell means to produce, you know, independent buddha one after another. Gong. Buddha. One independent buddha appear. Gong. Next buddha appear. When next buddha appears [laughs], no-- the buddha, you know, last buddha disappear. So each, one by one, striking one after another, you produce, you know [laughs], buddha, one after another. That is our practice. Hai.

Student D [Reb Anderson]: You said that it's like a cliff--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Reb: -- one side is like a cliff--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Reb: -- and the other side is that everything is interdependent.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Reb: Is the reason why each of us is a cliff is because we die, and we never know each other because of this cliff-- because as people we just die?

SR: Cliff? Yeah, it means, you know-- it is just parable, you know. It doesn't mean anything, you know, special, you know.

Reb: I mean, why--

SR: [It means] to cut off, you know, various entanglement, in one word. When you do so, you are actually independent. And at the same time, you are closely related. [Laughs.] This is, you know, very interesting. Usually, you know, when you become independent, you know, you are independent, and you have not much-- you are not-- usually you are not supported by people. But if you [are] really independent, you know, then people may support you.

So, you know-- to be independent from everyone means to be supported by everyone, to be related to everyone-- closely related to everyone. When you are closely related to everyone, you are independent. So to be independent [interdependent?]-- and to be independent means same thing, you know. So if you really [are] involved in your everyday activity, you are independent. If you really follow our schedule, you are independent [laughs]. Because you think, “Oh, it is too-- too much,” you know. “Maybe so far as I am here I will observe the rules, but really I don't want to do it. But it can't be helped, “ you know. If you feel in that way, you know, you are not independent. And sometime you may think, “I am-- I must be-- I must have freedom from everything. I must have my own way,” you know. But that-- your own way is not related. If your own way is not is not related to anyone [laughs], it doesn't mean anything, you know. When your way is related to everyone's way, you know, and when you have confidence in your activity, then you are independent. But, you know, [you are] dependent on various people-- you are supported by various people. Do you understand?

Student E: At Tassajara, sometimes we try, as a community, to be independent.

SR: Mm-hmm

Student E: Is this Buddha's way?

SR: Independent?

Student E: Mm-hmm-- not to depend--

SR: How?

Student E: -- not to depend on other people for food, or for clothing, or for our needs. Is this Buddha's way?

SR: Dep- [partial word]-- independent from what?

Student E: To try to be independent from the community-- the larger community-- from [1-2 words unclear].

SR: No, that is not possible [laughs]. It is dream-- daydream [laughs, laughter]. That-- that kind of, you know, independency doesn't mean anything. You will be lost, you know, if you stick to that kind of idea, because that is, you know, very primitive, you know, naïve understanding of human being, you know. Nin-- this is human being, you know [drawing the character for “human”-- two lines leaning on each other]:

-- supported, you know, with [by] each other. This is Chinese character. This is “human being.” [Laughs.]

Student E: Is that like [1-2 words unclear]?

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] We are originally like this, you know. If this is man-- ”Oh, I am strong enough,” you know, “so I don't need my wife” [laughs, laughter]. Your wife may say, you know: “I'm already supporting you! Without me you cannot live. Sometime you should take care of yourself. So for one week I will make trip.” [Laughing so hard he is almost unable to speak.] Then one week-- [laughs, laughter].

It is not so, you know, it is not so agreeable to be like this always to supporting, you know, your husband always. You may feel in that way, but that is, you know, her nature [laughs]. So if-- without this-- something to support, you know, wife cannot exist. That is human being. And I think that is very true. But when you are [makes gesture-- sounds like putting hands together] like this, both are independent. This is independent and this is independent and this is too.

Student E: Is that why Buddha's practice was to beg [?]? Is that part of Buddha's way?

SR: Yeah, that is Buddhist way. We-- our practice, you know, is not always one-sided practice, you know. “Middle Way” means, you know-- not between two extreme is not Middle Way. To be quite independent and dependent is Middle Way. You know, “Middle Way”-- if I say “Middle”-- you s- [partial word]-- I say “Middle Way,” you may understand, “This is Middle Way.” It is not so, actually. To be [laughs] like this [gestures] is Middle Way, you know. To be myself is my Middle Way. So that I can be just myself, you know, I must support someone, you know. And at the same time I must be supported by various people. That is why I can be like this, you know, I can be independent.

Student F: Roshi, today someone was saying, or I think he was saying, “No students, no teacher. No teacher, no students.” That the two-- well, somebody was saying, “Well, what makes the Roshi the Roshi?” And someone else said, “Because he has students.”

SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah.

Student F: You see? You can't be the Roshi without students.

SR: Yeah. Yeah.

Student F: Students can't be students without the Roshi.

SR: Uh-huh.

Student F: So they are both independent but both--

SR: Yes.

Student F: -- together.

SR: Yeah. Together. Without student, no teacher. Yeah. So that is very true, you know. And student encourage teacher [laughs]. It is very much so. If-- usually, if I have, you know-- I know that if I have no student, I may goof off every day [laughs, laughter]. Because I have [laughing] so many students watching me, you know, I must be doing something. I must study so that I can give you some lecture, you know. If there is no lecture, I will not study. But at the same time, you know, I shall be very much ashamed of myself if I, you know, study just to give lecture, you know. That is very, you know, very, you know-- To study is just for myself-- should be. So usually, when I start to prepare for my lecture, I u- [partial word]-- always got to another direction, leaving something to study aside. “Oh, this is interesting.” [Laughs, laughter.] And, you know, most of the time I don't study for the lecture, but still, you know, if I don't study I don't feel so good. Because, you know, I feel I have to prepare for the lecture, I start to study. But as soon as I start to study I start my own study [laughs]-- not for giving lecture. And in this way, you know, things is going on and on, endlessly, and it is good, you know.

Someday what I study will help students. I don't know when [laughs, laughter]. Just to feel good we study, and just to feel better we practice zazen. No one knows, you know, what will happen to us after sitting, you know, one, two, or ten years. No one knows. No one knows is right. Just to feel good we sit zazen, actually. Eventually that kind of practice, you know-- practice of purposeless practice-- eventually [will] help you in its true sense.

Again! [Perhaps referring to the lateness of the hour.]



Today We May Be Very Happy
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture VI
Wednesday, June 10, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 73)

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

Shiki moto shitsuzo wo kotonishi,
sho moto rakku wo kotonisu.
An wa jochu 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 shitsuzo wo kotonishi. Shiki moto shitsuzo wo kotonishi. Shiki is, you know, in Prajnaparamita Sutra. Shiki soku zeku. Shiki. Same character as shiki. Shiki moto shitsuzo wo kotonishi. Shiki means, you know, “form and color.” It has two meanings: form and color. Things which-- form and color. Shitsuzo wo kotonishi, sho moto rakku: Sho [is] in Prajnaparamita Sutra. We have many [of] this character-- sho, voice, which is the object of, you know, ears. Sho moto-- shitsuzo wo kotonishi-- rakku wo kotonisu: means that whatever you see, you know-- shitsuzo-- shitsu means “quality” or “nature.” “Quality” or “nature” is shitsu, like human nature or buddha nature or good nature, evil nature. Nature is shitsu. Zo 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. Ku 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.

And we suffer from it, you know. When you hear something good you will enjoy it, but when you hear something bad you will be annoyed or you will be disturbed by it. Although, you know, for usual person, you know, things happens in that way. But if you understand the reality completely, you know, you will not be bothered by it, because-- and here is the reason is here.

We understand things in two ways. One way is, you know, as I told you in last lecture, to understand things in darkness. And the other understanding is to observe things in term of good or bad. That is-- There are two ways of understanding. And we know that-- We-- Things themselves has no good or bad, you know. It is-- Things are not good or bad. It is we people who discriminate things [as] good or bad. So things are not-- There is no good or bad in things themselves. But we create-- We discriminate things in term of good or bad.

So if we know that, you know, we will not suffer so much: “Oh, that is,” you know, “what I am doing. Not things itself has no good or bad nature. To understand in this way is to understand things in utter darkness. You do not, you know, involved in dualistic understanding of good or bad.

So An, or An wa jochu no koto ni kanai. An is “darkness.” Darkness include, you know, include good and bad. In the dark, superior or inferior cannot be distinguished. Here this word, jo-- jo is, you know, “superior,” and chu is “middle,” but [laughs] actually it means-- jochu-- superior, middle, and inferior. So jochu means, actually, “superior and inferior,” not “middle,” you know. It is not so usual to say “superior or middle,” you know [laughs]. When we say “superior,” it is more natural to say “inferior,” but as this is a kind of poem, and so sound-- jo-- it is better sound to say, you know, jochu rather than to say joge, you know. Jochu -- if we say jochu, means you feel, you know, better. Joge is too much discrimination, so he says-- he used chu instead of ge. Jochu no koto ni kanai.

Koto is “words.” This [pointing to ku character on the blackboard] is also “words.” Utter darkness-- superior-- good words and bad words will be-- will not make-- will not disturb you. It means that it will not make much sense, you know, or you will not be bothered by it, you know. You will not be affect[ed] by good words or bad words.

This [kanai] means “to include,” or “to fit,” you know, together. Mei wa seidaku no ku wo wakatsu. Mei is “brightness.” Brightness will-- In the brightness only duality of pure or impure is apparent. In the brightness-- sei is “pure,” and this [daku] is “impure.” Pure word-- There is pure word and mud-- muddy [laughs]-- muddy word [laughs]. Pure word and, you know, nasty word [laughs]. In brightness we have dualistic, you know, words. Duality of the pure and impure.

This is-- Here [pointing to mei], same words but this means “to make it clear” or “to become apparent.” This two words [koto and ku] is “words.” This [koto] is “words.” This [koto] is more short-- one words, maybe. And this [ku] is longer “words.”

Anyway, in brightness there is only-- there is dualistic words become apparent. In this way, we should, you know, understand things.

“Positive way” and, you know, “negative way,” we say. Positive way-- and positive way is to acknowledge, you know, things in term of good or bad, beautiful or ugly, good student or bad student. If you make, you know, good effort you will be a good student. To acknowledge the effort is, you know, positive way. Negative way is [laughs], you know, “Whatever you say, you will get thirty blow” [laughs]. “We do not accept anything.” That is negative way. Positive way and negative way is, you know-- should be, you know-- sometime positive, sometime negative. We must have that kind of, you know, means of treating things.

But, you know, actually, you know, even though we [are] mad at someone, it does not mean, you know, he do not acknowledge. Because he knows him so well, so [laughs] sometime he will be angry with him. When you know he is very good, but sometime he will be very lazy [laughs]. Then, you know, [the teacher] will hit him. Sometime we will, you know, praise him or we will encourage him, but, you know, it does not mean we are using different quite method or quite different attitude. The understanding is the same, but the ways of, you know, treating him is different. For someone who sees things only, you know, [in a] negative way and become always-- who is always, you know, pessimistic, you know, we will encourage him. But if he is too good [laughs] or too bright, then a teacher will be always scold him [laughs]. That is sometime our way. But originally it does not-- Our way is-- Our understanding is not different. But usually we [are] very much attached to bright side of things and dark side of things.

Do you know famous koan? A monk asked a master, “It is very hot. It is very hot. Is it possible to,” you know, “to feel better?” And the master said, “Why don't you go to somewhere where there is no cold weather or hot weather? Why don't you go there?” [Laughs.] The disciple said, “Is there somewhere,” you know, “where there is no cold or no hot?” The master said, “When it is cold you should be a cold Buddha. When it is hot you should be a hot Buddha.” [Laughs.] That was the answer.

You think, you know, there is somewhere-- if you practice zazen-- you will attain, you know, some stage where there is no cold or no hot, or no pleasure or no suffering. You may think. So you ask him, yeah, “If we practice zazen, is it possible to attain that kind of,” you know, “attainment?” But, you know, the true teacher may say, “When you suffer you should suffer. [Laughs.] When you feel good you should feel good.” You should, you know, be a suffering Buddha. Sometimes you should be a crying Buddha sometime. Or you should be a very happy Buddha sometime.

But, you know, at the same time, the happiness, you know, in its true sense is not exactly the same happiness which usual people have. There is some difference, little bit difference, and that little bit makes a great difference [laughs]. Little bit different. He knows. Because he knows both side of the reality, you know, he has that kind of composure. He will not be disturbed by something bad, and he will not be extremely, you know-- He will not be ecstatic, you know, about things. And he will have true joy, which will always [be] with him. And basic, you know, tone of life is same. And on it there is some, you know, good melody or sad melody. That is, you know, more-or-less, something enlightened people may have. That is the feeling some enlightened people may have. And how-- It does not mean, you know-- It means that, at the same time, when it is hot, you know, or when you are sad, you should be completely involved in sadness without care for something happy. When you are happy, you should just enjoy the happiness. But [laughs], you know, the-- We are-- Why we can do so is because we are always prepared for everything. Even though the circumstances changes all of a sudden, you know, you don't mind. Today you may be very happy, and next day we don't know what will happen to us. But we should be-- When we are ready for things which will happen tomorrow, then, you know, we can enjoy today completely.

Actually how you can do it is not by, you know, [studying a] lecture [laughs] like this, you know, but your practice. So this is Sekito's words, but later, you know, in-- Sekito Kisen Daiosho, Yakusan Igen Daiosho, Ungan Donjo Daiosho, Tozan Ryokai Daiosho. Tozan is fourth generation from Sekito, and [in] Tozan's time people stick to this kind of game, you know: brightness or darkness. And they were very much interested in talking about, you know, bright side and dark side and middle way. And they lost the point-- how to, you know, obtain this kind of freedom from things.

So later, you know, Dogen Zenji did not use this kind of words so much. Dogen Zenji rather put emphasis on to get out of those words. How to get out of those words is to appreciate things moment after moment. That is more Dogen's way. So he rather put emphasis on-- You know, he is more interested in the koan like: “When it is cold, you should be a cold Buddha. When it is hot, you should be a hot Buddha.” That's all. Just hot. [?] To be completely, you know, involved in what you are doing is more Dogen's way-- without, you know, thinking about those things-- and because this kind of, you know, attainment will be obtained by actual practice, not by those words.

But this kind of words will help, you know, your understanding of things. When you are very much dualistic, when you are get into confusion, it may help you. But sometime, you know, you may be interested in talking about those things, you know, then we will lose our way. We should be interested in actual zazen, not in those words. And we should not [be] interested in to talk about those things-- rather to be involved-- rather we should practice actual zazen.

So Dogen Zenji's way is to, you know, to find the meaning in each being-- like a grain of rice, you know, or a cup of water. A cup of water, you may say, is things, you know, which you see in brightness. But if-- when you respect, when you pay full respect to the grain of rice, you know, it means actually when you respect it, as you respect it as you respect Buddha himself, that is, you know, you understand a grain of rice as a, you know, as absolute. Only when you do so-- when you live in a dualistic, you know, world-- completely involved in it-- then you have-- at that time you have absolute world at the same time in its true sense. When you practice zazen, you know, without seeking for any enlightenment or anything, then there is true enlightenment. That is more like Dogen Zenji's way.

If you have questions, please ask me. Hai.

Question/Answer Session

Student A: When something happens and I feel pain from it, part of me feels it, and part of me is trying to understand it at the same time. And I don't know whether that's because I am afraid of just letting go and feeling just pain, or whether that's wise understanding, you know. It's always-- It's half and half. Like, it's not just pain, and it's-- It is dualistic and I don't understand it. It's divided, I think.

SR: Hmm. Do you know why? [Laughs.] That is the point. When your, you know, feeling is divided, sometime you try to understand it, and sometime you, you know, feel. You, you know, make yourself feel, you know, whatever it is. But sometime you try to understand, you know, what is this feeling. What is the other side of the feeling, or something. Is that what you mean?

Student A: Yeah. Lots of the times it goes together, though, at the same time. I mean, like--

SR: Uh-huh. How? Will you explain it more?

Student A: Well, actually I can explain it better in pleasure than I can in pain. Like when I'm enjoying something, or when something gives me pleasure, and I want to-- Like, it gives me such pleasure that part of me is saying, “Now, don't forget,” you know, “everything dies.” And my words are there, but also the understanding is also there. It's like half and half of me-- Sometimes-- and it's at different times-- sometimes I completely just try to feel. I just let it in as much as it will come. Other times, I try to understand it. But most of the time, it's like half-and-half in the same experience. Like, part of me is opening to just let whatever's happening happen, and then part of me is saying. “Now, don't forget,” you know, “this is the way things are, that [snaps fingers] like that, and it's gone.” I feel like you've sort of already explained it when you said, you know, it's not just words, and if your base is really there, then the top of it can just move around, and it doesn't make so much difference what you do. Perhaps you've already answered me.

SR: Mmm. You know, it is-- You have that kind of problem, you know, because you are involved in just personal, you know, problem-- problem just for yourself. So you have that kind of problem, you know. It is, you know-- As long as it means that-- As long as you are involved in personal problem, you know, it is whatever understanding you may have, that is just, you know-- That understanding is, you know, only in bright side in its worst sense [laughs]. It doesn't, you know-- The other side of it is not bright side or darkness-- absolute. It is so, but because you are involved in personal practice, you know, you have no chance to realize the other side of it.

We are talking, you know-- When we talk about this, you know, we are talking-- I am talking as if I am an enlightened person, and you are listening to it as if you are enlightened person [laughs]. In other words, you know, all of us are bodhisattva, and as a bodhisattva we are discussing, you know, this kind of problem. But when you apply this kind of talking just for intellectual understanding or just [to] your problem only, that is-- you have no chance to understand this [thumps something-- perhaps book]-- the other side of it. That is why you have that problem. It is good, you know. If you [are] really practicing bodhisattva way, whichever side it may be, it is okay, you know. When you criticize yourself, it is okay. When you do what you want to do, that is also okay. You are not doing two different things. According to the situation, you are doing something good always. But because, you know-- Why you don't have the confidence in your, you know, in your activity or in your life is because you are-- your practice is involved in selfish practice. Okay?

Student A: I-- That's something I don't understand. I really don't understand where the boundaries of selfishness are.

SR: Hmm?

Student A: I don't understand where selfishness begins and ends, you know. Like-- I feel-- Well, like, my whole life I was taught that if you can't help somebody, then don't do anything, you know?

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student A: And I wouldn't-- I couldn't understand, you know, how you could help anybody-- how, you know-- How are you going to help anybody? How would you possibly know what if [when] something is helpful to another person? And the only thing that I've ever come up with is to feel myself as a person, whatever bounds that may have-- to be whoever I am and to just be human. And that is-- I don't know how far that extends. I don't know what Margaret Crowley [?] is or how far she goes or how little she is.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student A: But I feel like the only way that I can possibly understand what human life is is to be human-- to feel what it is to be human. And I don't understand when you say that that is selfish-- to just experience everyday life.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student A: I don't understand that.

SR: Mm-hmm. Don't understand, yeah. Because you don't, you know-- You have-- Your confidence is not big enough, strong enough. You say, you know, “I don't understand. I don't understand.” That is what you are saying, you know. “I don't understand.” What does it mean? If you don't understand, that is okay. Anyway, as long as you are here, you should do what you should do. You see?

Student A: But what is it that I should do? I--

SR: To follow our schedule, practice zazen, and chant sutra. That is what you should do here. So you are very well protected here. In city life, it is not so simple, you know. When you are in city, you are-- our practice cannot be so simple. So it is difficult to criticize people, as [Grahame] Petchey said, you know, who is in city, who is involved in family life, or, you know-- it is very difficult. So here you are completely protected, and in this well-protected Tassajara, you should practice our way. You see? You want to, you know-- You are trying too much, you know. Tassajara practice and city practice, and you want to attain everything in one place, you know. So that is why you are mixed up. “Human.” What does it mean, you know? There is no human life except zazen or eating. [Tape turned.] -- city life. So there is no problem, even though you go to city life. Even though you have more complicated life than this. Okay. Same. You are still trying to, you know, feel something which is impossible for you to feel right now. As Dogen Zenji said, “There is no bird which fly,” you know, “after you know what it is,” you know [laughs]. Only way is just-- This is, you know, our-- should be our way: “Just fly.” [Laughs, laughter.] Okay?

Student A: I don't understand that last statement you made.

SR: Ah. You are, you know, I think you are fighting with something. You don't-- You-- Why don't you fly just like this? You are making yourself, you know, feel bad. That's all. “You don't understand.” Because you try to understand, you don't understand. If you just [are] involved in our practice day-by-day, you know, when you get up, you should get up. Just get up. Okay? “What shall I do? I am very tired,” you know [laughs]. So that is why you have, you know-- Then you may think next time, “To become tired is some-- I have some reason why I am tired. And when, maybe, when it is tired, you know, to stay in bed is human nature [laughs]. Why is it bad to stay in bed?” Something like that. There is no, you know, limit.

Oh, there is very, you know, interesting story. In China, in war period when the six powerful countries who were fighting-- and king of the Sei, you know, wanted to invade the kingdom of Gi. But there were very good minister, and, you know, he wanted to persuade his king not to invade another country. So he talked about-- He started to talk about the wonderful dog. And it was a good hunting dog. His master, you know-- The dog's master set the hunting dog after-- to catch a hare. Both, you know, both hare and hunting dog were very good. So even though the hunting dog was good, he couldn't catch him, you know. So at last, both hunting dog and hare tired out and dead [laughs]. And who gets, you know? No one gets any benefit [laughs] by setting a hunting dog after a hare. Except the, you know-- If someone picked, you know, dead hare and dead dog up, he may be the only one who gets some benefit [laughs]. He talked about that kind of famous hunting dog. But he did not, you know, his master did not stop invading the neighboring country, you know. There is famous story.

We are something, you know, doing something like that. There is no end in chasing after: What will be the true way? What is human nature? Too much, you know-- Our effort should not be directed in that way, or in this way, you know. Those things. Although I am explaining it, but we should not be-- We shouldn't-- Just try to understand or-- It will help, you know. But you-- we shouldn't think this is only way, this is the best way to understand Buddhism. So maybe because I am explaining this, so I am maybe-- I am encouraging you to think about [laughs] your problem. But it is not so, actually. Okay? [Laughs.]

Student A: No [she laughs].

SR: “No.” That is want of, you know, spirit of real practice. Okay? If you come here, you should practice hard. Just practice. Practice is first, okay? Forget all about human nature [laughs, laughter]. Human nature is in your practice. There is nowhere [else?]. Okay? Hai.

Student B: When I am fully awake I have, maybe, a little control over my desires, but in the mornings [laughs, laughter]--

SR: That is what I am saying. In the morning you have trouble. I know that [laughs, laughter]. So that is why I say, “Get up!” [Pats on table four times.]

Student B: And how do you do that?

SR: How you do that? Just do it. Or else someone will go and hit you. [Picks up stick. Makes a sort of humorous growl. Laughs, laughter.] Okay? [Laughter.] Great--

Student B: I “just got up” I think a couple of times, you know--

SR: That is good.

Student B: -- jumped out of bed. But it was really-- It was such a big thing that-- [Laughs, laughter.]

SR: Yeah, that is big thing [laughter]. So if you can get up, you know, pretty well, I think your practice is almost okay [laughs]. That is very good chance to practice our zazen, you know. Just get up. Okay? That is the most important thing.

Student B: It's like I hear the bell, and as soon as I hear it there's this big thing--

SR: I don't hear anything from it. [Laughter.]

Student B: -- and I just-- I don't want to move. [Laughter.] Then I should get up before I hear the bell. [Laughs, laughter.]

SR: Okay? I am very strict [laughter] on that point. Hai.

Student C [DC]: Roshi. You've made several comments on-- concerning attitude toward the words behind you. [Presumably on the blackboard.] Does this-- Does what you have said apply also, say, to the Heart Sutra and to all sutras?

SR: Yes.

DC: Okay. You're not making any comment-- any particular comment on the Sandokai.

SR: No.

DC: Okay.

SR: No particular comment. Same thing. Hai.

Student D: I was only sitting zazen for some years, and then a student here-- People sometimes ask me questions about our practice, and about my practice, and why I am doing what I'm doing.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student D [Gerry -- -]: For example, someone may say to me, “How long have you been sitting zazen? How long have you been practicing?” And, at such a time, I may think, “Well, Gerry, you could say you've been practicing from beginningless beginning. And perhaps from my experience and from my intellectual understanding at the present time, I might expound on beginningless beginning. Or I might say, “Oh, three years or four years.” I wonder, in such circumstance, if I say one thing or the other, there will be some communication and some information exchanged about one thing or another. But if I say, “Two or three years,” it's very straightforward.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student D: It's quite to the point, and it's true, and it's perhaps more honest. If I say “beginningless beginning” and speak about such a thing, it may be that I know quite well something intellectually about that. But to truly understand that requires considerable confidence. And if I don't have the confidence at the particular time the question is asked, how shall I answer such a question?

SR: Mmm. It's up to you [laughs]. Yeah. It is, you know-- If someone who want to understand intellectually what is our practice, maybe we have to answer more intellectual way, even though it will not help completely. Intellectual understanding is important, but sometime, you know, you are okay, you know. You hesitate to give some intellectual understanding, so that is okay. But if you become proud of, you know, your intellectual understanding, it may be big mistake, I think. So how you answer for such question is very difficult. But if you understand the intention of making question for you, maybe, I can-- you can answer in some appropriate way, I think. Hai.

Student E: Roshi, when you study a book, what does the book give you? You.

SR: Give me?

Student E: Mm-hmm.

SR: Mmm. Mostly, you know, if you-- I study various teachers' way. Now, for me it is necessary to know about various Zen masters. For you, maybe, it is not so important. But for me, I must have some clear picture of what I'm talking about. Or else we-- I cannot say anything [laughs], you see? That is why I study before lecture. And my teacher always told me, “Even though it doesn't help,” you know, “before lecture you should study.” [Laughs, laughter.] Hai.

Student F: Could you speak a little on the nature of sound and of noise?

SR: Sound and noise [laughs]? Some sound, you know-- When you, you know, listen to it, you know, when you listen to it in zazen, you can distinguish sound from noise, you know. If you want to-- Why I discriminate your sound or noise, you know, is because I want to, you know, I want to encourage your practice as a teacher. But, you know, sometime I don't-- I just practice zazen. Just practice zazen with you, forgetting all about teacher or disciple [laughs]. Sometime. Sometime, you know, I feel I have to help you, so I, you know, discriminate your practice. Sometime I correct your posture, you know. But sometime I don't, because I want to sit, maybe, you know, with you. I think if I sit with you, you know, anyway, I am helping you, I am quite sure. But sometime I think it is necessary to correct your posture and to listen to you [hit] mokugyo or drum or bell.

It is not so easy-- It is quite easy to tell, you know. You know, it is like to hand sutra cards for people. When you receive it, you know, the feeling you have, you know, is sometime, you know, maybe, you know-- Sometime it is because of your, you know, disturbed mind, you may not feel so good. But if it is handed to you, you know, with some good feeling, you will naturally feel good. The way of talk, you know, everything is said. So, you know-- In Japan, the-- In bus station or in, you know, in train station they are clipping our ticket, you know. Someone, you know, will give you very good feeling just, you know, clip: “Hai. Hai. Hai.” You know [laughs]. There is big difference in the way they clip our ticket. [Laughs.] I am talking about that kind of thing.

Oh. [Apparently discovers how late it is.]



The Boat Is Always Moving
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture VII
Saturday, June 13, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 83)

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

Line 17 Shidai no sho onozukara fukusu,
Line 18 ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.
Line 19 Hi wa nesshi kaze wa doyo,
Line 20 mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.

Line 17 The four elements resume their nature
Line 18 as a child has its mother.
Line 19 Fire is hot, wind blows,
Line 20 water wets, and earth is solid.]

Next-- as we have big blackboard, I want to explain those characters. This is-- those characters are, of course, Chinese characters, and-- but Japanese people read those characters in-- in Japanese, you know, without changing the order of characters. How we read those characters is-- this is one word, shidai:

Shidai-- Shidai no. We put here no. Shidai no sho onozukara fukusu. [Writing on blackboard.]

Shidai no sho onozukara-- we write here, you know, in kana-- fukusu:

Ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi. We read in this way, you know.

In Chinese:

[Line 17] Shi dai sho ji fuku
[Line 18] nyo shi toku go bo.
[Line 19] Ka net su do yo,
[Line 20] sui su shi ken go.

This is, you know, Chinese way of reading. But we-- Japanese people read Chinese sentences like this:

[Line 17] Shidai no sho onozukara fukusu,
[Line 18] ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.
[Line 19] Hi wa nesshi kaze wa doyo,
[Line 20] mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.

And we put Shidai no-- Shidai no sho: “Nature of,” you know, “of-- of” is no. “Nature of four elements.” Onozukara, “naturally.” Fukusu or “resume.”

And this [gotoshi] is “like.” And this [ko] is a “child.” This [uru] is “have” or “obtain.” And “this” [sono] is that or his “mother” [haha].

[Line 18] ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi.

The order of words is different from-- Japanese order of words different from Chinese order of words, which is like-- something like, you know, English. So, you know-- so we call those words tenyoha which is peculiar to Japanese language.

This [no] means, you know, “of.” Shidai no sho. This [sho, “nature”] is, you know, subject and this [no, “of”] makes, you know, this word [shidai, “four elements”] adjective of this noun [sho, “nature”]. Shidai no sho. “Nature of four elements.” Onozukara [fukusu]: “naturally resumed.” Ko no-- ko no-- ”like a child”-- [uru] “get”-- [sono] his-- [haha] mother.”

And fire heat, the wind blow; and water wet, and earth is solid [taps something like the tatami with his hand].

So we read Chinese scripture in two ways: sometime in Japanese, you know, this kind of scripture we read in two ways. Sometime in Japanese like this, you know. Our eyes should go [laughs]-- go back and forth like this-- Shidai no sho onozukara fukusu, ko no sono haha wo uru ga gotoshi-- we read. Up and down. Sometime, you know, this kind of-- this word may be two [or] three lines ahead. So we-- after reading two-three lines we have to come back [to] this [character]. Rather complicated, but we have been doing-- we have been reading in that way when we read Chinese language and Chinese books.

Tonight I must explain from here [the blackboard]. Shidai is “four elements.” Buddhists, you know, understand-- Buddhists have the idea of elements. Elements of various being. We count four elements, you know, like fire, water, and wind, and earth. Wind, fire, water, [and earth]. So those four elements-- nature, you know, this elements has its own nature. We shouldn't say so, but tentatively we think those four elements has its-- their nature.

Fire-- nature of fire is to make things, you know, perfect, you know, to-- like you boil something, you know, by heating things, things will be more, you know, mixed up [blended?] or something-- more perfect, anyway, we say “perfection.”

And wind brings things mature, you know, wind. I don't know why, but [laughs] wind nature, you know, encourage things to be more mature. Little bit different from this, you know [compares characters for fire and wind]. This [air] is more organic, you know, activity. This [fire] has more chemical, you know, activity.

And this-- water-- nature of water is to contain things in it, you know. In water we [laughs]-- wherever you go, there is water. So we rather think opposite way: Water contains everything, you know. Instead of saying tree has, you know, in the bark of the tree there is water, we may say, but the water contains bark of the tree-- leaves and everything. So water is something great, big being in which everything exist. We exist in water.

And nature of earth is to-- solid nature is the element of earth. Earth does not mean “land”-- but some solid nature of the material is earth.

So things, you know-- we-- if you-- according to Buddhists, you know, things will be-- if you divide things, you know, [into] smallest piece imaginable, you know, like-- I don't know English term for that. Do you see? Yeah.

Student: Atomic?

SR: Yeah. Something like that.

Student: Molecule.

Yeah. More-- Yeah, “atom,” maybe. But, you know, that is not final, you know, final piece. That final piece [is] called gokumi. Gokumi is the smallest piece imaginable, you know. That final being is-- consists of-- has four-- those four natures. So we say final atom is consists of those four elements. So this is-- it is something like, you know, modern physics, you know. I-- I ca- [partial word]-- I don't know how to explain it, you know, because I don't know the proper words for that. Plus and minus and, you know, how final atom is consist of is plus [positive valence] and minus [negative valence]. And those are, you know, something like that.

And we-- the str- [partial word]-- it is strange enough to say-- they have same idea, you know-- you-- modern physics, you know, thinks final being is-- has no weight or no size, you know. It is just current.

We-- we Buddhists think in that way. Those-- although final being is consist of those-- has those four natures, and accordingly we can say it con- [partial word]-- final piece is-- consists of-- consist of four elements, but-- but that is-- that is not something solid being. When we reach to this, you know, nature of being, that is just, you know, emptiness, we say.

So, you know, when we come to this idea, we come to the idea of emptiness. It is not-- those elements is not something which exist actually [as a] materialistic being. It is something, you know, which is not material, which is just energy. So we call it ku [gokumi?].

So this is four elements [points to fire, water, wind, and earth], but we [Buddhists] add one more. And we say five elements. Five [Four] elements has, you know, add one more which is empty-- empty nature. [Writes on board:

Line 19 Hi wa nesshi kaze wa doyo,
Line 20 mizu wa uruoi chi wa kengo.]

So that is empty-- all empty [laughs].

Even though it is empty, you know, from emptiness those nature will be appear, you know, will come into being. And as soon as those four na- [partial word]-- be- [partial word]-- nature come into being, we form idea of elements or final piece. And the material is consist of those elements. That is Buddhistic understanding of being. So--

It looks like we are explaining-- talking about some material, but when we come to this, you know, idea of elements, that element is not just material. It is both spiritual and material. And when thinking, you know, mind is also-- when we come to this element, thinking mind is included. So we say it is empty.

So when we say “emptiness”-- emptiness-- the idea of emptiness include both material and spiritual. Or material and-- mind and objects. Subjective world and objective world. And emptiness is final being to which we-- our thinking mind cannot reach.

So, Shidai no sho-- nature of-- nature-- those [four] nature-- ”nature of four elements naturally,” you know, “in itself”-- you can say “[are] empty” [writes on board], but here he says “resume to its own nature,” you know. It means “come to emptiness.”

[Line 18] Just like a children has his mother.

When, you know, there is children, there must be his mother, you know. Without children [laughs], there is no-- without mother there is no children. That children is here means mother is here. That emptiness is here means four nature is here, you know. If four nature-- even though four nature is there, that is nothing but tentative formation of the final emptiness. That is same thing as “a child has its-- his own mother.”

All those, you know, four sentence-- finally, you know, what does it mean is, you know, talking about, you know, independency of being. Although there is many, you know, elements, those elements originally-- naturally co- [partial word]-- resume to its nature. So although there is-- there are many things, they are-- each one of them are independent. And a child is independent, even though they have-- he has his own mother. And fire is independent with its nature of heat; and wind is independent with its nature of moving; and water is independent with its nature of moisture; the earth is independent with its nature of solidness. So everything is independent, you know, it means. And this four sentences introduce, you know-- follow the ten sentences which is talking about truth of independen- [partial word]-- independency.

In this Sandokai, you know, Sekito Zenji-- Sekito Zenji-- Sekito explained the reality in two ways. Now he is explaining reality from the viewpoint of dependency. Four elements are independent, although it has its own source. A child is independent, although he has his mother. Fire is independent with its nature of heat. Water is independent with its nature of moisture. And earth is independent with its nature of solidness.

Here translation goes-- I don't know whose translation it is:

[Line 17] The characteristic of the four elements drew together.

Drew together. Characteristics of the four elements resume its self. “Resume its original nature,” maybe, which is emptiness. And:

[Line 18] Like a child returning to its mother.

This is [laughs] rather poor, you know, translation maybe. “Like a child has its mother” is more accurate. That there is child means that there is mother, you know. That is what it means.

The heat of fire, the moving wind, the water wet, and the solid earth. It is better to put period here [Line 20, after “solid earth”] and maybe “Like a child has its mother” [Line 18]. And heat-- fire-- element of fire has its nature of heat. The element of wind has its nature of moving. Or having fire-- what [laughs]-- I don't know how to say-- the heat of fire, the moving wind-- or “element of fire with its nature of heat, the element of wind with its nature of moving, the element of water with its nature of wet, the element of earth with its nature of solidness-- are all independent,” maybe. If you put period here [after “solid earth”] and-- mis- [partial word]-- [add to Line 17] “has its own nature,” then maybe, you know, it is-- it makes clear sense.

[Line 21] Eyes to see, sound to hear--

This is for next day, but I will repeat-- I will read it-- the connection, you know, so that you can understand this sentence better.

[Line 21] Eyes to see, sound to hear, and smells--
[Line 22] The sour and salty taste on the tongue.
[Line 23] But in each related things,
[Line 24] As leaves grow from roots,
[Line 25] End and beginning returns to the source.
[Line 26] “High” and “low” are used respectively:

And all those, you know [colons] [taps several times], better to put period here [after “respectively” etc.].

And-- one, two, three, four, five, six-- [Lines 21-26] those six sentences means the idea of, you know, understanding of independency. Things-- things exist in two ways: one is independency, and the other is dependency or interrelated[ness]. But although they are interrelated, they are independent, you know. You-- each one of you are independent, but you are related with each other. That is, you know-- Even though you are related with each other, you are independent. So you can say both ways.

So this-- all those sentences are expressing the idea of reality from the side of dependence-- independence [corrected self]. Mmm.

So, you know-- mmm-- do you understand [laughs] what he means? Usually, you know, when we say “independent,” you know [laughs], you have no idea of dependency. That is non-Buddhistic understanding. Buddhists, you know, always, think, you know-- understand reality, you know. We know reality, you know, we understand things completely so we will not be mixed up. We will not be confused by saying “independency” or “dependency.” If someone said, “Everything is independent,” [we say], “Okay, yeah, that is so.” And if some other person may say, “That is-- things are interrelated,” [we say], “Oh, that is okay.” Both is okay. We just-- we understand both side, so whatever you say, that is okay.

But if someone stick to some i- [partial word], you know, one-sided idea, you know, we may say “No!” [Laughs.] If you say everything is independent, “No!” If you stick to the idea [of] independency of the being, only, you know, stick to the idea of independency, I will say to him, “No! You are wrong.” And if he stick to-- if someone else stick to the idea of independency, you know, then we will say, “No! You are wrong.”

There is many koans like this. “If the final karma,” you know, “fire burned everything up, at that time whether buddha-nature [laughs] [will] still [be] there or not?” That is question. And sometime he [the teacher] said, “Yes, it exist.” Some other time, some monk came and asked him, “When the karma fire burned everything up, then what will become of the buddha-nature?” “It will not exist.” [Laughs.] Both is true. People may ask him, you know, “Before you-- then why did you say it will not-- it will exist?” you know. Then he will get a big slap. “What are you talking about? Don't you understand what I mean?” you know. “'Buddha-nature will not exist' is right; 'will exist' is right.” From the, you know, viewpoint of independency, you know, everything exist with its buddha-nature-- even whatever happen to this world.

But even so, you know, nothing exist when we see from the viewpoint of utter darkness or absolute. Then nothing exist. That which exist is nothingness or darkness, in which maybe things will exist, but what you see or what you say about it is nothing. There is no way to explain things individually.

This is, you know, this is just intellectual, you know, explanation. But here we must have actual feeling. What kind of feeling you will have about things you see, you know-- what kind of difference you have between, you know, from the understanding of usual person of just understanding of being, should be, you know, discussed more.

If we see things, you know, which happened in that-- at that time, when we see, you will appreciate things which you see, and you will appreciate one by one everything. There you have pure gratitude. Even though you are seeing-- observing one piece of flower-- one-- just one flower, that one flower include everything. It is not just flower; it is the absolute itself; it is Buddha himself. We see in that way. But at the same time, at that time we have, you know-- that which exist is just flower, and no one to see or no-- nothing to be seen. That which exist is just flower.

That is the feeling we have in our practice and in our everyday activity. Wherever you work, you have that kind of feeling: a continuity of that kind of refreshed, pure gratitude. So to see, you know, to treat things is to treat Buddha's equipment for us. We understand in this way.

[Sentence finished. Tape turned over.]

But when we memorize something, when we think about something, you know, in term of duality, we observe things, you know, intellectually and understand things intellectually. Even though we understand intellectually, we do not stick to the idea. That understanding should be improved, you know, day by day by our pure thinking. And we do not stick to old, you know, old stump [laughs], you know, stump of the tree. We do not sit on the same stump [laughs] always.

We say, “You cannot catch fish in the same place.” Today [laughs] fortunately you could catch a big fish at some certain place, but tomorrow you should, you know, fish [in] some other place. Or, you know, we say, or we say, you know, “to cut [notch]-- to cut a boat to remember, you know, where we are” [laughs, laughter]. We are, you know-- boat is actually going, so even though you cut, you know, a boat to remember a place-- something beautiful. “Oh! There was something beautiful. This-- and we should remember that beautiful thing-- flower.” Even though you cut the boat, edge of the-- what do you call the--

Several students: Channel. Railing.

SR: Rail? -- maybe railing of the boat, you know, it doesn't help, because boat is going [laughs]. But we, you know, we usually do so, you know: “Oh! That was very good.” And we cut the railing of the boat to remember something [laughs].

This kind of teaching suggest, you know, this kind of foolish, you know-- our foolishness and what is actual Buddhist life. We should not wait here, you know, sitting [laughs] on the same stump all day. They will not come to the same place, with a gun, sitting on the stump [laughs]. It's very foolish [laughs]. Good example of, you know, thinking mind. Even though, you know-- even [if] it is so, we should appreciate what you see right now. “Oh! That beautiful flower.” You know, we should appreciate. We should have full appreciation of it, but we should not cut the rail-- railing of the boat.

Or we should not wait, you know, maybe, for her coming, sitting [laughs], standing at the same place. She may come by this time of the day, but [laughs] sometimes she may come, but sometimes she doesn't come. I have something like this experience. I would stand up, you know-- I would wait for her coming [laughs], sitting [laughs]. Sometime she may come; sometime, you know, she may not. So, you know, if she come, we are lucky. If she doesn't, that's okay [laughs, laughter]. If she come, you know, you are lucky. If she doesn't [laughs], you shouldn't complain [laughs, laughter].

Do you have some question? Hai.

Student A [Reb Anderson]: Last week you said that if we understand our closeness, our dependence with other things, then we are independent.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Reb: Are we independent even if we don't understand this?

SR: Yeah, it is so, but for you I don't know. You know, if you-- even though you don't understand it, but if you admit this truth, you know, it is so. So you cannot-- you will not stick to some idea-- one-- only one idea. Or you will not be so arrogant, you know. Independent and interdependent. So, if you, you know, if you don't have actual close feeling to others, but if you know this fact, even intellectually, you know, you will not make-- you will not make so big mistake, I don't think.

It is so-- actually it is so, but the point is you don't feel so, you know, you don't understand in that way. So we-- here there is something which we-- which is very important [holding up or pointing to something?]. This kind of, you know-- when we talk about this way, it means that we talk about things as if I am completely enlightened person [laughs]. For enlightened person, this is very true, but for the people who is not enlightened, this is just talk, you know.

So when our practice follow this kind of understanding, that is true, you know, Buddhism. It should not be just intellectual understanding. But even, you know, [if] you practice hard, without this kind of understanding, your practice may be very, you know-- it doesn't make much sense. Your practice is still involved in the idea of somethingness. Hai.

Student B: What's missing? You said that for an enlightened person that's very true--

SR: Uh-huh.

Student B: -- and for an unenlightened person it's just talk.

SR: Uh-huh.

Student B: What's missing--

SR: [Speaking simultaneously with student.] What is missing?

Student B: -- for an unenlightened person?

SR: Yeah. The practice is missing. Practice is missing. So only when you practice zazen hard, this is true. And even though, at the same time, even though you practice hard, you know, your practice will not be always complete, you know. So at that time, there is big gap between the truth and your actual understanding-- understand- [partial word]-- actually experience. It doesn't, you know, go together. Your intellectual understanding is high, but your practice may be low.

So just intellectual-- to have intellectual understanding is easy, we say, but actual practice-- emotional-- and more emotional practice is difficult. To feel in that way is difficult. So we say intellectual-- and to have-- to destroy the understanding-- intellectual understanding of something is easy, you know. Or to have understanding of nothingness is easy. Intellectually it is easy. But emotionally it is not so difficult [easy?]. We easily stick to something. So, you know, it is-- we say to-- it is-- emotional, you know, difficulty is as hard as to split a lotus in two, you know. Even though you split in two, the strings [roots?] [laughs]-- long string will follow and you cannot get rid of it. Still string is here.

But thinking, you know, difficulties-- intellectual difficulty is as easy as break a stone in two. [Makes whacking noise.] Nothing left, you know.

Student C [Bill Shurtleff?]: Does that mean that if a person sees one person doing something to another person that's hurting the other person-- let's say that I see someone doing something that's hurting another person.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student C: And I feel emotionally upset by that hurting [?]-- that actually I'm not seeing clearly and I'm not understanding what's happening.

SR: Actually, what is the point of the question?

Student C: The question is: The only reason that I'm upset when I see someone doing something that looks like it's hurting another person is that--

SR: You-- when you doing helping something or someone else?

Student C: I see a situation in which it looks to me as if one person is hurting another person. And I become upset in that situation.

SR: Oh, I see.

Student C: The question is: Is that-- I'm becoming upset because I'm not seeing the situation as it actually is, and that if I were seeing it as it actually is, I wouldn't be emotionally upset. That's my question.

SR: Oh, I see. But that is very difficult question to answer, you know, because, you know, it is difficult to know whether one is helping the other with-- in some appropriate way or not, you know? So if it is not appropriate, you will be upset, you know. At least you will worry, you know. When one is helping appropriate, you know, when you upset-- sometimes that happens, you know. If, you know, you-- if someone is helping your girlfriend in proper way [laughs], you may be-- anyway you will be upset, you know. [Laughs, laughter.] That kind of thing happens pretty often, so it is very difficult [laughs, laughter] to answer.

Student C: Roshi, my question is more that a person who really sees things clearly-- is there no situation that would upset him emotionally?

SR: I don't think so, you know, emotionally, you know. But “upset” I say, or you say, but that feeling-- there is big difference, you know, in that feeling too. Maybe Buddha will be upset, you know, easily-- quite easily. But when he is upset, you know, even though he's upset he's not upset because-- just because of him or because of his attachment or anything like that. And sometime he will be very angry [laughs], you know. Anger is al- [partial word]-- allowed when that is Buddha's anger, you know, when he is angry when he should be angry. But that anger is not exactly the same anger we will have, usually. You know, that is, you know-- if he is not upset when he should be upset, you know, that is also violence [violation] of the precepts. When he should be angry, he should be angry. He must be angry. That is how the difference between Mahayana precepts and more, you know-- that's a characteristic of Mahayana way of observing precepts.

We say it is-- sometime anger may be like a sunset, you know. It is beautiful. Red. [Laughs.] It is-- anyway, it-- although it is red and, you know, bright and red, but, you know, even though it looks like anger, but it is actually a beauty. So there is, you know, that kind of difference. But so how-- you know, if-- if anger comes, you know, from purity like a lotus, it is good, I think. From pure mind. Hai.

Student D: Roshi, I've observed that many times our emotions seem to be independent of our minds-- of our intellectual understanding-- and have a life of their own, a life outside that has nothing to do with the life of what you know or understand or in your mind.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student D: What is the source of emotion in the body or in our understanding? Where does that emotion--

SR: Emotion--

Student D: -- come from?

SR: -- you know, more-- it is maybe mostly it comes from, you know, physical, you know, source, physical part of maybe, you know, physiological thing. And thinking is, you know, some mind which ignore, you know, those physical things-- more universal, you know, river. We think-- when we think, we think [as a] more universal river, ignoring each conditions and conditions-- various conditions-- or else we cannot think, you know. We-- if we count various condition, you know, five, ten, or twenty, or more-- one hundred conditions [laughs]-- it is not possible to think.

So the characteristic of thinking mind is to ignore all the conditions and to follow the, you know, track of the thinking mind. So, you know, it doesn't fit. Thinking mind doesn't fit to the each, you know, case we meet-- we face. So, you know, tendency of man is just to think and go on: Whatever it happens doesn't matter. [Makes humorous grunting noise, laughs.] “What are you talking about? We should do this!” you know. That is man's, you know, way. But women stick to various conditions and carefully observe various conditions and figure out what we should do one by one.

That is also true with our thinking mind and emotional feeling. So how to adjust is, you know, when we p- [partial word]-- our actual practice is more physiological practice, not thinking mind. You know, ignoring all the conditions, just to sit on black cushion [taps cushion] is the practice.

So there is similarity, you know, in thinking mind and emotional practice. When you practice zazen, we ignore almost all the conditions we have. Our-- when we practice zazen, our emotional situation is-- already emotionally we ignore things. Just like you think. So in zazen practice there is-- it is easier to, you know, to practice emotional practice and thinking practice.

Student D: Roshi?

SR: Hai.

Student D: What happens when the flame goes out?

SR: Hmm? Flames?

Student D: Yeah. You said the heat is independent and dependent and interdependent all at the same time. But sometimes it goes out completely.

SR: Goes-- ?

Student D: Turn it out--

SR: Oh.

Student D: -- like on that lamp. And there's no flame at all. You know, it's none of these things, is it?

SR: But, yeah. That is [taps stick], you know, interesting questions-- question-- and they explain various way, you know. Heat-- it does not mean just heat, you know. It is some element which exist in each piece of, you know, atom.

Student D: Can the flame go out in that little “each piece?”

SR: Flame nature, maybe, you may say. You know, flame nature fall and [laughs]-- some people, you know, some people say, “In each gokumi-- gokumi is last element or last piece of the material. In last piece of the material, which is the-- which you cannot divide any more, you know, last piece. In that last piece, four, you know, elements is in it. Last element is-- consist of four elements in same, you know, in same quantity. And when, you know, fire element, you know, becomes strong, by some chance, you know, it will be a fire, you know. But if fire nature is-- become weak, and water nature become strong, then it-- that will be something water[y], you know. They explain in that way. So, even though four elements are equally, you know, exist in the last piece, you know, according to the situation, some element will become strong. That is one explanation.

And the other is, you know, according to the material, you know, in last piece, some piece will have stronger, you know, or more fire element-- maybe 99 percent of fire element-- then that will be fire, you know. Some school explain how fire exist and why-- how fire, you know-- why fire, you know, exist-- why does it exist when we extinguish it?

Student D: That last little piece, then, will always have fire? It can never go away?

SR: No, not that-- not all-- that piece is not completely fire, but, you know, it include some other element but not strong enough, sometime, or not much enough. They explain each things in that way-- why water is water, you know. Water does not mean this water [taps his cup], you know. Water nature. Some element [laughs]. Some water-like element. It is not exactly water we see. Do you understand?

Student D: I think I do. Water has a nature to flow, so it's more than just that [1-2 words inaudible].

SR: Yeah, but what they are talking about as water is not this water [tapping his cup of water]. Some, you know, some nature which exist in the last piece of element of things.

Student D: You can't lose that piece of water.

SR: Hmm?

Student D: You can't lose that water.

SR: Yeah. [Laughs.]

Student E: Roshi?

SR: Yeah. Yeah.

Student E [Bill Shurtleff?]: Could I explain a little bit about how Western physics would say the same thing?

SR: Mm-hmm.

That as a parti- [partial word]-- as you get to the smallest particle, you can't tell when it turns into energy. There's a point at which it's no longer a particle, but it's also no longer energy. At the same time, you can't tell when it behaves like a wave and when it behaves like a particle. It behaves-- sometimes if you think of it as a wave, it behaves like a wave. But if you think of it as a particle, it behaves like a particle. And the same thing is true with a charge-- we say “an electrical charge.” It has charge and yet it doesn't have charge, like an atom has positively charged protons, negatively charged electrons, and neutrons. But these conditions are continually changing, mostly depending on your point of view. That might be something like that understanding.

SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Hai.

Student F: Roshi, I have some difficulty in listening to the lecture. For example, when I chant[ed] the Sandokai when I knew nothing about what it meant, I was able to concentrate on my breathing and my voice coming from my hara. But now I start thinking of san meaning “many,” and do meaning something else. [Suzuki and several students are laughing.] And I lose touch with my activity. And now I find myself thinking, when you were holding your cup, “It has four elements.” [Laughter.]

And it creates difficulty. I know it's because I get attached to what you say-- to the words and to the ideas that they are. And the dark, the ri side, is becoming-- is, you know, the ji side and the ri side. The ji now, when I chant the Sandokai, the intellectual, the bright side, is strong, and I don't enjoy chanting that sutra any more. [Laughter.]

Student G [DC]: He lost his ri.

Student F: Could you-- could you maybe give me some advice on how to avoid these kinds of difficulties?

SR: Yeah, you cannot avoid it. [Laughter.]

Student F: -- or else maybe enjoy them?

SR: That is, you know, why I am telling you. You know, you have to polish your, you know, understanding.

Student F: Is it understanding? You know, when we get up in the morning-- and we talked about it the other day, that we should just-- you say, “Get up! Just get up! [Suzuki laughs.] So this morning, when I woke up, I usually just get up. But then I heard-- [loud laughter]-- I started to think. I didn't get up right away. I waited until the [wake-up] bell came back across. It came once and then it came back, and then I started to think about what was said in the lecture, and I just gave up.

SR: That is not because of lecture, but-- [laughing]. That is not my fault.

Student F: It's-- my question is-- it's sort of a question really-- can we-- is our practice to have subjective understanding with-- can we have subjective understanding of our practice without having some kind of objective or right understanding, or do we have to balance them, have both of them? Can we practice Buddha's way without knowing Buddha's way intellectually?

SR: If you can, you are very lucky [laughs]. But, unfortunately, we cannot practice without intellectual understanding, I think. Yeah.

Student F: If we sit zazen and we have correct posture and we follow our breathing, do we have to have these kinds of concepts or ideas about Buddhism like the four elements and--

SR: No, no. At that time we should forget.

Student F: I mean, do we have to understand the ideas of Buddhism when we practice?

SR: You have to, you know, because you tend to think [about] things in that way. So we have to, you know, back and forth, we should polish up our understanding so that we cannot be intellectually mixed up. That is important, I think.

Oh! [Sees how late the time is. Laughter.] When I saw it last time it was-- I had fifteen minutes. Your question was too good. [Laughs.]



Without Any Idea of Attainment
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture VIII
Wednesday, June 17, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 95)

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

Line 21 Manako wa iro, mimi wa onjo,
Line 22 hana wa ka, shita wa kanso.
Line 23 Shikamo ichi-ichi no ho ni oite,
Line 24 ne ni yotte ha bumpusu.
Line 25 Hommatsu subekaraku shu 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--

[Aside.] It is working?

Student: It doesn't sound like it.

Hmm? Oh. And that is the sound. Can you hear me? No. Huh? Oh. I must make-- okay.

Student [to other students]: Perhaps you could move forward to make two rows.

Will you come nearer to me?
Student [to other students]: Come forward.

Sit one more row between. Okay. Yeah. Please come nearer as much as possible. [Sounds of movement.]

In Sandokai, you know, actually, [Sekito is] talking about reality and the people, you know, forgetting all about this point, involved in some, you know, getting to discrimination which school of Zen is right-- right or wrong, you know. Southern school or Northern school. This kind of dispute were all over. So that is why Sekito Zenji--

Can you hear me now [laughs]? No?

That is why Sekito Zenji wrote this poem. And here he discuss from the viewpoint-- he is talking about reality from viewpoint of independency, you know. So when we talk about, you know, independency, the Southern school is independent, you know. Northern school is independent. But there is no reason why we should compare two. Northern school represent, you know, all Buddhism. And Southern school include all the Buddhism. When, you know, both school is expressing whole Buddhism in their own way, you know, there is no reason why we should compare.

Rinzai school, you know, has its-- has their own approach to reality, and Soto school has our own approach to the reality, you know. When they have-- when there is-- when approach is different, there is no reason why we should compare. That is the point, you know.

Sekito Zenji is pointing at this point, talking about what is reality. He actually do not talk about Northern school-- dispute of Northern school or Southern school. But actually, talking about what is reality and what is Buddha's teaching in its true sense. He is, you know, pointing out at the mistake, you know, of the two schools at that-- at his time.

Anyway, tonight-- those three [couplets] we explained-- I explained already four sentences-- four clause-- clauses. And now tonight I want to explain six more clause [lines] which denote the reality from the viewpoint of independency-- independency. Here he says: “Eyes-- ”

[Line 21] Manako wa iro, mimi wa onjo,

is “eyes.” “Eye-- eyes to see, ear to hear sound.” For eyes there is color or form. This shiki means “color and form.”

[Line 21] For eyes there is color; for ears there is sound and voice.
[Line 22] And for nose there is smell; for tongue there is taste of salt
or sour.

This, you know, means-- it looks like, you know, he is talking about duality or dependency-- dependency of dharma of eyes and it object. But actually, when, you know, we-- even though you see something, you know, if you see things in its true sense, there is nothing to be seen or no one to see, you know, actually. But when you analyze, there someone who is seeing something and something which is seen by us-- by eyes. This is only one activity-- only one, you know, activity could be understand in two ways. I see something. But actually when I see something really, you know, there is no one who is seeing it and who-- nothing to be seen, actually. Both is true, and he is talking about oneness of the form and eyes here. That is how, you know, Buddhists observe things. But sometime we observe-- we understand things in its dualistic sense, but we don't forget to-- dualistic understanding of “I see” or “someone is seen by someone-- something is seen by someone is some interpretation-- something which our thinking mind produce. Subjective-- subject and object. But subject and object is one. So subject and object is one and two. Or that is our understanding. One and many. One and two.

So he want to say is for eyes, there is form; for ears there is sound and voice. But actually, there is no two or-- there is no form or no eyes. When you say “eyes,” eyes include form. When you say “form,” form include eyes. If there is no form, nothing to see, you know, eyes is not eyes anymore [laughs]. Because there is something to see, eyes become eyes. Same is true with ears and nose. Dogen Zenji says, “If there is no river,” you know, “there is no ship.” Even though there is ship, that is not ship [laughs]. That will be a house [laughs, laughter]. Because there is a river, a ship becomes ship. Same is true with our eyes.

Usually, you know, non-Buddhists why, you know, they become attached to objective world or something they see, is they understand only one way, you know. “Here is something very good,” you know, “or sweet. I have to eat,” you know. And we understand something exist here without, you know, us-- whether we try to eat it or not, the cake exist. That is normal way of understanding. But cake is-- become cake because we want to eat it. So we make cake, you know. There is no cake, actually, without us. When we understand in that way, we are not-- we are seeing cake, but we are not seeing cake [laughs]. That is how we keep our precepts, you know.

We, you know, we kill some animal. Maybe we may kill some animal or worm or insects or earwigs [laughs, laughter]. But when we think, you know, “I am killing earwigs are here,” you know, “many. So this is very harmful one, so I have to kill this one,” you know. When you understand in that way, you understand things only dualistic way. So-- But, you know, actually earwig and human being is one-- not different. Even it is impossible to kill, you know, earwigs. Even though we think we killed it, you know, actually we cannot. It is not possible, even though you smash it [thumps fist on floor or table, laughs], it is still alive. That tentative form of earwig may vanish, but actually whole world-- as long as, you know, whole world, including us, is exist, we cannot kill it. When we come to this understanding, we can keep our precepts completely.

But even so [laughs], you know, we should not kill, you know, anything without any reason or with some convenient reason-- making some reason why I should kill: “Because,” you know, “earwig eats vegetables, so that is why I must kill them.” And “It is nothing wrong to kill animals,” you know, “so I am killing the earwig.”

With this-- With some reason, you know, you kill an animal, that is not our way. Actually, when you kill animal, you don't feel so good. That should be, you know-- That is also included in your understanding. “Even though I don't feel good, I have to kill. Even though it is not possible,” you know, “tentatively I am killing animal.” In this way, whole world, you know-- something is going in the big world.

So without sticking to any idea of killing or not killing, or without, you know, with some reason why we kill or why we don't kill-- if you observe our precept in that way, that is not actual way of observing precepts. How you observe precepts is to have complete understanding of reality is how you don't kill. Do you understand? In other word, how you understand, you know, my lecture is how you don't kill [laughs]. How you practice zazen is how you do not kill animal. In other words, you should not, you know, live in the world of duality only.

We should observe our world in two ways: from-- one is from dualistic, you know, way; the other is from the viewpoint of absolute. So, “It is not good to kill,” is right. It is not impossible-- and “Even though you think you kill, you didn't kill.” That is another side. So, you know, even though you break your precepts, you are violent [have violated] your percepts-- after doing it, if you feel very sorry, you know-- ”Oh, I am sorry” [laughs]. If you say “I am very sorry” to the wigs-- earwigs, you know, then that is Buddhist way.

In this way, our practice will go on and on and on. You may think, you know, if you-- if there is precepts we should observe it literally, or else we cannot be Buddhist. Or, you know, if you feel good when you observe some precepts, that is not Buddhist way-- our way. Our way is, you know, sometime we may kill animal. But to feel sorry, that is our way. To feel sorry is included in our precepts. That is how we observe precepts. And, you know, this kind of activity will go on and on and on. And everyone is, you know, involved in this kind of activity. Everything is doing this kind of thing. But way they do-- the feeling they have may be-- may not be same. One will be, you know-- One has no idea of precepts or attainment. The other has trying to make themselves feel good [laughs] by some religion or precepts-- observing precepts. That is not Buddhist way.

Buddhist way is, in one word, jihi. Jihi is to-- to encourage, you know, to encourage people when they have good feeling and to get rid of their suffering. To help to get rid of their suffering. That is true love. It is not just to give something, or to receive something, or to observe precepts, or to attain something we do not practice our way. We practice our way as things, you know, naturally is-- are going. And to follow people, and to suffer with them, and help to relieve their suffering, and to encourage people to go on and on and on. That is Buddhist way. That is how we observe precepts.

So, you know, we see something but we do not see something. We feel always oneness of the subjective world and objecting world. Oneness of eyes and form and color. The oneness of the taste and mouth. So we do not, you know, especially we don't have to attach to something especially. We don't have to feels especially good, you know, because of Buddhist practice. When we practice our way in this way, there-- we are all independent. That is what he [Sekito] is talking about.


[Line 23] Shikamo ichi-ichi no ho ni oite,
[Line 24] ne ni yotte ha bumpusu.

Ichi-ichi: “Each dharma.” Dharma means eyes, nose, tongue, ears, or form, or taste, small or taste or sounds is-- all those things are dharma. “Each being, each dharma has its own-- is-- has a root which is buddha nature, which is world of oneness,” you know, “which is absolute, which is buddha nature. Each being comes out from-- from the root like leaves, you know, comes out from the root or trunk.”

So we-- when we see many things, we should not, you know, just see things as it is, but we should know how each things exist. Because of the root, we exist. Because of the absolute Buddha nature, we exist. When we exist-- understand things in this way, we have oneness, you know. When I am here, you are there. When there is man, there is woman, you know. But woman is independent and man is independent. So there is-- when something happens, there is always oneness of the subjective world and objective world.


[Line 25] Hommatsu subekaraku shu ni kisu beshi.

Hommatsu-- Hom is “root,” and matsu is-- matsu is “end.” “Root and end,” we may say, but “both root and end should reduce to-- should resume to the original nature.”

[Line 26 Sompi sono go wo mochiu.]

“The words we use is different-- good words and bad words, good words-- respectful word and mean word-- but through those words, we should understand-- we should understand-- the absolute being or source of the teaching.” That is, you know, what is said here. [Sentence finished. Tape turned over.]

[Aside:] Are you recording?

[Inaudible answer by tape operator.]

This is okay. Aha.

In one of the-- in Bonmo-kyo-- Bonmo-kyo is the important scripture of precepts. In Bonmo-kyo it says, “To see-- to see is not to see [laughs], and not to see is to see [laughs].” Do you understand? “To see is not to see. And not to see is to see.” You know, that is how we, you know, observe “don't act in unchaste,” you know, act, you know.

To see a woman [laughs], you know, is not to see the woman [laughs]. To see the woman is not to see the woman. Not to see the woman is to see the woman [laughs]. Do you understand? To eat fish, you know, or meat-- to eat meat is not to eat meat. And not to eat meat is not to eat meat [laughs]. To-- You understand precepts only one way. “Not to see-- not to eat meat” is how you observe precepts. But not to eat, you know, meat is to eat meat [laughs]. You are eating meat.

There is two monks, you know, once traveling together. And there were a big river, where there was no bridge to cross. So they were waiting on the one side of the bank. While they were waiting, a beautiful woman came [laughs]. So they were very much encouraged to cross the river with her. And, at last, one of them, you know, decided, you know, one of them carried her on his back and crossed the river. The other monk, after crossing the river and on the way to somewhere, the other monk became furious [laughs]. “You are,” you know, “you are a monk! You violate precepts”, you know, “not to see or-- a woman. As a monk, it is not so good. Why did you do that?”

The monk who helped [laughs] the lady said, “You are still carrying [laughs] a woman. I forgot about her long long time ago. You are still carrying-- you are still violating the precepts” [laughs], he said, you know. Maybe to, you know, it is not completely right to help her, you know, as a monk. It may be, you know, it may not be perfectly right. Even so-- even so, as a man-- as a-- as a-- as all human being are our friend, we should help them, you know, even we violate Buddhist precepts we should help her. But if you think about it, you know, uselessly, you know, when there is no need to think about, to think about it, you know, is-- is actually violating the precepts.

So to see-- to see a woman is not to see the woman. To help her actually is not-- actually he is not helping her, you know. When-- Just because to help her if you cross [with] her on his back is-- actually he is not, you know, helping her. Do you understand? He is not helping her. So not to help her, you know, is to help her in its true sense.

When you are involved in dualistic sense of violating precepts, or man and woman, or monk and layman, that is violating the precepts and [is a] poor understanding of Buddha's teaching. That is why-- how we sit, you know. We just sit, without any idea of attain-- any idea of attainment, without any idea of doing anything, just to sit is our way. To be involved-- completely involved in sitting meditation is our zazen-- without any idea of attainment, any idea of waste of time or meaningful, you know, practice. Just to sit is our way. And this is how you keep our precepts.

Sometime we will be angry, and sometime we will smile. Sometime we will [be] mad at people-- your friend. Sometime you will give a kind words to them. But, you know, actually what we are doing [is] just to observe our way.

[Sighs.] Okay? [Laughs.] I cannot explain it so well, but I think you must have understood what I mean. Do you have some question? I have some more time. Hai.

Student A: [One-two words unclear] you were talking about just before. But I-- I don't feel as though that Buddhism or talk about Buddhism or Sandokai-- I don't feel how it's the same as my life or my practice. I feel some separation between what I do-- sitting zazen or eating, and so on-- and then some talk. And it seems just like maybe talk is about what I've been doing or haven't been doing. But-- Somehow it seems like it's-- it's like something else. It is way out there.

SR: Mm-hmm. Way out, yeah. Yeah. Maybe so. I felt in that way [laughs] for pretty long time [laughs, laughter], you know. I think so-- I agree [laughs]. You know, it is rather difficult to, you know, to give you actual feeling, you know, by lecture, you know. That is why, you know, the old masters, you know, twisted their [students'] noses or hit at [laughs]-- hit at them. “Right here!” you know. “What are you thinking about?” That is-- In short, that is the point. I am going round and round the point, you know, so I am using words. We say, “to scratch itchy fingers [toes] on the shoes [with shoes on]” [laughs, laughter]. I am scratching itchy fingers on your shoes. How about it? It doesn't-- It doesn't help you so much, maybe. Even so, I have to talk [laughs]. Hai.

Student B: Roshi, when you said that we can't-- like when we kill an earwig or any insect or anything like that, when you said that we can't kill it because as long--

SR: You cannot--

Student B: -- as long as everything is here it can't die.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student B: Does that like say that each moment will always be-- each thing will always be that thing, and it's like--

SR: It is--

Student B: -- this lecture will always be this lecture?

SR: It is so, you know. It is so when you see things, you know, as-it-is, it is so.

Student B: But even-- Even if, like, the body of the earwig dies, you're saying that-- Well, what happens to the earwig's karma?

SR: Karma [laughs]?

Student B: Where does the earwig go?

SR: Earwigs go to the source of the reality [laughs, laughter]. They know where to go [laughs, laughter]. So when we speak in this way, what you will feel [laughs]-- but it is something. Just talk, you know. But when you suffer a lot, you know, it will be a great relief to know that. Hai.

Student C: Roshi, what is the difference between you and me?

SR: [Laughs.] Ah. There is difference and no difference [laughs]. That will be the answer, you know. That is why, you know, we practice together. And because we are not different we practice. So if one side is missing, we cannot practice. If you are quite different from me, there is no reason why you should practice with me. Because we are same-- If we are same, if we are truly same, there is no reason [laughs] why we practice together. Because we are different, we practice our way, and because we are same, originally same, we practice our way. So not different and different. This kind of thing is something which you do not know, you know.

Last-- Oh-- The teacher Trungpa was referring to this point. Our traditional practice start from this, you know, source of the teaching which is nothing, which is absolute, which is non-duality.

But usually when you practice something, you are attracted [to] something, you know-- eyes or nose, taste or form, you know, not by this [may have pointed to the character shu on the blackboard] original source of the teaching. The original source of the teaching is not something which could-- can be told, so we say, “tongueless speech.” “Tongueless speech.” We are talking about something which it is impossible to talk. That is called teisho, you know, not lecture [laughs]. We can explain those words, but by those words we are explaining [that] which is empty. So we call the-- words, “the finger pointing at the moon.” If you understand what is moon, finger is not necessary anymore. So what you should understand is not-- is not my words. But, you know, you should realize by your true experience what we-- I mean. So you do n [partial word]-- You have-- You are blank [laughs], you know, you are blind in-- on this point, so you feel I am talking about something, some words, you know, in some sophisticated way. So it looks like very, you know, so-called “Buddhistic way,” you know. Buddhistic way is not those words but the thing which we really mean. Hai.

Student D: In killing the earwig, there is no words or memories or anything. There is just the experience of killing the earwig. Is that the teacher that leads to the source-- that leads you the experience of the source?

SR: Yeah.

Student D: Is the experience of killing the earwig, not the talk about it, the teacher?

SR: Yeah. You know, and at that time, you know, you shouldn't feel like Buddhist or good monk or sinful monk, you know [laughs], or violating your precepts. You should, you know-- when you are working in the garden, you know, for some purpose you should be involved in that activity completely. Sometime you can-- you may be mad at the earwigs [makes humorous growling noise, laughs], you know. But no one can blame you if you, you know-- no one can say anything-- criticize you. You should have that much confidence, you know. If you are expelled from Tassajara because you killed a-- a lot of earwigs [laughs, laughter], you should go, “Okay. I will go.” That's all. You-- you-- you must have, you know, not confidence-- it is more than confidence, you know. You don't have to fight with anyone. If you have that much, you know, understanding in what you are doing, that is good. That is our way.

Student E: When we say that we don't harm sentient beings, or earwigs, or anything else, do we say that because it's impossible to harm them, or because it's wrong to harm them, or both?

SR: Both, yeah. We should know that is not possible, you know. Why it is not possible not to kill is because that is words. Words cannot reach so-- that area. But only when you [are] caught by words, you know, you say “possible” or “impossible.” That is how, actually, you live, you know, every day-- killing something, sacrificing something. You just apply Buddha's teaching to give you some good excuse, that's all. And you feel good, you know: Very superficial understanding of Buddhism. So both is true, you know. You-- We super [partial word]-- Even though it is superficial understanding, we cannot help feeling bad when you kill something. You don't feel so good.

But even though you don't feel so good, that does not mean that you are doing something wrong-- because you are not killing, actually. But if you, you know, say, “Because I am not killing anything, so it is okay to kill” [laughs], that is wrong because you stick to the words or precepts, which is just words. It is not true heart of Buddha's-- true feeling of Buddha.

Student F: Roshi, every animal has a way of living, of eating, of raising its young, of relating to the world, that is in keeping with its particular dharma or the dao of its being. Does not man have a specific and particular way of living, and eating, and raising his young, and relating to each other that is in keeping with his dharma or his dao?

SR: Yeah. Not absolutely, but, you know, we have to make best effort to keep, you know, dharma. That is, you know, those words. Words is necessary. Even though it is necessary, you shouldn't think this is complete, you know. We should make constant effort to produce new dharma, one after another. Produce new dharma, new precepts.

We say, “this is human life,” you may say. But that human life is for today, not for tomorrow. Tomorrow we must have more improved, better way to live. This kind of effort should be continued. That is why we have bad feeling, you know. If we have some bad feeling, it means something. So we should improve our way. And-- but you should not expect any perfect dharma, you know, in term of “you should do” or “you shouldn't.”

So there is-- no one can insist [on] their own way, but we should appreciate their effort to improve our dharma. That is Buddhist way. Does it make some sense [laughs]? Hai.

Student G: Can the true dharma be passed on if the disciple does not surpass the teacher? You say that we must always, every day, improve our way, make the best effort. And I've heard you say, “For the true teaching to be passed on, the disciple must surpass the teacher.” Can we carry on the dharma even if we don't surpass the teacher?

SR: Yes. Yeah. “Surpass” [laughs] is also dualistic word, so we shouldn't stick to [laughs], you know-- our-- I-- there is no reason why I-- if you surpass my, you know, me, there is no reason why I don't feel so bad or so good, you know. Actually, that-- which is better is just words.

Student G: To have the same-- I mean, to have the same understanding as the teacher's. The same understanding would be something that would be static or fixed. It wouldn't be something that we're changing. So if we were to have your understanding right now, tomorrow, that would be-- what would that be?

Student off-mike: Impossible. [Laughter.]

SR: [Laughs.] Not easy, so-- even, you know, to create one page of the new dharma is very difficult. Even though you feel you sometime you invented something new [laughing], but Buddha is always waiting, you know: “Come here.” But you feel you invented something new, you know. But Buddha is here: “Oh! You come here. Good boy.” [Laughs.] “ I have some more things for you. Come nearer to me,” Buddha will say. So it is very hard to surpass his teaching. [Laughs, laughter.]

Ooo-kay. [Said in mock resignation.] [Laughs, laughter.]

That is more valuable than my talk. [Laughs, laughter.] You are very good disciple.



Within Light There Is Utter Darkness
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture IX
Saturday, June 20, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 109)

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

Line 27 Meichu ni atatte an ari,
Line 28 anso wo motte o koto nakare.
Line 29 Anchu ni atatte mei ari,
Line 30 meiso 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.

But as people may say, Buddhism is atheism. Maybe so, you know, because we have no particular idea of God. We know there is, but we don't want to know what it is, because we know that the absolute is absolute because our dualistic mind cannot reach. And we know that our-- we know the limit of our thinking mind or intellectuality. Buddhists intellectualize our intellectuality, so we do not say anything about the absolute. But there is. That is what we mean by an. An is, you know, “darkness, utter darkness.”

Mei is “sun and moon.” Mei-- the character mei is-- means “sun and moon”:

This [ari] is-- this word-- ”there is,” you know-- this is verb “is”-- ”there is”:

[Line 27 Meichu ni atatte an ari,
Line 28 anso wo motte o koto nakare.
Line 29 Anchu ni atatte mei ari,
Line 30 meiso wo motte miru koto nakare.]

“Within”-- this [chu] is, at the same time, “middle.” This is masani [atatte?]-- it means that-- ”actually.” “Actually in-- within-- within brightness, mei, masani, actually, within brightness, mei–chu, and there is darkness, utter darkness.” The brightness means relative world, and relative world-- ”within relative world there is utter darkness.”

This is a literal translation. But it doesn't make sense [laughs]-- literal translation doesn't make sense. “Within relative world there is-- there is darkness.” So we must-- we must-- we must understand the actual meaning of this character ari, “there is.” “There is”-- ”There is”-- you know, your-- your-- when you say “there is,” you know, “there is something-- there is something on the table, on the earth, or in Tassajara,” “there is something in Tassajara or on something [or] in something.”

But this-- in this case, this ari is different character from another character of ari. This character means, you know, this is-- this part of the character ari means, you know, “flesh” or “skin.”

So already a part of it, you know, not just “there is something,” but that the way it exist is closely related to, you know, “something.”

So-- mei, “brightness and darkness is not, you know, in-- in brightness there is darkness. This is more dualistic understanding, but when we use this [ari] character, you know, closer relationship darkness and brightness. Like, you know, I have my skin [laughs]. I have my skin, you may say. You may say, “I have my hand.” [Laughs.] Yet your hand is, you know, a part of you. Your skin is a part of you.

So actually, you know, there-- it-- it is not any more dualistic, you know. You yourself-- skin is you yourself; your hands are your hands. But you say-- I don't know why-- ”I have two hands.” But hands may say [laughs]-- I have-- hands, you know, may feel very funny [laughs, laughter]. “Oh, I am, you know, a part of you, you know, and you say you have two hands. What does it mean? Do you mean you have four hands instead of me [two]?” you may say.

So, if possible, I think you must have another character for “have,” you know. Chinese people has two characters. When we say, “There is a stone or book or the table,” they use another character, zai:

And when we say, “We have two hands,” we use this character [ari]-- [which means] “there is” too:

We say “there is,” actually, “two hands”: nihon te ga arimasu-- you know, “there is two hands”-- anata ni wa-- you know-- ”you-- in you there is two hands,” we say. In that case, the character we use is this [ari].

So it means, anyway, the very close relationship between brightness and darkness. And actually darkness itself is brightness, actually, you know. Dark or bright is within your mind, you know, because within your mind you have some standard or degree or measurement, you know, how bright this room is, you know. If it is, you know, usually-- unusually bright we say this room is bright. If it is unusually dark, you know, you say it is dark. But it is, you know-- you can say this room is bright; at the same time, you c- [partial word-- ”can”]-- someone may say, this room is very dark.” Someone who came from San Francisco may say, “Oh, Tassajara is very dark.” Someone from-- came out of cave, may say, “This Tassajara is very bright, like a capital city.” So bright or dark is not-- is within ourselves-- within. Because we have some standard we say bright or dark, but actually brightness is darkness and darkness is brightness.

So even though we say “utter darkness,” it does not mean there is nothing in utter darkness. There is many things. But when you have bright light you will see many things, in term of, you know, Caucasian or Japanese, you know. That's all-- man and woman, stone or lamp. This kind of thing exist in brightness.

But when we say da- [partial word] “utter darkness” or “world of absolute,” which is beyond our thinking, you may think this is some world which is quite different from our actual human world, but this is also a mistake. If you understand in that way-- if you understand darkness in that way, that darkness is not which [what] we mean by darkness.

You prepare, you know, various-- you will-- I think you are preparing some dishes for Ed-- Ed's wedding, you know. You may, you know, dish out various, you know, food in separate, you know-- this is dessert, this is salad, soup, you know, in different dishes. That is brightness. But actually, when you eat, [laughs] you know, in your mouth various food will be mixed up. There is no dessert or no soup or no bread. All mixed up in your tummy.

At that time it works, you know. When it is clearly dish out, it is not yet working. It is not actually food [laughs]. Food is, you know, brightness. And when it is in your tummy, you know, it is darkness. But even in darkness there is lettuce and soup and everything in your tummy [laughs, laughter]. Same thing-- same thing, you know, changing its form, it start to work.

So utter darkness, actually-- things happens in its true sense. In brightness, you know, you feel good and you feel as if you have a big dish, you know, but food is not serving its-- their own purpose yet. That is brightness.

So when you don't know what you are doing, actually you are acting fully, with full mindedness-- with full mind. When you are thinking, you are not yet, you know, start to work. You are not yet working on it. So actually when we, you know, start to work, there is bright side and dark side. Both dark side and bright side is there. When you are actually practicing Buddhist way, there is bright-- bright side and dark side, and relationship between darkness and brightness is this [ari] relationship, like a relationship between skin and our body. You cannot actually say this is skin and this is body.


[Line 28] anso wo motte o koto nakare.

Nakare is “not”-- ”do not.” Motte “with.” Anso “dark side, dark outlook.” “Do not”-- This is o. O means “to meet” or sometime “to treat.” “To meet and treat,” you know. “To own [?] and treat.” Or “to meet and treat,” or “to meet and treat someone like your friend.”

So you should not treat things just, you know-- you should not treat or understand, maybe-- O.

This character o-- au, “to meet, to encounter,” means like, you know, a mountain or like a cloud to meet a mountain. You know, o. Here is mountain, you know, Tassajara mountain. Here is cloud. And cloud from ocean will meet mountains. This kind of relationship is o.

With the understanding of brightness-- darkness, you should not meet with things, you know. With understanding of brightness-- darkness, you should not meet people. [Laughs.] If you, you know, meet people with blind-- with your eyes shut, you know, ignoring your friend, you know-- how old is he or how handsome he is [laughs], ignoring all the characteristic of your friend, you should not meet friend. It is because that is just one-sided understanding, because, you know, in the darkness there is brightness. In the darkness, even though you understand the intimacy-- intimate relationship between you and your friend. But friend is friend; you are you, you know.

It is maybe one very close relationship, so maybe relationship will be one like husband and his wife. But husband is husband, and wife is wife. That is real relationship. So don't meet your friend without understanding of brightness of duality, you know. Close relationship is dark, you know, because if your relationship is very close, you know, one with him or her, very close, but you are you and your friend is your friend. So you should not meet with someone with the idea of darkness only. So you should not meet someone-- someone is, you know, abbreviated [understood]. You should not meet someone with darkness. So means “characteristic” or “outlook.”

And this is-- and next one [line] is:

[Line 29] Anchu ni atatte mei ari.

This [Lines 29 and 30] is opposite [of Lines 27 and 28]. Masani-- an-- an is “darkness.” Again, this third line [Line 29] repeating same thing in different way. Now “In the darkness there is brightness.” Same thing, you know. In the darkness-- in the darkness, even, you know, [when] we are in intimate relationship, there is, you know, man and woman, which is brightness, duality of man and woman. So, you should not say, or you should not see the other-- see others with the eyes of brightness only, because the other side of brightness is darkness. Darkness and brightness is two side of one coin.

We are liable to be caught by preconceived idea. If you, you know, have-- if you experience something bad with somebody-- ”Oh, he is a bad person. He is always,” you know, “mean with me. Always mean with me.” That is to say, he, you know, see people with just brightness, you know: “He is always mean.” But it cannot be so. You should know why he is so mean with you, because the relationship is so close, you know, so intimate [laughs]. So it is easy for him to be mean with you. It is easy to [be] mad at you, you know. If you are quite stranger, you know, you cannot-- he cannot be so angry with you. Because your relationship is so close, so intimate, relationship is not-- is more than relationship of the two persons. It is just one.

So when, you know, he is angry [laughs], you will be angry, that's all-- because you are one. So when one is angry, the other will be angry. So you-- if-- when you understand in that way, you understand the other side of the brightness, which is darkness. “Oh! He is so angry with me because he is so close to me.” If you understand in that way, even though you have become angry, you will not feel so bad. This is rather difficult, you know. When you think, “He is bad,” it is difficult for us to change the idea of “He is bad.” But it cannot be so. Sometime he was bad, but now we don't know whether he is good or bad. We should see.

So we should not cling to the idea of darkness or brightness. We should not cling to the idea of equality or idea of diversity or differentiation. But this is pretty difficult. It seems to be pretty difficult. Most people, once he has some grudge with someone, it is almost impossible to change their relationship. But if we are Buddhist, we should be able to switch our mind from bad to good and from good to bad. If you are able to do so, “bad” does not mean bad, “good” does not mean good anymore. But at the same time, good is good and bad is bad [laughs]. Do you understand? [Laughter.] In this way we should understand our thinking-- our relationship between-- between us.

The-- there is some poem: [Tape turned over.]

The mother of blue mountain
and the son of-- or children of white cloud.
All day long they live together,
and yet they do not know
who is mother and who is children, you know [laughs].

The mountain is mountain, and white cloud is white cloud floating back and forth, you know [laughs], around the mountain like a children. There is white [blue] mountain, and there is white-- there is blue mountain and there is white clouds. There is, but they don't know that they are white cloud or blue mountain. Even though they don't know, they know well-- so well that they don't know.

That is the experience you will have in your zazen practice. You will hear insects and stream. Actually you hear it. But you are sitting and stream is running. You are sitting and stream is running. But actually you are hearing it-- you hear it. Even though you hear it, you have no idea of stream or no idea of zazen. You are just on the black cushion. You are just there like a blue mountain with white cloud.

Now this kind of relationship [is] fully explained in those four lines [27-30]. The translation goes: “Within-- within-- within brightness there is darkness. Don't be attached to the darkness,” you know. “Within the darkness there is brightness. Don't see-- ” I forgot. “Don't see with-- ”

Student A (DC): Roshi, are you talking about Blyth's translation?

SR: Mm-hmm.

David: He says the same thing-- Blyth.

SR: Oh.

David: “Don't be attached to the brightness.”

SR: Uh-huh. That is Masunaga's translation. Translation cannot be, you know, perfect. It is difficult, you know [laughs]. You know, it is impossible, you know [laughs]. No words for this kind of expression or ari. Ari means “nothing.” “There is” means “there is no.” “Brightness” means “darkness.” [Laughs.] Then, you know, “brightness” doesn't mean anything if it also means “darkness.” [Laughs.] That is why I said “double-edged,” you know. Brightness? Darkness? Which is it? What is it? But there is brightness and darkness.

There should not be any question [laughs] on this point, but if you have some question please ask me [laughter]-- if you want to get hit! [Laughs, laughter.]

Student B: Roshi, what about focus?


Yeah. Like you say, “The clouds don't know they are the children of the mountain,” and vice-versa. But we humans, when we unwrap our oryoki bowls, we focus on doing that, not listening to the stream-- a different activity.

SR: No. Same activity.

Student B: For me it's different.

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] That is why you get stick. [1 word inaudible-- ”sorry”?]

Student B: If I [1-2 words inaudible] deserve [?] it.

SR: To you it is different [laughing], that's right.

Student B: I'm not focused, you know.

SR: When you really focus on it, there is-- there is brightness and darkness. When you are thinking, you know, about it, there are two side. Now you are asking question, you know. When you ask question you are thinking [laughs], so, you know, you know, it is hard for me to answer for your question. So I may be very angry with you. This is only way. [Laughs, laughter.] If you get hit, you will stop thinking about it.

Student B: Probably.

SR: [Laughs.] Probably.

Student C: Roshi, why do we shave our heads?

SR: Hmm?

Student C: Why do we shave our heads?

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] So that you can, you know, your thinking mind can go as smoothly as like this. [laughs, laughter]. Very smooth. Bright, dark, you know, very smoothly-- because, you know, [two words unclear; then makes shhh noise, imitating razor]. To get rid of ornament, you know-- unnecessary, you know, we should not have anything which is not necessary [laughs, laughter]. Some other questions?

Student D: Roshi?

SR: Hai. Oh.

Student D: In the Diamond Sutra it says that if you're suffering misfortunes in this life it is because of sins or mistakes you committed in past lives, and that by suffering these misfortunes now, you will work out these mistakes or make retribution for them, you know, atone-- atone for these mistakes or sins and open the way for enlightenment. I don't-- it seemed like a very heavy load when I read it [laughs], you know. I didn't understand it. I didn't-- it added a new dimension [laughs] to my problem [laughter].

SR: It will help, you know. Because, you know, that you suffer now means, you know, not because someone make you suffer or-- but you caused your suffering. So that is why you suffer. If you understand in that way, you have no complaint. And at the same time, we say if you understand only in that way, it is-- you understand things this way, you know-- you understand your life just from the viewpoint of, you know, suffering or karma, you know, in that way-- dualistic way why we suffer. “What should we do?”-- like this [gestures?]. That is to be caught by the idea of karma.

Student D: Idea of calm or karma?

SR: Karma. You are caught by some idea already if you think in that way. So we should be free from that kind of one-sided view, which is this side [gesturing?]. Even though we say “karma,” you know, karma doesn't exist. Even is we say, you know, karma doesn't exist, then you may say whatever you do, it's all right, you may say. That is-- That means that you are caught by the idea of darkness.

So the real way is like, you know-- the other day I said-- I told-- I discussed-- we discussed about earwig [laughs], you know-- why we kill earwigs. We have to kill them, but, you know, but you shouldn't say it is all right to kill them, you know. It is not all right [laughs, laughter]. Both, you know. You have to kill it, but it is not all right to kill it. We should understand our activity from both sides. If you don't feel so good, you should make more effort. You should find out how to, you know, how not to disturb earwig [laughs] and protect your vegetables. Even so, you will, you know, you waste too much time. If you waste too much time, Tassajara student cannot eat anything [laughs, laughter]. So anyway, you have to continue, you know, to make-- to find out some good idea one after another. That is our way. Hai.

Student E: Roshi, what is the difference between understanding things from both sides, or understanding our activities from both sides, and not understanding things at all-- not understanding our activities at all?

SR: Oh-- not understanding at all is [laughs]-- no need to talk about. But that is not true, you know. If you tell them-- if you see-- if you have chance to listen to lecture or listen to-- read some books, you will un- [partial word]-- we will understand. But to understand intellectually-- intellectual understanding is understanding of-- hmm-- ah, this is difficult to translate-- Understanding of-- You know, truth-- truth is truth. But when you understand truth by your mind, truth which you have in your mind is also true, you know. There is no two truths-- only one truth is truth. But the truth which you have-- which you understand with your mind is not true with your actual activity or actual feeling or actual life, because our actual life does not go so easily as you understand. You know this is perfectly-- this is perfect truth. But for us it is not true [laughs], you know. We cannot act in that way.

So there is two kinds of-- way of understanding the truth. One is intellectual truth, which is called honbunjo. Honbunjo. Understanding of original [one word unclear] words-- honbun-- hon means “fundamental.” Bun means “judgment”-- ”truth which is true-- which is always true.” Whether we understand it or not, truth is true, you know. “We understand,” we say, but that understanding is just intellectual understanding. That understanding is right, whether we understand it or not, whether Buddha appear in this world or not, the truth is truth, you know.

But truth for us, actually, is-- for Buddha it was true, but for us it is not true, you know. We cannot accept truth as it is, so for us it is not true. So that is truth in our practice. From viewpoint of practice, truth is not always true, so we should not mixed-- mix up two truths: truth which is always true [and] truth which is true with Buddha or with some people but not true with beginners. Does it make sense? Hai.

Student F: Roshi? Is that difference between-- Buddha stressed the difference between samma-samadhi and samadhi. Is that the difference? Being--

SR: Samadhi?

Student F: Sama, “equanimity,” or “right samadhi”--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student F: -- and samadhi, which was--

SR: I don't understand Sanskrit, so--

Student F: Hmm. Samadhi is “truth,” and sama is “equanimity” or “right.”

SR: “Equal”?

Student F: Equanimity or rightfulness. And Buddha stressed in his time that many of the religions in his time had attained samadhi-- many people had attained samadhi-- but Buddha did not accept this samadhi and-- until it was set round with equa- [partial word]-- a univer- [partial word]-- equanimity. Is that what you just said?

SR: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, to stress some picture is not our way, you know. We more-- We put more emphasis on actual, you know, our actual life. That is practice. That is why we must practice even though we have-- all of us have Buddha nature. That is true whether Buddha said [it] or not. That is true. But unfortunately [laughs], you know, for most of us it is not true [laughs]. I don't know why, you know. Hai.

Student G: Roshi, when one comes to see the darkness in the light and the light in the darkness, do they finally become the same thing-- darkness and light-- or do they always remain separately darkness and light?

SR: Darkness? No.

Student G: Do they become one-- do they become the same thing?

SR: Yes. Yes. Same thing--

Student G: Yes.

SR: -- you know, but our lazy mind, you know, separate darkness from brightness, and we seek for darkness. But that is still lazy-- to seek for, you know, the mind-- to seek for darkness or absolute. So to plunge into the bright brightness, to find darkness in brightness, or to find out buddha-nature in our-- in perfect zazen is our zazen. Anyway, whether you are sleepy or not, you know, good students [laughs] or bad students, you should sit. That is only way to have darkness in your bright brightness-- dualistic practice.


[Bell rings. Chant.]



The Willow Tree Cannot Be Broken
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Thursday, June 25, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 121)

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

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.)]

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. “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--

Student: You'd call him a man you can ride the river with.

Oh. [Laughs.] No. What--

Students: Folk hero. Folk hero.


Student: A folk hero.

Uh-huh. “Folk hero.” Yeah. Folk hero.

That, you know, unless-- Without soft mind, you cannot [be] really strong. That he is strong-- Why he is so strong is he has soft mind. If he is just, you know, if he has the other side of the character, he cannot be really strong. Because he is very sympathetic with someone, so sometime, you know, because of sympathy, to help someone, you know, he will be very strong.

But strong person just for himself is not so strong, you know. Strong person who is, on the other hand, very kind will be supported [by] people, and could be a really folk hero, you know. Just strong is not really strong. When we have both soft side and strong side, he could be a really strong.

And, you know, it is easy to, you know, to fight and win, maybe, but it is not so easy to endure when he is defeated, you know, without crying, you know. Let your enemy-- not enemy, but let your foe, you know, beat you. “Okay.” You know, that is very difficult. Unless you can endure the bitterness of the defeat, you know, you cannot be really strong.

So to be strong means, you know, to be gentle and kind and meek, maybe. If you can be, you know, weak when you-- If you are ready to be weak, you are very strong. We say: “Willow tree-- willow tree, you know-- cannot be broken by snow,” we say. Yanagi ni yuki ore nashi. Yuki ore is “snow break,” or [laughs] weight of the snow will break, maybe, some strong tree, but tree like a willow cannot be. Even though weight of the snow will bend, will twist the branch, but even heavy snow like we had the year before-- last year-- you know, cannot break the willow branch. Yanagi ni yuki ore nashi. Bamboo, you know, bend quite easily. Looks like very weak, but no snow can break it. This is always true.

So Meian. Darkness and brightness is opposite. [Someone writes on board.] Oh. [Laughter.] It is better to forget [laughs, laughter]. Better without [laughs]. Meian, you know. Mei is “brightness”; an is “darkness”-- absolute and relative. The pair of opposite, you know, here [thumps once on table]. Meian-- brightness and darkness.

Hisiru means “to face each other,” to be a pair, you know, face [-to-face] with each. “With each other” is ai, and a “face with each other” or “stand with each other” is tai. And this is each and this is each other, and this is stand [presumably pointing to Chinese characters on the blackboard]. Ono-ono means “each other.” Ai also “each other.” Ai, you know.

Hisiru. Hisiru means “to stand against”-- something like that, you know. To fall with [against] [laughs], you know, standing with each other. Hisiru ni. Hisiru ni is “like.” Gotoshi is also “like.” If you compare, you know, this is “compare.” This is like the “foot forward and backward,” and “forward and behind.” Zen is “forward,” go is “behind.” “Foot behind and forward and behind”-- this is walk, in walking.

This is very good, you know, parable-- very good way of explaining oneness or, you know, actual function of the two pair of opposite. This is actually explaining our practice, how we apply, you know, the pair of opposite idea in our everyday life-- like zazen and enlightenment, and reality and idea, good and bad, strong and weak--

Uh, can you hear me? Oh. You don't hear me. That's awful. Why don't you come between the two line? Here. [Pauses as students file in.]

The people, you know, when they feel they are strong, you know, they don't, you know, want to be weak, you know. The people who think he is-- they are weak, you know, never try to be strong [laughs]. That is quite usual, you know. “I am very weak.” [Laughs.] He remains always weak. And he cannot be strong. And people who is strong-- who thinks, you know, who think he is strong, you know-- For the people who thinks he is strong, it is difficult for them to be weak, you know. But sometime we should be strong and sometime we should be weak, you know. Just if you remain always weak, or if you always want to be strong, then they cannot be strong in its true sense.

When you learn something, you know, you should be able to, you know, teach people. You should, you know, [apply] same effort to teach something. And if you want to teach, you should be, you know, you should be humble enough to learn something. Then you can teach them. Just because you know something-- if you try to teach something to others, you cannot teach anything. When you are, you know, ready to be taught by someone, if necessary, then you can teach people in its true sense. So to learn is to teach, and to teach is to learn. If you think you are always a student [laughs], you cannot learn anything. Why you learn is because you have to, you know, teach others after you learn something, you know.

So to observe some morality, you know-- Actually, there is no actual moral code, you know, moral standard, but how you find out the actual moral code is when you think, you know, how to teach someone-- you will find out the moral code for yourself [laughs]. The moral code is for others, and when you find out some moral code for others, you will have actual moral code for yourself. After Japan was defeated completely [laughs], you know, absolutely surrendered, and before Japan was completely defeated, they thought Japanese people had some, you know, teaching or moral code which they should, you know, observe, and if they only observed that kind of moral code, they will not make any mistake. And their moral code is absolutely right and straight. They thought in that way. But that is-- that moral code, unfortunately, [was] something which was written up or, you know, set up in Meiji-- first part of Meiji period.

So after losing, you know, the war, after they lost the confidence in their morality, they didn't know what to do, what kind of kind of morals they should observe. They didn't know what to do. But there is-- It was not so actually it should-- it couldn't be so difficult to find out the moral code. If you-- I always said, “You have your children. If you think of your children and how to raise your children, then you will naturally know the moral code for yourself.” When you think moral code is just for yourself, that is one-sided understanding. Moral code is rather for others, to help others. And naturally that will-- the moral code you will find out, to help others, or how to be kind to others, then that moral code is also for yourself.

So we say, to go heading to east one hundred miles is to go heading to the west one hundred miles. When the moon is high, you know, the moon in the water will be high. But usually people, you know, observe the moon above the water, and they do not see the moon in the water. So when you see the moon deep into the water, you should know that this moon is very high, you know. That moon is deep means that the moon is high. We should have this kind of understanding. So, you know, the moon in the water is independent, you know, but-- and also the moon over the, high up on the water, is also independent. But, you know, the moon on the water is the moon in the water too. We should understand in that way. So the moon in the water is independent. The moon over the water is also independent. When you are strong, you should be strong. You should be very tough. But that toughness comes from your gentle kindness, you know. When you are kind you should be just kind, but it does not mean you are not strong.

So ladies are weak, you know, physically weak [laughs]. Because ladies are physically weak, they are strong. Sometime, you know, they are stronger than [laughs] boys are. That is true. We don't know which is stronger. When they, you know, completely independent-- they have completely independent nature, which is their own-- they are, you know, they have same strength, equal strength, with everyone: absolutely equal strength. When you are comparing, you know, which is stronger, you know-- A or B, I or he, you know-- then you don't have real strength. When you are completely independent, then-- completely independent with your nature, you know-- then it means that you are absolutely-- absolute power in relative situation. So in relative situation, man and woman, you know, relative nature, there is absolute power. Do you understand? When, you know, woman is involved in competition, you know, with men, they are not so strong. When woman become completely [laughs] woman, they have absolute power. Do you understand this point?

Student: Mm-hmm.


So brightness and darkness, although it is pair of opposite, but, you know, it is al [incomplete word]-- at the same time, they have equality. For an instance, like step before and forward and backwards-- not backwards, forward and back. This is very good, you know, parable to explain-- It, it-- [Student coughs loudly.] Excuse me. Do you understand, you know, this parable? Absolute and relative is like a step forward and before and back. Step before and back. Step, you know, forward when you walk, you know. Step forward immediately becomes step behind [laughs]. Then, is this step-- your right foot is which step [laughs]: before or step behind [laughs]? Which is it? We say “brightness and darkness.” But which is darkness and which is brightness [laughs]? It is difficult to tell.

Student: Couldn't tell you the difference.


So step-- what does it say here in this [R. H. Blyth's] translation? “Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.” “Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.” “Foot before and foot behind,” we say. Foot before and foot behind. But when you're actually walking, you know, there is no step behind or no foot before. Actually walking. If you stop, you know, walking and think [laughs, laughter], right hand sometime maybe foot before and left hand maybe foot behind.

Ohh. Can you hear me? No? Difficult?

And it means that, at the same time, when, you know, when you are walking, it means that actual practice, you know, when you are actually practicing our way, there is no foot before or no foot behind. But if you think about it, you know, there is foot behind and foot before. So when you think, there is brightness and darkness. But when actually practice our way or when actually your foot is walking, there is no, you know, brightness or no darkness or no foot before or no foot behind.

And if I say so, you may think it is not necessary to think about zazen is no good [laughs]. And you should just sit. If you say so [laughs], you are also, you know, caught by idea of this foot is foot before and the left foot is foot behind. Then you cannot walk [laughs] any more. If you forget all about, you know, left hand, left foot, or right foot, you can walk. Actually when you are walking, you have no idea of left foot or right foot [laughs]. If you are aware of right foot and left foot, you cannot walk, you cannot run.

As I said, you know, if you chew your food there is no rice, or no pickles, or no soup [laughs], you know, if you chew it up. And if you mix it. And when you mix it in your mouth, it will be, you know, digested and in your tummy, and food will serve their own purpose. Even so, we should eat, we should, you know, dish out one thing after another, one dish and after another. And dessert should come last. There is some order, you know. Even though there is some order, you should chew it and you should mix it, or else food does not serve its own purpose. It is necessary to think about it, to make recipe, but it is also necessary to mix everything up and chew it up.

[Someone writes on blackboard.]

Meian ono-ono aitaishite,
hisuru ni zengo no ayumi no gotoshi.

This is very good interpretation of the reality and good explanation of our practice-- good suggestion. How we practice our way and what kind of activity is going [on] in our everyday life. With this line, the interpretation of the reality from the light of independency [is] finished.

Question/Answer Session

Do you have some question? Hai.

Student A [Mel Weitsman]: Roshi, when you say “independency,” I'm confused with whether you mean “independence” or “interdependency.”

SR: “Interdependency.” Oh, no. “Independency.” Excuse me. Interdependency is more dependency, you know [laughs].

Mel Weitsman: “Independence” is--

SR: Independent-- you know, idea of independency and dependency.

Student B: Roshi, in English we have no word “independency.” We have the word “independence”--

SR: Oh! “Independence.” “Independence.” Excuse me. “Independence” means [laughs] to me, you know, it is not fit, you know, so well. “Independence” means, you know, may be noun, but more-- what I mean is, you know, noun, but maybe same thing.

Student C: We have a noun “dependency” so we can have “independency.”

Students in background: Right. Yeah.

Student C: We have the other. “Dependency” is a good English word.

SR: Mmm-mm. And you have no in--

Student C: No “independency.” [Laughs, laughter.]

Student B: Now we have an “independency”!

Student D: You limp on one foot.

SR: One foot. [Laughs.] “Independent” is so strong, you know. So there is no need to have [laughs] so delicate word. [Strikes the table with his stick.] If you are independent [strikes table again], that's all. [Laughs, laughter.] You don't care anything. [Laughs, laughter.] “Shut up!” [Laughs, laughter.] That is not what we mean. So, you know, independent, you know-- when you are independent, you know, it is very, you know, vulnerable and weak situation-- dangerous, at least.

Student E: Isn't this idea that people get of their own independence a delusion that they get? They don't realize that-- [2-3 words inaudible].

SR: Yeah. Delusion, yeah, actually so. When, you know, when they think, you know, “I am independent,” it is not true, you know. You are dependent on everything.

Student F: Roshi, if a woman competes with a man, she's vulnerable? Weak?

SR: “Weak?” I cannot say “weak,” but, you know--

Student F: I was trying to figure out how you can tell the difference between what a woman and what a man's supposed to be.

SR: Uh-huh. More? Excuse me? [Students were talking among themselves. SR is apparently talking to one of them.]

Student G: I'm sorry [laughs].

Student F: You know, like, if a woman competes with a man--

SR: Uh-huh.

Student F: -- then she's weak, but how do you know what the man and woman is supposed to be like in the beginning? Anyone?

SR: Like-- Weak, I don't say. If you compete, you know, man and woman, anyway, you know, and the comparing with each other by some standards, setting up some standards, you know, or-- in some category you compete, you know. Sometime man will be stronger. And sometime the woman will be stronger. Anyway, you know, you cannot be always stronger-- strong. But when you become absolutely, you know, woman, you know, you have always absolute value, because no one take over your position. So you are needed.

Student F: But that's not-- that's my question. Is that just mean having children and keeping house?

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] [Tape turned over.] [SR and students still laughing] -- big problem now. [Laughs, laughter.] My mistake, maybe. I'll talk with you some other time. [Loud laughter.]

Ahh. Do you have some question? More question? Please ask me something, you know [laughter]. Maybe you couldn't hear me so well [laughs].

Student G: Roshi?

SR: Hai.

Student G: Roshi, I have some trouble with just the relevancy of your lecture [nervous laughter]. I'd just like you to say one more thing about it; I don't know what. I can't quite see what it's all about. I know you're talking about opposites and things like that.

SR: Uh-huh. [Laughs.] The re [partial word]-- Hmm. I am, you know-- Purpose of what I am saying is, you know, to open some quite different approach to the reality. You know, you are, you know, observing things just from one side or the other side. That's all. And you stick to some understanding just from one side. That is why I am talking in this way. This is necessary. As a Buddhist-- Buddhist has no, you know, strictly speaking, no teaching we have. We don't have any teaching. We have no god or, you know, no deity. What we have is nothingness [laughs]. That's all. We don't have anything. So how can-- How, you know, is it possible for Buddhists to be religious, you know? What kind of, you know, what kind of composure we have, you know? It will be the point. You will be-- Will be your question. The answer is this kind of understanding of reality, not some special idea of God or deity, but the understanding of reality, you know, which we are always facing to. Where we are? What we are doing, you know? Who is he? Who is she, you know? That is, you know, our understanding of--

When we understand “she” or “he” in this way, we don't need to have any special teaching or idea of God because, strictly speaking, everything is God for us. When we observe things, you know, in this way, everything can be a god for us. So we don't need any special God. Moment after moment we are facing to the God. And each one of us [is] also God or Buddha. So we don't need any special idea of God. That is, you know, maybe the point. Hai.

Student H: Roshi, that sounds very good to me, but then how come we take vows? Like when Ed and Meg got married--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: -- you said that they should take refuge in the triple treasure and the, you know, the ten cardinal precepts. And things seemed [1-3 words inaudible].

SR: Yeah, yeah. We take vow or we observe precepts. We read sutra. But sutra or precepts-- understanding of sutra or precepts should be right understanding like this. If we don't-- Even though you read, you know, scriptures or observe precepts without right understanding, you know, that will be the precepts, which is brightness or darkness. So when you are caught by, or when you rely on precepts or scripture, it is not Buddhist scripture any more.

Student H: But then, if-- I mean, if I say, “Okay, I'm not going to speak ill of others.”

SR: Mmm?

Student H: Suppose I take a precept that says I won't speak ill of others.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: And, you know, if I follow that precept--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: -- it seems like [aside inaudible]-- If I don't follow the precept, it seems like there's no reason for it at all, you know, and if I do follow the precept religiously, it seems like, you know, I am being caught by it.

SR: Mmm.

Student H: I mean, I'd be happy to take the Sandokai as precepts that-- You know, I just don't understand. If they're not rigid, they don't seem to be any use at all. And if they are rigid they don't seem to be consistent with the Sandokai and things like that.

SR: Uh-huh.

Student H: I mean, it-- I always wondered about that part in the meal chant where we say, you know, “to practice good and avoid evil.”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: And I asked you about that once, and you said something to the effect that that means just, you know, pay attention to what we're doing. Don't look around, don't, you know, don't get caught by it.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: But if that's so, I mean, why don't we say that? Why don't we say, “I practice-- I vow to,” you know, “practice zazen in my everyday life and not be caught by rules”?

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: You know, why go through this “good and evil” thing, you know? It doesn't seem-- It seems kind of phony.

SR: Nooo. [Laughter.] You are trying to argue with me, that's all [laughs, laughter]. You need precepts, actually, you know, even though, you know, you shouldn't, you know [laughs]. It is not possible to violate precepts actually. You know, you cannot. But you feel, you know, as if you are violating precepts, you know. Actually, you feel in that way. So, if you actually feel in that way, you should accept your feeling and, if you accept that feeling, then you have to, you know, say something: “Excuse me,” or “I am sorry,” or something. That is also quite natural. This is, you know, working precepts. This is, you know, dead: “Don't kill” is dead precepts. “Excuse me” is actual working precepts, which is, you know, not foot behind or foot before. Do you understand? If you read precepts [and say or think], “Okay, I will do that,” you know, that is precepts. And when you feel you violate it, you may say, “Oh, excuse me.” That is quite natural, you know.

Student H: If it were natural-- and I feel very natural about some of the precepts--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: You know, I feel just naturally that I shouldn't, you know, talk nasty things about people.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student H: But sometimes, mmm-- [as if to say, “I don't know”]

SR: [Laughs, laughter.]

Student H: If you said to me, like, not to take harmful drugs? At least sometimes it seems natural to take those things, because they don't seem so harmful. But, you know, I mean, if the precepts were all natural, and, you know, if I just wanted to do it like that--

SR: Yeah. Yeah.

Student H: -- and if it works [?], you know, that's a different thing.

SR: When you say so, you know, you may say, “It is quite natural for me to live in this world, to be born in this world.” You know, it means that. You see? But is it natural? [Laughs, laughter.] [Students commenting off-mike.] Hmm? [Laughter.] You are already accepted, you know, which you shouldn't accept. Why did you come here? That is already maybe big mistake [laughs, laughter].

Student H: They didn't say [1-2 words inaudible] when I came here.

SR: Excuse me?

Student H: They didn't ask me about precepts. They just wanted to know if I had $2.50 a day.

SR: [Laughs, loud laughter.]

Student I [DC?]: You know, maybe the office should say, “You have $2.50, and are you willing to follow their precepts?” [Laughter.]

SR: Good bargain. Good deal. But it cannot be so, you know, simple. So we-- Anyway, you know, you should say, “Oh, I am sorry.” That is necessary. If you, you know-- When you are born, you cannot say so [laughs, laughter]. But now you can say so [laughs]. So you should say, “Oh, I am sorry to be your daughter or to be your son. Oh, excuse me.” [Laughs, laughter.] “Oh, I am sorry I caused you a lot of trouble for you. Oh, excuse me.” You should say so. That is actual precepts, you know. Hai.

Student J [Grahame Petchey?]: Roshi, sometimes I feel this way about listening to lectures. And maybe this is somewhat the same question that Stanley was asking. It's like, at one time I was just walking along, and suddenly someone came and said, “Did you realize that when you're walking, when one foot is ahead, the other foot's behind?”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student J: I said, “No!” [Laughter.] “I hadn't thought about that.” And so for a long time, then, that amazed me: You know, that when one foot was ahead the other one was behind.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student J: And I was very aware. “I wonder why he ever asked me such a,” you know, “a question like that? Was I aware that when one foot is ahead the other is behind?” And I used to think about it a lot, you know. [Laughter.] One foot ahead and the other behind, and it's always that way, but this was a very strange thing and it occupied my attention: the one foot being ahead and the other behind.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student J: And then after a long time, I found that I was just walking again--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student J: -- you know, and then I didn't think so much about that. And then one day as I was walking, another man came up and said, “Did you realize that when you're walking, one foot is ahead and the other is behind?”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student J: And-- it's like, I feel right at that point right now.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student L: You know, I [laughs]-- I still don't understand it at all, you know: That one foot is ahead and the other is behind.

SR: But--

Student L: I still have to deal with it somehow, you know, that I can't understand what it means. But it's certainly right there.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student L: And half of me says, “What's the relevance of it?”--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student L: -- because it doesn't bother me any more--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student L: -- and another half of me says, “Yeah but it's still happening like that,” you know, “every time you take a step. That's still right there happening.”

SR: Mm-hmm. You know--

Student L: Do you see what I'm saying?

SR: Yeah. Yeah. For your, you know, life, you know, if you think just your life only, you know, as a personal practice, you know, it doesn't make much sense. But if you see what we are doing-- all human being doing-- you know, that is exactly how we cause trouble for human being. You know, right foot or left foot, maybe Rinzai or Soto, or America or Soviet Union, or peace or war, you know. If you understand in that way this is big, big problem, and how you solve it is to walk on and on and on. Hai.

Student M: Do I understand you to say that the problem is how to be aware of all these opposites and polarities and precepts without being conscious of being aware? The consciousness sort of fixes things--

SR: Yeah.

Student M: -- and that is not real either. It fixes the chain.

SR: Yeah. Chain will be, you know, fixed, and you cannot move, you know. But still you should move, you know. And time doesn't wait for you. So you should go on and on and on following the reality. If you think about this point, you already started to walk, you know. If you [are] just thinking about it, you know, it doesn't work, and you are not walking forward. But if you think, you know, “The world is going on and on. We are becoming older and older, you know. Today will not come again, and tomorrow I have to go to somewhere,” you know. If you think in that way, you know, you cannot think same thing always, one after another. You should go on and on and on. At that time you do not-- you cannot stop and thinking.

So anyway, you should go on and on and on, making best effort. When you make best effort, that is actually you are walking. So, you know, left foot sometime may be, you know, behind. Sometime may be forward-- ahead. Sometime you feel as if you are doing something good, and sometime you feel as if you are doing something bad. But, you know, in that way, you are going on and on and on. That is, you have to accept it. If you have to accept it, and if you have to live on each moment, actually you are living on each moment. Then you should do something. You should say something. “Say something!” [pats the table with his hand three or four times gently] [laughs, laughter], a Rinzai master maybe say. “Say something now!” [hits the table with his stick once for each syllable]. What do you say? That is, you know, the point.

Student N: Roshi?

SR: Hai.

Student N: We have an expression in America: “Put your best foot forward.” [Laughs.]

SR: “Best foot”?

Student N: That's what we say.

SR: Ahh.

Student N: Put your best foot forward. So maybe that's where we get hung up on it. We have to decide which of the two feet we are going to put out because that's the good foot.

SR: “Best foot forward”?

Student N: Ahh.

SR: “Best foot forward.” [Laughter.]

Student N: Which means you only take one step, you know.

SR: And next time you may try to “best foot forward” again.

Student N: Then you'll hop [laughs].

SR: “Best foot forward.” That is not actually what we are doing, I don't think, you know. We say, you know, Ashiba motsureru, you know. By thinking, you know, if-- when your feet does not go smoothly, you know, it means that you are involved in some idea, and, you know, Ashiba motsureru, you cannot walk smoothly. So if you, you know, if you try to make best foot forward always, your foot will be-- will not go smoothly, I think. That will not be best way. I don't know, actually, what do you mean by “best foot forward”? So, this kind of teaching follows actual practice of zazen, you know, in everyday life, so that we can smoothly go [on] and on and on, we have this kind of idea. Without being caught by right foot of left foot. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Without confused, you know, disturbed way of footing-- footwork. Smoothly you should go. That is our purpose of practice.

Mmm. I have no time any more. Excuse me.



Suffering Is a Valuable Thing
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture XI
Saturday, June 27, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 135)

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

Line 33 Bammotsu onozukara ko ari,
Line 34 masani yo to sho to wo iu beshi.
Line 35 Ji sonsure ba kangai gasshi,
Line 36 ri ozure ba sempo saso.
(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.)]

[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 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." [Ko means]* has "function" or—this ko 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 [ko ] means more—it—a wider meaning. This has more wider meaning, you know. The ko—this ko— Ko 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. Ahhh. I don't know what to s- [partial word—"say"?]— [Laughs.] Funct- [partial word—"function"?]—ko. Ko is— It is sometime— It may be "merit," you know. Sometime it may be someone's—what someone did, you know, in his life or in our society or in our small society or community. Ko. This word include those things like virtue or utility, or some merit, or some deed. Everything has its own, you know— Because this [bammotsu] is—this "everything" include human being, and mountain and river, and stars and suns [planets]* and fixed stars— Everything. It include everything. So function of—. Its function is, you know— Everything has function. Because of this function, that function will be for us value or virtue. So this is, you know— This function— When we say "function"—function, you may wonder, "function of what," you know? Function of something. That something could be ri. And we must crit- [partial word]— I have to use many technical terms tonight, so [laughs] I want to explain, first of all, those technical terms I have to use. For an instance, you see something. You see— Oh. [Laughs, laughter. The sound system is suddenly turned up and Roshi hears his own voice coming back from the loudspeakers.]* You hear [laughs, laughter], you know, voice, you know. But this voice is, you know, will be— You say you are listening to me, but you actually what you are listening to is maybe my voice, or you are listening to some function of, you know, electricity or machine, you know. That machine, you know— The electricity will be the function of something, you know, function of some universal, you know, entity of electric, you know—electricity which covers almost all—whole world, whole universe. So actually you are not listening to me, you know, you are listening more like listening to our universe—univer- [partial word]—voice of universe, maybe. Voice of electricity. This is, you know, one understanding of my lecture. And another understanding will be, you know, you are listening to my nature, you know, what kind of nature I have. And you are listening to the nature of electricity. So when we, you know—when you see something or when you listen to something, already you have idea of whole universe. It is so-called-it, maybe— When we, you know, understand things in that way, we call it understanding of tai. Tai means "body." Body. But it is more ontological, you know, big body which include many thi- [partial word—"things"?]—everything. And its nature is sho.

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 [ko ] means more-- it-- a wider meaning. This has more wider meaning, you know. The ko-- this ko-- Ko 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.

Ahhh. I don't know what to s- [partial word-- ”say”?]-- [Laughs.] Funct- [partial word-- ”function”?]-- ko. Ko is-- It is sometime-- It may be “merit,” you know. Sometime it may be someone's-- what someone did, you know, in his life or in our society or in our small society or community. Ko. This word include those things like virtue or utility, or some merit, or some deed. Everything has its own, you know-- Because this [bammotsu] is-- this “everything” include human being, and mountain and river, and stars and suns [planets]* and fixed stars— Everything. It include everything. So function of—. Its function is, you know— Everything has function. Because of this function, that function will be for us value or virtue. So this is, you know— This function— When we say "function"—function, you may wonder, "function of what," you know? Function of something. That something could be ri. And we must crit- [partial word]— I have to use many technical terms tonight, so [laughs] I want to explain, first of all, those technical terms I have to use. For an instance, you see something. You see— Oh. [Laughs, laughter. The sound system is suddenly turned up and Roshi hears his own voice coming back from the loudspeakers.]* You hear [laughs, laughter], you know, voice, you know. But this voice is, you know, will be— You say you are listening to me, but you actually what you are listening to is maybe my voice, or you are listening to some function of, you know, electricity or machine, you know. That machine, you know— The electricity will be the function of something, you know, function of some universal, you know, entity of electric, you know—electricity which covers almost all—whole world, whole universe. So actually you are not listening to me, you know, you are listening more like listening to our universe—univer- [partial word]—voice of universe, maybe. Voice of electricity. This is, you know, one understanding of my lecture. And another understanding will be, you know, you are listening to my nature, you know, what kind of nature I have. And you are listening to the nature of electricity. So when we, you know—when you see something or when you listen to something, already you have idea of whole universe. It is so-called-it, maybe— When we, you know, understand things in that way, we call it understanding of tai. Tai means "body." Body. But it is more ontological, you know, big body which include many thi- [partial word—"things"?]—everything. And its nature is sho.

So this is, you know-- This function-- When we say “function”-- function, you may wonder, “function of what,” you know? Function of something. That something could be ri.

And we must crit- [partial word]-- I have to use many technical terms tonight, so [laughs] I want to explain, first of all, those technical terms I have to use. For an instance, you see something. You see-- Oh.
[Laughs, laughter. The sound system is suddenly turned up and Suzuki hears his own voice coming back from the loudspeakers.]

So actually you are not listening to me, you know, you are listening more like listening to our universe-- univer- [partial word]-- voice of universe, maybe. Voice of electricity. This is, you know, one understanding of my lecture. And another understanding will be, you know, you are listening to my nature, you know, what kind of nature I have. And you are listening to the nature of electricity. So when we, you know-- when you see something or when you listen to something, already you have idea of whole universe. It is so-called-it, maybe-- When we, you know, understand things in that way, we call it understanding of tai. Tai means “body.” Body. But it is more ontological, you know, big body which include many thi- [partial word-- ”things”?]-- everything.

And its nature is sho. But that sho does not mean some special nature. It means nature of everything-- basic nature for everything. And when we understand things more than-- something beyond our words, we call it ri, “truth.” Truth is not-- Truth, when we say “true character,” you know, it is something beyond our idea of good and bad, long and short, right or wrong. That is ri, which, you know, include various meaning of things.

Ko -- and we have another word here, yo. This word [yo ] is used-- related to ri. And this word, yo or ko [it appears that Suzuki corrected himself and decided on ko ], is related to things-- virtue of things-- and this [yo? ] is application of the truth, you know.

Looks like same, you know. Ko is “virtue,” you know. Yo is, you know, “usage.” But when we say yo, it is more function of truth or ri. When we say ko, it is function of things-- each things-- each thing [ji]. This is-- Of course, we sometime we use it for, you know, for many things, but mostly here, we-- in Buddhist technical term, this is-- this word [yo] is related to ri.

And here -- mmm. It doesn't [laughs] make much sense [laughs, laughter]. Maybe I will translate it literally: "Ea- [partial word]—Everything—all things—has— There is virtue in all being—myriad." This [bam] is myriad. This [motsu] is "things." "Many things." "There is their own virtue in many things."

You should say-- masani means “you should.” “Should,” you know. This [iu] is “say.” And its application [yo ] and the place [sho]. “You should say”-- here it says “say,” but it means “you should see,” you know-- ”see” and “say.” “You should notice.” When you notice something, you will say [something], so same thing.

“You should say,” or “You should notice its application and where the truth is applied.” So if you see things, you should know there-- there is-- true teaching is revealing itself. And you should see it. And, you know, in what w- [partial word]-- Sho means “place.” “In,” you know, “in what place the truth revealing itself.”

Hmm. And sometime we use this word [ko] and this word [yo] together: koyo. Ko means, you know, “function.” And yo is its utility. Koyo means, you know-- When we say koyo, we understand each things [ji ]. And not only each things, we understand background of each things, which is ri. So we do not understand things just as you see [them]. You-- we understand background of each things.

And we should know how you use it, you know. To know how you use it is to know the teaching. When you know the background of things, or way things are going, that is ri-- way things are going. Then you will know how to use it.

So “to understand things” means to understand background of everything. And to understand value of it means to understand how you use it in right way-- how-- and according to the place-- according to the place-- according to the things-- we should know how you use it. To know how you use it is to know the background of each things. That is to see things-as-it-is, you know.

Usually, to see things-as-it-is, means, you know-- Usually, even though you say, “I see things-as-it-is,” you don't. You see the one side of the truth, or one side of the each reality-- one side of the reality, not the oth- [partial word-- ”other”?]-- background. You don't see the background, which is ri. You only see things in term of ji-- each event, each things-- and you think each thing exist in that way, but it is not so. Each things are changing and related with each other. And each things has its background. The reason why-- There is reason why they are here.

So to see things-as-it-is means to understand ji and ri is one, and distinction and equality is one, application of the truth and the value of the things is one. When we understand in this way, we understand things-as-it-is. So we, you know-- for an instance, we thinks, you know, all universe is for human being [laughs]-- only for human being. That is not right understanding, you know. That is very selfish understanding.

Our understanding is mostly based on, you know, human-centered idea. So you don't see true value of the things. You don't appreciate the true value of things. Nowadays we talk about, you know-- our idea is more-- became wider. Our way of understanding things are more free and wider. But even so, our understanding of things is very human-centered understanding.

So you have many questions [laughs] to ask me. If you understand this point clearly, there is not much things to ask. Most of the questions and problems are, you know, created by human-centered selfish idea. “What is birth and death?” you know [laughs]. That is already very self-centered, you know, idea. Of course, birth and death is our, you know, our virtue [pointing to ko].
So every-- almost all the question comes from narrow understanding of things. So it is necessary, you know-- to understand things in this way: more wider sense, more clear understanding is necessary. You may think to talk about this kind of thing doesn't help you at all [laughs, laughter]. It will not help you [laughing] as a selfish, you know, human being. It will not help any selfish human being. Buddhism does not-- do not treat human being in special category. When we treat human being in a special category, we treat human being who has very egoistic deluded being [laughs]. That is human nature.

But you accept, you know, actually. You do not reflect on our human nature and try to, you know, find out some truth-- try to find out some confidence in yourself. But that is not possible, because background is wrong.

So here [Bammotsu onozukara ko ari] we say, “everything-- all being-- has its own virtue.” So human being should be in the place where we are. [Writes on board.] Sho. Tokoro. “Place.”

And human being has some nature. So according to the nature, we should live like human being. Only when we live like human nature [being] who is-- who has selfish human nature, you know, it means that you are following the truth in its greater sense, because we count [take into account?], you know, our nature in our judgment. So we should live like human being. That is how we should live in this world. So we cannot-- we should not try to be a cats or dog, which has, you know, more freedom [laughs] and [are] less selfish. Human beings should be put in a cage or [laughs] invisible, you know, big cage, when dog and cats is-- has no special cage of morality or, you know, teaching or religion. They don't need any religion. But we human being need religion. We human being should say, “excuse me” [laughs], but cats and dog don't need to say “excuse me.” So human being should follow our way, and cats and dogs should follow their way. This is, you know, how we should apply our-- the truth for everything.

Although, you know, if we, you know, observe human way and cats and dog observe animal way, it looks like human way and animal way is different. Why it is different is because we human being has different nature from animal and different form from animal. Although it is different, but background of our nature is same. Because, you know, the place we live-- where we live-- is different-- so application of the truth should be different. Like we use electricity, you know. We will use it as a light, you know, and sometime as a speaker. But when you use electricity, according to the usage of the electricity, you know, the mechanism should be different.

So human being has its own mechanism, and animal has its own mechanism. So, you know, even though way of using it is different, but we are all using same electricity. So is the application of the truth. This is actually what he is talking about-- Sekito is talking about.

So we should not attach to the difference of the usage because we are using same nature, or same thing-- same true nature or buddha-nature. So we are doing actually same thing. So time and-- according to the situation, we will use buddha-nature in different way. That is how we apply-- how we find out the true nature in-- within ourselves in everyday life.

Next two line:

Ji sonsure ba kangai gasshi,
[ri ozure ba sempo saso.]

Ji means-- I explained already ji-- ”various things and events,” and including things you have in your mind-- ”things you think about” is ji. Ri is “something beyond your thinking or beyond your understanding or perception” is ri. And again, ji and ri is same thing.

When we think about [something], we are think[ing] about this [ji?]. So actually, it doesn't-- Same thing, but we must understand in two ways. We should not-- our understanding limit in this area of ji.

Now, Ji sonsure ba kangai gasshi. Ji-- when we see-- where there is ji, things, there is ri, like cover [gai] and its container [kan], you know, meet together. Ri is, you know, understood in this sentence [Line 35]. “Where there is ri-- there-- ji-- there is ri, like cover and-- container and cover meet.” It means that where there is someone, you know, that I am here means that the true buddha nature is here. So I am, you know, tentative expression of buddha nature, and-- I am not just “I,” you know. It is more than “I.” I am expressing true nature in my own way, so that I am here means that all whole universe is there [here], like that there is lamp [referring to the kerosene lamp on the altar].

Ri means-- I already explained. Ri ozure ba. When ri accord with the event-- ”the way ri accord with ji “ (events or things) “is like two arrow meet together.” And there is old story for this. There were-- in China, in old China, in War Period, there were famous-- famous archery master [Hiei]. And his disciple, Kisho, you know, were-- was also very good at-- in archery [laughs]. And his disciple, you know, became very ambitious, and he [laughs] wanted to compete with him [Hiei]. And he was waiting for his master's coming with bow and arrow like this [demonstrating].

That, you know, that I am old, for an instance, there is some reason [laughs]. Without reason, I do not become old [laughs]. And without reason, you know, I cannot be-- I couldn't be youth, you know, a boy. With same reason, I became old, you know, so we cannot complain why I became old [laughs]. The background of, you know, my being old is the background of my being raised up as a youth-- as a beautiful boy [laughs, laughter]. If I should complain, I should complain when I become a, you know, good youth and see a beautiful girl [laughs]. I should complain at that time also, because, you know, background of my being old is always same, you know. We-- we-- I am supported-- I have been supported [by] same background, and I shall be also supported [by it] even [when] I die. [Laughs, laughter.] That is, you know, our understanding.

When you, you know-- To accept things, you say, looks like very difficult, but it is not difficult. It is very easy to accept things-as-it-is. Very easy. If it is not easy, if it is difficult, “Why it is difficult?” you should think, you know. Maybe, you may say, it is because of your shallow, you know, selfish understanding of yourself. But you say-- you may say why [do] we have selfish understanding of things? But selfish understanding of things is also necessary. Because we are selfish, you know, we work hard. Without selfish understanding, we cannot work.

So we need some candy [laughs] always. That candy will be selfish understanding. It is not something to be rejected, but it is something which helps you always. So, you should be, you know, grateful for your selfish understanding which create [laughs] many questions. That is just question. It does not mean much [laughs, laughter]. You can enjoy question and answer, you know [laughs, laughter]. You can play j- [partial word-- ”joke”?] play game with it, but you shouldn't be so sincere about that. That is understanding of middle way.

The understanding of middle way could be understanding of ri, emptiness, and understanding of somethingness, which is ri [ji]. And both is necessary, you know, because we are human being and we-- our destiny is to live for maybe 80 years or 90 years as a human being, so we must have some selfish, you know, way of life. Because we have selfish way of life, we will have difficulties, at the same time, which we should accept. When you accept, you know, in that way, it is middle way. You don't reject it. You accept it, but you don't stick to it, you know. You just enjoy it-- enjoy your human life as long as you live. That is middle way, you know. That is understanding of ji and ri.

So, when there is ji, there is ri; when there is ri , there is ji. To understand in this way is to enjoy our life without rejecting problems or suffering.

Suffering, you know-- I noticed something, you know, very important, which I did not put emphasis on it so much so far. Suffering is very valuable thing, I think. Our zazen practice should be, you know-- I understand today, when I was talking with someone-- discussing with someone, you know. Our practice may be-- could be, you know, suffering-- practice of suffering. How we suffer will be our practice [laughs]. It helps a lot.

I think most of us has suffering, as you have pain in your legs when you sit. In everyday life, you have suffering. Bishop Yamada-- do you know him? Perhaps some of you may know him. His-- He put emphasis on unshu, which Hakuin Zenji practiced for a long time. He was weak. He suffered consumption when he was young, and he conquered the illness by zazen practice. His zazen is called, you know, unshu. Unshu means to-- when you take breathing, you do groar-- what [how] do you say-- ”m-m-m-mmm”?

Students: Groan?

SR: Groan? M-m-m-mmm. When you suffer, you know, you say “m-m-m-mmm” [laughs] or “m-m-m-mmhh.”

Students: Sigh?

SR: No, not sigh.

Students: Moan?

SR: Moan-- no. More strength-- like a tiger in pain.

Students: Roar? Growl?

SR: Growl? [Laughing.] He always said when you-- your breathing should be like breathing you when you suffer. M-m-m-mmm, m-m-m-mmm. [Laughs, laughter.] Instead of saying “m-m-m-mmm, m-m-m-mmm,” [laughs, laughter] he said you should put more strength here [pointing to hara]

When you, you know, you suffer just from-- by here [pointing to his chest and panting]

Bishop Yamada, you know, had from his-- he has had always difficulties until quite recently. He became-- he, you know, is, maybe, over the cloud, you know [laughs]. So maybe when he was in America, he suffered a lot in Los Angeles [laughs, laughter]. He suffered. But I have-- at that time, I have not much suffer, you know-- suffer from, so I couldn't understand-- I couldn't agree with his practice of unshu, like, you know, a sick person [might]. “M-m-m-mmm.” [Laughs, laughter.] “What is that practice?” I thought. [Laughs, laughter.] “M-m-m-mmm, m-m-m-mmm.” But I found out, you know, why he practiced that kind of practice. And I found out that that practice helps us a lot. Of course, he understood, you know, what is suffering. No one likes suffering, but our destiny is to have suffering. That is human destiny. And how we suffer is the point. No one enjoys suffering, but we should not be completely caught by suffering. We should know how to suffer our human suffering. That may be Bishop Yamada's practice.

So, to find out oneness of ji and ri, oneness of joy and suffering, oneness of joy of enlightenment and difficulty of practice is, in one word, our practice which is called “middle way.”

Mmm. Do you-- did you understand [pointing to Lines 35 and 36]?

You may say, when there is suffering, there there is joy of suffering, or there there is nirvana. When even you are in nirvana, you know, you cannot be-- get out of suffering. That is true nirvana. Buddhist nirvana is something like that. In suffering there is nirvana. That is true understanding of nirvana. “Extinction of-- complete extinction of desire,” we say, but what does it means by-- by it is to have complete understanding of it and to live accordingly. That is zazen, you know. You are like this [sitting upright]. You are not this way-- this side of-- leaning over [to] the side of nirvana, or leaning against the side of the suffering. Right here. That is our zazen. So everyone can sit, you know, [everyone can] practice our zazen.

Mmm. No time to have question and answer. Ah, maybe.

I am talking about-- I am following his poem one by one, or-- so-- it is-- but actually it is necessary to read from beginning to end, you know, like this. If you talk about [it] piece by piece, it doesn't make much sense.

But next lecture will be the something like conclusion of all the lectures we-- I gave. He is very strict, you know, in the conclusion [laughs]. Very strict. You cannot escape from him. [Makes humorous noise.] You cannot say anything [laughs]. If you say something you will get a big stick, that's all [laughs, laughter]. [Makes another humorous noise.] At [In] his time, you know, the Zen world was too noisy, so he became angry with it. “Shut up!” [laughs]-- that is what he said, actually, in one word [laughs]. So I shouldn't talk so long. Maybe already too long [laughs]. Excuse me.



A Short Talk During Zazen
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sunday Morning, June 28, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 147)

You should sit zazen with your whole body; your spine, mouth, toes, mudra. Check on your posture during zazen. Each part of your body should practice zazen independently or separately; your toe should practice zazen independently, your mudra should practice zazen independently; your spine and your mouth should practice zazen independently. You should feel each part of your body doing zazen separately. Each part of your body should participate completely in zazen.

Check to see that each part of your body is doing zazen independently. This is also known as shikantaza. To think, “I am doing zazen” or “My body is doing zazen” is wrong understanding. It is a self-centered idea.

The mudra is especially important. You should not feel as if you are resting your mudra on the heel of your foot for your own convenience. Your mudra should be placed in its own position.

Don't move your legs for your own convenience. Your legs are practicing their own zazen independently and are completely involved in their own pain. They are doing zazen through pain. You should allow them to practice their own zazen. If you think you are practicing zazen, you are involved in some selfish, egotistical idea.

If you think that you have some difficulty in some part of your body, then the rest of the body should help the part that is in difficulty. You are not having difficulty with some part of your body, but the part of the body is having difficulty: for example, your mudra is having difficulty. Your whole body should help your mudra do zazen.

The entire universe is doing zazen in the same way that your body is doing zazen. When all parts of your body are practicing zazen, then that is how the whole universe practice zazen. Each mountain and each river is going and flowing independently. All parts of the universe are participating in their practice. The mountain practice independently. The river practices independently. Thus the whole universe practices independently.

When you see something, you may think that you are watching something else [outside yourself]. But, actually, you are watching your mudra or your toe. That is why zazen practice represents the whole universe. We should do zazen with this feeling in our practice. You should not say, “I practice zazen with my body.” It is not so.

Dogen Zenji says, “Water does not flow, but the bridge flows.” You may say that your mind is practicing zazen and ignore your body, the practice of your body. Sometimes when you think that you are doing zazen with an imperturbable mind, you ignore the body, but it is also necessary to have the opposite understanding at the same time. Your body is practicing zazen in imperturbability while your mind is moving. Your legs are practicing zazen with pain. Water is practicing zazen with movement, yet the water is still while flowing because flowing is its stillness, or its nature. The bridge is doing zazen without moving.

Let the water flow, as that is the water's' practice. Let the bridge stay and sit there, because that is the actual practice of the bridge. The bridge is practicing zazen; painful legs are practicing zazen; imperturbable zazen is practicing zazen. This is our practice.



We Should Not Stick to Words or Rules
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture XII: “It Is Not Always So”
Saturday, July 4, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 151)

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

Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shu wo esu beshi.
Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare.
Sokumoku do wo ese zumba,
ashi wo hakobu mo izukunzo michi wo shiran.
(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)

If you listen to the words, you should understand the source of the teaching.
Don't establish your own rules.
If you don't practice in your everyday life as you walk,
how can you know the way?
(Translation by Suzuki.)]

Tonight and tonight lecture and one more lecture will be the last concluding lecture for Sandokai.

And here it says Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shu wo esu beshi. Koto means “the first character.” We read from this side, you know: Koto wo-- Koto? Koto wo uke te wa. Koto means “words.” Uke te wa: “to receive” or “to listen to”; “to receive,” you know. This is something like “hand,” you know. The same type [?] character-- ”to receive.” If you receive words, it means that if you receive teaching, you should-- subekaraku-- you should-- subekaraku-- should-- you should.

Shu wo-- shu is “source of the teaching”-- shu-- source of the teaching which is beyond our words. Esu beshi is “to have actual understanding of it.” So if you listen to the words, you should understand-- e-- understand-- shu-- source of the teaching. Usually we, you know, stick to words, and it is difficult, because we stick to words, it is difficult to see the true meaning of the teaching. So we say, “words or teaching is finger pointing at the moon.” If you stick to the finger pointing at the moon, you cannot see the moon. So words is just-- to suggest the real meaning of the truth is the words. So we shouldn't stick to words, but we should know actually what the words mean.

At his time, you know, at Sekito's time, many people stick to words-- or each one's, each Zen masters [taught] personal characteristic of Zen. Each masters had, at that time, their own way of introducing the real teaching to the disciples. And they stick to some special teachers-- some particular way, so Zen was divided in many schools, and it was very hard to the student [to know], “Which is the true way?” And actually, to wonder which is the true way is already, you know, wrong. Each was, you know-- Each teachers is suggesting the true teaching by his own way, so each teachers, you know, true-- Each teachers is suggesting same truth-- same source of the teaching which was transmitted from Buddha. Without knowing the source of the teaching, to stick to words was wrong, and actually that was what the teachers at his [Sekito's] time was doing, or students' way of studying Zen.

So he [Sekito] said-- he says, “If you receive words, you should understand the source of the teaching.” Source of the teaching is the teaching which is transmitted from Buddha and which is beyond each one's own way of expressing the teaching or suggesting the teaching. Do you-- Oh.

Student: Roshi, can't see.

Okay. They cannot see. All right.

Words. Words. Koto. [Someone writing on blackboard.] We go this way. You know, this is Chinese character, and we read-- Japanese people read from here to here [laughs]-- opposite way. This is “words.” This is words. Koto wo uke te wa subekaraku shu wo esu beshi.

And next sentence is, Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare. Mizukara kiku wo rissuru koto nakare. “You” is understood. “You should not”: nakare is “not,” “should not.” Rules: kiku means “rules.” Rissuru is “to establish.” Mizukara: “by yourself.” “You should not establish rules for yourselves.” It means that you should not establish, you know, some rules for yourself, and you should not stick to it or you should not [be] bound by it. [Laughs.] That is most people-- what most people does. You say, “This is right” and “This is wrong.” And [laughs] you say so-- when you say so you establish some rules for yourself [laughs]. And because you say so [laughs], naturally you will stick to it and you will be bound by it.

That is, you know, why Zen school-- Zen teachers, you know, divided in many ways: Soto, Rinzai, Obaku, Ummon, Hogen, Igyo, you know. There are many schools. But originally it is one teaching. But they establish, you know, or their disciple establish one school and stick to their “family way” and bound by their family way. That is how Zen school is divided in many schools. Why Zen school is divided in many branches is because they stick to words. When they understand Buddha's teaching, they understand the Buddha's original teaching in their own way [laughs] and stick to their understanding. And they think that is Buddha's teaching. In other words, they stick to, you know, fingers pointing at the moon. And if three people are pointing at the same moon, you know, three people have [laughs]-- each person has his own fingers and if this is teaching there are already three schools. But the moon is one [laughs, laughter]. So he [Sekito] says, “Don't,” you know, “establish his own rules for yourself.”

Nakare means “do not.” Mizukara is “for yourself” or “for himself.” Kiku is “rules.” This is very important in our practice. We are liable to establish our rules. “This is,” you know, “rule of Tassajara,” you may say [laughs]. But rules is the finger to, you know, to have good practice in Tassajara according to the situation. So actually rules are important, but you should not think this is the only, you know, way, this is the true teaching, or-- and that rules, you know, they have is wrong. You shouldn't understand in that way. In everyday life, it is true, you know. You shouldn't stick to your own understanding of things. Something which is good for someone is not always good for someone else, so you should not, you know, make special rules for everyone. But even so, rules are important. It is important, but when you stick to it and when you force the rules to others too much, it is, you know, to establish rules and to force the rule for others.

So when you, you know, enter monastery, anyway, once you enter some monastery you shouldn't say, “This is my way” [laughs]. If you come to Tassajara, you should obey Tassajara's rules. You should not establish your own rules for yourself. What you should do at Tassajara through Tassajara rules to see the actual moon is, you know, how you practice zazen at Tassajara. Rules is not the point. The actual teaching the rules will catch is the point. So observing rules naturally you will understand what is the real teaching.

So this is, you know-- From the beginning, this point is maybe missing in almost all of us. Most of the people, you know, start to study Zen to know what is Zen. This is already wrong. It is the first step to, you know, to-- It means that he is always trying to provide some understanding or rules for himself.

The way you study Zen is like-- you should be-- The way you study Zen should be the way a fish, you know, pick up its food [laughs], you know [laughs]. They do not try to catch anything, you know. They are just swimming around. And [laughs] if something good come-- snap! [Bites teeth together.] [Laughs, laughter.] While you are following Tassajara rules, you know, even though it is so hot, anyway you are observing Tassajara rules [laughs], eating in hot zendo [laughs], like a fish, you know, swimming around, and, you know, as you are doing so, you will get something. I don't know whether you realize it or not. Anyway, as long as you are following rules, you will have something. Even though you don't have anything or you don't study anything, actually you are studying, like a fish, you know, like a fish doesn't know what they are eating. That's all [laughs]. In that way we should study Zen. To understand does not mean to, you know, to understand something by hear [or “here,” pointing to head?].

For Zen student, if you ask question, you know, “What is good?” to Zen student, Zen student may answer, “Something you should-- something you do is good, and something you don't is bad.” [Laughs.] That is answer. Something you do is good, and something you don't is bad. [Laughs.] That's all. You don't think so much about good or bad.

So Dogen Zenji says, “The power of 'do not' is good.” Power of “do not.” That is something intuitive-- very inmost function of ourselves: innate nature. Our innate nature have some function before you say [said?] “good” or “bad.” That function is something-- is sometime good and sometime bad. We understand in that way. But that innate nature is beyond the idea of good or bad. So when you start to wonder why we practice zazen in such a hot weather [laughs, laughter], then, you know, that is the first step to the confusion [laughs, laughter]. We should be like a fish, always swimming around in the river. That is Zen student [laughs]. Don't, you know-- So Dogen Zenji said, “There is no bird that fly after knowing what is sky or where is the limit of the sky.” They just fly in the big sky. That is how we practice zazen.

So you should not make some rules for yourself. Or you should not try to make rules for yourself. These is very strict words, you know. It looks like very-- It looks like it doesn't mean much, but actually when he say so, he is waiting with big stick [laughs]. If you say something [Sekito says], “Don't make rules for yourself! Don't try to understand by your head.” He is waiting like this [laughs] [Suzuki holds up the pointer or stick as if ready to strike]. 1 So when he say so, we cannot say anything. Hai. Hai. [Laughs.] [The Hai/Hai exchange was said as if two people were talking to each other.] That's all. You shouldn't say even “Hai.” You should do things like a mule or ass [laughs].

You may say, “This is absolute surrender.” It is not so. It is, you know, the way to understand what is the source of the teaching. When we say, “source of the teaching,” we liable to, you know, wonder what it is. But source of the teaching is not something which you can understand by words, but something which you will-- which you have when you do things quite naturally and intuitively without saying “good” or “bad.”

Time is always going on and on. We have not much time to say “good” or “bad” [laughs]. You know, moment after moment we should follow the flow of the time. You should go with the time goes. We don't have time to say “this way” or “that way.” When we become tired of, you know, doing something, you may say, “this way” or “that way” just to kill time. But [laughs] actually when you see the vegetables in the garden which is almost, you know, dry up in the hot weather, you have not much time to [laughs] say what will be the appropriate thing to do for us, you know, for today [laughs]. While we are discussing we are becoming more and more hungry. So kitchen people should go to the kitchen and prepare some food for next meal [laughs]. That is the most important thing.

But it does not mean there is, you know, it is waste of time to think about. It is good thing to think about, but we should not stick to words or stick to rules too much. This is very delicate point. Without ignoring rules, without sticking to the rules, we should continue our Tassajara practice. This is the way Sekito is suggesting.

And he says, Sokumoku do wo ese zumba. Sokumoku do wo ese zumba, ashi wo hakobu mo izukunzo michi wo shiran. Sokumoku: Soku is to, you know-- excuse me? [Laughs.] Soku is, you know, the antenna of the, you know, insects; moku is “eyes.” So it means that to use our eyes and our five senses. Sokumoku: moku is “eyes”; soku is “sense organs.”

Do wo ese zumba: do is “dao” [someone is writing on the blackboard]. E means “understand not,” you know. “If you don't understand dao with eyes and sense organs.”

Ashi wo hakobu: ashi means “foot.” Hakobu means “to carry on,” “to go,” you know, “to carry on.”

Izukunzo: “how.” “How could you do that,” it means this words. Izukunzo.

Michi wo: michi is “way”; shiran, “to know.”

“If you don't understand dao, way, you don't understand way, how could you-- even though you move or you operate your foot-- operate”-- (uma is “operate”)-- ”your foot-- your feet-- how could you know the-- could you know-- shiran-- could you know-- michi-- way-- (michi is 'way')-- how could you know the way?”

So it means that only way is using your five senses-- sense organs-- eyes and many sense organs-- wherever you go, using your sense organs like eyes and nose, and at that time simultaneously understanding the source of the teaching. If you don't do that, even though you prac- [incomplete word]-- ashi wo hakobu-- ”to operate your feet” means to practice. So even though you practice, you cannot know the true way: michi wo. Michi-- true way. Michi wo shiran.

So, you know, the way is-- the more important thing is not rules but to, you know, find out the true mean [partial word] source of the teaching with your eyes, with your ears, wherever you are, you know-- is how you understand the source of the teaching. That is more direct way to know the source of the teaching without trying to establish some particular way for yourselves. So if you stick to words, and if you do not see true way by your eyes, by your nose, ears, or tongue-- sticking to some rules and, you know, ignoring actually direct experience of everyday life, even though you practice zazen, it doesn't work, he [Sekito] says. So without, you know, saying this way-- ”Rinzai” or “Soto,” or “this way” or “that way”-- to have direct experience of everyday life is more important thing, and that is how we understand the true source of the teaching transmitted from Buddha. That is the conclusion of the Sandokai.

So true way could be, you know, could be a stick. True way-- The original way of Buddha could be a stone. Like Ummon said, “It may be a toilet paper” [laughs]. What is true way? Or what is Buddha? Buddha is something which is beyond our understanding. So Buddha could be everything. It is, you know, just-- Instead of “Buddha,” we say, you know, “toilet paper” [laughs]. Anyway, even though you say “Buddha,” it doesn't make much sense [laughs]. So it may be much better to say “toilet paper” or “three pounds of hemp,” as Tozan said [laughs].

So, you know, the best way is if you, you know, if someone ask you, “Who is Buddha?” the answer may be, “You are Buddha too” [laughs]. That will be the answer. If you, you know-- Then, if someone ask, “What is mountain?” “The mountain is also Buddha” [laughs]. That will be the answer. So in Japanese, mo mata. Mo mata is “also.” If you say, you know-- You shouldn't say, “This is Buddha.” Rather-- If you say, “This is Buddha,” that statement will lead you [to] some misunderstanding. So, “This is also Buddha.” If you say so, it is okay. It does not mean you don't stick to lamp. But lamp is Buddha, you know. If someone ask, “Where is Buddha?” you may say, “Here is Buddha too.” If you say “too” it is okay. It is not so definite. “Too,” you know. So somewhere else-- Buddha may be somewhere else too [laughs].

[Tape turned over.]

[So the secret of the perfect Zen statement is, “It is not always so.” ] 2 -- [under]standing. This is Tassajara rules, but it is not always so. This is-- As long as you are at Tassajara, you know, this is our rule. But it is not always so. You should not forget this point. So this is also Buddha's way-- Buddha's rule. If you say so, there is no danger. There is no-- You will not invite any misunderstanding.

And this is how you get rid of selfish practice. Even though you think you are practicing Buddha's way, you are liable to be involved in selfish practice when you say, “This is-- The way should be like this,” you know. If you-- If that statement is strict enough to accept this kind of teaching, it is okay. If, you know-- Even though you say, “This is our way-- our Tassajara way.” You should definitely say so. But you should be ready to accept some other's way.

This is rather difficult, you know: to have very strict-- having very strict, strong confidence in your actual practice and flexible enough to accept other's way too is rather difficult. For you, you know, to be ready to accept someone's teaching is not strict way. But unless you are ready to accept other's practice, you cannot be so strict with your own way. Only when you are, you know, ready to accept someone's opinion you could say, “Definitely you should do so.” And you may say, “As long as I'm here you should do so” [laughs]. Even though, you know, you say so, it does not mean-- It means that if someone else come, I will observe his way. Or else you cannot, you know, you cannot be so strict with yourself. Do you understand this point?

So usually strictness means to become rigid, to be caught by your own understanding and no or-- do not provide any room for others. That is usual way, you know. That is not our way.

So my master always said-- if someone ask his opinion about something, about some matter, he always said, “If you asked me,” you know, “my opinion is this!” [hits the table with stick at “this”] [laughs, laughter]. When he say so, he is very strong [laughs]. Why he could be so strong is because he says, “If you ask me” [hits table with stick] [laughs]. You know, that is our way. So to be just, you know, yourself is to be-- to have-- to be ready to accept other's opinion too. That is very important point. Each moment you should intuitively know what you should do. But it does not mean to reject someone else['s] opinion.

In some translation, it says, Koto wo uke te wa . Koto means “forementioned,” you know, “things” or “words.” How many words I don't know, but, you know, but it is not so. This is more wider meaning: Koto is, maybe, “words.” “Words,” maybe-- not only words in Sandokai, but also various words we mean, we use, and it may include various idea which we have or we may have, or things we see or things we hear. So koto include everything. And ashi wo hakobu means “practice.” Sokumoku means “our everyday affairs,” “our everyday life.”

“In everyday life there is dao, and if you do not practice our way in everyday activity, there is no way to-- no approach to the true way.” That is what he [Sekito] means. Don't stick to words. Don't, you know, make your own rules and force the rules to others. It is not possible to force any rules for others, because each one has his own way, and each one should have his own way.

That is the conclusion of Sandokai.

Ah. Just right time, maybe [laughs, laughter]. Hmm? I am sorry we have no time [laughs] for you to ask question.

Thank you very much.



Do Not Pass Your Days and Nights in Vain
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture XIII: “Don't Spend Your Time in Vain”
Monday, July 6, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 161)

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

Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni arazu,
mayote senga no ko wo hedatsu.
Tsutsushinde sangen no hito ni mosu,
koin munashiku wataru koto nakare.
(Transliteration by Kazuaki Tanahashi.)

The goal is neither far nor near.
If you stick to the idea of good or bad,
you will be separated from the way
by high mountains or big rivers.
Seekers of the truth,
don't spend your time in vain.
(Translation by Suzuki.)]

Here it says:

Ayumi wo susumure ba gonnon ni arazu,
mayote senga no ko wo hedatsu.
Tsutsushinde sangen no hito ni mosu,
koin munashiku wataru koto nakare.

Ayumi wo susumure ba. Ayumi is “foot” or “step.” Susumure ba: “to carry on.” Susumure ba gonnon ni arazu. Gon is “near”; on is “far away.” Ayumi wo susumureba. Ayumi is actually “practice,” you know. Ayumi wo susumureba gonnon ni arazu.

“There is no idea of far away from the goal or nearer to the goal.” This is very important. When you [are] involved in selfish practice, there is, you know-- you have some idea of attainment. And when you have-- you strive for to attain enlightenment or to reach the goal, you have naturally, “We are far away”-- you know, idea of, “We are far away from the goal.” Or, “We are almost there,” you know. Gonnon: “near” or “far away.”

But if you really practice our way, enlightenment is there. Mmm. Maybe this is rather difficult to accept [laughs], you know. When you practice zazen without any idea of attainment, there is actually enlightenment. Or you may understand in this way like Dogen Zenji explained: In our selfish practice there is enlightenment and there is practice. Practice and enlightenment is two-- a pair of opposite idea. But when we realize-- when we understand our practice and enlightenment as an event in realm of great dharma world, enlightenment and practice is two event which appears in a great dharma world. The both practice and enlightenment is also events, you know, which will have-- which many events in our life or in our dharma world. When we understand in that way, enlightenment is one of the event which symbolize the dharma world, and practice is also an event which symbolize our big dharma world. So there is-- if both symbolize or express or suggest the big dharma world, you know, actually we sh- [partial word], there is no need for us to be discouraged because we do not attain enlightenment or why we should be extremely happy with our enlightenment. Actually there is no difference. Both has equal value.

So enlightenment-- if enlightenment is important, practice is also important. We cannot evaluate which is good or bad. When we understand in this way, in each step we have enlightenment. Even though we have enlightenment, you know, there will not be no need to be excited with it. And step by step we will continue endless practice, appreciating the dharma world-- bliss of dharma world. That is so-called-it “practice based on enlightenment”-- a practice beyond our experience of good and bad, a practice which is beyond our selfish practice.

Last night, he [Sekito] said, “Whatever you see, if you,” you know, “that is-- whatever you see, that is dao.” Unless you don't understand in that way, you will not-- even though you practice our practice you will-- the practice not work. And tonight, you know, in this line he says, “If you,” you know, “practice our way in its true sense, there is no problem of, 'We are almost there' or 'We are far away from the point',” it is said. Beginners' practice and great Zen masters' practice are not different. But if you [are] involved in selfish practice, then that is delusion. Mayote senga no ko wo hedatsu. If you practice deluded practice, if you practice our way, you know, in dualistic sense-- practice and enlightenment-- then there is barrier or difficulties of mountain and river-- crossing river or mountain: Senga no ko: This is “mountain”; this is “river”; this is “difficulties.” [Suzuki is presumed to be pointing to characters on blackboard.] You will be, you know, you will have-- you will be separated from the dao by the difficulties of crossing mountain and river: Mayote senga no ko wo hedatsu.

And next line is Tsutsushinde sangen no hito ni mosu. Tsutsushinde is “most respectfully” or “reverently.” “I tell all the seekers of the way.” Sangen no hito means “seekers of the truth.” San is like sanzen, like sanpai? Sanzen means, you know, “to visit Zen masters.” San. Gen is “profound teaching.” Hito means “man.” So “to visit profound teaching” or “to study profound teaching”-- ”those who study profound teaching.” “I say this much to the people who want to visit the real teacher.” Gen is, you know, “profound”-- ”profound teaching.”

Koin munashiku wataru koto nakare. Koin means “sunbeam” or “day and night.” Ko is “beam”-- ”sunbeam”; and in means “shadow.” And koin-- this is one word-- koin means “day and night” or “time.” Munashiku-- ”don't”-- wataru is “to spend” or “to cross”-- ”to pass.” “Not”-- nakare is “not.” Munashiku is “in vain.” Wataru is “to pass.” “Don't pass day and night without doing anything” or “in vain.”

To, you know, to pass day and night in vain does not mean only to, you know, goof off [laughs] without doing anything. It is-- that is maybe, you know, one way of [laughs] passing the day and night without doing anything [laughs], but it does not mean, you know, such a-- what he [Sekito] means is more profound: Even though you, you know, work very hard, sometime you may be, you know, passing your day and-- valuable time without doing anything, we say so. If you don't know what you are doing [laughs], or he is passing his time in vain, he may say, “No, I am striving very hard to make my saving account [laughs] ten thousand dollars” [laughs], but to us, you know, it is just spending his time in vain. It doesn't make much sense [laughs].

Even though you, you know, work hard in Tassajara, you know, in work period, it doesn't mean-- it does not mean you are, you know-- it does not always mean you are spending your time properly-- doing something properly [laughs]. Mmm. [Laughs.] What does it mean then [laughs]? If you goof off [laughs] you are also, you know, wasting your time. Even though you work hard, maybe you are, you know, spending your time in vain. This is maybe a kind of koan for you [laughs].

Do you know what does it mean, “Every day is good day”? [Laughs.] “Every day is good day.” This is famous, you know, koan. “Every day is good day.” It does not mean, you know, don't make complaint even though you have some difficulties: “Even though it is hot, you shouldn't complain. Even though it is cold, you shouldn't complain. Whatever happened, you shouldn't complain.” It does not mean, you know, something like that.

“Every day is good day.” What it means [is], “Don't,” you know, “spend your time in vain.” I think most people are spending their time in vain. If he say, “No, I am always busy.” But if he say so [laughs], it is sure sign of [laughs] his spending time in vain.

Most people do things, you know, as he know what he is doing, with some purpose. But even so, I don't think they are doing things with proper understanding of their activity. I think still he may be doing things in vain. When you do something with usual purpose, which is based on some evaluation, or useful or useless, or good or bad, valuable or less valuable-- that is, you know, not perfect understanding. You know, if you do things whether it is good or bad, you know, or successful or unsuccessful, out of question. Because you feel you should do them, then that is real practice. Not because of Buddha or because of yourself, or because of the true, or because of for yourself or for others. If you do things for the things, that is true way.

Mmm. I cannot explain so well. Maybe I shouldn't explain so much [laughs]. You shouldn't do things just because you feel good, or you shouldn't stop doing things just [because] you don't feel so good. Whether you feel good or bad, there is something which you should do. Unless-- if you don't have this kind of feeling-- if you don't understand this kind of feeling-- of doing things, you know, whether it is right or wrong, or good or bad-- if you don't understand this kind of feeling, you are not yet started our way in its true sense.

I don't know why, you know, I am [laughs] in Tassajara [laughs]. Not for you or for myself, or not even for Buddha or for Buddhism. I am just here [laughs]. I cannot-- you know, I don't feel so good if-- even when I think I have to leave Tassajara in two-three weeks, I don't feel so good. I don't know why [laughs.] I don't think that is just because you are my students. I don't think so. I do not have any particular person whom I love so much [laughs]. I don't know why I have to be there. I have not much attachment to Tassajara. It is not because of I attach to Tassajara.

Hmm. Anyway, I am not seek [partial word]-- I am not, you know, expecting anything in future or in term of monastery or Buddhism. But I don't want to, you know, live-- I don't want to live in the air. I want to be right here. I want to stand on my feet, you know. The only way to stand on my feet is when I am Tassajara I should be at Tassajara [laughs]. That is the reason why, you know, I am here. I want to be here. That is the most important thing for me: to stand on my feet and to sit on my black cushion. I don't trust anything but [laughs] my feet or my black cushion. This is my friend, always. My feet is always my friend. When I am in bed, my bed is my friend. There is no Buddha, or no Buddhism, or no zazen. If, you know, you ask me, “What is zazen?” you know, my answer will be, “To sit on black cushion is zazen,” or “To walk with my feet is my zazen.” To stay at this moment on this place is my zazen. There is no other zazen.

When I am really standing on my feet I am, you know, not lost. So, for me, that is, you know, nirvana, for me. So there is no need to travel, to cross, you know, mountain or river, for me. I am right here on the dharma world. So I have no difficulty to cross mountain and river. That is how, you know, we do not waste our time. Moment after moment we should live on this moment, right here, without sacrificing this moment for the future.

At Sekito's time, there were, you know, naturally, you know, especially Zen Buddhism is very poliminous [polemical], you know. The background of the teaching is always some discussion or a kind of fight. Especially in Chinese Buddhism you can see this kind of context in their teaching. And talking about various way of practice and various way of understanding of Zen. They were lost in dispute [laughs]. There were many schools of Zen. But because they were involved in some kind of right teaching or wrong teaching, or traditional teaching or some heretical teaching (heresy), they lost their main point of practice. So that is why he says, “Don't spend your time in vain,” sacrificing their actual practice for some idealistic, you know, practice, to attain some perfection of what kind of understanding is traditional understanding told by the Sixth Patriarch-- compiling, you know, Sutra of Sixth Patriarch in their own way [laughs], and [saying], “This is the Sixth Patriarch's way. Those who do not have this book is not,” you know, “the descendant of the Sixth Patriarch.” This kind of, you know, understanding of Zen were prevail [prevalent] at that time. That is why he says, “Don't,” you know, “I reverently say to the seekers of the profound way, don't spend your time in vain.” It is, you know-- what it means is very profound. Without being, you know, caught by some idea, you know, some selfish understanding or practice or teaching-- to follow right practice is our way. [Tape turned. Sentence completed.]

This kind of practice is called “polishing tile practice” [laughs]. Tile. “To polish tile practice.” Usually, people may polish a mirror, you know, because if you polish it, you know, it will be a clear, good mirror, you know. To have clea- [partial word]-- why you polish it is to have clear surface of the mirror. But if someone start polish a tile [laughs], you know-- for the people who understand why we polish a mirror is to have a mirror-like complete, you know, shiny surface of it. So if someone start to polish a tile, you may laughed at him.

So to polish tile is-- to make good tile is to polish tile. And to polish mirror is to have actual mirror is why we polish a mirror. [Someone may say,] “Oh, this is just a tile. It cannot be a mirror.” You know, that is the practice [of those] who easily give up their practice because he thinks, you know, “Anyway, I cannot be a good [laughs] Zen student. It may be better to give up without polishing it, without sitting zazen.” Without realizing, tile is, you know, valuable-- sometime much more valuable than a mirror, because a mirror is too expensive for the roofing [laughs]. No one can, you know, afford to make a roof by mirror. Tile is very good for to make our roof. So tile is also important, as mirror is important to see, to look yourself into it. That is “tile-polishing practice.” Mazen, we say.

As you know, there is a famous story between Baso, the grandson of the Sixth Patriarch, and Nangaku, a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch. Baso, you know, was practicing zazen. Nangaku, the teacher-- who passed, you know, by-- asked him:

“What are you doing?”

“I am practicing zazen to be a buddha.”

“Ah, that's very nice of you” [laughs, laughter], “trying to be a Buddha.” And the teacher [Nangaku] picked up a tile and started to polish it [laughs].

So Baso asked him, you know, with some curiosity, “What are you doing?” [laughs, laughter].

He [Nangaku] said, “I want to make this tile a mirror.” [Laughs.]

And the disciple Baso asked him whether it is possible to, you know, make tile a mirror.

He [Nangaku] said, “Well [laughs], you said,” you know, “you are practicing zazen to be a buddha, but buddha is not always someone who attained enlightenment. Everyone is buddha. Whether they attained enlightenment or not, they are buddha. You said, 'To be a buddha,' but to be a buddha sometime means to practice.”

His [Baso's], you know, answer was, “I want to be a buddha by practicing-- by sitting practice.”

And so he said-- teacher [Nangaku] said, “You said, 'practice in sitting position.' But Zen is not,” you know, “always-- to sit in sitting position is not Zen always. Whatever you do, that will be zazen.”

So he was lost, you know. Baso was lost. “Then what will be the appropriate practice?” [he asked]. And so he explained-- he asked without explaining to him, he asked, “If a cart does not go,” you know, “which would be the appropriate way: to hit a cart or to hit a horse?” [Laughs.] “Which will be the appropriate [way]?” But he couldn't answer because the disciple Baso was still involved in practice to attain something.

So he [Nangaku] continued the explanation of the practice. In short, I cannot translate it literally, but what he said was, “If you think [by] whipping a cart or horse, you can,” you know, “drive a cart is [you are] wrong, because cart and horse actually is not separated, is one.” To whip a horse means to whip a cart, you know. And if you whip on cart, naturally horse will go [laughs], because they are one.

So to practice and enlightenment is one, like a cart and horse is one. So if you, you know, practice actually physical practice, as a practice, that is also enlightenment. And that you practice Buddha's practice, of course, that is enlightenment. But actually that is practice too. We call practice based on enlightenment is “real practice which has no end.” We call enlightenment which started with practice, which is one with practice, is “beginningless enlightenment,” because, you know, if someone start practice, there is enlightenment. Where there is practice there is enlightenment. Where there is enlightenment there is also practice. There is no enlightenment without practice. If you don't stay on this spot realizing your position, then you are not practicing our way. So if you are wasting your time or if you are trying to sacrifice your present practice for future attainment, that is not real practice.

Sekito actually was the direct disciple of the Sixth Patriarch. He knew the Sixth Patriarch's way-- practice very well. So when Kataku Jinne and his disciples started to denounce the Northern school of Jinshu, he [Sekito] felt bad about them attaching to some, you know, idea, and denouncing, you know, superficially, without realizing what is real practice. (The Hoku-shu Zen [was] Jinshu's practice.)

This kind of-- this understanding is extended-- succeeded by Dogen in Japan, and Dogen extended his idea more widely and not just, you know, logically but more emotional way-- more, with more feeling and more poetic way through his tenacious, you know, thinking mind.

So some people may say Sandokai is not so good, you know, because it is so philosophical. [Laughs.] It may be so, you know, if you don't understand the background of his [Sekito's] teaching, and if your mind does not penetrate through his words. We say to read back of the paper, you know, not printed characters, but the other side of the book. You may feel in that way. But this is actually very important, you know, work-- Sandokai.

Do you have some questions?

Question/Answer Session
SR: Hai.

Student A: I don't understand all the vows we make.

SR: Mmm? Vow?

Student A: Well, I understand what you said tonight, but, you know, in the light of what you say, you know, I don't understand all the vows and stuff. Like, if there's no sentient beings to save, why do we say how we “vow to save sentient beings?” It seems like a big joke to me.

SR: [Laughs.] Because your practice is, you know, always confined in realm of, you know, why we practice zazen. What does it mean, by your practice. Anyway, actually, you are practicing very good. Why do you practice your practice so good? [Laughs.] I don't understand. [Laughs.]

Student A: It doesn't feel very good to me.

SR: [Laughs.] Yeah. Anyway, you are doing well. [Laughs, laughter.] Because, maybe, because I give lectures, you know, my lecture will, you know, will be some enticement [laughs, laughter]. May be better not to hear my lecture-- just practice zazen.

Student A: I don't mind zazen so much, but I kind of-- I don't like to make promises that I don't understand.

SR: “Make promise.” Our promise, you know: If sentient beings are number [partial word]-- numerous, you know, numberless, or desires are numberless-- sentient beings are numerous, you know, it is-- you cannot say, “I vow to save them” or “I vow to put an end to them.” It is, you know, it is very silly. It doesn't make any sense [laughs]. This is true. I agree with you. It doesn't make any sense.

But still you do it. Why? You don't feel so good if you don't work for others. Our practice is not just to s [partial word]-- we say, you know, we make four vows just, you know, in that way. But what we really means is more than that. But tentatively or for sake of sake of convenience, we, you know, say in that way just four.

But I feel in this way, really, truly, you know, it is lucky that we have, you know, inexhaustible desires and numerous sentient beings to save. And each of them is almost impossible to save them in term of, you know, “I save you” [laughs]. You cannot save in that way. But whether it is possible or not, to continue this kind of practice is our vow. Anyway, whether it is possible or not, out of question. Whether this is Buddhist way, or Bodhisattva's way, or Hinayana way, or Mahayana way is out of question. Anyhow, do it! That is our vow.

Student A: When I-- I mean, when I don't-- it seems cheating, you know. I mean, when I promise to do something, it seems, you know, I need to have some meaning. If it doesn't have any meaning, I won't say it. If it doesn't have any meaning to me, I can't say it.

SR: Your arrogance. That is your arrogance.

Student A: I don't know. Maybe. But--

SR: Even though you cry, that cry doesn't make any sense. You're still-- your practice is still based on some selfish practice. You don't give up yourself. You have to suffer more and fight more with yourself. With yourself. No one to fight with-- nothing to fight with. Fight with your selfish practice until you give up. That is most important point for real students. You shouldn't fool yourself. He doesn't want to be fooled by our teaching, or Zen, or something like that. That is right. You shouldn't [be] fooled by anything.

Student A: Well, what do I do at the end of lecture? I can't-- I-- you know, everybody will say the four vows, and I won't believe them. I--

SR: You don't have to believe in [them] literally, you know. Because various teachers and numerous people, you know, repeat it in that way, that is why you should do it. That's all. If, you know, they are cheating themselves, you know, you should be cheated, you should be fooled by it with all sentient beings. That you cannot do that means you want to be some special person. That is good, you know. That much spirit we should have. But the answer is, you know, that is not the way. You know, answer is very cold. Cannot be sympathetic with your, you know, practice. Some great teacher will give you some candy. Go and get candy.

Student A: It's not like that, Roshi. I mean, I just-- maybe part of it is, but I still don't understand. I feel very-- I don't feel right. Even if the whole world is fooled, if there is something I don't believe, or I don't understand--

SR: “You don't understand.” How much truth you can understand by your small mind? And you should know the limit of your thinking mind.

Student A: But-- I forget--

SR: What you see, you know, actually, you see various color, but how many colors do you see by your eyes?

Student A: But I can't--

SR: How much sound you can hear? You only think, you know-- your thinking mind works dualistic only. You have no words to explain this kind of reality, you know. If you understand our teaching through those characters, it is almost impossible. This is just suggestion. You see? So because you stick to my words, or by scriptures, or you think scriptures should be something perfect, more convincing-- you think in that way, but first of all, you know, we have to confess what I'm talking is not right. What I'm saying is not always true. I am suggesting something more than that. That's all. So to, you know-- that is even-- not only Buddhism, but Confucius says, you know, “If it is,” you know-- ”If someone want to fool you,” you know, “you should be fooled by him.” That is very important.

Student A: Even though practice is greater than words, still, in the small world of words, I don't feel strong enough yet to be inconsistent, you know. I don't feel that I can say, “Well, I don't see that light there,” you know, because I do. I mean, it may be ignorance or something, but it seems like it's there to me. And in order to be kind of what I feel is straight or clear-- if I say to you, “I don't see that lamp, Roshi,” then something funny happens inside of me, you know. And sometimes that same funny thing happens when I say the vows, because I think, “Oh, okay, I vow to save all sentient beings.” But then something is going on inside me, you know. There aren't any [2-3 words unintelligible]--

SR: Yeah, I understand that. You know, we priest always put our hand together when you eat. How many times you put your hand together, you know. How many times you put your hand together in Tassajara, you know? I didn't like it at all, you know. I felt as if I am fooling myself [laughs], and, you know, I didn't feel so good. But as I had to, you know, I did it, that's all. But now I understand, you know, because I understand how foolish I am. I have not much strong spirit [laughs] as I had before. So I understand. But still, you know, truth is truth. I cannot agree with you now. Maybe if I were to be your age, I can agree with you. I could have agreed with you quite easily, and you would have been a great friend of mine, but now [laughs] I ca [partial word-- probably “can't”] [be] your friend. Hai.

Student B: Roshi, do you think that we have any choice? For instance, I am here at Tassajara.

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student B: Am I here at Tassajara by my choice, or am I simply here at Tassajara?

SR: Well, that's-- the answer for that is, you know, your buddha nature brought you here at Tassajara. That is my answer. Your choice is not-- you ch [partial word]-- . I think that was not comp [partial word], you know, your choice, you know, completely. Maybe your choice, you know, twenty or thirty percent your choice. But most of the reason for your [being] here is something more than that. That we hear Buddha's teaching is, you know, because of our previous study. And wisdom seek for wisdom. We are listening to the teaching which we have listened or have had studied under many teachers in my past life. Dogen said so. Wisdom seek for wisdom. But, you know, even though you feel, you know, “I am feeling this way right now, one hundred percent,” you may say so, but actually that voice is now covers all of your being or character. But actually it is a little tiny part of you saying so, and you feel as if your whole body is saying so. That's all. That is, you know, so-called-it-- Ahh. Maybe I shouldn't explain [laughs] so, you know, so much in traditional way.

Student B: Well then, if I were, say, to become buddha, would I have anything to do about it? Or would I have anything to do with it? Would I have anything to do with it?

SR: Mmm. First of all, you know, try to forget yourself, and rely on your true voice-- nonverbal voice-- voiceless voice. And you listen to “tongueless speech,” we say. Don't listen to my words. [Laughs.] Ahh. Think about this point, you know, and-- . Hai.

Student C: Will I hear your stick on my shoulder tomorrow?

SR: Hmm?

Student C: In the morning-- in the early morning, will I hear your stick on my shoulder?

SR: Mm-hmm. Stick?

Student C: Will you hit me with your stick tomorrow morning?

SR: Okay. All right.

Student D [Roovane ben Yumin]: Roshi? Is the voice-- whose voice is it that we listen to?

SR: Mmm! Your voice and Buddha's voice. That is, you know, what Sandokai is talking about. You think sometime [it is] your voice, but that voice is Buddha's voice. But you think in that way, you know, from one-sided feeling. You think you are here. You think you are, you know, Roovane, but [laughs] actually it is not so [laughs, laughter]. No, not at all. If I think I am Suzuki, you know, if someone call me “Suzuki” I [laughs] feel very funny. “Oh [laughs], is this Suzuki?” [Laughs.] “Oh no, I,” you know-- first reaction is, “No, I am not Suzuki.” [Laughs.] Hai.

Student E: Roshi, this may be a good gassho [presumably bows], and someone may look at me and say, “Oh, this is good gassho.”

SR: Mm-hmm.

Student E: But there may be a cold heart behind this gassho.

SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Cold heart or warm heart out of question. [Laughs, laughter.]

Student E: The [laughs] gassho is a good one [said as an aside]. Is it still good gassho [addressed more loudly to Suzuki]?

SR: Perfect! [Laughs, laughter.] [End of tape. Not clear if Q&A session continued.]



We Are Just a Tiny Speck of Big Being
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sandokai Lecture V: Lecture to Professor Weller's Visiting Class
Saturday, June 6, 1970
(title from book: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness, p. 177)

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

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 Sandokai. 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.

So utter darkness means, you know, something which is beyond our understanding. And brightness means something you can understand in term of good and bad, or square or round, or red or white. So brightness means “various things,” and darkness means “one whole being” in which many things exist, you know-- something which include everything. Even though there are many things, but the thing which include everything-- moon and stars and everything, you know-- is so big so [laughs] we are, you know, just a tiny speck of big being.

So, you know, when we, you know, we think-- we say, “That is darkness,” darkness means something which include everything. You cannot get out of it, you know. If there is some place where you can go, that place is also included in darkness. That kind of big, big being is utter darkness where anything can be acknowledged, you know, because everything is so small. But it does not mean there is nothing. Various thing exist in one whole big big great being.

Our study, you know, usually, whatever the study may be, is always, you know, going in realm of brightness. So we discriminate things: “This is good,” or “This is bad.” “Agreeable or disagreeable.” “Right or wrong,” you know. “Big or small.” “Round or square.” In this way, we, you know, study things and we live in this world saying, “This is good,” or “This is bad.”

Now whatever it is, you know, you-- things which is-- which you deal with is, you know, things which is in brightness, things which is in duality-- dualistic world. So it is-- but it is necessary for us to know, you know, utter darkness of the being where there is, you know, nothing to see or nothing to think about. This kind of experience will be experienced only in zazen practice. But in your thinking or listening to lecture, or talking about teaching, we cannot study what is actually darkness. And now I am talking about, of course, not-- I cannot talk about darkness [laughs]. But I can talk about something which we can understand and which-- by which you will be encouraged to practice zazen, which will lead you [to] the experience of darkness.

Darkness, you know, sometime we call it “nothingness” or “emptiness,” you know, in comparison to “somethingness.” Sometime we say, “no mind.” No mind means utter darkness. No mind. You don't think there.

I feel I went too far [laughs]. I feel I went too far, so I have to [laughs] go back to something, some bright room [laughs]. It is too dark [laughs, laughter] to see your [laughs] face, you know, one by one. It's too dark. But I will try to see each one of you and what kind of problem you have [laughs]. I think I must, you know, go back to everyday problem.

While I was talking with some student, some student said-- I was talking about, you know, my relationship to my wife [laughs, laughter]. I have many complaints [laughs, laughter] about her, but I cannot, you know, I don't think I can live without her [laughs, laughter]. That is, you know, to tell the truth [laughs], what I really feel [laughs, laughter]. Since I came to Tassajara I learned many, you
know-- a kind of proverb [laughs]: “hen-pecked” [laughs, laughter]. It is very interesting word. Hen-pecked husband. Oh, it's-- There is no time for him to raise his head. Always pecked by hen [laughs]. Still, you know [laughs], he needs, you know, hen [laughs, laughter]. He feel as if, you know, it is impossible to live with her, you know. “Maybe better to get divorced from her” [laughs]. Sometime he may think in that way. But sometime he may think, “Oh, but I cannot live without her. So I cannot live with her-- with it-- and but I cannot live without her.” [Laughs.] I cannot live with her, and I cannot live without-- nor can I live without her. With her? No. Without her? No. [Laughs, laughter.] What should we do? [Laughter.]

That is the actual problem we have [laughs], you know, we have in the relative world of brightness. Where lamp is, you know-- When lamp is bright, we can see myself and wife. When there is no lamp, there is no problem [laughs]. But we don't, you know, think about utter darkness of the room. We always, you know, suffer from the life which we can see by our eyes or which we can hear by our ears. That is what we are doing. So in this world of brightness, you know, it is difficult to live, you know, without things. Of course difficult. Impossible. With things it is also difficult [laughs]. That is the problem we have. What shall we do? With things it is too much; without things, you know, we have no means-- no purpose of living in this world. In this way, you know, we have many problem. But, you know, if you [have] even [the] slightest idea of utter darkness, which is the other side of the brightness, then you can, you know, you will find out the way how to live in the brightness of the world.

In brightness of the world, you know, you will see something good and something bad, a man and woman, or something right and something wrong. This, you know, world of differentiation-- different things exist in different form and color. At the same time, you know, in this world of various forms and color, at the same time, we can find equality, you know, on [of] everything. You know, only chance for us to be equal-- to be on equal-- on an equality-- is to have its-- to, you know, to be aware of or to realize its-- his own form and color and to respect its own form and color. Only when you respect yourself as a man or as a woman, as a learned or as a[n] ignorant, then, you know, we-- each one of us has equal value. This is only way to be on an equality. Equal mean-- looks like, you know, to share something, you know, equally [laughs] with everyone. But we don't think that is possible, you know. Actually that is a kind of dream. You cannot share things equally. Even though we share things equally, some-- if-- for an instance, if we share our food equally, someone may like it. Someone [laughs] may not like it, you know. It is impossible for us to share things equally.

And to have same, you know, right, or responsibility, or duty, or commitment is not possible. But only when we realize our own capacity, our own physical, you know, strength, or nature of man and woman, then, you know, and respect our nature or characteristic, then we will have, you know, each one of us will be in an equality.

This equality [is] a little bit different from usual equality. You know, here is a cup and in which I have some water. Water and cup is not equal, you know. Water is water, and cup is cup. But, you know, if water want to be a cup, that is not possible [tapping on cup]. And it is true with cup. Cup cannot be water, you know. Cup should be a cup, and water should be water. So when water is in a cup, you know, water serve its own purpose, and cup will serve its own purpose. Then, cup without water means nothing [laughs], you see? Water without cup means nothing to us. When water is water and cup is cup, you know, and cup and water, you know, on the other hand, take some activity or relationship with each other, or interdependence-- become interdependent-- then, you know, water will have its own value and cup will have its own value. In this case, we say cup and water is on an equality.

“Freedom” we say, freedom-- there is, you know, no-- if you think freedom is just to be-- to ignore rules and to act as he want, without thinking anything, that is, maybe, a freedom, you may say. But that kind of freedom does not exist actually. That is, you know, a kind of dream. We say, that kind of, you know, dream is delusion, you know-- something which does not actually exist but sometime we care for it. But actually it doesn't exist. So we shouldn't be involved in vain effort to try to catch, you know, cloud, you know. You cannot catch a cloud or a mist.

So how, you know, to be out of, you know, the difficulty-- how to get out of the difficulty is, you know, to have good understanding of [laughs]-- good understanding of ourselves, you know, and to know what we are doing, and to know what is possible and what is not possible. And we should be very realistic, you know, or else whatever you do, it will not work. If you enjoy your daydream, that is another matter [laughs, laughter]. Sometime it is good to think something, you know, which is impossible [laughs]. You know, dreaming about, you know, something which is wonderful, you know. That is good, because, you know, purpose of daydream is just to enjoy it like you see movie, you know. And you feel as if you became a movie star [laughs]. That is good, but that cannot be our final goal of life, you know [laughs]. So we should know what is delusion and what is reality. And when we [are] sincerely involved in good practice, you know, we should not dream of something which is impossible. We should work on which is-- something possible to attain, to realize.

So equality, you know-- another side of, you know, differentiation is equality. Because things are different there is equality. Things are on equality. When you understand equality of man and woman in its true sense, you know, we have no more that kind of problem. “I cannot live without her.” [Laughs.] When you feel in that way, you know, you are, you know-- you don't know who is her and who is you. When we realize that she is, you know, she is important because she is in that way because she is, you know, taking care of me. Sometime it may be too much [laughs]. But, you know, that is her nature.

And nature of man is something different from that, you know. He is thinking about something, you know-- He is usually more idealistic, you know [laughs], and thinking about something which looks like almost impossible, not so realistic, and he is trying to go on and on, you know, without thinking about what will happen to him if he do it, you know. So, you know, the wife may say, “Oh, don't do that. It is too soon. Wait. Wait.” [Laughs, laughter.] If she say so you think, “Oh, I must do it right now,” you know. You will feel in that way. So you say, “I cannot live with her.” [Laughs.] That is her nature, you know.

So careless, you know, hasty man wants careful, you know [laughs], more conservative, emotional, you know [laughs], woman. So sometimes she may be very angry with her husband, but that is also her nature, you know. Because of her nature he is important. So, you know, you may say, “I cannot live without her.” So that you say, “I cannot live with her” is wrong. Something is missing in your understanding when you think you cannot live with her. “I cannot live without her” is right, you know.

The other day I said the Chinese character of man [is] like this, you know [draws Chinese character of “person” in the air with his finger: two lines leaning on each other]:

Supporting with each other, man and woman may be one, and man and woman-- or maybe teacher and disciple [laughs], you know. If there is no disciple, no teacher [laughs]. [Draws the following with his finger in the air.]

If there is no teacher, there is no disciple, you know. So teacher and disciple-- when they exist, you know, like this (supporting with each other) [draws Chinese character for “person” with his finger in the air]:

-- there is, you know, monastery. If, you know-- Everything exist in that way. That is, you know, our understanding. So that we cannot exist without her or without it is right. And there is, you know-- Many difficulties, you know, will be created when you lack this kind of true understanding of the other side of the meaning of-- meaning of the other side of each event or fact or things. The good-- Another side of good will be bad. And another side-- The other side of the bad will be good. That is, you know, reality.

So dark side of the bright side-- The other side of the darkness is brightness, you know. You may say, “This room is dark,” you know, but it is brighter than, you know, basement where there is no light. And even basement is brighter than, you know, brighter than hall of a morgue [laughs]. So bright-- You cannot say “bright” or “dark” actually. Bright or dark is only in your mind; there is no bright or no dark in reality. But sometime we have to have some standard, or some rules, or some means of communication, so we have-- we say good or bad, agreeable or disagreeable, but that is just words. We should not be caught by word. We shouldn't stick to words. That is, you know-- But usually we stick to words, you know. When your girlfriend [says], “I don't like you!” you know [laughs], if she say so, you, you know, take that word literally [laughs]. But she didn't mean so, you know. Maybe opposite. Because she likes you so much, you know, sometimes she feels, “I don't like you. I hate you,” [laughs], but it is not actually so. If-- so if we stick to words, without observing things from both side, you will, you know, [not?] know what to do about things.

Excuse me but, you know, our eyes unfortunately, you know, open towards, you know, outside [laughs] so we cannot see, you know, inside of ourselves. It means that we are liable to be, you know, concerned about some other's, you know, practice or some other's life, and you will be very critical with others. And even though you start to think about what kind of practice we-- I should have, which way we should-- I-- we should take, you know, but still in that way you cannot find out your own way, because still your eyes, you know, and your thinking is directed to outside: “Which way I should take?”-- you know, when you say so “way” is there and “I” is here [thumps chest], and “I” is not realized, you know. You don't know what is “I” and what you think about the way you should go-- this way or that way. And you are completely ignorant about yourself.

So you criticize yourself as if you criticize others. That is a terrible thing [laughs], you know. So you cannot exist, you know, in this world because of your sharp criticism. It is easy to criticize others, you know, and so is [also] to criticize yourself too-- it is easy-- quite easy-- but it may be a little bit difficult because you don't feel so good [laughs]. But even though you don't feel so good you will criticize yourself anyway. And you will suffer. That is what we are doing, you know, every day. Why we suffer is because, you know, something is missing in your understanding of what you are doing.

So Buddhist, you know, understands things, you know, which look like exist outside is actually exist inside of yourself. When you think, “He is not good,” it means that, you know, you-- he is, you know, actually [criticizing someone] within yourself. It is picture of yourself. “He is not good.” When you say so, you are, you know, criticizing someone within yourself. No one exist-- Nothing exist outside of yourself. This understanding is, you know, understanding which include everything: understanding of Big Mind, which include everything. So things happened only within yourself.

So things, you know-- it is, you know, activity of your life, you know, within yourself, like your, you know, stomach is, you know, digesting things. But by Thinking Mind, you know, by Thinking Mind, here is, you know [thumps on chest], heart, and here is [pats stomach] tummy, you know. You understand in that way. And there is not much relationship, you know, in your-- according to your understanding, there is not much relationship between tummy and heart. So by big surgery or by operation, you can [laughs] take-- cut off your tummy, you know. You understand, in that way, our physical activity. But it is not actually so. It is closely related with each other. So if you make your tummy strong, the heart be also stronger. So there is no need-- it is not always necessary to, you know, to have big operation on your heart.

When we understand ourselves in that way, you know, things --

[Sentence not finished. Tape turned over.]

So there is no need to say “tummy” or “heart” any more. So when you don't know what is going [on], you know, in your physical body, you are in complete health. So when you don't talk about, you know, “he” or “she” or “me,” you know, then your life is pretty sound and good.

How you obtain this kind of complete harmonious life within yourself is by practice. To talk about things is to, you know, to arrange your food on your dish, you know [laughs]. Every morning, you know, my student arrange food beautifully, you know, on each dish. But, you know, fortunately or unfortunately, if I eat and chew it [laughs], all mixed up, you know, in our mouth, and I just taste-- I have just taste of food, and no color, or no beauty, or no goma-- sesame seed or no brown rice in our mouth. So even more so, when it reach to my tummy, I don't know even what it is in my tummy.

When things, you know, in full activity, you know, there is no idea of good or bad, you know, this or that. But it is good, you know, to see things in different dishes, you know, and different way and in different color. It is good, but so is to think about, you know, food, your life, or nature of man and woman, is good. But, you know, to-- even though you think about it, you know, it doesn't, you know, mean much unless you, you know, really have a taste of it-- a taste of our life. Unless you chew it up and mix them together and [laughs] swallow it in your tummy, it doesn't make much sense.

So why I didn't talk about this [laughs, laughter]? I'm sorry [laughs]. But indirectly I was talking about this. Why we study this kind of thing is, you know, to study Buddhist study like this is just to, you know, arrange our food in different dishes and appreciate, you know, the color and form of it. But eventually, you know, we must eat it, you know. If you eat it, there is no such teaching at all. That is darkness of the teaching. No teaching whatsoever. No teacher or no disciple. No Buddha or no Christ, you know, when we eat it, you know, actually eat it.

How to eat it is practice. Actual practice is how to eat things, or how to chew it up, or how to mix it together. And we are fortunate, you know, even though we mixed up together, we know how to, you know, how to analyze things in various way to know what we have been doing, you know. This is important: To analyze your psychology, to analyze your practice. This is important, but this is, you know, actually shadow of your practice, not actual practice.

So our practice will go on and on in this way, arranging carefully, you know, and mixing together, and chewing it up, and analyzing our practice again to see what is going on-- what am I doing, you know. In this way, you know, our practice goes on and on. Tomorrow we will arrange things, and mix it, and chew it, and digest it, and again and again our practice will go on and on.

So at end of the Sandokai, Sekito Zenji says: “If you go in this way step by step,” you know, “there is not matter of one-thousand-miles trip or a one-miles trip.” If you go, when you start to go on and on, you know, in this way, arranging things, mixing things, and analyzing things, you know-- analyzing things in bright light, mixing things in dark room, you know-- our practice goes on and on endlessly. Then there is no, you know, enlightenment or no fool-- no ignorance, because we are going on and on and on, and we are always on the path of the Buddha.

But if you stick to, you know, if you stop working and stick to the idea, you know, of good or bad, then you will have difficulty of big river or high mountain, because you create river for yourself, and you create mountain for yourself. But-- which doesn't exist. When you analyze, when you criticize yourself, you know, you think you are like that. It is, you know-- you have some special concept or understanding of yourself in term of good or bad, but it is not actually so. But you create some difficulty for yourself. That is what we are doing.

Mmm. I have some more time. Maybe, you know, I have-- I think better not to continue this kind of [laughs] talk any more. Do you have some question so far? Could you hear me?

Students: Very well.

Ah. Good. Thank you. Ah. Do you have some question?

Question/Answer Session

Student A [DC]: Roshi?

SR: Hai.

DC: When-- You said zazen was darkness, but listening to lecture was bright. If one listens to lecture with a good understanding, then that's zazen, right?

SR: Mm-hmm. “About zazen”? Or no?

DC: I-- I--

SR: Oh-- ”good understanding.” You have good understanding, yeah. When, you know, when you understand, you know, as Sandokai says, “Even though you recognize truth, that is not enlightenment,” you know? That is not enlightenment, but it will encourage you, you know, your practice, and you will know why you practice zazen. You see? I am-- you are arranging things, you know, by my recipe, you know, by Buddhist recipe, and you are cooking something here [laughs, laughter]. Now, you know, here is, you know, some dishes to eat. So we should eat it. How you eat it is to practice zazen. This food-- our recipe is, you know, prepared for people who practice zazen. So if you eat it, you know, it will help your practice.

DC: Roshi, you said that zazen was darkness, and lecture was bright, and things are bright, and maybe also you talked about ri being “this” and ji being “that.” But what I wanted to know is can you really separate them?

SR: No. It is not possible to separate. That is good point. You know, we are separating, you know, tentatively [something] which is not possible to separate. So even though it is like two side of a coin, you know: This side is brightness and the other side is darkness. So I am talking about this [bright] side, you know [holds up a book]. And by your practice you will see the other side. And you will see whole picture of this book. That is reality. So if-- even though-- if you think, you know, by your practice, you will understand something which is completely different from this [bright] side, that is big mistake, you know.

DC: Roshi, is the reason that-- I was wondering why you talk about one side or the other. Is it impossible to speak about both sides together?

SR: Both side together is not possible, because, you know, if you talk about it, it is bright side [laughs, laughter]. Only when, you know-- what I can say is about the other side of the bright side. This side is not possible to talk about. But, you know, to talk about this side, because I have some experience or understanding of the other side, I can talk about this side. If I have no idea of this side, what I am talking about is just, you know, means nothing. It will be poisoned for you, maybe [laughs]. How beautifully I may describe it, you know, this side-- it is poison, actually. It is something which is quite different from the other side and which is not possible to mix, you know, to put together [puts hands together]. So something poisonous is something which you cannot-- which does not agree with the other side-- is poisonous thing, poisonous teaching, you know. Even though-- something poisonous looks like very beautiful, you know [laughs], but if the other side is not-- is ignored, you know, that teaching is opium or drug [laughs]. It doesn't accord with the other side of the life [light?].

Okay? Is that what you are asking? Maybe my answer is little bit, you know, doesn't fit exactly.

DC: Well, we chant, “an unsurpassed penetrating and perfect dharma” before (or after, I forget) the lecture, and I'm just wondering how the lecture enters into darkness. Or what-- I'm wondering how is this lecture teaching? How is it something besides brightness?

SR: “How-- ”? Excuse me?

DC: I was wondering how is the lecture zazen?

SR: “How can I talk about zazen”? [Trying to clarify David's question.]

DC: No, no.

SR: “How-- ”? “ What is-- ”?

DC: I just wondered what is teisho?

SR: Uh-huh. Teisho. Teisho is little bit different from, you know-- Teisho is to give encouragement, you know, not just talk about it, but to give some suggestion, you know, and to help people to have good understanding of our practice is teisho. It is-- It should not be dead words. The words must come from actual experience of-- ohh, I don't want to say it [laughs], but-- actual experience of enlightenment. This is big words [laughs].

You know, actual experience of reality is teisho-- should be, you know, should not be dead words. Should not be some words, you know, which we study-- which we read in some book. That is, you know, the difference between teisho and lecture. Maybe-- Strictly speaking, lecture is, you know, to give some knowledge of something is lecture. Teisho is-- includes, or most part of the teisho is to give, to help people's actual practice and enlightenment.

So, yeah, as you say, there is a little difference between. So actually, we are pushing people towards real practice. That is teisho. To, you know-- tei means “here is” [holds up a book], you know, something which you must have, you know, as a Buddhist. “Look” is teisho, you know. So without something, you know, something real, we cannot talk about it, you know.

If you read my book, this book, you know, after memorizing it, that is not teisho. So teisho is something which comes out from inside, from bottom of heart. That is teisho. So actually, you know, it-- because I must use words, so I must follow logic, you know, and philosophical special technical terms. But sometime, ignoring those, you know, special terms, we can directly speak about it. That is teisho. Sometime it may not be words. [Knocks on table. Laughs.] This is teisho, you know. Something to talk about which is not possible to talk about is teisho. Excuse me, I cannot explain [laughs] so well. Hai.

Student B [Roovane ben Yumin]: Your lecture on the Sandokai is supposed to give us understanding, you say. Then you say that we can't understand this bright side unless we understand the dark side, unless we have good zazen.

SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Roovane ben Yumin: Is lecture just skillful means? I mean, just because we talk a lot, we talk--

SR: Why I say so, you know, you will stick to my words, you know. So I, after giving you some lecture, I [laughs], you know, take it [laughs] from you. That is, you know, just intellectual things. So you should forget what I said, but you should, you know, sense what the real meaning of my words [is], you know.

Roovane ben Yumin: Is this Buddhist skillful means-- talking to the students?

SR: “Skillful-- ” It should be in that way, you know, whether we are Buddhist or not. But Buddhist knows that if we stick to words, we will not-- we will be enslaved by words, and we will understand just a little, you know, part of it. So, you know, it is better, after suggesting something, it is better to, you know, cut off his finger-- my finger, you know. After pointing at something, when you are interested in something, it may be better to [laughs] to cut off my finger so that you will not be attached to this finger anymore. And then you will be interested in something which I pointed out. That is words, you know.

You explain, you know, how to cook something, you know, by book, but actually, what you do is to cut vegetables, and to put salt in it, and boil it. That is actually what you do. When you forget all about our cookbook, you know, you will be a good cook [laughs]. As long as you are watching cookbook, if you try to understand, you know, what is written in it, it may take time. It is better to, you know, to study it, you know, by seeing someone who is actually doing it. That is best way. Teisho is something, you know, to give something directly.

But usually, you know, your attitude of listening to it, to, you know, to [laughs], you know, to think about it, and whether it is good or bad [laughs], you know, and wondering, “What is he speaking about?” or wondering whether it is acceptable for you or not, you know. And, “If it is good I will accept it. If it is not good I will not accept it.” You know, that is extra. You don't need to be, you know, so careful [laughs]. If you just to listen to it, and you don't need to try to understand it even, you know. If you don't understand it, it's okay. If you understand it, it is better [laughs]. That's all. So there should be no special intention of listening to it-- just to listen to it. That is how you listen to teisho. It is different from-- to study something. As you are, you know, very logical [laughs], your mind works very logically, I have to follow some logic, that's all [laughs, laughter]. Because you are logical, I have to be logical, that's all [laughs]. If you are not logical, you know, I can say whatever I like. I can sing a song even [laughs, laughter].

Roovane ben Yumin: Could you try that some time? Not singing a song, but being a little bit not logical.

SR: Yeaaah. [Sounding skeptical.] Do you think I'm too logical? [Laughter.]

Student C [Craig]: I'd like to hear you sing a song. [Suzuki laughs, then students laugh.]

SR: Okay. [Laughter.] I wish I could do it. [Sounding reluctant.]

DC: Roshi? I've got a nice song. It goes, “Negawakuwa -- ”

SR: Okay! [Loud laughter.] Let's do it. Right now. [Bell sounds. Suzuki laughs. All chant the following Universal Eko.]

Negawakuwa kono kudoku o motte,
Amaneku issai ni oyoboshi,
Warera to shujo to,
Minatomo ni Butsudo o jo sen koto o. 1

Shujo muhen seigando.
Bonno mujin seigandan.
Homon muryo seigangaku.
Butsudo mujo seiganjo.

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them.
Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.
The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.
The Buddha's way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.