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

*A zen szellem mindig kezdő
Hungarian translation of title ©Terebess Gábor


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





Prologue: Beginner's Mind 21

Posture 25
Breathing 29
Control 31
Mind Waves 34
Mind Weeds 36
The Marrow of Zen 38
No Dualism 41
Bowing 43
Nothing Special 46

Single-minded Way 53
Repetition 55
Zen and Excitement 57
Right Effort 59
No Trace 62
God Giving 65
Mistakes in Practice 71
Limiting Your Activity 75
Study Yourself 76
To Polish a Tile 80
Constancy 83
Communication 86
Negative and Positive 90
Nirvana, the Waterfall 92

Traditional Zen Spirit 99
Transiency 102
The Quality of Being 104
Naturalness 107
Emptiness 110
Readiness, Mindfulness 113
Believing in Nothing 116
Attachment, Non-attachment 118
Calmness 121
Experience, Not Philosophy 123
Original Buddhism 125
Beyond Consciousness 127
Buddha's Enlightenment 131

Epilogue: Zen Mind 133


Beginner's Mind
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
November 11, 1965
Thursday Morning Lectures
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 21)

People say to study Zen is difficult but there is some misunderstanding why it is difficult. It is not difficult because to sit in cross legged position is hard or to attain enlightenment is hard, but it is hard to keep our mind pure and to keep our practice pure in original way. Zen become more and more impure and after Zen school established in China it is development of Zen but at the same time it is -- it become impure. But I don't want to talk about Chinese Zen or history of Zen this morning. But why I say I want to talk about why it is difficult is because just you came here this morning, getting up early is very valuable experience for you. Just you wanted to come is very valuable. We say ‘shoshin'. Sho shin means beginner's mind. If we can keep beginner's mind always that is the goal of our practice. We recited Prajna Paramita Sutra this morning only once. I think we recited very well, but what will happen to us if we recite it twice, three times, four times and more? Then we will easily lose our attitude in reciting -- original attitude in reciting- the sutra. Same thing will happen to us. For awhile we will keep our beginner's mind in your [blank space in transcript]. If we continue to practice one year, two years, three years or more we will have some [blank space in transcript] and we will lose the limitless meaning of the original mind.

In beginner's mind we have many possibilities, but in expert mind there is not much possibility. So in our practice it is important to resume to our original mind or inmost mind which we, ourselves, even we ourselves do not know what it is. This is the most important thing for us. The founder of our school emphasized this point. We have to remain always beginners mind. This is the secret of Zen and secret of various practices -- practice of flower arrangement, practice of Japanese singing and various art. If we keep our beginner's mind, we keep our precepts. When we lose our beginner's mind we will lose all the precepts and for Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic or not -- we should not lose our self-satisfied state of mind. We should not be too demanding, or we should not be too greedy. Our mind should always be rich and self-satisfied. When our mind become demanding -- when we become longing for something, we will violate our precepts not to kill, not to be immoral, not to steal, or not to tell lie and so on. Those are based on our greedy mind. When our mind is self-satisfied we keep our precepts. When we ourselves is always self-satisfied, we have our original mind and we can practice good and we are always true to ourselves. So the most difficult thing is to keep our beginner's mind in our practice. So if you can keep your beginner's mind forever, you are Buddha. In this point, our practice should be constant. We should practice our way with beginner's mind always. There is no need to have deep understanding about Zen. Even though you read Zen literature you have to keep this beginner's mind. You have to read it with fresh mind. We shouldn't say, “I know what is Zen” or “I have attained enlightenment.”. We should be always big enough. This is very important. And we should be very very careful about this point.

I was very much impressed by your practice this morning. Although your posture was not perfect, but the feeling you have here is wonderful. There is no comparison to it. At the same time we should make our effort to keep this feeling forever in your practice. This is very very important. In Japanese art, when you master some art -- when you become successor of your master, you will receive some paper on which something is written.

No one knows what it is. It is very difficult to figure out what it is -- to explain what it is.
But if you have beginner's mind, it's all right. If you can say, “Thank you very much” from the bottom of your heart, that's all right. If you say “What it is?” you have no secret -- you can say “Thank you very much”. That's enough. But this is very difficult. So by your practice we must make our beginner's mind more and more -- we should appreciate beginner's mind. This is the secret of practice -- Zen practice.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
August 12, 1965
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 25)

I want to explain about our posture we take. When you sit left foot is on your right side, and right foot is on your left side. This is full lotus posture. When we cross our legs like this, although we have right and left foot, it is actually become one. So it means oneness of the duality. Not two, not one. This is the most important teaching. Not two and not one. Our body and mind is not two and not one. If you think our body and mind is two that is wrong. If you think your mind and body is one that is also wrong. Because our mind and body is two and one. We call it oneness of our duality. In -- usually, if it is not one, it is two or four. If it is not singular it is plural. If it is not plural it is singular. But in actual experience of life, our life is not plural, not only plural, but also singular. Each one of us are independent and dependent. We -- after some years we will die. That will be the end of our life but if we just think that is our end of life that is wrong understanding. And if we think we do not die, that is also wrong understanding. We die and we do not die and that is right understanding.

Some people may say, “our mind or our soul exists forever but my physical body will die”. But this is not exactly right because both mind and body has their end and at the same time it is eternal existence. And even though we say mind and body it is actually two sides of the one coin. This is right understanding.

So when we take this posture it symbolizes this truth. Here [demonstrating] I have left foot on right side of my body and right foot on left side of my body so I don't know which side it is. So this is left side and right side. When I cross our hand like this ---by the way, when we form cosmic mudra your middle finger comes to here and it should not be like this or like this. We call it cosmic mudra. We have many many mudras symbolizing the teaching. This is one of the mudras. And your ears and shoulders are on one line. It means to keep your back straight, spine straight. And you pull down on your shoulders. In this way you will have good circulation on your back.

If you try to be -- if you try to keep this posture you will find some difficulty in taking your natural breathing, but by the time you get accustomed to the right posture you can take natural deep breathing. And pull your chin in. This is a very important point. If you sit in this way (head tilted up) you will never gain strength in your posture. This is a rather dreamy posture. You are dreaming of something. The most important point is to own your physical body. If you take this posture (slumping) you will lose your body. Your body is somewhere else and your mind too. Your mind an body is wandering somewhere. This is not the way.

We must exist right here. The key point is this. You must have your mind and body --- Everything should exist in the right place. When every existence in right place in right way there is no problem but if this (the microphone) exists some where else it doesn't serve its own purpose. So every thing should be located in the right place in the right way. That is the conclusion of Buddhism.

How every thing exists in the right place is when we have our body and mind everything else will exist in the right place. So the point is to have our body and mind is the most important point. There is no need to change the place they exist. The most important point is for us to exist in right place in right way. If we exist in right place in right way, everything exists in right place in right way. But usually without being aware of this point we try to change something else where it exists. That is wrong. Even though you try to do something you cannot organize your life. But when you do things in the right way at right time everything else will be organized. When the boss is sleeping, everyone is sleeping. When the boss do something right, everyone will do every thing right, at the right time. That is the secret of Buddhism.

So your posture should not be leaned over backward. You should be straight. You should not be this way or the other way. You should be straight. Our spine should be vertical. This is not just form. It express the key point of Buddhism. If you understand the key point -- if you want to understand, truly, really, actually we should practice this practice. Those forms is not the means of obtaining right state of mind. To take this posture itself is our purpose or practice. It is not some means of obtaining some special state of mind. When you have this posture you have right state of mind. So there is no need to obtain some special state of mind. This point is also very important.

When you try to attain something your mind starts to wandering about somewhere else. If you try to attain your mind will start to wander and your mind isn't here.

So, try not to attain something. When you do not try to attain something you have your body and your mind. Zen master will say, “Kill the Buddha”. Kill the Buddha if the Buddha exists somewhere else. Kill the Buddha because you should resume to your own Buddha nature. If the Buddha exists somewhere else kill the Buddha, don't see the Buddha. To do something is to express our nature. We do not exist by means of, for the sake of something. We exist for sake of ourselves. And this fundamental teaching will be expressed in various ways. When we stand we have some rules but this rule is not -- each one of us has our own way of standing, strictly speaking, so we measure how we stand by our body, not measure. This is your own body measurement. So when you want to know how you stand up we measure here, by the feet, and from here to here (should be from here to here). And our body is always the same posture you take in zazen. Put some strength here -- diaphragm -- and you hold your thumb inside. You feel as if you have some round pillar here. Round big temple pillar and so you cannot be like this -- pillar is here. When you take this posture there is no need to talk about right state of mind. You have right state of mind. And when you bow, strictly speaking, right knee (first) left. And nod three times and lift you hands. Then left (knee) right.

Anyway, what I want to say is your posture is very important, so try to be always in right posture, not only when you practice zazen, even though you are driving, I want you to take right posture. When you read, if you read in this posture (slumping) you cannot stay long. Try. You will find how important it is to take right posture. And that is the teaching. The teaching which is written on the paper is not true teaching. That is a kind of food for your brain. Not for yourself. It is necessary to take some food for your brain. It is necessary, but the more important thing is to be yourself by right way of life. That is why Buddha could not accept the religion before Buddha. He tried various religions. He studied many religions, but he could not satisfied with philosophy. He could not satisfied with asceticism and until he found out right understanding of life, and right practice of religious life he did not interested some metaphysical existence. When he found out this, he, himself, he found out that everything exists has Buddha nature. That is his enlightenment. Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind. You must believe in the state of mind when you sit in this posture is itself enlightenment. If you cannot satisfied with the state of mind you have in sitting posture it means your mind is still wandering about. Our mind and body should not be wandering about. Wobbling.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Thursday Morning Lectures
November 4, 1965
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 29)

When we practice our mind always follow our breathing. When we inhale, the air we take come inner world and when we exhale the air we exhale come to outer world. Inner world is limitless and outer world is also limitless. So our throat is like a swinging door. The air come in, comes out (like this -- demonstrating a swinging door). So called ‘I' is just swinging door which moves when we take inhaling and exhaling. And it moves -- it just moves, you know -- that's all what we do. So when we practice zazen there's nothing. No ‘I' or no mind or no body, just a swinging door. We say ‘inner world' or ‘outer world' but this is one whole world. This is our practice. So when we practice zazen that which exists is the movement of the breathing but we are aware of the movement of the -- our breathing. We should not be absent-minded. We should be always aware of the movement but to be aware of the movement does not mean to be aware of our self-nature. It is universal, or Buddha nature.

So to practice zazen is to be aware of Buddha nature. This kind of activity is very important because our understanding or interpretation of life is one-sided. Our understanding of life is always dualistic -- I or you-- you and I, this and that, good and bad, but actually that is the awareness of the universal existence. ‘You' means to be aware of universe in the form of you, and ‘I' means to be aware of universe in form of I. You or I just swinging door. This kind of understanding is necessary -- or this is not actually understanding -- this is the true experience Zen -- true experience of life thru Zen practice. So when you practice zazen, actually there is no idea of time or space. You say, ‘I sit -- we start sitting at quarter to six, at this room.' We have idea of time, quarter to six, and in this room, the idea of space, but actually what we are doing is just sit and, you know, to be aware of universal activity. That is all. Next moment -- this moment the swinging door will be like this [demonstrating] and next moment swinging door will be like this [demonstrating]. One after another we repeat -- each one of us repeat this activity. Here we have no idea of time or space. Time and space is one when the door, you know, swings like this [demonstrating]. Here is -- you may say this is time [one extremity of the swinging door] but at the same time this is space, so actually there is -- it is not necessary to interpret, or to explain our life in the idea of time or space.

You say, “I must do something this afternoon.” But actually there is no ‘this afternoon'. We do things one after another. That's all. There is no such time ‘this afternoon' or one o'clock or two o'clock, At one o'clock you will finish your lunch. To eat lunch is one o'clock. You will be some place but some place cannot be separated from one o'clock and some place is same. For someone who actually appreciate our life it is one, but when we become of our life we say, “I shouldn't have come to this place. It may be much better to go to some other place and have lunch. This place is not so good.” Or you say, “This is bad, so I shouldn't do this”, but actually you say “I should not do this”, but you are doing -- not-doing in this moment. So there's no choice for you. If time come, space will follow. So there's no choice for you. But when you separate idea of time and space you feel as if you have some choice, but actually you have to do something or you have to not-to-do something. Not-to-do something is also to -- you are doing something. Just in your mind there is good and bad. Bad that you should not do and good that you should do. But bad means something not to do for Zen student. Bad is something not-to-do is bad. So we should not say ‘this is bad or good'. Instead of saying bad you should say not-to-do.

Not-to-do is bad. But if you think ‘this is bad' it will create you some confusion. So in realm of religion, pure religion, there is no confusion of time and space or good and bad. All what we should is, just do something. Do something! Whatever it is, we should do something, including not-doing. So we should live on this moment. So when you sit we are concentrated on our breathing. We become a swinging door and we do something we should do, we must do. This is Zen practice.

So in this practice there is no confusion. If you keep -- if you establish this kind of life you have no confusion whatsoever. And the important thing is you must have -- if you become -- if you want to become purely one with the activity of inhaling and exhaling your mind should be pure and calm enough to follow the activity. If you think, ‘I take breathing'. I is extra. There is no you to say I. This is enough. When your mind is pure and calm enough, there is no idea of I. We say, in Chinese -- famous Zen master Tozan said ‘The blue mountain is father of white cloud. Blue mountain is father of while cloud. And white cloud is the son of blue mountain.' All day long they depend on each other. Without knowing -- depending on each other, white cloud is always white cloud. Blue mountain is always blue mountain. This is pure, clear interpretation of life. There may be many things like white cloud -- blue mountain. Man and woman, teacher and disciple- they are depending on each other, but white cloud should be white cloud. White cloud should not be bothered by blue mountain. Blue mountain should always be blue mountain. Blue mountain should not be bothered by white cloud. They are quite independent, but dependent. This is how we live and how we practice zazen. When we become ourselves, purely, in its true sense, we just become a swinging door and we are purely independent and dependent to everything. Without air, we cannot take breathing. Each one of us is in the midst of myriads of worlds. We are in the center of the world.

Always moment after moment we are the center of myriads of worlds. So we are quite dependent and independent. So, if you understand, or if you experience this kind of experience, you have absolute independence. You will not be bothered by anyone. So, when you practice zazen, your mind should be concentrated in your breathing and this kind of activity is the fundamental activity of the universal being. If so, how you should use your mind is quite clear. Without this experience, or this practice, it is impossible to attain the absolute freedom.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
March 23, 1967
Los Altos, California
(This lecture appeared in edited form in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind as the chapter “Control” p. 31)

To live in the realm of Buddha Nature means to die as a small being, moment after moment. When we lose our balance we die, and at the same time, to lose our balance, sometimes, means to develop ourselves, or to grow. If we are in perfect balance we cannot live as a small being. So whatever we see the things are changing, losing their balance. Why everything looks beautiful is because it is something out of balance, but it is background is always in perfect harmony and on this perfect harmony everything exists, losing its balance. This is how everything exists in the realm of big Buddha Nature. So if you see things without knowing, without realizing Buddha Nature everything is in the form of suffering. But if you understand the background of everything, which looks like suffering, suffering itself is how we live, how we extend our life. So in Zen we, sometimes we emphasize the “out of balance” or disorder. Nowadays our Japanese painting which was developed by the spirit of Zen became pretty formulated; became formal. That is why nowadays we have more-- that is why we have modern art. The painters in old time practice how to put dots out of order. Even though you try to do it what you did is always in some order. This is a kind of practice. And how to take care of things is the same thing. If you try to make them-- even though you try to put them under some control, it is impossible. You cannot do that. So sometimes, if you want to control people the best way is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. So to observe-- to put things-- to put large, spacious meadow for your sheep, or cow is how you control people. So let them do what they want, first, and watch them, is the best policy. But let alone policy is not good. That is worst. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them-- just to watch them, without trying to control.

As you practice zazen if you obtain the perfect calmness in your practice don't be bothered various images you have in your mind. Let them come and let them go out. Then they will be under control. But his policy is not so easy. It looks easy, but it needs some different, special effort. How to make this kind of effort is the secret of practice. Suppose you are sitting under some extraordinary circumstances. If you try to calm down your mind you cannot sit, and if you try to -- try not to be disturbed by it, your effort will not be right effort. If you have to make some effort, the only effort you can do is to count your breathing or to be concentrated on your inhaling or exhaling. Why this kind of effort is necessary is that this kind of effort will help right effort in your practice. We say concentration but to concentrate your mind on something is not the purpose -- is not the true purpose of Zen. True purpose of Zen is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, to let everything go as it goes, and to put everything under control in it's widest sense. In other words, to open up our small mind, is Zen practice. So to control your mind is just an aid to obtain the big mind. So if you want to find out the true meaning of Zen in your everyday life, some -- you have to study, or you have to find out the meaning of controlling your mind -- them meaning of keeping your mind on your breathing, the meaning of keeping your body in right posture. This is rather difficult to explain, but your study should be more subtle and careful. And we have to find out the true meaning of Zen.

Dogen Zenji said, “Time elapses from present to past.” This is absurd, but in our practice it is true (sometimes it is true). From present to past, times goes from present to past. Kyo no Kimi was the wife of Yoshitsune, a famous samurai, just before the Kamakura period. He was so faithful to his brother until he was killed in the northern part of Japan. And before he went to northern part of the country he had to say-- he had to bid farewell to his wife, and soon his wife was caught by his brother. And when she danced she danced on her own poem-- long form of poem, and said, “Like spool-- just like you unreal the thread from a spool, I want the past time to become present.” When she said so actually she made the past time present already. In her mind the past time was now. So as Dogen Zenji said, “Time elapses from present to past.” This is not true in our logical mind, but in our actual life, when we make past time present we have -- there we have poem, there we have human life.

So when we find out this kind of truth it means we have found the true meaning of the time which constantly elapses from past to present and present to future. If this is true, at the same time, the time elapses from future to present and from present to past is also true. As some Zen master said, “To go Eastward one mile is to go Westward one mile.” This is the vital freedom. We have to acquire this kind of vital freedom, perfect freedom.

So perfect freedom is in-- is under some rules. If there are no rules, there is no freedom. As long as you have rules you have freedom. Without being aware of the rules to try to obtain freedom means nothing. This kind of freedom is -- I don't know what to say. It means nothing. In Japanese we say, muchacha {?}. Muchacha means nothing. That is why we practice zazen. We are aiming at the same thing but it looks like there is no need for us to practice anything; there is no need for us to have any rules, as some young people may say, but it is absolutely for us to have some rules. But it does not mean always to be under control. This is the secret of our life.



Mind Waves
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
January 12, 1967
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 34)

Don't try to stop the thinking when you are practicing zazen. Let it stop. If something comes into your mind let it come and let it go out. It will not stay long. But if you try to stop it, it means you are bothered by it. Don't be bothered by anything. Actually we say something comes from outside, but it is -- actually it is the waves of your mind, so wave cannot be -- will stay -- will become more and more calm. So in five minutes or at most ten minutes your mind will be completely serene and calm. At that time your breathing becomes pretty slow, while your pulse of your hand becomes a little bit faster. We don't know why, but if you will check your pulse (you, yourself cannot do it but it appears in that way). It takes pretty long time before you get calm, serene mind in your practice, but even though you have waves in your mind that is waves in your own mind. Nothing comes out from out here. Nothing can bother -- nothing can cause any trouble for your mind. You make your mind disturbed -- bothered by -- you make waves of your mind. So if you don't -- if you let it as it is your mind will be calm. Usually our mind expects something from outside -- our mind is ready to accept something from outside, but that is not true understanding of our mind. According to our understanding, mind includes everything. Nothing comes from outside. Our mind has everything, and when you think something comes from outside it means your mind -- in your mind something appears. In this way you accept things. If your mind is related to some other things, that mind is small mind, limited mind.

If your mind is not related to anything else and with the understanding of mind, something which you feel is just the waves of your mind, there is no dualistic understanding in your activity of your mind. That mind is the big mind which is not related to anything else. Everything is included within your mind. That is essence of mind. So essence of mind -- that is the religious feeling. That mind is pure, even though you have waves in your mind, that is pure mind, clear water with some waves. And that is the actual -- you have some security in your feeling when you understand your mind in that way. And your mind do not expect anything from outside, so your mind is always filled, or -- and even though your mind has waves it is not disturbed mind, it is actually more amplified mind. Whatever you experience it means amplifying your mind. You find various meanings of you own mind. It is not disturbance. Do you understand the difference between the two understandings of your mind? Mind which includes everything, mind which is related to something else. Actually maybe the same thing, you know, but understanding is different, or attitude toward your life if different. This is Buddhist understanding of your mind. So that is why our mind is called cosmic mind. The mind which is ready to accept things -- not even ready for -- because the activity of our mind is just to amplify or, feeling good, through various experiences, through the activity of your mind. You know when you feel something. That is you feeling. So that is called enlightenment. If you have something good in your breakfast you will say ‘this is good'. Your mind -- something good will be supplied as an experience of your which you experience… not now, but sometime before. Even though you do not know when you have experience, but you feel as if you have know it… you have experienced it long before. That is how we accept things. So this mind is not different from the mind which is related to something. In this… with this mind we sit, so our mind is always… we can sit with the big mind. This practice is called practice with original enlightenment, or wondrous enlightenment.

(transcript ends here ---)



Mind Weeds
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Thursday Morning Lectures
November 17, 1965 (date changed to 18th -- DC/08)
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 36)

When you get up early in the morning by alarm, I think you don't feel so well. It is not so easy to come and sit even though -- even after you started sitting at first, you have to encourage yourself to sit well. This kind of -- those are the waves of our mind-- just waves and in pure zazen there should not be any waves in our mind. But while you are sitting those waves will more and more become smaller and your effort change into some subtle feeling. We say ‘pulling out the weed'. We make it nourishment of the plant. We pull the weed and bury the weed near the plant to make it nourishment of the plant. So even though you have some difficulty in your practice -- even though you have some waves while you are sitting, those weeds itself will help you. So we should not be bothered by the weeds you have in your mind. We should be rather grateful to the weeds you have in your mind because eventually will enrich your practice.

If you have some experience how the weed you have in your mind will change into your mental nourishment in your practice your practice make remarkable progress. You feel the progress, you know. You can feel how it change into the nourishment of yourself. Of course it is not so difficult to give some philosophical interpretation to our practice but that is not enough. We must have actual experience of how our weeds change into the nourishment. Strictly speaking, the effort we make is not good because that is a kind of waves of our mind, but if you, but it is impossible to attain absolute calmness of your mind without any effort. You must make some effort, but we must forget ourselves into the effort we make. In this kind of realm you have no subjectivity or objectivity. Your mind is just calm without even any awareness. And in this unawareness every effort, and every idea and thought will vanish.

So, it is necessary for us to encourage ourselves and to make effort to the last minute where we have no effort. You have to keep your mind on your breathing, until you do not aware of your breathing, but we should try to keep our effort -- continue our effort forever. And when we try to -- when we continue our effort we should not expect to -- expect some stage when we will forget all about it. We should just try to keep our mind on our breathing. That is actual practice. And that effort will be refined more and more while you are sitting. At first the effort we make is quite rough and impure, but by the power of practice, the effort will be more and more pure -- will become more and more pure. When your effort becomes pure your body and mind becomes pure. This is the way how we practice Zen. This kind of practice is not possible by ordinary activity, but once you understand our innate power to purify ourselves and our surroundings you can act properly and you will learn with each other and you will become friendly with each other. This is the merit of Zen practice. But the way of practice is just to be concentrated on your breathing with right posture, with pure, great effort. This is how we practice Zen.




The Marrow of Zen
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
January 26, 1966
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 38)

In our scripture it is said that there are four kinds of horse -- an excellent one and a not so good ones and bad horse. The best horse will run before it sees the shadow of the whip -- that is the best one. And the second one will run just before the whip reach his skin -- and that is the second one. The third one will run when it feels pain on his body -- that is the third. The fourth one will run after the pain penetrates into his marrow of the bone -- that is the worst one. When we hear this story perhaps everyone wants to be a good horse -- the best horse; even if it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be second best. That is quite usual understanding of horse. But actually when we sit, you will understand whether we are the best horse or the not so good ones. Here we have some problem in understanding of Zen. Zen is not the practice to be the best horse. If you think so, if you understand Zen as a kind of practice to be a best horse you will have, if you have this kind of idea, you will have problem. Big problem. That is not the right understanding of Zen. Actually, if you practice right Zen, whether you are best horse or worst one is not -- doesn't matter. That is not the point.

If you feel the mercy of Buddha what will he -- if you think of the mercy of Buddha, what do you think the Buddha will feel for him worst horse -- he will like or he will be most -- more sympathetic with the worst one rather than with the best one. So if you have the right understanding of Zen, or deeper understanding, worst horse should be most valuable horse. And because of the imperfect character of ourselves we have to express our inmost feeling through our imperfect body and characters. Usually those who can sit physically perfect takes more time to obtain the marrow of Zen -- the true taste of Zen -- actual feeling of Zen. Those who have -- those who find a great difficulty in practice Zen will find more meaning of Zen. So sometimes I think it is the best horse is the worst horse and worst horse is the best one -- sometimes.

In -- If you study calligraphy, you know, those -- usually those who are not so clever will become best calligraphers, and those who are very clever at his hand will find great difficulty to attain excellent calligraphy. That is quite usual in our art and religion. So, we cannot say, “He is good” or “He is bad”. The posture we take is not the same. For someone it is impossible to take this posture. Even though he cannot take right posture he can practice Zen in its true sense. In our everyday life we -- what we are always ashamed of myself -- reflecting what we are doing. Some student wrote me saying, “You sent me a calendar and I am trying to follow the good message of the calendar and I find the calendar undaunted by failure”. The calendar is a calendar of failure -- the calendar become a calendar of failure. Dogen zenji said, “Shoshaku jushaku”. Shaku means mistake or wrong. With wrong -- succeed wrong with wrong. To succeed wrong with wrong or to succeed mistake with mistake. It means continuous mistake. Continuous mistake is Zen according to him. And yet he is a founder of Zen. But his life was a life of continuous mistake. Shoshaku jushaku. Some Zen master says, ”Shoshaku jushaku (Ti junan). {?}It means my eighty years of life is succession of mistakes. But there is Zen in it. It is -- we say, “Good father is not good father.” Do you understand? “Good father is not good father”. Those who think he is good father is not good father -- but those who think he is good husband is not good husband; those who think he is bad husband may be good husband. This is true.

When we find it is impossible because of pain on your head or some physical difficulty, but in such case we should sit when we are worst horse -- We should sit. Then you will get the marrow of the Zen. Suppose your children suffering from hopeless disease. You don't know what to do. You cannot lie in bed. Usually the best thing for you is to lie in warm, comfortable bed. That is the best place to live. But in such case you cannot rest on your comfortable bed so you may walk up and down because you cannot stay still. You think that is the best way. In such case how is it possible to stay still? But actually best way to stand for the mental suffering is to sit -- this is the best way. If you can't sit in such case you are not Zen student. Even though you walk in and out of your house, it doesn't work. It is nearly the same as you try to lie in your comfortable bed. In sitting you want your mind and your body has power to accept things. In standing posture you have no power to accept your difficulties. In this posture you have big power to accept you difficulties. In this posture you have big power to accept things. Whether your posture is right or wrong it is out of question. So when you sit you have enormous power to accept things as it is whether it is agreeable to you or disagreeable to you, you can accept things as it is. When you feel disagreeable it is better for you to sit. There is no other way to accept it and work on it. That is the only way we have. And we have always this wonderful way to accept things and to work on things.



No Dualism
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
November 2, 1967
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 41)

We say our practice without gaining idea, practice without expecting even enlightenment, but what we mean by those statements is -- it does not mean just to sit without any purpose. Of course this practice of -- without gaining idea, based on the gaining idea we have in the Prajna Paramita Sutra: “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”. But when we say ‘Form is emptiness” or “emptiness is form” this is still dualistic. But when we say ‘form is form' and ‘emptiness is emptiness' here there is no dualism. When you find it difficult to stop your mind in your sitting and are still trying to stop your mind, this is the stage of form is emptiness and emptiness is form. But while you are practicing this way, more and more your practice will -- in your practice you will have oneness of your goal and your practice without effort, you can stop your mind. This is the stage of form is form and emptiness is emptiness.

To stop your mind does not mean to stop your activities of mind. It means your mind pervades your whole body. Your mind follows your breathing and your mind -- with your full mind you form the mudra in your hands; with your mind you sit with painful legs without being disturbed by them. This is to sit without gaining idea. At first you feel some restriction in your posture but when you find -- when you are not disturbed by the restriction that is actually what we mean by emptiness is emptiness and form is form. So to find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice. So it does not mean that whatever you do that is zazen. Or even lying down that is zazen. When your mind is not restricted by restriction that is what we mean by practice. When you say, “Whatever I do that is Buddha nature, so it doesn't matter what I do, and there is no need to practice zazen” that is already dualistic understanding of our everyday life. If really it doesn't matter there is no need for you even to say so. As long as you are concerned about what you do, that is dualistic. If you are not concerned about what you do you will not say so. When you sit, you will sit. When you eat you will eat. That's all. If you say it doesn't, it means that you are making some excuse to something by your own way. It means you are attached to something especially. That is not what we mean, but just to sit, or whatever you do that is zazen. Whatever we do that is zazen. If it is so there is no need to say so. So when you sit you will just sit without being disturbed by your painful legs or sleepiness. That is zazen. But at first it is very difficult to accept things as they are. You feel some -- you will be annoyed by the feeling your have in your practice. When you can do everything, whether it is good or bad, you can do it without disturbance or without being annoyed by the feeling that is actually what we mean by form is form and emptiness is emptiness.

Suppose you suffer from an illness like cancer and you realize you cannot live more than two or three years. Then you will start practice because it is difficult to rely on something. And someone may rely on the help of God. Someone may start the practice of zazen and his practice will be concentrated on obtaining emptiness or all things. We naturally -- originally we are empty beings. That means he is trying to be free from the suffering of duality (this life, or next life, or this life). This is the practice of form is emptiness or emptiness is form. Because that is true so we want to have that actual realization in our life. But of course this practice will help you and if you practice it and believe in it that is true, and if you -- and realizing that to be concerned about this life or that life is wrong, still you are making effort. That is, maybe, that will help you, of course, but that is not perfect practice.

Knowing that his life is just two or three years time to enjoy day after day, moment after moment that is the life is form is form and emptiness is emptiness. When Buddha comes you will welcome him; when devil comes you will welcome him. Like Woman said, ‘Sun-faced Buddha, and Moon-faced Buddha.” When he was ill someone asked him, “How about you?” And he said, “Sun-faced Buddha and Moon-faced Buddha”. That is the life of form is form and emptiness is emptiness. There is no problem. One year of his life is good. One hundred years of life is good. If you continue our practice you will attain this stage. But at first you will have various problems in your practice and it necessary for you to make some effort to continue our practice. Practice without effort is not true practice for the beginner. For the beginner the practice needs effort. So whatever we do that is practice-- that is Zen. So it does not matter whether you practice or not -- that kind of understanding is completely mistaken. If you continue, whatever you do, that is practice. If you do it everything with this purpose and this idea that is practice.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 2, 1965
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 43)

[After demonstration of Buddhist bow] To bow is very important-- one of the important practice. By bow we can eliminate our selfish, self-centered idea. My teacher had hard skin on his forehead because he bowed and bowed and bowed so many times and he knew that he was very obstinate, stubborn fellow, so he bowed and bowed and bowed and he always heard his master's scolding voice. That is why he bowed. And he joined our order when he was thirty. For Japanese priest to join the order at the age of thirty is not early. So his master always called him ‘You lately-joined fellow'. He said, [Japanese phrase missing in transcript]. It means priest who joined our order when he is old. When we join order when we are young we have little -- it is easy to get rid of our selfishness. But when we have very stubborn, selfish idea it is rather hard to get rid of it. So he was always scolded because he joined our order so late. To scold does not mean slight people, or it does not mean to -- actually his teacher was not actually scolding him. His master loved him very much because of his stubborn character.

When he was seventy he said, “I -- when I was young I was like a tiger but now I am a cat.” He was very pleased to be a cat and to be like a cat. “Now I am cat”, he said. And to bow means to eliminate our self-centered idea. It is not so -- actually it is not so difficult -- easy -- and although it is difficult to try to get rid of it is very valuable practice. The result is not the point but effort to improve ourselves is valuable. There is no end in our practice.

We have four vows -- although sentient being is innumerable, we have to save -- we vow to save them (that is one). Although are evil desires is limitless, but we vow to get rid of it (that is second) and although the teaching is limitless, but we vow to study. Although Buddhism is unattainable, we should attain it. That is four vows. If it is unattainable, how can we attain it? But we should. That is Buddhism. Because it is possible we will do it. That is not Buddhism. Even though it is impossible we have to do it if it is our true nature. Whether it is possible or not is not the point. If we want to do it we have to do it even though it is impossible. So whether it is possible to get rid of our self-centered idea or not is not the point. Anyway we have to try to get rid of it. When we make this effort there are our appeasement, there our Nirvana. There is no other way to attain calmness of your mind than to do it -- than to try to do it. If you -- when you thinking about -- before you decide -- determine to do it you have difficulty but if you start to do it there is no difficulty -- there is appeasement, there is calmness of your mind. So calmness of your mind should be found in -- real calmness should be found in activity. Calmness of your mind does not mean to stop our activity. In our activity there is true calmness. So we say, ‘It is easy to have in inactivity, but it is hard to have calmness in our activity, but calmness in activity is true calmness.

[missing sentences in tape]

As to progress -- we don't know how much progress we made, actually, but if you practice it you will realize -- some day you will realize that our progress is not -- it is not possible to make rapid, extraordinary progress. Even though you try very hard, you cannot actually make progress. The progress you make is always little by little. It is like -- to go through fog. You don't know when you get wet, but if you just walk through fog you will be wet, little by little, even though you don't know -- it is not like a shower.

When you go out when it is showering you will feel, ‘Oh, that's terrible!”. It is not so bad but when you get wet by fog it is very difficult to dry yourself. This is how we make progress. So actually there is not need to worry about your progress. Just to do it is the way. It is, maybe, like to study language. Just repeating, you will master it. You cannot do it all of a sudden. This is how we practice, especially Soto way, is to do it little by little. To make progress little by little. Or we do not even mind, we do not expect to make progress, just to do it is our way. The point is to do it with sincerity in each moment. That is the point. There should not be Nirvana besides our practice.



Nothing Special
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
October 14, 1965
Thursday Morning Lectures
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 46)

I don't feel to speak after zazen. I feel the practice of zazen is enough but if I should say something. I think what I shall talk will be how wonderful it is to practice zazen in this way. Our purpose is just to keep this practice forever. This practice is started from beginningless time and it will continue for endless future. Strictly speaking, for human being there is no other practice than this practice. There is no other way of life than this way of life, because Zen practice is direct expression of our true nature. Of course, whatever you do, it is the expression of our true nature, but without this practice it is difficult to realize what is our life. As long as you think, ‘I am doing this. I have to do this', or ‘I must attain something special', actually you are not doing anything. When you give up, or when you do not want to, when you do not do anything, you do something. When you do not do anything with some gaining idea, you do something. Actually what you are doing is not for sake of something. You feel as if you are doing something special but actually it is the expression of true nature, or that is the activity to appease you inmost desire.

It is our human nature to be active always. To do something is our human nature and it is universal nature for everyone, every existence. So, in this way, just practice of Zen is enough. But so long as you think you are practicing zazen for sake of something that is not true practice. If you continue this simple practice every day you will obtain some wonderful power. But before you attain it, it is some wonderful power but after you attain it, it is just power. It is not something special. It is just you yourself. Nothing special. As Chinese poem says there is nothing special. If you visit there, there is nothing special. However Losan is famous for its misty mountains. And Seko is famous for its water. This is Zen. There is nothing special. If you go there there is nothing special. But people think Losan is wonderful. It is wonderful to see the range of mountains covered by mist; to see the misty mountains in Losan is wonderful. And people say it is wonderful to see the water covers all the earth. It is wonderful they may say but if you go there you see just water and you see just mountains. There is nothing special. But it is a kind of mystery that for the people who has no experience of enlightenment, enlightenment is something wonderful, but if you attain it that is nothing. Although it is nothing, it is not nothing. Do you understand? For some person, for the mother who has children to have children is nothing special, nothing special. But if she lose her children what she will feel? That is zazen.

So if you continue this practice we don't know when you will acquire the power, but more and more you will acquire something. Not special, but something. You may say, universal nature, or Buddha nature, enlightenment. You may call it by many names but for the person who owns it, it is nothing. And it is something. So I cannot express my joy to practice zazen with you here once a week. And while you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, you will -- your experience becomes more and more deeper and the experience you have you obtain, will cover everything you do in your everyday life. The most important thing is when you practice zazen it is necessary to forget all gaining idea, all dualistic idea. In other words just practice zazen in certain posture. This is very good point. Don't think about anything. Just remain on your cushion without thinking, without expecting anything. Then you will -- or true nature will resume its own nature and eventually you will resume to your own nature. You resume your true nature when the true nature resumes to its own nature.

The monk, the disciple of the sixth patriarch, told Basho, ‘when a vehicle or cart does not go, which do you hit a horse or the cart.?' Which do you hit? He couldn't answer and Nangaku said, “If you think, if you try to hit your cart, your cart will not go. If you hit the horse, the horse will be angry. What will you do?” he said. When you resume to your true nature, when your true nature resumes to its true nature, you resume to your true nature. Do you understand? When horse becomes horse, cart will go. When cart becomes cart, horse will go. The horse and cart is not two. Horse and cart is one. So when horse start to pull the cart the cart will go. Usually, but usually we think our true nature and you yourself are something different. So there is problem always. But actually you are cart itself. Horse is cart and cart is horse. Without horse there is no cart. Without cart there is no horse. Horse is something to pull cart. If there is no cart, horse may be a wild beast. He is not a horse. Because he pulls the cart, horse is horse.

When we express our true nature, we are human being. When we don't, we don't know what we are. We are not animal because we walk by two legs. We are something different from animal. But if we are not human being what are we? We may be ghost, or we don't know what to say. There is no such thing exists. That is delusion. We are not any more human being. So, we say, when Zen becomes Zen, we become human being. We exist. When Zen is not Zen, nothing exists. What I am talking about is not intellectual understanding. Intellectually it makes my talk makes no sense, but you will understand what I mean so in ????? Nirvana Sutra Buddha says, everything has Buddha nature. That is Chinese rendering. Everything has Buddha nature. But Dogen reads this way, “Everything is Buddha nature”. There is difference. There is, “Everything has Buddha nature”. If you say ‘Everything has Buddha nature”, in everything is Buddha nature. So Buddha nature and everything is different. But ‘everything is Buddha nature' is everything is Buddha nature itself. When there is no Buddha nature, everything is not everything. It is just delusion, which do not exist. It may exist in you mind but actually such thing does not exist. So even though you do not do anything you are actually doing something. You are expressing yourself. You are expressing your true nature. Your eyes will express. Your voice will express. Your demeanor will express. So the most important thing is to express our true nature in the most simple way, in the most adequate way, and to appreciate the true nature in smallest existence. This is the most important thing. So truth is -- the most valuable truth is [????] nir attan (last phrase not clear).



Single-Minded Way
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 16, 1965
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 51)

The purpose of my talk is not to give you some intellectual understanding but just to express appreciation of our practice. To sit with you in this way -- very unusual. Of course whatever we do in this life should be unusual; it is so unusual anyway. As Buddha said, “To appreciate our human life is as rare as soil on your nail.” You know, soil on your nail is so little. Our human life is so rare, and so wonderful, and when I sit I want to remain in this way forever, but I encourage myself to have another practice, for instance, to recite sutra or to make bow. And when we make bow, I think, “this is wonderful”, but we have to change our practice for reciting sutra. And when I recite sutra I don't feel to talk after reciting sutra -- So the purpose of my talk is to express my appreciation, that's all. Our way is not to sit for something; it is to express our true nature. That is our practice.

So if you want to express yourself there should be some natural and appropriate way to express. Even when you sway yourself, right and left, after you sit, is also to express yourself. It is not relaxation or preparation for the practice. It is a part of the practice. So we should not do it as if you are preparing for something. It is part of your practice, not preparation. To cook, to fix some food, is not preparation, according to Dogen's idea. It is practice. It is the expression of our sincerity. To cook is not to prepare food for someone or for yourself. It is the expression of your sincerity. So when you cook, you should express yourselves in your activity in the kitchen. So you should take plenty of time to do it and you should work on it without expecting something, or without something in your mind. You should just -- cook. Even cleaning is not preparation for rituals. Cleaning itself is practice; and then we observe rituals; and then we clean up again. That is also expression of our sincerity; that is a part of practice; that is our way. So we should appreciate what we are doing always. There's no preparation for something else.

So, Bodhisattva's way is called ‘single-minded way' or ‘one railway track thousand miles -- thousands of miles -- one railway track thousands of miles, we say, one railway track. The railway track is always, you know, the same. If the railway track became wider, or narrower, it may be awful. Wherever you go the railway track is always the same. That is Bodhisattva's way. So even though the sun were to rise from west, the Bodhisattva's way is only one. There is no other way. To express his nature, his sincerity, is his way. And there's no other way. But, we say ‘railway track', but actually there's no railway track. The sincerity is the railway track. And the sight you see from the train will be different, but we are running always on same track. This is Bodhisattva's way. And there's -- for the track there's no beginning or no end. Beginningless and endless track. This is Bodhisattva's way; and this is the nature of our Zen practice. So there is no beginning , or no attainment, no starting point or no goal -- no attainment -- nothing to attain. Our purpose is just to run on the track is our way. But when you become curious about what is Zen, what is railway track, danger is there. You should not see the railway track. If you see it you will become dizzy. You should appreciate the sight you will have on your train. That is our way. There's no need to be curious about the railway track -- for the passenger. Someone will take care of it. Buddha will take care of it. But sometime we have to explain what is railway track, because we are so curious -- we become so curious if something is always same. “How is it possible for him to be always same, like that? What is the secret?” But there's no secret. Everyone has same nature as railway track. This is our way of practice. So it is necessary to sit in this way. But just to sit is not our way. Whatever you do, it should be the same activity.

There were good -- two good friends, Chokai and Shifuku. They started some talk about the Bodhisattva's way and Chokai said, “If the Arhat were to have evil desires, the Bodhisattva has no two ways.” Shifuku said, “Even though you say so, your comment is not perfect.” Chokai said, “What is your interpretation -- what is the actual Bodhisattva's way?” Shifuku said, “Now I found out that you did not understand Bodhisattva's way.” Chokai said, “What is your understanding of Bodhisattva's way?” Shifuku said, “We have had enough discussion. So let's have a cup of tea.” They are good friends you know. Let's have a cup of tea. He didn't give any answer to him. It is impossible, you now, to give some interpretation to our way, but as a part of practice, they discuss something -- they try to discuss, but they didn't want to find out something new, so, “Our discussion is over, let's have a cup of tea.” That's very good isn't it? So, I should say, “I am hungry enough to have breakfast, so let's have some breakfast -- my practice is over -- I mean your listening is over.” That is our way. There's no problem, and there's no need to remember what I say. There's no need for you to understand what I say. You understood. You have full understanding in -- within yourself. But something must go on the track. We have to have some passengers. If we have railway track we have to have train -- so, train track for dining room.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
February 9, 1966
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 55)

In India there were many schools. We count major school -- we count six major schools, but the most -- we can divide those schools into two -- we can classify those schools into two. As you know there were four classes in India, and the first class was the Brahman class and they believed in some different existence which is called Atman. And our world in terms of phenomenal world was supposed to be the unfolding of divine being, and it reveals itself through sages. So in nature divine nature reveals itself through everything. It is rather pantheistic -- looks like pantheism, and in human world, divine world will reveal itself through sages. This is the Brahman or Brahman's {?} teaching. But on the other hand there were public religion or public sort. They postulated many elements, and this world is the integration and disintegration of the elements.

Why I refer to these ideas is -- it will give us more clear understanding of our practice. I don't want to talk about Indian thought, but the thought of public -- at that time, before Buddha, of course, classified on, based on the idea of component material or elements. Nowadays we may classify being, mind and body, or spirit and -- physical being and spiritual being but at that time they classified in a difficult way to understand –for scientific mind it is rather difficult. They classified air or space and wind element, and water element, and earth element -- earth-like element. So their practice was to make it -- make the physical element weaker and spiritual element powerful. But that -- our being -- human being is accumulation of spiritual and physical element, so the only way is to make physical element weak and make the spiritual element more free because physical element usually bounds the spiritual element, so they practiced aestheticism. But this aestheticism will become more and more -- will make our practice more and more idealistic because there is no limit the effort to make our physical power weaker. This effort will continue until we die. If we die, that is the end of the war.

According to Indian thought, if we die we will have next life and we will resume to -- we will continue our actual life we have again -- we will repeat over and over again. So we will have to repeat those efforts over and over without attaining perfect enlightenment. So this kind of effort -- and at the same time this kind of effort mistake the purpose for the result because even though you think you make your physical strength weak enough to make our spiritual power free, while you are practicing aestheticism -- but if you resume to everyday life weak body will not work, and so you have to make your physical strength more powerful, and then you have to repeat same over and over again.

But we are laughing at them, but actually we are -- some people are practicing this kind of practice. So however hard we may practice our way we will not gain any result. The purpose should be to help our everyday life is the purpose of practice. Buddha's way is quite different from this kind of practice. He is not interested in the element by which being is consisted of. He is not interested in it. At first he practiced aestheticism, according to their public opinion or public way of understanding practice. And they also -- he also observed Brahman's Hinduist way of practice, too. But Buddha was not so interested in metaphysical existence, and he is not so interested in the theology or philosophy, but he was more aware of how he, himself exist in this moment. That was his point.

You make bread from flour. You know, how flour becomes bread is his main interest. If you put it in oven -- how it becomes -- flour becomes -- paste-like thing becomes bread was his interest. So how we become enlightened (the enlightened person is some perfect, desirable character, for himself and for others). That is ideal character. How human being become god is his interest. How various sages in past time became sages was his main interest. So our way is to put paste in oven over and over again and see how it becomes bread. Once you know how the paste becomes bread, you will understand that is enlightenment. So how this physical body becomes sage is our -- so we don't mind what is the flour or what is paste. Sage is sage. There's no explanation for sage. If he has desirable character he is sage no matter whether he is Christian sage or Buddhist sage. It doesn't matter. Sage is sage. And how human being -- metaphysical explanation of human nature or human basic nature is not the point. So this kind of practice cannot be too idealistic. Actual practice, repeating over and over again until you find out how to become bread. That is our way. So there is no secret in our way. Just to practice zazen and put ourselves into oven -- that is our way.

This kind of tradition -- traditional way from Buddha to us, through the Chinese way result various unique culture, and you can see the characteristics -- of Buddhists culture. For instance, when we paint something or when our language itself is good example. For instance -- Japanese language is combination of phonetics sign and character kanji -- you know, Chinese character -- mountain -- river. And this is at the same time picture or symbol. So according to the person who writes the character the character express some nature -- unique nature. So although character itself same, but the meaning or feeling -- (In Japan we emphasize feeling or esthetic meaning, or feeling) anyway, according to the person who makes the character, it changes, but character is -- mountain is mountain, so we say “mountain is mountain, river is river”. That is true. But mountain is not mountain. In your language if I say ‘mountain is mountain' that means nothing. Mountain is mountain. Subject and predicate should not be the same. There must be some difference, but we -- the difference cannot be expressed. The statement of ‘mountain is mountain'. But we understand, ‘mountain is mountain'. That is good enough for us. Meaning of the -- intention of the statement is involved between and mountain. Mountain is mountain. The most important thing is hidden. It is not -- it doesn't take a form of statement. So when we paint something somewhere the blank place has its true meaning. So we are not too much concerned about the character itself, but the character -- but the character express the meaning of the character covers all the space, and the character is already something expressed already, but in the space there's many things which is not expressed yet, so there -- the secret is the blank space rather than which was written in the corner of the paper.

This kind of understanding is something like to put paste into oven. It looks like vague and purposeless practice. No one will not be so interested in cooking, everyday making the same thing over and over again. But Buddha was very much interested in how paste becomes perfect bread. So he did it over and over again until he becomes successful to make bread. That was his practice. So his practice covered all whole paper, not some corner of the paper -- element of the art. But all the paper. How one sheet of paper become art. That is his way. So whether you use ink or color, black ink or color is not the point. If you can produce something beautiful, that is art. So this kind of practice have no danger in repeating it, and it will help your everyday life. No harm in it, but it is rather tedious. If you lose your spirit, spirit of repeating, it is pretty difficult, but it is not difficult if you are full of strength -- vitality -- it is not difficult. We cannot keep still. We have to do something anyway, so if you do something we should be very observant and careful and alert. This is our way.

So this kind of way is not idealistic way. If an artist becomes too idealistic he will commit suicide because his ideal and his actual ability between the two there is a great gap, so he will become despairing and commit suicide because there is no bridge long enough. That is usual spiritual way, but our spiritual way is not so idealistic. But in some sense we should be idealistic. At least we should be interested in something very good. Tastes good and looks good. That is our way.



Zen and Excitement
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
February 24, 1966
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 57)

My master passed away when I was thirty three. So after his death I became pretty busy. I wanted to devote myself just to Zen practice, but I couldn't stay at Eiheiji monastery because I had to be the successor of his temple. For us, it is necessary to keep constant way -- not some kind of excitement, but we should be concentrated on usual every day routine. If one become too busy and too much excitement our mind will become rough -- rugged. This is not so good for us. So, if possible, try to be always calm and joyful and keep yourself from excitement. That is most important point -- thing for us. But usually we are -- we become more and more busy, day by day, year after year.

If I go back to Japan this summer I shall be astonished-- the change they make in Japan. It cannot be helped, but if we become interested in some excitement this change will accelerate and we will be lost and we will be completely involved in busy life, but if our mind is always calm and constant we can deep our self away from noisy world even though we are in the midst of it. In the midst of the noisy world our mind will always be calm and stable. Zen is not some excitement, but people practice Zen because of some curiosity. That is a kind of excitement. Zen is not Zen; that is worse -- if you practice Zen you will make yourself worse because of Zen practice. This is ridiculous. I didn't notice that, but many people practice zazen -- interested in zazen just by curiosity, and make themselves worse and busier. I think if you try to come once a week here that will make you pretty busy. That is enough. Don't be too much interested in Zen. Just keep your calm and keep your constant way in everyday life.

Once -- young people, especially, interested in Zen, they will give up schooling, and they will -- some people go to some mountain or forest where they can sit. But that kind of interest is not true interest. When I was young I didn't intend to be -- I didn't like to be a successor of my master but I have to -- I had to. But since then, because I became my master's successor when I was so young I had many difficulties. Too much difficulty gives me some experience but those experiences -- comparing to the true, calm and serene way of life, those experiences are nothing. So if you continue the calm ordinary practice your character will be built up but if your mind is always busy there's no time to build up your character. To build up -- if you want to build up -- even though you want to build up your character it doesn't -- you will not be successful if you work on it too hard. It should be done little by little, step by step. It is the same thing to make bread. If you make -- if you give it too much heat it will burn -- you will not get bread. It is the same thing -- we have to do it little by little. And moderate temperature -- we want, not too much temperature or excitement-- little by little. And you know yourself pretty well -- how much heat -- temperature you want -- you know exactly what you want. But if you are too much -- if you have too much excitement you forget your own way and you don't know -- you forget how much temperature is good for you. That's very dangerous.

Buddha says it is same thing with the good driver (driver of a cow not motor car) -- cow knows how much load the cow can carry and keep the cow from being too loaded. You know your way and your state of mind. So you know how much load you can carry. Don't carry too much Buddha says. It is very good instruction. Or he says it is the same thing with a -- to make a dam. If you want to make a dam, you should be careful in making the bank. If you try to do it all at once the water will leak from the bank so you have to make the bank carefully, little by little. Then you will have a fine, good bank for the lake, reservoir. This is the way he says. This is quite true with us. So, too much excitement is not good. It looks like very negative way, but it is not so. It is wise and comfortable way, or effective way -- to work on ourselves. I find it -- this point is very difficult for people who study Zen -- especially young people.



Right Effort
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
May 18, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 59)

The most important point in our practice is to have right effort. The right effort which is directed to right direction is necessary. Usually our effort is making towards wrong direction. Especially, if your effort is making -- your effort is directed towards wrong direction without knowing it means so-called deluded effort. Our effort in our practice should be directed from being to non-being, from achievement to non-achievement. Usually when you do something you want to achieve something but in our practice from achievement to non-achievement means to get rid of some evil result of the effort. Whether or not whether you make your effort you have good quality. So if you do something that is enough but when you make some special effort to achieve something, some excessive quality or element is involved in it. So you should get rid of some excessive things. If you -- when your practice is good, without being aware of it you will become proud of it. That is something extra. Pride is extra. What you do is good but something more is added to it. So you should get rid of that something which is extra. This point is very, very important. But usually we are not subtle enough to realize that. And you are going to wrong direction. So this kind of effort to get rid of something extra is very important point and that is the effort we make.

As all of us are making same mistake, or same -- doing something in the same way. We do not realize it. So without realizing it we are making many mistakes. And we create problems between us. This kind of bad effort is called ‘dharma-ridden, practice-ridden'. You are involved in something big and you cannot get out of it. When you are involved in some dualistic idea it means your idea is not pure. The purity means just things as they are. When something is added that is impure. When something becomes dualistic that is not pure. So purity does not mean to polish something, to make some impure thing pure. Purity -- by purity we mean just things as it is. So we say there is enlightenment and practice but we should not be caught by it. You should not be tainted by it. Of course we practice zazen. Practice is necessary but we should not attach to the attainment. Because even you are not aware of it you have the quality so forget all about what you gained from it. Just do it. Then you will have it. If you think if you practice zazen you will get something, that is already -- you are involved in some impure practice. Just do it then you have it. Even though you do not know -- that is pure practice and there you have enlightenment.

People may ask you if you practice -- what do you mean to practice zazen with gaining idea? What kind of effort is necessary in your practice -- if you have no gaining idea? The answer is to get rid of something extra from our practice. So if some extra idea comes over you, you should try to stop it -- you should remain in pure practice. That is the point our effort is directed to.

To hear the sound of one hand clapping -- usually this is the sound (demonstrating by clapping his hand) but this is not sound (demonstrating by clapping just one hand) for us usually, but this (one hand) is sound. Even though you do not hear there is sound. So if you clap with two hands you can hear the sound. If there is no sound you cannot make sound. Because there is sound you can hear it. Before you make it there is sound. If there is no sound you cannot make sound. Sound is everywhere. If you just practice it there is sound. Don't try to listen to it. If you do not listen to it the sound is all over. Because you try to hear the sound, sometimes there is sound and sometimes there is no sound. Do you understand? Even though you do not do anything you are a quality. You have the quality always, but if you try to find, if you try to see the quality you have no quality.

You are living on this world as one individual, but before you take your form of human being you are there -- always there. We are always there. Do you understand. We are always here, but you think before you were born you were not here. But how is it possible for you to appear in this world when there is not you. Because you are there, so you can appear in this world. You may say, if we disappear nothing exists, but how is it possible to vanish something which does not exist? Because something is there, that something can vanish. Even though it vanished something which is existent cannot be non-existent. That is the magic. We cannot spell any magic on this world. There is some reason why we vanish from our sight, but from our sight can vanish, but if we do not try to see it that something cannot vanish. Because you see it you are watching it, it can vanish from yourself, but if no one is seeing it how is it possible for something to vanish? If you are -- if someone is watching you, you can escape from him, but if no one is watching you, you cannot escape from yourself. So try not to see it; try not to achieve it. Because you have it. If you understand this ultimate fact there is no fear. There may be some difficulty, of course, but there is no fear.

When you have pain, you have headache, it is not intolerable, but when you become feverish and become dizzy, and when you feel -- standing on your head, that is awful. So even though you have difficulty, that is not so bad, but if people have difficulty without being aware of the difficulty, that is true difficulty. You don't know what to do. We should not be like that. We should be always -- have some basic understanding of our life. Then there is not much intolerable difficulty.



No Trace
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
June 23, 1966

When we sit in this way our mind is calm and quite simple. But usually our mind is not so calm and our mind is very complicated. When we do something it is difficult to be concentrated on what we do and because, before we do (something) we think and when we think the thinking leaves some trace, and the thinking not only leave some trace but also it will give us some particular notion to do something. That notion makes our activity very complicated. When we do something quite simple we have no notion, but when we do something difficult, or when we do something in relation to others -- other people, or in society, we will have many convenient idea for ourselves, and that makes activity very complicated.

In America -- American people in this point, I think are very good. You are much simpler in your way of -- when you do something you have very good attitude in what you so, but usually we have double or triple notion in one activity. That makes it very difficult to be concentrated on one activity because we have -- you know -- to be concentrated on one activity because we have -- you know -- we want to catch too many birds. So you will catch any bird because you want to try to catch too many birds. We say, to catch two birds by one stone. That is usual activity. That kind of thinking, we say, is to have shadow of thinking. Shadow is not -- you are not thinking actually. Your thinking is divided in many ways that means you have shadow of the activity or the thinking or you will have trace of the thinking.

We have to think but we should not have the trace of the thinking. Trace of the thinking-- even if it is one trace, it is not good because you will be attached to the trace. This is what you may say, “This is what I have done”, but actually it is not so. When we -- in our recollection you may say, “I did such and such thing in some certain way” but actually it is not so, and when you think in that way you limit the actual experience of what you have done. So if you attach to the idea about what you have done that will create some selfish idea. So usually what you have done is always good but it is not actually so.

When we become old we are very proud of what we have done. That is -- when others listen to us saying something proudly; others will feel funny or may not feel so good because his interpretation -- his recollection is one-sided. They know that is not actually what he did. Moreover, he, himself will be proud of what he did and that pride will create some problem for him while he is repeating what his idea is. His personality will be twisted more and more until he becomes quite a disagreeable person. It means to leave trace of the thinking or activity. We should not forget what we did but we should not have trace. It is a different matter to leave trace, what I mean, and to remember something in its true sense is quite different matter. It is necessary to remember what we did but we should not have -- we should not attach to what we have done in some special sense. That is so-called attachment or trace of activity. So we should not have any trace of the activity or we should not have any shadow of the activity.

When we do something we should do it with our whole body and mind. You should be concentrated on what you do and when you do something you should do it completely –like a good bonfire. It should not be smoky. You should burn yourself completely. You should not be smoky fire. That is one thing. If you do not burn yourself completely you will have trace of yourself in what you did. It means you do not change it into ashes completely. You have something remaining without completely burned down or burned out. That is so-called ‘Zen activity'. This is the goal of our practice. That is what it means by ‘ash does not come back to firewood'. Ash is ash. Ash should be completely ash. The firewood should be firewood. If this kind of activity takes place, one activity covers everything. This is the goal of our practice.

So our practice is not matter of one hour or two hours; or one day or one year. Even for a moment you practice zazen with your whole body and mind. That is zazen. So moment after moment you should devote yourself to your practice. You should not have any remains after you do something; but it does not mean to forget all about it. If you understand this point all the dualistic thinking or all the problems in you life will be vanished because you have no idea of duality. When you practice Zen you become one with Zen. There's no ‘you' or no ‘zazen'. When you bow there is no Buddha or no you. One complete bow -- bowing takes place, that's all. That is Nirvana, or attainment, perfect attainment.

When Buddha transmitted our practice to Mahajuna he picked up a flower. He just picked up a flower with smiling -- with a smile. And all the -- only Mahajuna understood what he meant but the rest of the people didn't understand. We don't know if this is historical event or not but it means something. It means our traditional way. Some activity which covers everything is true activity and that activity, that secret of this activity, is transmitted from Buddha to us. That is Zen school not some teaching taught by him but not rules of life which was set up by Buddha. This teaching, or the rules, should be changed according to the country or according to the place or according to the people who observe it, but this secret of the practice cannot be changed. It is always so and we should live in this way always because in Buddhism we have no idea of the world which is completely different from this world. The old world is the extension of this world. The future world should be extension of our present world and our past life should result in this present life. That is how we believe in truth. Truth is not something which is beyond our reach. Truth should be always here.

So there is, for us there is no other way to live in this world and I think this is quite true and this is at least more acceptable -- easy to accept -- easy to understand and easy to practice it. In comparison to this kind of life, if you think what is happening to this world, or to human society you will find out how true the truth Buddha left us. The truth is quite simple and practice is quite simple, but even though it is quite simple we should not ignore it. If you -- we should find out great value in this simple truth. Usually, if it is too simple -- ”Oh, I know that. It is quite simple. Everyone knows that.” But if you do not find its value it means nothing. It is the same thing as not knowing. The more you understand our culture, the more you understand how true our teaching is. So for the people who are attached to our culture too much it is better to be critical of our culture. It means you are coming back to the simple truth left by Buddha. But our approach is just concentrated on simple practice and simple understanding of life, but for someone it is necessary to criticize our culture. There are two approaches. But anyway, we should not attach to some fancy idea to beautiful things. We should not seek for something good. The truth is always near at hand, within your reach.

Did you understand?



God Giving
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
March 3, 1966
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 65)

The precept today is giving, the joy of giving. Everything is something which was given; every existence in nature, every existence in human world, every cultural work we do is something which was given to us or which is being given to us, relatively speaking. But actually everything is originally one. So it may be better to say we are giving out everything. It is the same thing. Relatively speaking everything is something given to us but actually we are giving everything -- giving out or expressing out moment after moment we are creating something, moment after moment. This is the joy of our life.

This ‘I' which is always giving out something is not small ‘I'. It is big ‘I'. Big ‘I' is big self is giving out various things. This is actually our joy when we become one with big mind even though you do not realize the oneness of the big mind. When we give something we feel good because we -- first of all, at that time we are one with it -- that may be. We don't know -- anyway, when we give something we feel very good rather than to take something. So give and take is not different. To take something when we -- relatively speaking to take something, but originally it is actually giving. We say, “Dana prajna paramita”. To give is one of the six ways living. Dana prajna paramita -- this is to give, and sila, and endurance -- endurance prajna paramita and zeal prajna paramita or constant effort, and wisdom and dhyana or Zen prajna -- those are six ways of living. But actually those six prajna paramita is one, but we observe it from various sides. So we count six prajna paramita.

Dogen zenji says “To give is non-attachment”. To give is not to attach to anything -- is to give. Although things we have is not originally ours but there is the truth to give. To give the treasure of penny or a piece of leaf is dana prajna paramita. To give out the teaching -- one line of teaching or one word of teaching is dana prajna paramita. The material of offering and teaching dana offering is one -- not different. And he says to produce something and to participate in human activity is also prajna paramita. To provide a ferry boat for people, to make a bridge for people is dana prajna paramita. In creating something -- of course every existence in nature is something which is created, according to Christianity. Something which was created or given to us -- that is perfect giving -- but, according to Christianity we are also created by Him and so the created thing -- we create -- we have some ability to create something which was not given. For instance, we create airplane and freeways and many things. We create many things but when we repeat, ‘I create, I create, I create', soon we will forget who is ‘I' which create various things. We will soon forget about our God. This is danger of our human culture. So to give -- to create is actually to give. To provide something for us all is to give -- to create.

It is not actually to create and own something; it is actually to provide something for people, to create something for people -- as everything was created by him. This point should not be forgotten but because we forgot all about who is creating something and what for, so when we become attached to material value, or exchanging value, this kind of material value is no value -- absolutely no value in comparison to the absolute value which was created by God -- no value at all. When you are dying it doesn't make any value to us -- no value at all but even though it has no value to each one of the small individuals it is -- it has absolute value in itself. So we say ‘valueless value”.
When we realize that valueless value we say non-attachment; non-attachment to exchange -- to material value, but to be aware of absolute value what we do should be based on the awareness of absolute value -- not material, or not selfish, self-centered idea of value. This is dana prajna paramita (to give).

When we sit in cross-legged posture we resume our fundamental activity of creating. There is, maybe, three steps. The first step of creation is to be aware of ourselves after we finish zazen. When we sit we are nothing. We are ‘just sit'; we do not even realize what we are. We just sit; but when we stand up, you are there. That is the first creativity. You are there. When you are there everything is there. Everything is created all at once. When you act you give. When you create something -- food, or tea, or coffee (which we will take soon) this is secondary creativity. The third one is to create something within ourselves; that will be education or culture creativity or artistic creativity, or to give -- to provide some system to our society. Those cultural creativity. So there are three steps but if you forget most important one, (holding up three fingers and then hiding thumb) those are children (the two fingers remaining) who lost their parents. It means nothing.

But usually all of us forget zazen. They don't practice zazen. They forget all about what was God. The God is someone who helps those (two children). Yes, they are helping but the God does not help the activity. How is it possible for him to help when he does not realize who he is? That is the problem. That is why we have so many problems in this world. It is exactly the same as the children who do not know what to do when they lost their parents. So those three steps -- all those three steps is said to be done by dana prajna paramita, to give, or to create -- perfect creation. Through and through those dana prajna paramita must be in full (work?) but what we are doing is very very -- based on some idea which is very very (fashion?) and limited and ignorant of what we are. So if you understand what is dana prajna paramita you will understand how we should live in this world and how we create for ourselves many problems.

Of course to live is to make some problem. That we came to this world is enough, you know. We create -- that is the first step. If you do not appear in this world your parents have no difficulty. Because you appear in this world you create some problems for your parents. So that is all right. That is all right. Everyone is creating some problems; so that is quite all right. But that problem should be solved or resolved. When we die everything is over. Even though we do not die, day by day we should forget what we did. That is non-attachment. And we should do something new. To do something new we should know our past and future. This is all right but we should not have something, you know, something -- you should not have something in your mind you did. We do not have anything what we did but we reflect on what we did. That's all, and we must have some idea of what we should do in future. But future is future, past is past. Now we should work on something new. This is our attitude and this is how we should live in this world and this is dana prajna paramita, to give something or to create something for ourselves.

So to do something through and through we resume our true activity of creation or to give up. This is why we sit. If we do not forget this point everything will be carried on beautifully. But once you forget this point all the confusion -- this world will be filled with confusion.



Mistakes in Practice
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
April 13, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 71)

There may be various kinds of practice, or ways of practice, or understanding of practice. Mostly when you practice zazen you become very idealistic with some notion or ideal set up by yourself and you strive for attaining or fulfilling that notion or goal. But as I always say this is very absurd because when you become idealistic in your practice you have gaining idea within yourself, so by the time you attain some stage your gaining idea will create another ideal. So, as long as your practice is based on gaining idea, and you practice zazen in an idealistic way, you will have no time to attain it. Moreover you are sacrificing the meat of practice, set up for the future attainment, which is not possible to attain. Because your attainment is always ahead of you, you are always sacrificing yourself for some ideal. So this is very absurd. It is not so bad, rather not adequate.

It is much better than to practice zazen involved in some competition-- competing your practice with someone. This is very bad shape. This is rather ridiculous and shabby-- poor practice much better that that, but not so good. We emphasize shi kan taza. This is -- We do not call our practice shi kan taza, or we have no particular name for our practice, but when we practice zazen we just practice it, whether we find joy of practice or not, we just do it. Even though we are sleepy, and we are very tired of practicing zazen, repeating the same thing day after day, even so we continue our practice. Whether or not someone encourages your practice we just do it. Here, I think there is some, especially when you practice zazen alone, without teacher, I think you will find out some way to find out whether your practice is right or wrong. When you are tired of sitting, or when especially I mean when you are disgusted with your practice, or when you are discouraged with your practice there you should think that is warning. Why you are discouraged with your practice is because your practice has been very much or somewhat idealistic. Because you have had gaining idea in your practice, and your practice was not pure enough, or your practice is rather greedy practice, you become discouraged -- you are discouraged with your practice. So you should be grateful that you noticed or that you have a sign or suggestion to find out your weak point of practice. At that time, forgetting all about your mistake, and renewing your way of practice and you resume your original practice. This is very important point.

So long as you are continuing your practice you are quite safe, but as it is very difficult to continue it there must -- you must find some way to encourage yourself. But the way you encourage yourself is not adequate. Your practice will be involved in some other practice, or some poor, shabby practice so without being involved in some poor practice, to continue our pure practice is rather difficult. Maybe pretty difficult. This is why we have teacher. With your teacher you will be correct -- correct your practice. Of course you will have a very hard time with him, but even though you find it hard, you are always safe from wrong practice.

We are -- we have had pretty difficult time with our teacher. When we talk about the difficulties we have had you may think without this kind of hardship you cannot practice zazen or you cannot attain some stage. But this is not true. Whether you have difficulties in your practice or not, as long as you keep continuous practice you will have our pure practice in its true sense. Even when you are not aware of it you have it. So Dogen-zenji said, “Don't think you will be aware of your own enlightenment. Whether or not you are aware of it, you have your own True Enlightenment within your practice.” While you are -- if you see people involved in various practices, you can compare your practice with the other's practice and you will -- then you will feel true gratitude for our way.

The other mistake will be to practice it with some joy in it. But this is not very good shape, you know. This is pretty good, of course, not bad, but if you compare it to the true practice it is not so good. In Hinayana Buddhism they classify our practice in four ways. The best way is just to do it without having any joy (even spiritual joy) in it. Just do it, forgetting our physical and mental feeling -- just do it and forget all about yourself in your practice. This is the fourth, highest stage. The next one is just to have physical joy. This stage -- you can compare this stage to the stage your find some pleasure in practice because you like it you practice it. In this stage you have still physical joy. And the second stage is the stage you have mental joy and physical joy. But in the third stage you have just physical feeling, physical good feeling. In the second stage you have mental and physical good feeling. In the second stage you have mental and physical good feeling. So, those two stages are the stages, because you feel good, you practice zazen. So this stage is the best stage, the second and third one. The first stage is the stage you have no thinking, you have no curiosity in your practice. This is the first stage. When you stop your thinking you have the first one. This is also true with our Mahayana practice. The highest stage is just to practice it, and if you find some difficulty in it that is the warning that you have some wrong idea in your practice, so you have to be careful but don't give up your practice; continue it knowing that -- knowing your weakness of your practice. Here we have no gaining idea in our practice. Here we have no fixed idea of attainment. You don't say ‘This is enlightenment' or ‘That is not right practice'. Even in wrong practice, when you realize it, and continue it, that is right practice. Our practice cannot be perfect. But without being discouraged by it to continue it -- in short, is the secret of practice.

And if you want to find out some encouragement in your discouragement, when you get tired of, that is the encouragement. You encourage yourself when you get tired of it, or when you don't want to do it, that is the warning. Like when you have a tooth ache when your teeth are not good. When you feel some pain in your teeth you go to the dentist. That is our way.

The other day someone whom I met in New York came yesterday he came to San Francisco and I saw him and he is working with U Thant for eighteen years and he is from the same country with U Thant. And he practiced various ways and he told me what kind of experience he had and he asked me, “Which is your practice?” He had many experiences of practice. And when I said, “This is our practice”, he was very glad to hear that. He said. “I thought this was the best practice.” And we talked about when we have conflict in our world. The cause of the conflict is some fixed idea or one-sided idea. So when everyone knows the value of pure practice we will have no conflict in our world and he was so glad. And he agreed with me and I thought this is my secret of practice and Dogen Zenji's way. He repeats in his Shobogenzo this point. If you have this point you can practice various ways and you can find out the meaning of the various practices without being caught by it. If you do not realize this point you will be easily caught by some particular practice and you will say, ‘This is enlightenment. This is perfect practice. This is our way. The rest of the ways are not perfect. This is the best way.' This is big, big mistake. There is no particular way in our true practice. This -- in this understanding you should find out your -- and you should know what is your practice you have now. Then you will now, knowing the advantage and disadvantage of the practice, some special practice, you can practice it. If you do not know this practice you will ignore the disadvantage of the practice, and you will emphasize good part of it but eventually you will find out the worst side of the practice and you will be discouraged when it is too late. This is very silly. This is -- we are very grateful for the ancient teachers to point out strictly this point.



Limiting Your Activity
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 23, 1965
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 75)

In our practice we have no special object of worship. If so, our practice is something different from the usual practice. If we say we have no purpose in our practice, you will not know what to do. If there is no purpose, no goal, in our practice we don't know what to do. But there is way. Joshu said, “Clay Buddha cannot cross water; bronze Buddha cannot get through furnace; wooden Buddha cannot get through fire because it will burn away.” So whatever object you have, if your practice is directed toward some particular object, that practice will not work -- like clay Buddha, bronze Buddha, or wooden Buddha. So as long as we have some particular goal in our practice, our practice will not help you completely. Your practice will help you as long as you are directed to the goal -- it will help you -- but when you resume to your everyday life it will not work. Then, how to practice our practice without having any goal is to limit our activity, or to be concentrated on what we are doing at that moment. Instead of having some particular object, we should have -- we should limit our activity. If you limit your activity to the extent you can do it just now, in this moment, then you can express fully the universal nature, the universal truth. When you're wandering about you cannot -- you have no chance to express yourself, but when you are concentrated on some particular -- when you limit yourself -- when you limit your expression of the universal nature, then there we have the way to practice. This is our way.

If you -- so, when we practice zazen we limit our activity -- our practice in the smallest extent -- just to keep right posture and to be concentrated on sitting -- this is how we express the universal nature, or true nature. Then, you become -- you, yourself become Buddha, you yourself express Buddha nature, or true nature, or universal nature. So instead of having some object of worship we limit -- we concentrate our activity on some activity which we tackle. So when you bow you should just bow. When you sit you have to sit. When you eat you eat. If you do so, the universal nature is there. We call it Samadhi. We say ichigyo sanmai. Samadhi is concentration. Ichigyo -- one practice -- one practice Samadhi.

Joshu's statement, “Clay Buddha, or bronze Buddha, or wooden Buddha” is some Buddha to which our practice is directed. That is bronze Buddha. It will not serve your purpose completely. You have to throw away sometime, or you have to ignore it. But this kind of Buddha will not serve your purpose. But if you realize -- if you understand the secret of our practice, wherever you go you are the boss. So, wherever you go you cannot neglect Buddha because you yourself is Buddha. So that Buddha will help you completely. This kind of Buddha, or practice, is the basic understanding of Buddhist literature or Buddhist art. So ones talk can be a Buddhist work. Just to sit, or work, is our practice. When you are satisfied with your activity, that is Buddha's activity.

So, I think some of you who practice zazen here are maybe -- may believe in some other religion, but I don't mind, you know, whatever you believe in. Our practice has nothing to do with some particular religious belief. And for you, there's no need to hesitate to practice our practice, because there's nothing to do with Christianity or Shintoism or Hinduism. Our practice is for everyone. Usually when you believe in some religion your thought and attitude will be, more and more, become sharp -- sharp angle, like this [demonstrating] but our way is not like this. Our way, you know -- the point of the sharp angle is here -- (pointing to himself) not this (pointing away from himself). So there's no need to worry about the difference of the religion you believe in. One of my good friends did not feel so good to attend Buddhist ceremony because he believes in Shintoism. And when you attend Buddhist ceremony the priest -- almost all the priests treat him like he is -- as if he is one of the Buddhists. So he has to bow exactly as they do. And so he always said, “It is not fair for Buddhist to force their way.” I understand what he meant but it has nothing to do with me. My way is not -- even though you don't bow it is all right. When you sit you just sit. When you don't want to bow -- [demonstrating by folding his arms and scowling stubbornly]. But if you know the purpose -- if you know why we practice this kind of practice -- even though you practice some particular way, it does not mean to bound yourself by the practice you do.



Study Yourself
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
September 9, 1965
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 76)

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

In Rinzai -- Rinzai analyzed how to teach his disciples in four ways. Sometimes in talk about disciple himself; sometimes he talks about teaching itself; sometimes he gives interpretation of he himself and teaching, both teaching and he himself; sometimes he does not give any instruction about the students or teaching because even though he does not speak about anything student is student. Strictly speaking there is not need to teach him because he himself is Buddha, whether or not he is aware of it. Even though his is aware of his true nature if he attach to the awareness of his nature that is already wrong. When he is not aware of it he has everything but when he becomes aware of it he thinks what he is aware of is he himself. So that's big mistake.

So sometime teaching without teaching, when we do not hear anything -- just sit -- you have everything. And teaching or -- will not sufficient -- or awareness of yourself is not sufficient, so the purpose of practice in this place is to study ourselves. To be independent we study. But we want teacher because it is impossible to study you, yourself. By some means you have to study. But you should not make mistake. You would not take what you have learned here for yourself. It is part of your activity- your everyday activity. The study you make here is a part of your everyday life. Your incessant activity -- a part of your incessant activity. In this sense there is no difference between the practice here and the everyday activity you have in everyday life. So to find out the meaning of your life here is to find out the meaning of your everyday activity. To know -- to be aware of the meaning of your life you practice zazen.

Of course, when I was in Eiheiji, everyone is just doing what they should -- what he should do. That's all. It is same thing as you have wake up in the morning. That's all what we do in Eiheiji monastery. When we have to sit, we sit. That's all. When we should bow to Buddha, we bow to Buddha. That's all. And when we are practicing there we do not feel anything special. We do not feel even that we are having monastic life.

For us monastic life is usual life, and people who come from city is unusual people. We think, we felt in that way “Oh, some unusual people came”. We thought we are quite usual. But once you go out from Eiheiji and come back to Eiheiji and hear the various sound of practice or hear them reciting sutra you will feel deep feeling. Some tears flowing out of your mouth and eyes and nose. It is the people, you know, who is outside of the monastery who feels about it. Those who are practicing actually do not feel anything. I think that is true for everything. When we hear the sound of the pine trees in windy day perhaps the pine tree or wind is just blowing and pine tree is just standing in the wind. That is all what they are doing. But people who listen to it will make some poem or will feel something unusual. That is, I think, the way everything goes. So, to hear, to know what is, to feel something about Buddhism is not the main point. Whether that feeling is good or bad is out of question. We don't mind whatever it is. Buddhism is not good or bad. We are doing what we should do. That is Buddhism.

So it is the same thing as you take breakfast and go to bed. This is Buddhism. Of course some encouragement is necessary, but that encouragement is just encouragement. It is not the purpose, the true aim of the practice, true purpose of practice. That is just medicine. When we become discouraged we want some medicine. So when we are in good spirits you do not want any medicine. You should not take medicine for the food. Sometimes medicine is necessary but medicine should not be our food.

So Rinzai's four ways of practice. The perfect one is not to give any student any interpretation of himself or giving any stimulation to himself. If he himself is my body, the teaching may be our clothing. Sometimes we talk about our clothing. Sometimes we talk about our body. But body or clothing is not actually we ourselves. We ourselves are big activity. We are just taking a smallest particle of big activity, that's all. So there will not be any need to talk about we ourselves. When we realize -- so that we may realize this fact, there is teaching we should talk about ourselves, but actually there is no need to talk about we ourselves are already talking about the big existence, including ourselves. So to talk about ourselves is to correct our misunderstanding, that's all, because we attach to the temporal form or color of the big activity. So, it is necessary to talk about what is our body, what is our activity, so that you may not make any mistake about it. So to talk about something is to forget abut yourself. So, Dogen Zenji says, to study Buddhism is to study ourselves. So study ourselves is to forget ourselves. When you forget temporal expression of big true nature is why it is necessary to talk about or else you will think this is it. But this is not it. This is it, but this is not it. For a while this is it, for the smallest particle of time this is it. It is not always so. It is not it. So that you will realize this fact it is necessary to study Buddhism. But the purpose of studying Buddhism is to study ourselves and to forget ourselves. When you forget yourself, you resume, you will actually will take the true activity of the big existence or reality. When we realize this fact there is no problem whatsoever in this world. And you can enjoy your life without having any problems or difficulties. This is how we study Buddhism and the purpose of this meeting or practice is to be aware of this fact.



To Polish a Tile
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
September 1, 1967 [8-31 is Thursday]
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 80)

Zen story or Zen koan is very difficult to understand before you understand what we are doing moment after moment. But if you know exactly what we are doing moment after moment it is not so difficult to understand. There are many and many koans. Recently I talked about a frog (several times). Whenever I talked about a frog they laughed and laughed. When you come and sit here you may think you are doing some special thing while your husband is sleeping you are here practicing zazen. And you are doing some special thing and your husband is lazy. That is -- maybe your understanding of zazen. But look at the frog. A frog also sits like this but it has no idea of zazen. And if you watch what he does -- if something annoys him he will do like this (making a face). If something to eat comes he will eat (imitating a frog snapping at an insect) and he eats sitting. Actually that is our zazen. We are not doing any special thing. We should think that we are doing some special thing.

This is the famous koan: Nangaku the disciple of the sixth patriarch, and grandson of (Nangaku), disciple of -- grandson of Nangaku was Basho, so Basho is the disciple of (Nangaku). Basho was sitting practicing zazen. He was a big man of great physical build. When he talked his tongue reached to his nose. His voice was loud and his zazen must be very good. And he was sitting like a great mountain. And Nangaku saw him sitting like a frog. Nangaku said, “What are you doing?”. “I'm practicing zazen.” “What is the purpose of zazen?” “I want to attain enlightenment and want to be a Buddha”, the disciple Basho said. Do you know what the teacher did? He picked up a tile and he started to polish it. (Here, to polish tile -- do you know in Japan, after we put tile into kiln -- or after taking out the tile from the kiln we polish it to make it-- that is the finish. Then you will have beautiful tile.) So Nangaku picked up a tile and started to polish it. But Basho, his disciple, saw him and asked, “What are you doing?” “I want to make a tile a jewel”, he said. “How is it possible to make a tile a jewel?, the disciple said. “How is it possible to become a Buddha by practicing zazen?” Nangaku said. And the disciple started thinking about what his teacher said. But the teacher continued his instructions. “Do you want to attain Buddhahood? There is no Buddhahood besides our ordinary mind. If you want to practice zazen, zazen is not -- true zazen is not a matter of sitting or lying down. Whatever you do, that is zazen. When a cart does not go which do you whip, the cart or the horse? Which do you whip?” the master asked.

Anyway, this may be difficult to understand, to explain. There are too many technical terms like practice or Buddhahood. But anyway what he means is whatever you do, that is zazen. If your husband is in bed, that is zazen. You should understand in that way. But the usual understanding is: “I am sitting here and my husband is in bed.” If you understand our zazen in this way, to sit here, that is not true zazen. You should be like a fog, always. That is true zazen. Even though you sit in cross-legged position, the cross-legged position is not zazen. What is zazen than? Here Dogen zenji says, “When Basho, the disciple, become Basho (we say horse-master) -- When the horse-master becomes the horse-master, Zen becomes Zen.” When his zazen becomes true zazen (here true zazen means zazen which is not just to sit in cross-legged position) zazen is beyond being in bed or sitting in Zendo Basho becomes Basho and Zen becomes Zen. That is true zazen. Then what is true zazen which is not just in cross-legged position -- which is not to be in bed. What is true zazen? What do you mean by Zen becomes Zen and you become you? You become you is a very important point. You become you. When you become you, even though you are in bed, you may not be you most of the time. Even though you are sitting here, I wonder whether you are you in its true sense. So to be you is zazen.

At Tassajara in my last lecture I talked about Zuigan addressing himself. Zuigan, a Zen master always was addressing himself. “Zuigan! Hai! Zuigan! Hai!” Of course he was living in his small Zendo. Most of the time no one was there and he was practicing zazen alone. He was addressing himself. “Zuigan! Hai! Zuigan! Hai!” He knows who he is, but he lost himself. Whenever he lost himself, he addressed himself. “Zuigan! Hai!” If we are like a frog we are always ourselves. Even a frog sometimes loses himself and he does this (making a face) and if something comes he will eat it (snapping). So I think a frog is always addressing himself. I think you should do that also. Even in zazen you will lose yourself. When you become sleepy you lose yourself. When your mind starts to wandering about you lose yourself. When you become painful, “Why are my legs so painful?”, you lose yourself. So you should do like a frog. This is zazen. When you become you, Zen becomes Zen. If you do not lose yourself there is no problem what-so-ever. Because you lose yourself the problem you have will be the problem for you. When you are in the midst of the problem, when you are a part of the problem, or when the problem is a part of your there is no problem because you are problem itself. The problem is you, yourself. If so there is no problem.

When your life is always a part of your surroundings then there is no problem. In other words when you are called back to yourself, right here, there is no problem. When you start to wandering about in some delusion which is something apart from you, yourself, then your surrounding is not real any more and your mind is not real anymore. So you, yourself is deluded, and your surrounding is also a misty, foggy, delusion. So once we start wandering about in the midst of delusion there is no point for us, there is no end to the delusion. One after another you will be involved in deluded ideas. Most people live in delusion. You are your surrounding, problem or how to solve the problem, but to solve the problem is to be a part of it. To live is actually to live in problems-- or to be one with the problem. So which do you hit, the cart or the horse? Which do you hit you, yourself, or problems? If you start wondering which you should hit myself or my problem then that means you have started to wander about. But when you hit -- hit a horse, the cart will go because cart and problem are not different. So when your zazen becomes true zazen then you are you. When you are you there is no problem of whether you should hit the cart or the horse. So when you or whether you should hit the cart or the horse. So when you practice zazen part will practice zazen and everything else will practice zazen. Even though your husband is in bed he is also practicing zazen. When you practice zazen. But when you do not practice true zazen then in your zazen there is your husband and you, yourself which is quite different from each other.

So if that is your understanding of zazen, that is not zazen. So if you have true practice everything is practicing our way. So that is why we should call -- we should always address our self -- like a doctor (tapping himself). This is very important. This kind of practice should be continued moment after moment incessantly. So we say, ‘Before the night -- when the night is here the dawn comes.' It means there is no gap between the dawn and the night. Before the summer is over, autumn comes. So, like Dogen zenji says, ‘Before -- a charcoal -- firewood does not become ash. There is no gap between charcoal and ash.'

In this way we should understand our way. And in this way we should understand our life and we should practice our way in this -- with this understanding. And we should solve our problem in this way. Just to work on the problem -- if you are always working on the problem, that is enough. When you are polishing the tile, that is our practice. The purpose of practice is not to make a tile a jewel. So as long as you are sitting, that is practice in its true sense. So it is not a matter of whether it is possible to attain Buddhahood, or if it is possible to make a tile a jewel. But just to work, just to live in this world with this understanding is the most important point, and that is our practice. That is true zazen. So we say, ‘When you eat, you eat'. You should eat it, you know. Sometimes we don't eat it. Even though we are eating, our mind is somewhere else. You do not taste what you have in your mouth. So I say, ‘Oh, I am sorry but soon you will see the bright sunrise every morning and beautiful sunset in the evening, every evening, but right now perhaps you -- under your situation it may be impossible to see the beautiful sunset or bright sunrise, or beautiful flower in your garden, and it is impossible to take care of your garden, but soon you will see the beauty of the flowers and you will cut some flowers for your room.' When you start to do this kind of thing you are alright. Don't worry a bit. It means when you become you, yourself, and when you see things as they are, and when you become at one with your surrounding, in its true sense, there is true self. There you have true practice; you have the practice of a frog. He is good example of our practice. So when a frog becomes a frog, Zen becomes Zen. When you understand a frog through and through, you attain enlightenment. You are Buddha. And you are a good wife or good daughter. That is zazen.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
February 17, 1966
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 83)

The message for us for today was ‘cultivate your own spirit'. It says there on the calendar -- 'Cultivate your own spirit. This is very important point and this is how we practice Zen. When -- for us to hear lecture, to give lecture or to recite sutra, or to sit, of course, is Zen. Each of those activities should be Zen, but if you do not -- if your effort or practice is not -- does not have right orientation it does not work at all -- not only it does not work -- it may spoil your pure nature. The more you know something about it the more you will get spoiled -- you will have just stains on your mind, and your mind will be filled with rubbish. That is not -- that is quite usual for us -- gathering various information from various source, and you think you know many things, but you don't know anything at all. That is quite usual. So we should not be -- our understanding of Buddhism should not be just gathering many information and knowledge. Instead of gathering various knowledge we should accept it as you listen to something which you have already known, or you have already knew. This is so-called emptiness or you may say omniscient self -- you know everything. You are like a dark sky -- some time a flashing come through the dark sky and you forget all about it. After flashing gets through it there is nothing, but the sky will not be surprised even though thunderbolt break out all of a sudden. It does not make -- it will not cause any surprise for the sky. But when the lightening hits though we will see the wonderful sight of it, but we do not -- we are not -- we are always prepared for watching the flashing.

People may be interested in various sights and they may go for sight seeing tour, but some Chinese said, “Rosan is a famous place for its misty scenery”. I haven't been to China yet but there must be beautiful mountains, and white clouds or mist may come and go through the mountains. It must be very wonderful sight. Although it is wonderful sight, he says, “Rosan is famous for its hazy sight on a rainy day. Seko, the great river, is famous for its tide coming and going.” That's all. That's all but splendid. This is how we appreciate things. We should not expect various information, just -- on the other hand we should not accept various information just as the (echo?) of ourself. But we should not be surprised at seeing something and hearing something. If you accept things as an echo of yourself it does not make any sense. So, “Rosan is famous for its misty sight” does not mean to see the mountain -- to appreciate the mountain recollecting some scenery you have seen before. “It is not so wonderful. I have seen that sight before” or, “I have painted much more beautiful paintings. Rosan is nothing”. This is not our way. We appreciate with quite new feeling. We do not accept it as an echo of ourselves. Even though you have various knowledge, if you accept the knowledge as if you collect something familiar to you only. For collection it will be very good but that is not our way. Or we will not try to surprise people by some wonderful treasures. That is not our way at all. We should not be interested in something special but we should appreciate -- if you want to appreciate something fully you should forget yourself even, and you should accept it as utter darkness of the sky -- accept lightning.

Sometime we think it is impossible for us to understand something -- something unfamiliar to us. Some people may say, “It is almost impossible to understand what is Buddhism as our cultural background is quite different from Oriental cultural background. How is it possible to understand Oriental thought?” But this is wrong. Although the background of the -- of course Buddhism in our heritage cannot be separated from the cultural background. It is true, but if Buddhism -- if a Buddhist come to the United States, I am not already a Japanese. I am living in your cultural background. I am taking nearly the same food as you take and I am communicating with you. So for the people who have some narrow-minded people may say it is impossible, but it is possible. Even though you do not understand me so well it -- I want to understand what you are talking about. I can understand -- maybe more than many people who can speak and understand English. That is true. If we could -- if I can understand several words in long sentence it is all the better, but even though I cannot understand English at all I think I can communicate with you. So in this way there is possibility as long as we exist in utter darkness of the sky -- world -- as long as we live in emptiness. I always say we must be very patient if we want to understand Buddhism. But I think -- I was seeking for some good word for patience. And I think it's better to say -- to translate it as ‘constancy'. ‘Constancy' is better than ‘patience'. ‘Patience' means to force something on -- to be forced for some time -- that is ‘patience'. But ‘constancy' means constant facility or ability, or possibility to accept things. There is no particular effort, but constant ability or facility we have to know -- to accept. For people who has no idea of emptiness it may be all what they practice should be -- may be patience, but for the people who know, even just intuitively what is emptiness, all what we do, even though it is very difficult you can resolve the problem by constant ability or facility.

So that is what we mean by (ning?) in Chinese (or Japanese). So I think it's better to interpret ning constancy. This is our way of practice, and continuous practice. If so, even after you attain enlightenment it is necessary for us to have another enlightenment, and one after another we have to have enlightenment. If possible -- moment after moment we have to have enlightenment. That is enlightenment before you attain enlightenment, and after you attain enlightenment.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
February 2, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 86)

As I cannot speak your language so well that I find some way to communicate with you. And this effort I think results something very good. Originally we say if we do not understand master's word you cannot understand our way. Communication is very important in our practice. If you -- we say if you do not understand master's word, or master's language -- I do not know -- not language, but word -- anyway the way he speaks, or to understand your master in its true sense that is what we mean. So this is not just word or language, but language in its wider sense. So through his words you understand more than what he says. Statements usually involved in or implied speaker's subjective intention as well as listener's situation, or listener's objective situation, or matters about statement is told. So no word is perfect; it is involved in something, some statement. So there's no perfect word. It is always involved in something -- some distortion is always follow in statement. But through statement we have to understand the fact, or the event, or something which has happened to us. You may say Being, or Ultimate Truth. Ultimate Truth we do not mean something eternal, something constant, but we mean the things as it is, you may say Being or Reality. If we understand things as it is that is Reality. But it is difficulty to speak about the reality, because when I speak about it my subjective intention is involved in it and it implies some subjective opinion about it; so it is not possible to speak about Reality. But through master's word we have to understand the Reality directly.

How to understand the Reality as a direct experience is why we practice zazen. And why we study Buddhism. By study of Buddhism you will understand our human nature or our intellectual faculty -- something which follows our human nature or our intellectual faculty -- something which follows our human activity -- some truth which follows our human activity. By knowing our human nature we can take human nature in consideration when we understand something. By study of teaching, by practice we will understand various statements made by your teacher or Buddha in its true sense. The direct statement may be not only word, but also behavior is the way of expressing ourselves. So we put emphasis on our demeanor or behavior. By behavior we do not mean that you should behave like this or like that, but natural expression of yourself. So we emphasize our straight forwardness. We should be true to our feeling and to our mind. Anyway we should express ourselves without any reservations. This is the way how we express our teaching or our nature in its true sense. And it makes a listener, or it makes others to understand easier.

And when you listen to someone you should give up your -- all your preconceived ideas or some subjective opinion and you should just listen to him, just observe him. That is how we communicate with each other. So here very little emphasis is put on right or wrong, or good or bad. We just see things as it is and accept things. That is how we communicate with each other. When we understand some statement it is quite usual to understand the statement as a kind of echo of yourself. Actually you are listening to your own opinion. If it is convenient to your opinion -- if it is convenient to your opinion you may take it, but if it is not you do not hear it. So that is not -- that is one danger when you listen to someone. The other danger is to be caught by the opinion. To be caught by the opinion means -- if you are caught by it in its true sense it is alright, but without being caught by the statement in its true sense we will be easily caught by the -- something which is involved in some subjective opinion or way of expressing of your teacher -- some particular way of expressing things, and without understanding your teacher it its true sense you will understand the way he speaks or what he says as a statement without understanding his spirit. This kind of danger is always there. So it is difficult to get good communication (?) for your children because parents, mothers or fathers, has his own good or bad way. But their intention is always good but the way he speaks or the way he expresses is not so free. Usually we have our own way. It is difficult to change our way according to the circumstances. If he can manage it to express themselves in various way there will be no danger in the education of their children, but it is rather hard. Even a Zen master has his own way. Insher(?) zenji always -- when he scold him he said, ‘Go away”. So one student left his temple. But it doesn't mean to expel him. That is his way. Instead of saying, “Be careful” he says “Go away”. So this kind of habit is very, if your parents have this kind of habit you will easily misunderstand your parents. This kind of danger is always follows in our everyday life. So as a listener or a disciple it is necessary to clear up your mind from various associations or preconceived ideas, or your own intention or your own habit. So that is why we practice zazen and clear our mind related to something else.

To be quite natural -- to ourselves, and to follow what others say or what others do in the most appropriate way is pretty difficult. So -- but we cannot adjust ourselves, in some way. It is impossible. If you try to adjust yourself in certain way you will lose yourself. So without adjust yourself, without any artificial, fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself quite freely is the most important thing to make you happy and to make others happy. And how we acquire this kind of ability is why we practice zazen. Our teaching is not just art of life, art of living. In short, our teaching is to live always in Reality in its exact sense, and to make effort on each moment on what we do. What we can study in its exact sense is what we do in each moment. We cannot even study Buddha's word. When we study Buddha's word in its exact sense it means to study Buddha's word through some occasion you face moment after moment. So we should be concentrated on what we do and we should be faithful subjectively and objectively to ourselves and especially to our feeling. Even when you do not feel so well it is better to express it in that way without any particular attachment or indication. So you may say, ‘Oh, I am sorry, but I don't feel well.' That is enough. You should not say, ‘You made me -- (laughter) That is too much. “Oh, I am sorry. I am so angry with you.” There is no need to say ‘I am not angry'. You should say, “I am angry”. That is our way.



Negative and Positive
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
September 27, 1967
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 90)

The more you understand our thinking, the more you find it difficult to talk about it, because the purpose of talk is to give some idea of our way, but originally our way is not for something to talk, but something to practice. So best way is just to practice without saying anything. When we talk about our way we are apt to create some misunderstanding of our way. Because true way is always -- has at least two sides, negative side and positive side which is opposite. So when we talk about negative side, the positive side is missing and when we talk about the positive side the negative side is missing, and it is impossible to talk positive way and negative way at the same time. So we don't know what to say. So not to say anything, and to do it, is the best way. Showing one finger or drawing a round circle may be the best way, or bow.

But once -- but if we understand how to talk about it, and how to understand it, then we will have perfect communication, and to talk about something will be one of our practices, and to listen to the talk is also practice. When we practice zazen we just practice zazen, without any gaining idea. When we talk about something we just talk about something -- just positive side or negative side. Not to figure out some intellectual understanding, not to express some intellectual, one-sided idea, and you listen to it without figuring our -- without trying to understand it in -- from just from one sided view. This is how we listen to a talk, and how we talk about our teaching.

The Soto way is always double -- has double meaning, positive and negative. And our way is also Hinayanistic and Mahayanistic. I always say our practice is very Hinayanistic. Hinayana practice with Mahayana spirit is Soto way. And rigid formal practice with informal mind. This is our practice. Our practice sometimes looks like very formal, but our mind is not formal. Our mind is very informal, but we practice with people who have some clinging idea. So we -- according to the situation we practice our practice in various forms and various ways. As long as we do something it is already -- we already have -- .should be some form. But that form should not be always the same. But there's no reason why it should not be always different.

We practice zazen every morning in the same way, but because we practice zazen in the same way, there is no reason why to practice zazen in the same way is formal practice. It is not a matter of formal or informal. Formal or informal is not in our practice. Inside of the practice there is no formal or informal. But your understanding, your discrimination makes it formal or informal. So if you have Mahayana mind, there is no formal or informal -- something people call formal may be informal. Something people call informal may be formal. So we say the Hinayana -- observing the precepts in Hinayana way is violating the precepts in Mahayana way. So even though you observe our precepts in some certain way, because of your observing it in forma way -- in formal way, it cannot be always observing precepts in Mahayana spirit. So before you understand this point, you have always have problem. Whether you should observe our way literally, or we should not concerned about the formality which we have. But if you understand our way completely there is not such problem because whatever you do that is practice, and as long as you have Mahayana mind, there is no Mahayana or Hinayana practice. Or there's whatever you do that is observing the practice. Even though you looks like violating precepts it is observing -- you are observing precepts. The point is whether you have the big mind or the small mind. In short, when we do everything without thinking this is good or bad, and when you do something with your mind and body -- whole mind and body, then that is our way.

In Zuimonki, Dogen zenji says, “When you say something to someone, someone, sometime may not accept it, but try not to -- try not to make him understand it intellectually, and try not to argue with him and just listen to his objections until he finds something wrong with his objections”. This is very interesting. Try not to force your idea but to think about it with some one. And if you -- after discussing something with people, if you feel you won the discussion, that is wrong. That is wrong attitude. Try not to win in the discussion, in the argument -- just to listen to it. But it is also wrong to behave as if you lost. That is also wrong. Usually we say something we are apt to sell our teaching or force our idea but between Zen students there is no purpose -- no special purpose in speaking or in listening. We just listen to it and sometimes you just talk -- that's all. Like a greeting, ‘Good morning'. But in communicating -- in this kind of communication we can develop our way. Just as you eat your meal -- your food in meal time. Not to say anything may be good enough, but there's no reason why we should be always silent. Whatever you do, or even including non-doing, that is -- those are our practice. Those are expressions of our big mind. So the big mind is something to express, but is not something to figure out. Big mind is something which you have but is not something to seek for. So big mind is something to talk about or to express by our activity or something to enjoy. If so, in our way of observing precepts there is no Hinayana way or Mahayana way. Hinayana way is Hinayana way because of their gaining idea. We have problem because of our gaining idea. The problem we have is a kind of appreciation of big mind that is not problem any more. Because we have big mind and sometimes it is very complicated -- complicated big mind -- that is our problem. Sometimes simple -- too simple big mind to figure out what it is. That is also big mind. But because you try to figure out what it is -- because you want to simplify the complicated big mind, that is problem for you. So whether you have problem in your life or not is up to the way you have so there is no problem in your understanding because of the double nature of the truth or paradoxical nature of the truth. This kind of mind will be obtained by your true zazen.



Nirvana, the Waterfall
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
August 19, 1965
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 92)

If you go to Japan and visit Eiheiji monastery -- before you enter the monastery you will see the small bridge called Hanshakukyo. “Hanshakukyo” means half dipper bridge. Half dipper bridge. Whenever Dogen Zenji used (dipped) water from the river, after he used half of it he returned the water to the river again without throwing it away. That is why we call that bridge Hanshakukyo -- Half dipper bridge.

In Eiheiji monastery when we wash our face we do not fill the basin. We just use 70% of the basin and after we wash it we do not throw the water away from the body. We empty the basin this way-- toward the body. It means to respect the water. It is not just -- this kind of practice is not based on just economy. It may be pretty hard (to understand) why Dogen Zenji returned the water after he used half of it. It is -- this kind of practice is beyond our thinking. When we feel the beauty of the river, or water, we intuitively we do it in this way. That is our nature. But when our nature is covered by some economic idea you may think it doesn't make any sense to return the water back to the river.

The other day I went to Yosemite and I saw (Yosemite National Park) -- and I saw a huge waterfall, 1,340 feet high (the first one). The next cascade was 600 something. Even the last one was 300. When I saw the first highest waterfall -- I saw the water coming down like a curtain which was thrown from the top of the mountain. It doesn't come down swiftly, as I expected. It comes down very slowly, because of the distance.

And the water comes down in some group. Water does not come down as one whole river. The water separated in many groups. It comes down like a curtain. I thought it may be very hard experience for each water to come down such a high mountain, from the top to the bottom. It takes time, you know. It takes so long until it -- the water reach to the bottom of the waterfall. And I thought our life is maybe like that. We have many hard experiences in our life, but at the same time, I thought, the water is not originally separated. It is one whole water. When it is separated like that the water has some feeling. When it is one whole water, the water do not have any feeling -- at least it looks like this. When it is separated in many pieces it start to have some feeling, or to express some feeling. When the water is running as a one whole water we do not feel the living activity of the water, but when we dip a part of the water in dipper, we feel the value of the water and we feel some feeling of the water. When we are separated in this way we have feeling. But before we were born we had no feeling -- we were one piece of the universe. That is called mind only or essence of mind or big mind. Before we have feeling to us. After we are separated in this way, like a water falling down from the top of the waterfall to the bottom separated by the wind or rocks, then we have feeling. Even the water must have feeling. And this kind of, not feeling -- fact -- this fact is very valuable. So our birth and death is the same thing. So when we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore and we have no actual difficulty in our life.

If you think why we have difficulty in our life you will understand how to accept the difficulty. Before you are, you do not realize that we are one piece of water or one piece of universe. You have fear. You have difficulty because you have feeling. You attach to the feeling you have just now without knowing just how this kind of feeling is created.

So to dip the water from the river is to feel the water, the value of each individual, the value of the person who uses the water. At the same time when we become aware of individual feelings we have the feeling of the value of the water. So we -- because of this feeling we cannot use the water just materially. It is living being. Originally it was with the big river. So if the water becomes one with the big river, the water will not have any feeling to it. It will resume to its own nature. By resuming to its own nature they have composure, they will be very glad to come back to original water. If so, when you die what feeling will you have? I think it is like water. We are like water in the dipper.
So if someone takes us to the original river the dipper -- the water in the dipper will be very glad. So if we come back to original home we will be very glad. We will have composure there. Perfect composure. It may be too perfect for us just now. Now we have some -- because we are so attached to the individual existence like this so we have attachment. For us, just now, in this way we have some feeling of fear or fear of death but after we resume to our true nature there is nirvana. That is why we say to attain nirvana when we die. It is same word. We say ‘to take nirvana' is to pass away -- to pass away is not so adequate expression. ‘To pass on'.

To pass on, or go on or to join. Will you find out some good expression for it -- more adequate expression? And at the same time you will have quite new interpretation to our life. Like I saw the water in the big waterfall. Imagine it is 1300 feet. If you say it is fear you cannot stand for it. But if you think that is water originally one piece of water, there is no fear and it has beauty and it has feeling. That feeling is quite new feeling, quite different feeling which water -- the water will have when -- before they do not feel, they do not know it was one whole water. So we say, ‘from emptiness everything comes out'. One whole piece of water, or one whole mind, is emptiness. When we reach to this understanding we find true meaning to our life. When we reach this understanding we can see the beauty of the flower, the beauty of human life. Before we do not realize this fact. All what we see is just delusion. Sometimes we overestimate the beauty. Sometimes we underestimate or ignore the beauty because of our small mind which does not accord with the reality.

To talk about it in this way is quite easy but to have actual feeling is not so easy but by our practice of our zazen, when we can sit with our body and with our mind and oneness of our mind and body, under the control of the big mind, we can easily attain this kind of right understanding. Your everyday life will be renewed without being attached to the old erroneous interpretation of life. When you realize this fact you will find out how meaningless our interpretation of life was, how useless difficulty we had, how useless effort we had been making, and you will find out true meaning of life and you will enjoy your life even though you have difficulty of falling upright to the bottom of the waterfall from the top of the mountain.

I could not hear even the sound of the waterfall there. At least I didn't feel the hearing of the sound. That should be our life. Like the water falling down from the top of the mountain.



Traditional Zen Spirit
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
January 5, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 99)

In our practice the important thing is our physical posture we take, and
breathing -- way of taking breathing. Those are very important because we have -- we are not so much concerned about our deep understanding of Buddhism. As a philosophy Buddhism has very deep and wide and firm system in our thought, but Zen does not concerned about those philosophical understanding but we emphasize our practice. But why it is so important -- we must understand why our physical posture and breathing exercise is important is -- there is some reason and instead of discussing or having deep understanding of the teaching we want strong confidence, or you may say faith, a kind of faith in our teaching that we have originally Buddha Nature. And our practice is based on this faith.

Originally we have Buddha Nature. If so we have to behave like Buddha is why we practice zazen. You may feel rather funny in our reason why we practice zazen but if you compare the various practice or training with our -- to our practice you will understand our practice better. Before Bodhidharma came to China, there were, of course, there were many people who were interested in Zen practice and there were many literature which looked like Zen. You may -- almost all the famous stock words were originated even before Bodhidharma came to China.

Sudden Enlightenment -- Sudden Enlightenment is not the right translation but tentatively I say sudden enlightenment. Enlightenment comes all of a sudden to us. That is true enlightenment. But before Bodhidharma, people thought that after long preparation, sudden enlightenment will come. So, this is actually -- this Zen practice is a kind of training to gain enlightenment. Actually many people are practicing zazen in this idea. But that is not our traditional Zen. Our traditional understanding of Zen, from Buddha to our time now is without any preparation, when you start zazen there is enlightenment. That is traditional understanding of Zen. Whether you practice zazen or not you have Buddha nature. Because you have Buddha nature in your practice there is enlightenment. That is our practice. The point we put emphasis on is not the stage we attain, but our strong confidence in our original nature which is nothing different from Buddha nature, and to practice Zen the same sincerity with Buddha's. The transmission -- to transmit our way is to transmit our spirit from Buddha. That is the most important point we have. So we have to harmonize our spirit with the traditional way, or we have to harmonize our physical posture or activity with the traditional way. That is the main point in our practice.

Not -- you may attain some stage, of course, but the spirit should not be based in egoistic idea. Buddhism -- traditional understanding of our human nature is (egolessness) in Buddhism. Egoistic idea is delusion. When we have no idea of ego we have Buddha's view of life. Because of ego-centered idea our Buddha nature will be covered by the delusion of egoistic idea. So our spirit should not be based on egoistic idea. So we should be very faithful to the Truth only -- not without having any egoistic idea -- at least we should try to give up your egoistic idea. You may have -- we always are creating some egoistic idea and are following the egoistic idea, and we will repeat this process over and over again, and our life will be occupied by egoistic idea completely. This is so-called karmic life -- karma.

The Buddhist life should not be karma life. Our purpose of practice is to cut off the karmic spinning mind. So our practice should not be -- should be quite different from our karmic practice. Even though you are trying to attain enlightenment, that is a part of karma. You create karma, you are driven by karma, and wasting time on black cushion. That is repetition of the karma -- from Bodhidharma's understanding of our practice. So forgetting this point, later many Zen masters emphasized some stage which we will attain by our sincere practice, but more important thing than the stage which you will attain is the sincerity or true understanding of practice, and right effort to -- for the -- for our traditional practice. This point is very important. When you understand this point you will understand how important it is to keep your posture right. When you do not understand this point the posture we take, the way of breathing is just means to attain enlightenment. So, if it is so it may be better to take some drugs instead of cross-legged position. That's much better. If so, you haven't any way to attain enlightenment. You lose your way to the goal--the meaning of the way to the goal. When you believe in your way firmly you are already attained enlightenment. When you believe in your way, there is enlightenment. But when you cannot believe in the meaning of the practice which you take in this moment, you cannot do anything. You are just wandering about -- around the goal -- with monkey mind. You are looking for something always, and without knowing what you are doing. If you want to see something you should open your eyes. Instead of opening your eyes you are trying to look at something with your eyes closed.

That is what we are doing actually. If you do not know the important point which Bodhidharma point out. We do not slight the idea of attaining enlightenment, but the most important thing is in this moment, not someday. We have to make our effort with right effort in this moment. This is the most important thing for our practice. Before the study of Buddha's teaching created -- resulted in many philosophical and deep, lofty philosophy of Buddhism, and people try to attain that high ideal which they created by study of -- intellectual study of Buddhism. And they tried to attain it by our practice. This was a mistake. Bodhidharma found out that was a mistake by creating some lofty idea or deep idea and trying to attain it and practice zazen is not zazen. If that is our zazen our zazen is nothing different from our usual activities, or monkey mind. It looks like very good and very lofty and very holy activity, but it does not -- there is no difference between it and our monkey mind activity. That is the point that Bodhidharma pointed out. So our practice -- before Buddha attained enlightenment he made all possible efforts for us and at last he attained thorough understanding of our way, various ways. You may think Buddha attained some stage where he was free from karmic life, but it is not so. There -- many stories were told by Buddha about his experience after he attained enlightenment. He did not at all differ from us -- even after he attained enlightenment he was continuing the same effort we are making, but he is not -- his view of life is not shaky. His view of life is stable and he is watching everyone's life including his own life. He was watching himself and he was watching the people and with the same eyes when he watched a stone and plants and everything, he was -- in this point his understanding was a very scientific understanding. That was his way of life after he attained enlightenment.

When his mother country was going to be conquered by neighboring powerful country he told his disciple, his own karma, how he suffers when he saw his mother country was going to be conquered by the king (Hessinoko). If he is someone who attained perfect enlightenment where he has no suffering there is no reason for him to suffer when his mother country is going to be conquered. When we have the traditional spirit to follow the truth as it goes and practice our way without any egoistic idea then we will attain enlightenment in its true sense. And when we understand this point we will make our effort, best effort on each moment. That is true understanding of Buddhism, so our understanding of Buddhism is not just intellectual understanding. Our understanding will result -- at the same time, is the practice. Through practice we can understand what is Buddhism, not by just reading or contemplation of philosophy. So when you understand Buddhism thoroughly, even in intellectual, you will find out how difficult it is to express yourself in writing or talking about it. It is very difficult. That is why we have more and more artistic or poetic -- Zen becomes more and more poetic, because it is almost impossible -- or it is not possible to express ourselves in intellectual way. If you -- you cannot use a photograph, or when you give up your photography you will use some brush or ink. That is why Zen monks become more artistic, because it is almost -- they know it is impossible to express it in intellectual way. Or it is almost impossible to talk about what is Buddhism. So just to do it is the direct way. KKKK!

So if you do not understand it we will use this one (Nyo). How is it?

That is the best way to communicate. Our way is very direct. But that is not Zen, you know. It is not our traditional way, but we find it easier to express it in this way. When we want to express it, but the best thing will be just to sit without saying anything. Then you have full meaning of it. Even though you use this one, it will not be enough. If I use it until I lose myself, or until you die, still it is not enough. The only way is to sit without saying anything. Here we have full meaning of traditional Zen. This kind of practice is our practice, so our practice is not just to attain some stage in our -- by our practice.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
September 16, 1965
Thursday Morning Lectures
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 102)

The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transcendence or change. Everything changes is the basic teaching. And this truth is eternal truth for each existence. And no one can deny this truth. And all the teaching of Buddhism will be condensed in this teaching. This is the teaching for all of us and wherever we go this teaching is true. This teaching is also interpreted as the teaching of selflessness because our self nature of each existence is nothing but the self nature of all existence. There is no special self nature for each existence. And this teaching is also called teaching of nirvana. When we realize this truth and when we resume, when we find our composure in the everlasting truth which is everything changes, we find ourselves in nirvana. Or if we cannot accept this teaching, that everything changes, we cannot be in composure -- perfect composure.

Unfortunately, although this is true, it is pretty hard for us to accept it. We do not want ‘everything changes'. Also this teaching will be interpreted as the teaching, why we have suffering. Because we cannot accept this truth, we suffer. So cause of suffering is because we cannot accept this truth. So we have a kind of nature or contradictory nature to the truth. This is the other side of the teaching -- why we suffer -- because we cannot accept -- it is difficult to accept that everything changes. So the teaching of why we suffer and teaching that everything changes is two side of one teaching. From our standpoint, teaching that everything changes is why we suffer, but as the truth it is -- it may be interpreted that everything changes.

So, as Dogen Zen master says, the teaching which does not sound like forcing something on you is not true teaching. The teaching itself is true and teaching itself does not force upon you anything, but because of our nature it looks -- teaching looks like always persuading something to us. So because of our nature we accept the teaching as if the teacher force something on us, but actually because of our human nature, because of our nature, the teaching looks like force something upon us.

But whether or not, or whether we feel good or bad, the truth is truth. We have to try to accept it. This is so called selflessness. Because of our small self, it is difficult to accept it. When we find out our small self, how small our small self we will accept it, the big mind, and we will accept the truth as it is. And so things as it is, we mean, is not to accept or to do something without making any effort. That is not to accept things as it is. When we accept everything as it is we must make some effort to adjust my eye or my ear because knowing we have some tendency to observe things in our selfish way, so trying to correct ourselves is at the same time trying to accept things as it is. So Buddhism is eternal effort to accept things as it is, with effort, eternal effort. Eternal effort is wanted even though we attain enlightenment, this effort will continue. You may think after you attain there will not be any need to make effort. That is wrong understanding. As long as you have your eyes, your ears and your body it is necessary to make some effort. But difference is before you are completely persuaded with this truth you have suffering in accepting things as it is, but for a mind who accept completely this truth, or who attain enlightenment, it is pleasure to accept this truth and to make our effort to try to accept things as it is.

So in difficulty we will find joy of making effort. That is how enlightened mind accepts this truth. For self-centered mind it is suffering to accept this truth or to know this truth. But to know this truth is the first step to enter our way. When you realize this truth you become quite sincere with your life. Because you know that you cannot escape from this truth. Wherever you go this truth will follow you. You have nowhere to escape this truth. It is impossible. Wherever you go this is the truth that everything changes. So our effort to accept as it is, is always right effort wherever we go. It is true in this world and is true too in some other world, past and future. So you may say Buddhism is the teaching which emphasizes our eternal effort to accept things as it is. And according to Buddhism it is impossible to realize -- realization of the truth is not possible without some means -- or without some particular existence it is impossible to express this truth. Because each existence exists this truth come true. If nothing exists this truth does not exist.

So Buddhism exists because of every -- because of each particular existence. It is not absolute which is temporal, which is not permanent, which is not perfect, so we should find out the perfect existence through imperfect existence. So perfection is imperfection. Eternal -- the eternal exists because of non-eternal existence. So if you seek for something besides ourselves it is heretical view. So in Buddhism we do not seek for something or we do not expect something besides this world. We should find out the truth in this world through our difficulties, through our suffering. This is also the basic teaching of Buddhism. For us, complete perfection is not different from imperfection. The pleasure is not different from difficulty. Good is not different from bad. Bad is good. Good is bad. It is one … two sides of one coin.

So enlightenment should be in practice. When we practice right practice there is enlightenment. It is not after we attain enlightenment, after we attain perfect practice we -- that we attain enlightenment. So in your actual practice there is enlightenment that is right understanding of practice and right understanding of our life. There is no other way to accept this truth that everything changes. As long as we live we have to accept this truth without knowing. Without being aware of this truth you cannot live in this world. Even though you try to escape from it your effort is in vain. So this is the basic teaching, the basic teaching to live in this world. And to accept -- to find pleasure in suffering is the only way to accept this truth. If you think there is some other way to accept this eternal truth that is your delusion. Whether it is -- whatever you feel you have to accept it and we have to make this kind of effort so we say there is no Buddha. Buddha practice. So until we become strong enough to accept difficulty as pleasure we have to continue this effort. Actually if you become honest enough or straight forward enough it is not so difficult to accept this truth. You can change your way of thinking a little bit. It is difficult but the difficulty I mean is not, this difficulty will not be the same according to the way you accept. Sometimes it will be difficult. Sometimes it will be not so difficult for everyone. Sometimes you think you will have relief when everything changes, when you have some difficulty. If you have difficulty you don't want the difficulty do not changes, so you have some pleasure to change. So it is quite easy to accept. So why don't you accept it some other (word not understandable). It is the same thing. So sometimes you may laugh at yourself. Finding out how selfish you are. Anyway sometimes it is very important for us to change our way of thinking. We should not be caught by -- --
(tape transcription seems to end here).



The Quality of Being
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
January 20, 1966
Thursday lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 104)

The purpose of zazen is to attain the freedom of our being, physically and mentally. According to Dogen Zenji -- Dogen -- every being -- every existence is flashing into the vast phenomenal world, and each activity of the being -- each existence is another understanding, or expression of the quality of the being. I say many stars in the car when I'm in the car this morning -- in my car this morning. The stars I saw in the car was nothing but the light from the heavenly bodies which traveled many miles. But for me all the stars are calm and steady and peaceful being -- for me at least it is not so speedy being -- it is just calm and serene existence. So, we say, in calmness there should be activity -- activity -- in activity there should be calmness. Calmness and activity is not different. It is same thing. It is different interpretation of one fact because in our activity there is harmony. Where there is harmony there is calmness. And this harmony make the sense of -- quality of the being, but quality of the being is nothing but the systematic speedy activity of the being. Because there is some harmony in the speedy activity there is some quality.

When we sit we feel very calm and serene, but actually we don't know what kind of activity we are taking inside our being -- we don't know, but because there is complete harmony in our physical systematic activity we feel calmness in it. So, for us, there is no need to be bothered by calmness or activity, stillness, or movement. Movement is nothing but the quality of the being, so quality of our calm, steady, serene sitting is the quality of our immense activity. When you do something, when you take activity, you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, so the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself. So when you are concentrated on your being -- on your quality of the being you are prepared for the activity. So -- everything is just flashing -- just a flashing into the phenomenal world means the freedom of our activity or our being. In this way, if you sit in right manner with right understanding, you attain the freedom of yourself -- your being, even though our being is just temporal existence. But this temporal existence does not change -- does not move and always independent from other existences. So on each moment we may change to something else and there is no connection, strictly speaking, there is no connection between I-myself in yesterday and I-myself in this moment. There's no connection whatsoever. Dogen Zenji says that charcoal does not become ashes; ashes has its own past and future and fire -- red, hot charcoal has its own past and future; charcoal and red hot fire is quite different existence. Ashes is ashes and it is independent existence. Because it is a flashing into vast phenomenal world. And even though we say, charcoal is black, that is also a flashing into vast phenomenal world. So charcoal is independent and red hot charcoal is also independent. Ashes is independent; firewood is also independent. Everything is independent of each other. So where there is black charcoal there is no red hot charcoal.

Today I am sitting in this way in Los Altos. Tomorrow morning I shall be in San Francisco. There is no connection between I in Los Altos and I in San Francisco. I am quite different being. Here we have the freedom of existence -- absolute perfect freedom. That freedom will be acquired by the idea of Dogen's idea of each existence is temporal flashing into the phenomenal world. And there is no pervading existence, or quality in between you and me. When I say you there is no I. When I say I there is no you. You are independent and I am independent too, but each exists in another quite different realm -- quite different moment. But it does not mean there is -- we are quite different beings. We are same being but we are same and different. It is rather paradoxical but it can't be helped. It is very paradoxical, but actually it is so. Because we are quite independent being. Each one of us is a flashing into the big phenomenal world. So when I am sitting there is no other person but it does not mean I ignore you. I am completely with every -- with every existence in the phenomenal world, but -- So, when I sit, you sit -- everything sit with me. When you sit everything sit with you. That is our zazen. And everything is just a quality of your being. I am a part of you. I am a quality of you yourself -- your being. So, in this practice we have absolute liberation -- from everything else. If you understand this secret there is no difference in Zen practice and in your everyday life. You can interpret your -- everything as you wish.

A wonderful painting is a result of your feeling in your fingers. If you have the feeling on the brush -- feeling of the thickness of the ink in your brush, there is painting already before you paint something -- when you dip your brush into ink you know the result of your drawing -- or else you cannot paint. So before you do something the being there, the result is there. Even though you sit -- you look like sit, quietly all the activity is included, the result of your sitting is there already. You are not resting at all. All the activity is included within you. That is your being. So all the result of your practice is included in your sitting. This is our practice, our zazen.

Dogen zenji became interested in Buddhism when he saw the smoke from the incense stick and he felt the effervescence of our life. That -- the feeling of the effervescence of life result in the deep philosophy and he later attained enlightenment, and he said, “There is no body or no mind”. When he said no body or no mind all his being, in that moment, became a flashing into a vast temporal flashing into the phenomenal world. He felt the effervescence of life; he felt lonely when he saw smoke from incense stick, but that lonely feeling became more and more stronger and that feeling result in understanding of existence which is just flashing -- is just a flashing into the phenomenal world and which is -- which include everything -- which covers everything, which has immense quality in it even though it is just flashing into the phenomenal world it include all the phenomenal world and it is absolute independent existence when we become a flashing into the vast phenomenal world. That is his enlightenment. So starting from the lonely feeling of the effervescence of life he attained most powerful experience of enlightenment. This is his enlightenment. He says, “I have dropped off my mind and body”. He has no mind, no body. Because we think we have body or mind we have lonely feeling, but when you realize that everything is just a flashing into the vast universe you become very strong and you become very meaningful existence. This is his enlightenment and this is our practice too.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
June 1, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 107)

There is big misunderstanding about the idea of naturalness. Most people who come to us believe in some freedom or naturalness, but their understanding of naturalness is so-called heretic naturalness. Heresy -- a kind of heresy. We call it (ji neng den getto)? In Japanese. ( Jin eng den getto [?] ) means something which -- some idea that there is no need to be formal or to be rigid, just a kind of ‘let-alone-policy', or sloppiness. That is naturalness for most people. But that is not the naturalness we mean. It is rather difficult to explain what it is, but naturalness is, I think, some feeling which is independent from everything. That is naturalness. Or some activity which is based on nothingness. Something which comes out of nothing is naturalness. Like a seed or plant comes out from the ground. When you see it that is naturalness. The seed has no idea of being some particular plant, but it has its own form and it is in perfect harmony with the ground, with the surrounding, and while it is growing, in course of time it has its -- it expresses its nature. So any plants -- anything do not exist in no form or no color. Whatever it is it has some form and color, and that form and color is in perfect harmony with other beings. And there is no trouble. That is so-called naturalness.

For a plant or stone to be natural is -- has no problem -- there is no problem. But for us there is some problem, or big problem even. So to be natural is pretty -- a kind of problem which we must work on. Some feeling -- some quite new feeling -- when you have -- when you just come out from nothingness -- for instance when you are quite hungry, to take some food is naturalness. You feel natural. But when you are expecting too much, to have some food is not natural. You have no new feeling. You have no appreciation for it. So zazen practice is -- we practice zazen as if when we take of water when we are thirsty. That is true practice. There we have naturalness. It is quite natural for us to take a cup of water when we are thirsty. So when you are very, very sleepy, to take a nap is natural. Even though you are not sleepy, to take a nap just because you are lazy, as if it is the privilege for human being to take a nap -- My friends -- all of them -- the rest of the people -- when others take a nap, why shouldn't I take a nap. I must also take a nap. That is not naturalness. When we have this kind of idea or feeling -- when everyone is not working why should I work so hard? We should -- I must take a rest too. When they have a lot of money, why don't I have some money. This is not naturalness. Our mind is entangled with some other idea. When you do not -- when it is not necessary to be bound by some other's idea, that is not naturalness. So.

So even you practice zazen, if your zazen is not natural it is not true practice. If you have true joy in it that is not true zazen. Even though you force yourself to practice zazen, if you feel something good in your practice that is zazen. It is not a matter of forcing something on you or not is not the point. Even though you have some difficulty, when you want to have it that is naturalness.

This naturalness is very difficult to explain. But if you can just sit and have the nothingness in your practice, whatever you do, coming out of the nothingness, that is the naturalness -- and that is true activity, because you have true joy of practice, true joy of life in it. Everyone comes out from nothingness, moment after moment, comes out from nothingness. So moment after moment we have true joy of life. Here we have true joy. So we say, “True nothingness, true emptiness -- from true emptiness the wondrous being appears (shin ku myo mu)”. Shin is true, ku is emptiness, myo is wondrous, mu is being. From true emptiness wondrous being -- shin ku myo mu.

So without nothingness there is no naturalness -- no true being. True being comes out from nothingness, moment after moment. So nothingness is always there. From nothingness everything comes out. But usually, forgetting all about nothingness, as if you have something always, and behave with the idea based on some possessive idea or some concrete idea -- that is not natural. For instance, when you listen to a lecture, you should not have any idea of yourself. You shouldn't compare -- you should not have your own idea when you listen to others. You have to forget all what you have in your mind and listen to it. You have nothing in your mind and listen to it. Then you will understand what he says. That is naturalness. But if you have some idea to compare with what he says, that is not naturalness. So when you listen to it you just listen to it with empty mind. When you do something you should be completely involved in it. You should devote yourself completely. Then you have nothing. So true emptiness -- if there is no true emptiness in your activity, that is not natural.

Some people insist on some idea. Recently the young generation talks about love. Love! Love! Love! Their minds are full of love. And when they study Zen, if what I say does not accord with the idea of love that they have, they will not accept it. They are quite stubborn headed, you know. They are pretty stubborn. You may be amazed. That is not -- some of them, of course, not all of them. Some of them have very, very hard attitude. That is not naturalness at all. Even though they talk about love, and freedom or naturalness, that is not naturalness. They cannot practice Zen in that way. They cannot understand what is Zen in that way. So if you want to study Zen you should just practice zazen. That is naturalness. And see what kind of experience you have in your practice. That is naturalness. Whatever you do this attitude is necessary. So sometimes we say ‘soft mind'. Soft mind. Soft mind is nyu nan shin. Nyu is soft feeling. Nan is not hard. Something which is not hard is nan. Nyu is smooth, natural -- mind. When you have that mind you have the joy of life. When you lose it you lose everything. You have nothing. Although you think you have, or because you think you have -- you have nothing. When you think you have nothing you have nothing. Do you understand? That is what we mean by naturalness.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 1965 ±
From p. 110 of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. {Can't find other version}
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 110)

If you want to understand Buddhism it is necessary for you to forget all about your preconceived ideas. To begin with, you must give up the idea of substantiality or existence. The usual view of life is firmly rooted in the idea of existence. For most people everything exists; they think whatever they see and whatever they hear exists. Of course the bird we see and hear exists. It exists, but what I mean by that may not be exactly what you mean. The Buddhist understanding of life includes both existence and nonexistence. The bird both exists and does not exist at the same time. We say that a view of life based on existence alone is heretical. If you take things too seriously, as if they existed substantially or permanently, you are called a heretic. Most people may be heretics.

We say true existence comes from emptiness and goes back again into emptiness. What appears from emptiness is true existence. We have to go through the gate of emptiness. This idea of existence is very difficult to explain. Many people these days have begun to feel, at least intellectually, the emptiness of the modern world, or the self-contradiction of their culture. In the past, for instance, the Japanese people had a firm confidence in the permanent existence of their culture and their traditional way of life, but since they lost the war, they have become very skeptical. Some people think this skeptical attitude is awful, but actually it is better than the old attitude.

As long as we have some definite idea about or some hope in the future, we cannot really be serious with the moment that exists right now. You may say, “I can do it tomorrow, or next year,” believing that something that exists today will exist tomorrow. Even though you are not trying so hard, you expect that some promising thing will come, as long as you follow a certain way. But there is no certain way that exists permanently. There is no way set up for us. Moment after moment we have to find our own way. Some idea of perfection, or some perfect way which is set up by someone else, is not the true way for us.

Each one of us must make his own true way, and when we do, that way will express the universal way. This is the mystery. When you understand one thing through and through, you understand everything. When you try to understand everything, you will not understand anything. The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything. So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others. Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you. To be independent in this true sense, we have to forget everything which we have in our mind and discover something quite new and different moment after moment. This is how we live in this world.

So we say true understanding will come out of emptiness. When you study Buddhism, you should have a general house cleaning of your mind. You must take everything out of your room and clean it thoroughly. If it is necessary, you may bring everything back in again. You may want many things, so one by one you can bring them back. But if they are not necessary, there is no need to keep them.

We see the flying bird. Sometimes we see the trace of it. Actually we cannot see the trace of a flying bird, but sometimes we feel as if we could. This is also good. If it is necessary, you should bring back in the things you took from your room. But before you put something in your room, it is necessary for you to take out something. If you do not, your room will become crowded with old, useless junk.

We say, “Step by step I stop the sound of the murmuring brook.” When you walk along the brook you will hear the water running. The sound is continuous, but you must be able to stop it if you want to stop it. This is freedom; this is renunciation. One after another you will have various thoughts in your mind, but if you want to stop your thinking you can. So when you are able to stop the sound of the murmuring brook, you will appreciate the feeling of your work. But as long as you have some fixed idea or are caught by some habitual way of doing things, you cannot appreciate things in their true sense.

If you seek for freedom, you cannot find it. Absolute freedom itself is necessary before you can acquire absolute freedom. That is our practice. Our way is not always to go in one direction. Sometimes we go east; sometimes we go west. To go one mile to the west means to go back one mile to the east. Usually if you go one mile to the east it is the opposite of going one mile to the west. But if it is possible to go one mile to the east, that means it is possible to go one mile to the west. This is freedom. Without this freedom you cannot be concentrated on what you do. You may think you are concentrated on something, but before you obtain this freedom, you will have some uneasiness in what you are doing. Because you are bound by some idea of going east or west, your activity is in dichotomy or duality. As long as you are caught by duality you cannot attain absolute freedom, and you cannot concentrate.

Concentration is not to try hard to watch something. In zazen if you try to look at one spot you will be tired in about five minutes. This is not concentration. Concentration means freedom. So your effort should be directed at nothing. You should be concentrated on nothing. In zazen practice we say your mind should be concentrated on your breathing, but the way to keep your mind on your breathing is to forget all about yourself and just to sit and feel your breathing. If you are concentrated on your breathing you will forget yourself, and if you forget yourself you will be concentrated on your breathing. I do not know which is first. So actually there is no need to try too hard to be concentrated on your breathing. Just do as much as you can. If you continue this practice, eventually you will experience the true existence which comes from emptiness.



Readiness, Mindfulness
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 1965 ±
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 113)

In the Prajna Paramita Sutra the most important point, of course, is the idea of emptiness. Before we understand the idea of emptiness, everything seems to exist substantially. But after we realize the emptiness of things, everything becomes real--not substantial. When we realize that everything we see is a part of emptiness, we can have no attachment to any existence; we realize that everything is just a tentative form and color. Thus we realize the true meaning of each tentative existence. When we first hear that everything is a tentative existence, most of us are disappointed; but this disappointment comes from a wrong view of man and nature. It is because our way of observing things is deeply rooted in our self-centered ideas that we are disappointed when we find everything has only a tentative existence. But when we actually realize this truth, we will have no suffering.

This sutra says, “Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara observes that everything is emptiness, thus he forsakes all suffering.” It was not after he realized this truth that he overcame suffering--to realize this fact is itself to be relieved from suffering. So realization of the truth is salvation itself. We say, “to realize,” but the realization of the truth is always near at hand. It is not after we practice zazen that we realize the truth; even before we practice zazen, realization is there. It is not after we understand the truth that we attain enlightenment. To realize the truth is to live--to exist here and now. So it is not a matter of understanding or of practice. It is an ultimate fact. In this sutra Buddha is referring to the ultimate fact that we always face moment after moment. This point is very important. This is Bodhidharma's zazen. Even before we practice it, enlightenment is there. But usually we understand the practice of zazen and enlightenment as two different things: here is practice, like a pair of glasses, and when we use the practice, like putting the glasses on, we see enlightenment. This is the wrong understanding. The glasses themselves are enlightenment, and to put them on is also enlightenment. So whatever you do, or even though you do not do anything, enlightenment is there, always. This is Bodhidharma's understanding of enlightenment.

You cannot practice true zazen, because you practice it; if you do not, then there is enlightenment, and there is true practice. When you do it, you create some concrete idea of “you” or “I,” and you create some particular idea of practice or zazen. So here you are on the right side, and here is zazen on the left. So zazen and you become two different things. If the combination of practice and you is zazen, it is the zazen of a frog. For a frog, his sitting position is zazen. When a frog is hopping, that is not zazen. This kind of misunderstanding will vanish if you really understand emptiness means everything is always here. One whole being is not an accumulation of everything. It is impossible to divide one whole existence into parts. It is always here and always working. This is enlightenment. So there actually is no particular practice. In the sutra it says, “There are no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body or mind. . . . This “no mind” is Zen mind, which includes everything.

The important thing in our understanding is to have a smooth, freethinking way of observation. We have to think and to observe things without stagnation. We should accept things as they are without difficulty. Our mind should be soft and open enough to understand things as they are. When our thinking is soft, it is called imperturbable thinking. This kind of thinking is always stable. It is called mindfulness. Thinking which is divided in many ways is not true thinking. Concentration should be present in our thinking. This is mindfulness. Whether you have an object or not, your mind should be stable and your mind should not be divided. This is zazen.

It is not necessary to make an effort to think in a particular way. Your thinking should not be one-sided. We just think with our whole mind, and see things as they are without any effort. Just to see, and to be ready to see things with our whole mind, is zazen practice. If we are prepared for thinking, there is no need to make an effort to think. This is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is, at the same time, wisdom. By wisdom we do not mean some particular faculty or philosophy. It is the readiness of the mind that is wisdom. So wisdom could be various philosophies and teachings, and various kinds of research and studies. But we should not become attached to some particular wisdom, such as that which was taught by Buddha. Wisdom is not something to learn. Wisdom is something which will come out of your mindfulness. So the point is to be ready for observing things, and to be ready for thinking. This is called emptiness of your mind. Emptiness is nothing but the practice of zazen.



Believing in Nothing
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 30, 1965
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 116)

I found out that it is necessary -- absolutely necessary to believe in nothing. We have to believe in something which has no form or no color -- something which exists before every form and colors appear. This is very important point. Whatever we believe in -- whatever god we believe in -- when we become attached to it, it means our belief is based on, more or less, self-centered idea. If so, it is -- it takes time to acquire -- to attain perfect belief or perfect faith in it. But if you always prepared for accepting which we see. -- is appear from nothing, and we think there is some reason why some form or color or phenomenal existence appear, then, at that moment we have perfect composure. When I have headache, there is some reason why I have headache. If I know why I have headache I feel better, but if you don't know why, you may say, “Oh, it's terrible I have always headache-- maybe because of bad practice. If I -- if my meditation or Zen practice is better, I wouldn't have this kind of trouble.” If you accept things -- understand things like this. It takes time. You will not have perfect faith in yourself, or in your practice until you attain perfection (and there's no -- I'm afraid you have no time to have perfect practice) so you have to have headache all the time. This is rather silly practice. This kind of practice will not work. But if you believe in something which various -- which exist before we have headache and if we know just reason why we have headache, then we feel better, naturally. To have headache is all right because I am healthy -- healthy enough to have headache. If you have stomach ache your tummy is healthy enough to have pain, but if your tummy get accustomed to the poor condition of your tummy, you will have no pain. That's awful. You are coming to the end of your life from your tummy trouble.

So it is absolutely necessary for everyone to believe in nothing, but I don't mean voidness. There's something, but that something is always -- is something which is always prepared for taking some particular form and it has some rules or theory or truth in its activity. That is so-called Buddha nature or Buddha himself. When we understand what him -- .rather when we personify this existence we call it Buddha, or when we understand it as the ultimate truth we call it Dharma, and when we accept the truth, and when we act as a part of the Buddha, or according to the theory we call ourselves Sangha. But, in short, even though we have three Buddha form, in short it is one existence -- some existence which has no form or color, and always prepared for -- ready for taking forms and colors. This is not just theory. This is not just teaching of Buddhism. This is absolutely necessary understanding of our life and this kind of understanding is -- without this understanding religion will not help us. By religion we will be bound by it and we will have more trouble -- because of the religion. If you become victim of the religion -- victim of Buddhism, I shall be very happy, but you will not be so happy. So, this kind of understanding is very, very important -- I found out. Before, I talked about Dharmakaya Buddha, or Sambhogakaya Buddha, or Nirmanakaya Buddha, and I explained what the three bodies of Buddha are and what is emptiness but I didn't realize that this understanding of Buddha was so important for us -- for everyone.

You know, while we are practicing zazen we heard rain dropping from the roof -- in the dark. I think soon we will see the wonderful mist coming thru the big trees, and later, before when the people start to work, we will see the bright sunshine rising from the east, and we will see the beautiful mountains, but for some people, if they hear rain drop, in their bed, they will be annoyed, you know, without knowing, later he will see the beautiful sun rising from the east. If our mind is concentrated on our selves we will have this kind of worry, but if we accept ourselves as embodiment of the truth -- temporal embodiment of the truth we have no worry. Now, it is raining, but -- you will think, but we don't know what will happen next moment. By time I go out it will be beautiful day, or stormy day. -- we don't know -- so let's appreciate the sound of the rain now. This kind of attitude is the right attitude, but if our activity is concentrated, or if you think you act something, you have always difficulty, but if you understand yourself as a temporal embodiment of the truth, you have no difficulty whatsoever. And we can appreciate our surrounding, and we can appreciate ourselves, as a part of -- a wonderful part of activity. Even we are in difficulty -- thru difficulties we will acquire some experience. This is our way of life.

Having the Buddhist terminology we should start from enlightenment to practice, and thinking. Thinking is rather self-centered, but sometime it is not, but almost -- in everyday life, our thinking is ninety-nine percent self-centered. “Why I have to suffer? Why I have trouble?” This kind of thinking is ninety-nine percent of our thinking. When we study science -- start to study science we become sleepy or drowsy quite soon, but we are very much interested in self-centered thinking. So, the enlightenment is first -- enlightenment, I mean -- by enlightenment to believe in nothing is enlightenment. To believe in something which has no form or no color and ready to take form or color by some immutable truth that is our enlightenment. So enlightenment, our activity and our thinking and our practice, and then thinking -- if it is necessary. If you are not interested in it, that is our way.



Attachment, Nonattachment
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
January 6, 1966
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 118)

Already we feel night become shorter and shorter. When I come here Dogen Zenji says, “Even though it is midnight dawn is here. Even though dawn comes it is night-time.” This kind of statement, or understanding is our understanding transmitted from Buddha to patriarchs, and from patriarchs to Dogen and to us. We call night-time day-time; day-time night-time. Night-time and day-time is not different. We just call same thing sometimes night-time and sometimes day-time. Night-time and day-time is one thing. Zazen practice and everyday activity is one thing. We call zazen everyday life; everyday life zazen. But usually we think, “Now zazen is over” and we will take usual activity, or understanding. But this is not right understanding. It is same thing. We have nowhere to escape. So, in movement, there should be calmness and in calmness there should be movement -- activity. So calmness and activity is not different. Each existence is not dependent -- independent existence. Each existence is depending on something else. And strictly speaking, there is no particular existence. It is many names of one existence. Many -- one existence -- Many names does not just emphasize the oneness of the existence.

Sometimes some people put the stress on oneness but this is not our understanding. We do not emphasize any point particularly. Oneness is valuable, and variety is also wonderful. Sometimes people may ignore the variety and emphasize the one absolute existence, but this is one sided understanding. In this understanding there is gap between variety and unity, or oneness. Oneness and variety is same thing. So, oneness should be appreciated in each existence. That is why we emphasize everyday life rather than some particular state of mind. We should find the reality in each moment and on each phenomenon. This is very important point.

Although -- .Dogen Zenji says although it is so, it is so means, although everything has Buddha nature, but we don't care for weed and we love flowers. We love flowers and we don't care for weeds. Although it is so. So that we do not care for weed is also Buddha's activity. That we attach to some beauty it also Buddha's activity. We should know that. If you know that, you may attach to something. You may not -- hate -- but you may be disagreeable for something. So, in hate, there should be love. In love there must be hate. Love and hate is one thing. We should not attach to love only. We should accept hate. We should accept weed although it doesn't matter how you feel. If you do not care for it, don't love it; if you like it you should love it. But love and hate is not different. But usually you criticize yourself for being unfair to your surrounding. This is very subtle difference. In usual way of accepting things -- our way of accepting things, it looks like exactly the same but there is subtle difference.

We have been taught that there is no gap between A and B -- there is no gap between night time and day time. There's no gap between you and I. But this means oneness, but we do not emphasize even oneness. This -- so if it is one, there is no need to emphasize one. To learn something, to know yourself, he says, to study Buddhism, to study yourself. It is not after -- it is not -- that you learn something is not to acquire something which you did not know. That you learn something -- you know before you learn something. You know something before you learn it. There's no gap between I, before we know something or after I -- we know something. There's no gap between ignorant and foolish. There's no gap. Foolish person is wise person. Wise person is foolish person. But usually he is foolish and I am wise. I was foolish -- now I am wise. How can we be wise if you are foolish? So there's no difference between foolish man and wise man. There's no difference at all. This is understanding transmitted from Buddha to us.

So there is no gap. It is so but if we say so -- if I say so people may think, “He is emphasizing oneness”. It is not so. We do not emphasize anything. We want to know things just as it is. We do not stress anything. We should know things just as it is. If we know things as it is, there's nowhere to point at. There's no way to grasp anything. We cannot pick up anything. We cannot put emphasis on any point. But still, he says, “Flower falls, even though we love it. The weed, which we do not care for, will come up.” Even though it is so, there is our life. In this realm our life should be understood. In this way our life should be understood. Then there's no problem. Because of putting emphasis on some particular point, always we have trouble. We should accept things just as it is. This is how we understand everything and how we live in this world.

This kind of understanding is -- experience is -- cannot be acquired just by -- something beyond our thinking. In thinking realm there is difference between oneness and variety, but in actual experience, variety and unity, or oneness is the same. Because you create some idea of unity or variety and you -- because you are caught by the idea, you have to continue the thinking -- continue the endless thinking, but actually there is no need to think. We can think, but actually there is no need to think. And, actually we have -- emotionally we have many problems, but those problems is not actual problems, it is something created problem, or it is problems pointing out by our self-centered idea or view. Because we point out something, there is problem. But actually it is not possible to point out some particular thing. Happiness is sorrow. Sorrow is happiness. Difficulty is -- there is joy in difficulty, happiness in difficulties and the difficulties and happiness or joy is not different. Even though it is not different, it is different. The way we feel is different, but actually it is not. This kind of understanding is understanding of ‘double moon'.



Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
August 28, 1965 (26th -- DC note 2008)
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 121)

In Zen poem says, ‘after the wind stop I see the flower falling -- I see a flower falling. Because of the singing bird I find the mountain -- mountain calmness'. When something happens in the realm of calmness we find the calmness. Before anything happens to the calmness we do not feel the calmness. In Japanese saying it says, ‘for the moon there is the cloud. For the flower we have wind'. Actually -- usually it means the effervescence of life which we find it very difficult to live in it -- effervescence of life. But in effervescence of life we should find -- we can find the joy of eternal life. When you see the moon covered by cloud -- a part of it covered by cloud -- you will find the roundness of the moon. If you -- when you see the moon -- clear moon without any cloud over -- anything -- trees or sun or weed -- you do not feel the moon so round as you see it through something.

When you sit you do not feel anything. You just sit. You are in the complete calmness of your mind. But in everyday life, you will find -- you will be encouraged by the calmness of the sitting. So actually the value -- you will find the value of Zen in everyday life rather then when you sit. Even though you find the value of Zen in everyday life we should not neglect zazen. Even though you do not feel anything when you sit if you do not have the experience of Zen you cannot anything. You just find weed or trees or cloud. Cloud without moon. Weed without moon means nothing. That's just weed. That is why you are always complaining about something.

For Zen students weed which people do not care for so much is treasure. In this way we have art of life, artistic life. Whatever you do that is art of life. For Zen student.

So when you practice zazen you should not try to attain something. You should just sit in the complete calmness. You should not rely on something. Your body should be straight and your spine should be straight without leaning over or leaning against something -- lying against something. You should just keep your body straight. It means you do not rely on anything. You just sit. In this way, physically and mentally you will obtain the complete calmness. When you rely on something or when you try to do something in zazen, it is dualistic. That is not complete calmness. This is very valuable experience and this experience will encourage your effort in your everyday life. In our everyday life we usually try to do something or try to change something into some other things. Or you try to attain something. But try to attain something is already the art of or expression of our true nature. Try to change something into some other thing is already -- is the art of life. We should find out the meaning of our effort itself before we attain something.

So, Dogen Zen master said, “We should obtain the enlightenment before we attain enlightenment”. Before we attain enlightenment we should obtain it. When you try to do something itself it is enlightenment. It is expression of our true nature. It is not after attaining enlightenment that we find the true meaning of enlightenment. When we are in difficulty, there we have enlightenment. When we are in distress, there we have enlightenment. So he says, “Before we attain enlightenment, we should attain enlightenment”. When we are defilement we should attain the compose, he says -- we should have the composure. In the defilement the composure will be experienced only in our defilement. This point is very very important. By continuing this kind of effort you can improve yourself even though it is little by little. You can improve yourself. But if you just try to attain something, or to make some contrivance to acquire something you cannot work on it properly because you have no art of -- technique. You lose yourself in your effort. That is why you cannot achieve anything and you just suffer in your difficulties. But if you find out, if you do it in appropriate way, based on your inmost nature, whatever you do even though it is not perfect, but you can achieve it, little by little. You can make some progress.

So he says -- Dogen Zen master says, “You should attain enlightenment before you attain enlightenment.” Which is important, to attain enlightenment or to obtain enlightenment before you attain enlightenment? Which is important, to make your effort to save million dollars or to enjoy your life in your effort little by little even though it is impossible for you to save million dollars. You can enjoy your everyday life, which is important to us, to be successful or to find some meaning in our effort to be successful. If you do not realize this point you cannot even practice zazen. But if you have this point, you will have the treasure -- the true treasure of life.



Experience, Not Philosophy
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
October 7, 1965
Thursday morning lecture
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 123)

I am so glad to see you again. For two weeks I studied many things and I found that to have so many friends in this area is quite unusual. Back East they find pretty difficult to have good students. Of course there are many people who are interested in Buddhism, but quite few people are interested in pure form of Buddhism. They are interested in studying the teaching of Buddhism, or philosophy of Buddhism and they are comparing our Buddhism to another religion and they understand intellectually how Buddhism is good for intellectual mind. But whether Buddhism is philosophically deep or good or perfect is not our point. To keep our practice in its pure form is our purpose. When I felt something even blasphemous when they talk about how Buddhism is perfect as a philosophy or teaching without actually knowing what it is.

To practice zazen in this way, with group, is the most important thing for Buddhism and for us. There is nothing so important than this practice for us because this practice is the original way of life. Without knowing the origin of things we cannot appreciate the result of our effort. Our efforts must have some meaning. To find meaning of our effort is to find our original source of effort. We should not be concerned about the result of our effort so much, before we know the original source of our effort. If the origin is not clear and pure all our effort will not be pure and so the result of our effort will not satisfy you. When we resume to our original nature, and starting from the original nature, making our effort incessantly, we will find out, we will appreciate the result of our effort, moment after moment, day by day, year by year. This is how we should appreciate our life.

Those who attach to the result of our effort only will not have any chance to appreciate our effort because the result of our effort will not come forever. But if your original intention is good all what you do is good and you will satisfy with whatever you do. Zazen practice is the practice to resume to our pure way of life, beyond gaining idea, or beyond fame and profit. By practice we just keep our original nature as it is, for the pure original nature, there is no need to intellectualize what it is, because it is beyond our intellectual understanding and there is no need to say, to appreciate because it is beyond our appreciation. So just to sit, without any gaining idea, with purest intention to remain quiet, as quiet as our original nature is, is our practice. Here in this zendo there is no fancy idea. Once in a week we just come and sit, and after communicating with each other we go home and resume to our own everyday activity as a continuity of our pure practice, enjoying our true way of life. This is very unusual.

What you study -- what you -- wherever you go people may ask you what is Buddhism -- (with notebook). You may imagine how I feel. But here we just practice zazen, that's all what we do. And we are happy in this practice. For us there is no need to understand what is Zen. We are practicing zazen. So, for us, there is no need to know what is Zen, intellectually. This is, I think, very very unusual -- unusual for American society. As you know, back East there are many way of, many patterns of life, according to their religion. So, it is maybe, it is quite natural to talk about what the difference is between various religions and to compare one religion to the other religion. But for us, there is no need to compare Buddhism to Christianity. Buddhism is Buddhism and Buddhism is our practice. So we don't know even what we are doing when we just practice pure mind. So we cannot compare our way to some other religion, but we don't know how to compare our religion. Some people may say Zen Buddhism is not religion. Maybe so. Anyway, Zen Buddhism is religion before religion. So it might not be religion in usual sense. But it is wonderful, even though we do not study religion, what it is intellectually, or without any cathedral or any ornament, it is possible to appreciate our original nature. This is quite unusual. This kind of unusual experience will be found out when you practice it without any gaining idea.



Original Buddhism
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
April 6, 1967
Los Altos
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 125)

Zazen is not one of the four activities: to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down,, we say, are the four activities or four ways of behavior. Zazen is not one of the four ways of behavior according to Dogen-zenji , the Soto school is not one of the many schools. Chinese Soto School is one of many schools of Buddhism, but according to Dogen, his way is not one of the many schools. You may say, if it is so, why do you put emphasis on just sitting posture, or why not put emphasis on having a teacher if our way is not one of the many schools, or one of the four ways of behavior. Why do you put emphasis on just sitting, or why should you have your teacher. Why we put emphasis on sitting posture, or zazen, is because zazen is not just one of the four ways of behavior. Zazen is the practice which is one of the many and many and many activities, innumerable activities which will continue to the eternal future which was started even before Buddha. So, and this activity, at the same time, includes so many activities which were started even before Buddha and which will continue to the endless future. So this sitting posture cannot be compared with the rest of the four behaviors.

Usually people put emphasis on some particular position, or on some particular understanding of Buddhism, and they think ‘this is Buddhism'. So we cannot compare our practice with the practice people normally understand or our teaching cannot be compared with the teaching on which they put emphasis. That is why we should have teacher which does not attach to any particular understanding of Buddhism. And this is originally the teaching of Buddha. The teaching of Buddha is not just one school of Buddhism. The teaching of Buddha originally includes various schools. So how to be like Buddha is our -- should be our traditional effort as a Buddhist. But usually if we have no teacher and if we take pride in our in each own understanding, we will lose the original characteristic of Buddha's teaching, which includes various teaching. Whatever it is, it was Buddha's teaching, according to Buddha. Tentatively people called his teaching Buddhism.

Because Buddha was the founder of the teaching so people called tentatively Buddhism, but actually Buddhism is not some particular teaching. Buddhism is just Truth which includes various truths in it. Zazen practice is also the practice which includes various activities of all of us. So actually we are not putting emphasis on sitting posture only. How to sit is how to act. We study how to act by sitting and this is the most basic activity for us. So that is why we practice zazen in this way. Even though we practice zazen we should not call ourselves Zen school. We practice zazen, taking example after Buddha. That is why we practice. And Buddha taught us how to act through our practice. That is why we sit. It is not because we put emphasis on just sitting only.

To do some thing, or to live in each moment means to take temporal attitude, on activity of Buddha's activity. To sit in this way is to be Buddha as the historical Buddha was. The same thing will be true whatever you do. That is Buddha's activity. So whatever you do, or you do not, there is Buddha. Because people have no such understanding of Buddha, they think what they do is the most important thing, without knowing who is doing, actually. They think they do it but actually Buddha is doing it. Each one has each one's name, but those names are many names of one Buddha. Each one will take many activities, but those activities, for instance the four activities, are all Buddha's activities. Without knowing this people put emphasis on some activity, for instance, zazen practice. If so that is not true zazen. There is a big difference in the understanding of our practice. Even though we sit in the same way, but if you understand this sitting posture is one of the four postures, that is the wrong understanding. This posture is Buddha's posture. If you understand this way that is right understanding of zazen posture. If you practice in this way that is Buddhism. This is very, very important point. So Dogen-zenji did not call himself Soto teacher, or Soto disciple. He said, “Who said Soto?” People say Soto school, but there is no reason for us to call ourselves Soto. You should not use the name of Soto he says.

Tentatively, as there are many schools in Japan but we are not one of the many schools which divide Buddhism in many parts. So originally each school should not just be each school. It should be just one tentative form of Buddhism. It should not be just one school. But as they do not have this understanding, so or as long as they do not accept this kind of understanding we must make our effort until all of us give up to call themselves by their particular name. I want you to make this point clear. We are not Soto school at all. We are just Buddhists. We are not Zen even; we are just Buddhists. If you understand this point we are truly Buddhists. Buddhas teaching is everywhere but people do not realize the teaching which is everywhere, and they think this is Buddhism and that is Buddhism. This is big mistake. His teaching is everywhere. Today it is raining. This is Buddha's teaching. People think their own way is Buddha's, without knowing what they hearing, or what are doing, or where they are. So religion is not any particular teaching. Religion is everywhere. We have to understand our teaching in this way. We should forget all about some particular good or bad teachings. There should not be any particular teaching. Teaching is in each moment, in every being. That is true teaching.



Beyond Consciousness
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
November 30, 1966
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 127)

We should establish our practice where there is no practice or no enlightenment. As long as we practice zazen in the area where there is practice and enlightenment there is no chance to make perfect peace for ourselves. In other words we must firmly believe in our true nature. It is beyond our conscious realm -- conscious experience. There is good or bad or practice or enlightenment only in our conscious experience but whether or not we have experience of it what exists is actually there, exists. In this way we have to establish the foundation of our practice. To -- even it is good thing to have it in your mind is not so good. You may be -- it is a kind of burden for you. You do not feel so good. Even you have something good in your mind. So to have something in your conscious realm you do not feel, or you do not have, perfect composure. The best way is to forget everything. Then your mind is calm and your mind always wide enough or clear enough to see things and to feel things as they are without any effort.

To harbor some ill-will is maybe something better than to have something -- some idea which you should do or you ought to do. The Buddha says, ‘You should be like this. You ought to be like this.' And to have what he says in your mind is not so good, but to have mischievous idea in your mind is sometimes very agreeable. That is true. So actually, good or bad is not the point. The point is to stick to it or not is the point whether you make yourself peaceful or not. The best way is not to think or not to have -- not to retain any idea of things, whatever it is. To forget all about it, or not to leave any trace of thinking, or not to have any shadow of thinking, is the best way.

But if you try to do -- if you try to be beyond your conscious activity or if you try to stop your mind that will be another burden for your mind. “I have to stop my mind in our practice but I cannot. My practice is not so good.” That is also wrong way of practice. So don't try to stop it but leave everything as it is. Then there will -- things will not stay in your mind so long. Things go as they go. Things come as they come. That is -- this kind of things will go in your mind in that way. Then your clear, empty mind eventually last pretty long. So to have a firm conviction of empty mind in your practice is the most important thing. That is why in Buddhist scripture we use some astrological description. We describe the empty mind in various ways. Most of the time we calculate the big mind is some astrologically great number -- so great that we cannot count. It means to give up calculating. If it is so many you will lose your interest in counting it and you will eventually give up counting. But still the good thing for this kind of calculation -- you have some kind of help, a kind of adoration of the innumerable number will help you to stop the thinking of your small mind. But actually when you sit you will have the most pure, genuine experience of the state of mind -- that is not even a state of mind -- original or essence of mind which Buddha meant, or the 6th patriarch meant. Essence of mind or original mind or original face or Buddha nature, emptiness. Those words mean the absolute calmness of our mind. There is, you know how to take physical rest. You don't know how to take mental rest. Even though you lie in your bed your mind is still busy. Even though you sleep your mind is pretty busy in dreaming something. Your mind is always in intense activity. This is not so good. So we should know how to give up thinking or busy mind and firmly believe in the perfect rest of our mind and resume to our pure mind. So we should know how to go beyond our thinking faculty. Dogen-zenji said, “You should establish your practice in your delusion.” Even though you think you are in delusion but there is your pure mind. So, if you realize the pure mind in your delusion that is practice. If your have the pure mind, the essential mind, in your delusion - delusion will vanish. It cannot stay when you say, this is delusion. He will be very much ashamed of it. He will run away. So you should establish your practice in your delusion. To have delusion is practice. “To attain enlightenment before you realize it.” So you will attain enlightenment before you realize it. Even though you do not realize it, you have it. So, when you say ‘This is delusion' that is enlightenment. But when you try to expel the delusion it will stay and your mind will become busier and busier to cope with the delusion you have. That is not so good.

Just say, ‘this is delusion'. That is enough and don't be bothered by it -- ‘oh, this is just delusion'. When you see delusion you have your true mind -- calm, peaceful mind. When you start to cope with it you will be involved in delusion. So, when you sit, whether you attain enlightenment or not -- just to sit is enough. When you try to attain enlightenment, then you have big burden in your mind. So your mind will not be clear enough to see things as they are. Moreover we always exist with two sides-- things as they are and things as they should be. So we should attain enlightenment. That is one thing. But as long as we have physical, as we are physical beings it is pretty hard in reality. That is how we are actually in this moment. Even though we are not good right now we want to be better. That is another side. We exist here in that way, as everything exists in that way. So if we start to attain something, the other side of our nature will be brought up as they are and as they should be. But if we have transcendental mind beyond the things as they are and the things as they should be there we have perfect, peaceful mind. Usually religion develops itself in realm of consciousness by beautiful building, by wonderful music or by perfect organization. Those are in realm, those are religious activities in conscious world. But Buddhism emphasizes the world of unconsciousness.

So how to study Buddhism is how to sit, or how to join the practice or to live in good Buddhist is the way to study. It is much better than to read some book or to study some philosophy of Buddhism. Of course it is necessary to study our philosophy because by studying it you will have a firm conviction in your religion but our philosophy is not only philosophy of Buddhism. It is philosophy in general. Those practices were built up to protect the true teaching. In the way people may discuss about Buddhism is the most common way, the most understandable way, for everyone. So the purpose of Buddhist philosophy is not to propagate Buddhism in some wonderful, mystic way, but to protect our way so when we discuss something about religion we should discuss the problem in the most common and universal way, so that is why Buddhist philosophy is so universal, so logical, but it does not mean to expand our way, to propagate our way by some wonderful philosophy---philosophical thought.

So in some way Buddhism is rather polemical and some feeling of controversy is in it because the Buddhist has to protect their way from some mystical or some magic understanding -- magical understanding of religion. So philosophical will not be so good unless we have some particular interest in discussion with some other religious people. If you want to be a sincere Buddhist the best way is to have some place to sit, or to see some Buddhist culture, heritage, may be the best way. Anyway, when we sit we have to sit. That's how to study Buddhism. We are very fortunate to have a place to sit in this way. So, I want you to have firm, wide, imperturbable conviction in your zazen of just to sit. Just to sit. That's enough.



Buddha's Enlightenment
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
December 8, 1966
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 131)

I am very glad to be here the day Buddha was born -- when Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. When he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree he said, “It is wonderful to see Buddha nature on everything and in each individual.” What he meant was when we practice Zen -- zazen we have Buddha nature and we are all Buddha himself. By practice he did not mean just to sit under the Bodhi tree or to sit in cross-legged posture. Our cross-legged posture is the basic posture or original posture for us -- most fundamental way of being here. But what he meant actually was that mountain is or trees are or flowing water or flowers and plants and everything as they are is the way Buddha is. It means everything is taking Buddha's activity in each position and in each way, but the way they are for themselves is not understood by themselves in realm of consciousness. What we see or what we hear is just a part of it, or limited idea of how we are, but when we just sit we are being our conception. In other words when we practice something, like we sit here there is Buddha's way or Buddha nature. So when we ask what is Buddha nature Buddha nature will be vanished, but when we just practice zazen like this we have full understanding of Buddha nature. The only way to obtain Buddha nature or understand Buddha nature is just to practice zazen or just to be here in this way. So what he meant by -- to found out Buddha nature was to be there as he was beyond the realm of consciousness. So, you may be -- it may be said we have originally Buddha nature before we practice zazen -- before we acknowledge it in terms of consciousness. So in this sense whatever we do, that is Buddha's activity. So, if you want to understand it you cannot understand it. When you give up to understand it true understanding is there always. Usually, after zazen, I talk for you, something, but why you come here is not to just listen to my talk, but to practice zazen. This point should be always remembered by us. Why I talk in this way is to encourage to practice true zazen.

So we say, although we have Buddha nature, if you do not practice it, in other words if you try to understand it some other way, you do not understand it but just when you practice it you will understand what is our way. This point is very important for Buddhists. We do not talk so much, but through our activity we communicate with each other -- intentionally or unintentionally and we should be always alert enough to communicate without words or with words. If this point is lost we will lose the most important point of Buddhism. So wherever we go we should not lose this way of life. That is so-called to be Buddha, or to be boss. Where-ever you go we say you should be the master of the surroundings. It means you should not lose your way. So that is so-called Buddha because if you are in that way always you are Buddha himself. Without trying to be Buddha you are Buddha. This is how we attain enlightenment. So, to attain enlightenment is to be always Buddha. By repeating same thing over and over we will acquire this kind of understanding, but if you lose the point by practice you will build up some thick wall for yourself by yourself. We should not confine ourselves in the thick wall which is built by study or by practice. So, if the time come just to get up and to come here and sit and talk or listen and go home all those procedures are our practice. If so you are always Buddha without any idea of attainment. This is true practice of zazen. You may understand the true meaning of Buddha's first statement of “to find out the Buddha nature on various beings and in every one of us” and how different his teaching was from the various teachings which they have had.



Zen Mind
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Sunday Morning, November 16, 1969
San Francisco
(title from book: Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 133)

This morning, I want to talk about our practice.

And here in America, something special is happening: that is our group. Our students cannot be categorized in the same way we define Zen student-- Zen Buddhist in Japan, because you are not-- you are not priest and you are not complete-- completely layman. I understand it this way.

That, you know, you are not priest is easy to understand, but that you are not completely layman is-- I think you are special, you know, people in our society. [Laughs.] Not hippie. [Laughs.] But something like that. [Laughs, laughter.] So I don't know what to say.

So-- that is, I think you want some special practice, you know: not exactly priest practice, not exactly layman's practice. And-- but we are on the way to have special, you know-- to have some different way of life for us. That is our Zen community, I think-- not community, but our group. And-- and so we have to have some-- some appropriate practice for-- for us.

Before I talk about our special way of practice, I think it is better to understand-- better to understand what is original-- what is Dogen's practice. He says, “Some may,” you know, “attain enlightenment. Some may not,” he says. This is, you know, the point I am very much interested in. “Some may attain enlightenment and some may not,” what mean-- which means although we practice same way, same fundamental practice, but some may attain enlightenment and some may not. It means that even though we do not have enlightenment experience, you know-- experience, as long as we sit in proper way, proper right understanding of practice, that is Zen. The main point is to have right understanding of practice and practice our way seriously. And what is important point in understanding of our practice is-- we say “big mind,” or “small mind,” or “buddha-mind,” but that kind of, you know, words means something-- something we cannot-- something we should not try to understand in term of experience.

“Enlightenment experience,” we say, but it is not, you know, some experience which we will have good-- in term of good or bad. It is special experience which is beyond those feeling or a kind of consciousness. So we should not, you know, ask what is, you know, enlightenment experience. Even though you ask someone-- that you asks that kind of under- [partial word]-- ans- [partial word]-- question means you don't know what is Zen experience-- enlightenment experience. Enlightenment experience is difficult, or impossible, or something you should not try to ask in your ordinal [ordinary] way of thinking. When you give up this kind of-- when you are not involved in this kind of understa- [partial word]-- this kind of way of thinking, you have chance to understand what is Zen experience. I want to, this morning-- I want to make this point clear as much as possible.

We say “big mind,” you know. “Big mind.” Big mind is not something which you can experience [in] some objective way. Big mind is something which is always with you, you know, which [is] always on your side, not, you know, objective side-- always subjective side, here [pats something]. So you-- you see, you cannot see your eyes, you know. Eyes cannot see themselves. The eyes only perceive things outside: objective beings, not eyes itself.

So, you know, we cannot see the big mind, because it is always with us-- here-- right here. [Laughs.] If you, you know, reflect on yourself, that self, you know, is not your true self anymore. You project-- when you think about yourself, you project “you” as some objective thing, you know. Do you understand? Your mind is there. And your true mind is watching the mind outside. So mind outside of itself.

When I discussed this point at Tassajara, after lecture, Peter [Schneider?] said, “mind out of itself.” This is very han- [partial word]-- very good, you know, interpretation of big mind/small mind: mind outside of itself. You know, mind is here, you know, and you project your mind there, and you say this is my mind, and that is self-- so-called-it “self” or “small mind,” a limited mind. When you understand your mind something like this or like that, you know, it is-- you are limiting-- you put limitation to the true mind, or you object- [partial word]-- objectify your mind, your subjective mind which is always with you.

Why I say so is, you know-- this mind is-- which is always on your side, is not just your mind. This mind is universal mind, which is-- which is always same, and which is not difference [different] from other's mind. It is big, big mind. And interesting thing for this mind is, whatever you see, you know, your true mind is always with it, you know. When you see something like this, you know, although you don't know your own mind, but when-- at the moment you see something, your mind is here. [Sounds like he is tapping on the nyoi stick. Laughs.] This is very interesting. [Laughs.] Always, you know, your mind is always with things you observe-- you see. So this mind is at the same time everything.

We Buddhist, you know, traditionally talk about this kind of mind and this kind of being which is always one with mind, you know. Usually you may think, “My mind is watching this cup,” you know. Usually you say so. You understand: my mind is here, and cup is here, and I am watching it. As I [laughing] tentatively explained, you know, [laughing], my-- my mind is always with it. But this is rather opposite, you know.

Real being is something which is, which-- which has two side. You may think this is mind, or this is cup-- it is rather confusing. [Laughs.] But did you understand what I mean?

When we understand mind in this way, that is big mind, which is always with things. And subjectively speaking, it is mind which is always on this side, not there. We Buddhist-- from Buddha's time, we Buddhist do not have any idea of material only, or mind only, or we do not say our mind produce things, or mind is a kind of attribute of materialistic being.

We always-- in Buddhism, mind and body, or mind and material is always one, and we are talking ab- [partial word]-- always talking about this, even though sometime we say “dharma.” That dharma means, you know, mind and body being-- or mind and material-- spiritual and material being. We are always talking about it. But, you know, if you carelessly, you know, carelessly listen to it or hear it, we are-- as if we are talking about some material and some spiritual being.

So when we say “material,” or when we say “big mind,” that will be version of it, maybe. Mind which is always with being, with objective being, or mind which is always with-- on this side [pats something three times], that is true mind. So enlightenment experience is, you know, to figure out, or to understand this mind which is always with us, which we cannot see it.

So that is why Dogen Zenji says, “Don't think,” you know, “we will have-- don't expect all of us who practice zazen will attain enlightenment about,” you know, “this mind, which is always with us.” It-- it mean that if you think, you know, big mind is somewhere outside of yourself, then that is mistake. If you practice zazen ex- [partial word]-- expecting something outside of yourself, that is mistake. Did you understand this point? Because the big mind is always with us.

If you try to, you know-- when you try to attain enlightenment as if you see the bright star in the sky, “Oh! That's beautiful,” you know. “This is enlightenment.” [Laughs.] But that is not true enlightenment. That is more-- for us that is heresy, you know. You, you know-- you found out [laughs] something there which-- which was-- which is-- object of yourself, you know.

So when you understand the enlightenment experience in that way, that is more-- strictly speaking, that is heresy. You, you know, have idea of material only. Even though you don't feel in that way, but version of your enlightenment experience is exactly like that. There is something material only, or object of your mind exists there, and because of good practice of yourself, you could found out that bright star. So in this statement, there is the idea of, you know, self. And idea of the objects. That is not, you know, how to seek for enlightenment.

When-- the morning I left Tassajara, students has-- had discussion. And someone said, being and doing, you know-- we are discussing about our practice of, you know, eating and sleeping. [Laughs.] And we started to discuss about sex, but that discussion about sex doesn't work so well. [Laughs, laughter.] I thought it is impossible to, you know, discuss about six-- sex. Even though you try, it is very difficult-- very difficult discussion. You will be involved in very, you know, endless, you know, discussion, because sex problem, or sex is-- if you say “sex,” whatever we do [laughing] is sexual activity. So to talk about sex means to talk about our life, to talk about whole Buddhism. [Laughs, laughter.] So I thought it doesn't mean, you know, to talk about only sex. [Laughs.]

If we want to talk about sex, we have to, you know, talk about-- we have to discuss about what is Buddhism from the beginning. That is almost impossible to discuss. Too big problem. Actually, if you understand sex in that way there's no more sex problem. [Laughs.] No more sex because there is no-- nothing to-- problem-- problem of sex is not any special problem. That is, you know, that is our-- to-- that is actually our life.

You say, “Oh, how beautiful this flower is!” When you say so, that is already sex. [Laughs.] We understand in that way. Our version of, “Don't be immoral,” you know, means, “Don't say this is wonderful,” you know. That is-- our unders- [partial word]-- our version of the fourth precept. I shouldn't be involved in this kind of discussion right now, so [laughs] I have to skip this [laughing, laughter]. Ex- [partial word]-- I don't want to explain it right now-- what I was going to say, by the way [laughing].

Doing and being. When we discuss about being, you know-- being-- we are already involved in something material only or something spiritual only. When we, you know, try to understand doing-- doing is practice, you know, then our discussion is Buddhist discussion. When we discuss doing, doing include two sides of be- [partial word]-- two sides of-- include two side anyway: being and non-being, right and wrong, good and bad.

When you think, you know-- you see whether I want to stay in bed, you know, one minutes more. On the other hand you say, “I must get up,” you know, “right now, to practice zazen.” That is more idea [laughs] of being, you know, being in bed. You are thinking about being, you know, your being in Zen meditation hall, and you cannot be two beings at the same time. So there is conflict.

When you understand yourself-- who is -- [Sentence not finished. Tape turned over.]

-- then you think you understand yourself by doing, by getting up when you try to lays your head, or support your body by your, you know, arm, there there is true practice. You are right there. When you are thinking about your being in bed or your being in zendo, naturally your-- your mind will be divided in two-- split in two, and it will create problem. So someone said this is, in short, the problem of doing and being. I think this is very-- he, you know, he had-- when he said so, he had key point of our zendo life.

Why I started to talk about this point-- about this kind of thing is-- priest-- as a priest, you know, I think we-- at least we have to have deeper understanding-- more accurate understanding about our practice. And we should have some enlightenment experience, at least. We should be, you know, not only able to-- being able to talk about-- about practice, we should experience, you know-- we must have full experience-- better experience of our practice. And for-- for someone, you know, it is necessary to have-- to put confidence in your big mind which is always with you. And you should be able to appreciate things, you know, as a expression of the big mind. In short, you must have some faith in big mind, which I explained.

It is-- actually, if you understand what I said now, it is actually more than faith, you know. It is ultimate truth which you cannot reject. Whether it is, you know, difficult to practice in that-- whether it is easier or difficult to understand or to practice it literally, you-- this is the absolute truth which you must accept. And you must have anyway strong confidence in your big mind which is always with you, which you will find wherever you go. I think this is-- if you, you know, have strong confidence, at-- I think you are already, in its true sense, Buddhist even though you don't attain enlightenment. Your, you know, your practice will develop, and you have not much danger [of] being sick or being in confusion.

Mostly, you know, physically and mentally when we become sick, you know, it is lack of confidence in your self which is always with you, and [you] seek for something, or try to be something else. You know, when you are sick, you should be sick [laughs] because there is true you. You will find true mind at that time in your sickness. So, you know, supported by everything, being supported by everything, you just lie on your bed like this, you know. The bed will be very comfortable, you know, warm, nice bed. When you have this kind of feeling, I think your sickness is already maybe 80, 90% over. You are recovered already. But most people struggle, you know, in the cold bed. “Oh! I should-- I [laughs]-- I must recover,” you know. “Tomorrow we have party, so I cannot stay in bed.” So he may struggle. “I have a baby, so I must get well.”

In this way, if you struggle in your bed, that is very serious illness. Because of lack of understanding of yourself, and because you don't understand what is “you,” you become sick. I am sure-- I am quite sure, most people is ill, not healthy at all. But when you do not think you are sick, you are healthy. When you think you are sick, you are sick. [Laughs.] That's all. You may have some opposition to this kind of statement, but this is very true.

So how-- I want to help people, you know, sick people, mentally or physically. I wish I could give my, you know, my understanding to him or to her. But it looks like-- quite-- very difficult for them to understand, to-- to put faith in themselves, to understand big mind. I think best way is to practice our way before you are involved in this kind of, you know, sickness caused by yourself, caused by lack of understanding of yourself. Especially, you know, people whose parents or grandparents had some special illness. They are always in fear of getting same illness which their mother or father or grandmother or grandfather had. This is terrible thing, you know. Even though you are healthy, mentally you are ill, seriously ill. You are always confronting with the fear of being sick. Whether or not it's-- their parents are, you know, mentally and physically healthy or not, he will be sick if he has-- if they have that kind of fear always.

So how to get out of this kind of fear is to practice zazen. And to get out of-- or to get rid of the mind outside of yourself. And to resume to your practice, to your actual being and practice, to find out yourself as doing-- someone who is doing something, who is always with everything-- with Buddha-- and who is supported fully by everything. Then you are quite safe. When you are safe this moment, it means that you are-- in future you are safe. When this moment of yourself is not safe, next moment of you will be sa- [partial word]-- will be in danger.

For us, you know, today-- tomorrow is future of this moment [tapping stick], you know, nothing but future of this moment. So when you think you are in danger right now, you know, tomorrow also you will be in danger-- for you, I mean, for you right now. So when you continue this kind of confidence in yourself: today will be all right, tomorrow will be all right, and always with-- you are on the-- on the track. When you lose this point, you know, that is-- you will be lost, and you will continue this kind of dangerous life, and you will be in fear always.

So it is necessary for you to be able to be-- get out of it in this moment, right now. You may say “It is not possible,” but it is possible. Even in one moment you can do that. That means it is possible. That you can do it in this moment means you can do it always. So if you see this kind of flash of lightning in dark, fearful, you know, sky, “Oh!” that is it. That is your enlightenment experience. You have great confidence in yourself.

This is, you know, how to be a Buddhist in its true-- true sense. The difference between layman or Buddhist is not big problem. Whether we attain-- whether we have, you know, enlightenment experience or not is minor problem. So someone may attain enlightenment, someone may not. But they are all Buddhist.

I have been thinking about future, you know, [of] Buddhism in America pretty long time. And if we concentrated on this point, naturally this kind of problem will be solved. Anyway, you know, it is good thing. I feel in America the young generation has a great opportunity to find out the true way of life for human being, because in Japan or in undeveloped countries, they have to have-- be-- they have to be involved still [in] materialistic problem. Here in America you haven't, you know, this kind of problem any more. Maybe you have, because you reject it. [Laughs.] The people in [laughs] Japan, they have this problem-- want of material, so they-- always to gain it, that is problem. But you are rejecting it, rather. “No, I don't want any car. I don't want bankbook [laughs]. I don't care.” “I don't care” is very good, I think. But there is no need for you to reject it. That is too much.

Anyway, I think you started Zen practice in best condition, and with very pure mind. So you will understand Buddha's teaching in it-- as he meant, exactly. Something will happen to us anyway, I think. In-- in maybe-- I don't know when [laughs]-- tomorrow or next year, I don't know-- maybe after I-- maybe I will see you from the-- I will see you from the ground, like this. [Laughs, laughter.] I don't know when, but something must happen. It is very clear.

I didn't join the-- you know, yesterday's peace walk, but I heard of it, and I was very-- very much encouraged by it.

I think it is the time to start our practice in its true sense, forgetting all about robed person or hippy-style person [laughs].

Let's-- Gyate, gyate-- recite Gya te, gya te, ha ra gya te, and join the procession, join our practice. Thank you.