- Shunryu Suzuki Index  - WHAT'S NEW - table of contents - Lectures

Autobiographical and some Historical Material
in Suzuki lectures through 1968

Quickly went through almost 2000 pages - needs more work - DC

1969 - 1970 - 1971

Again quickly went over this and highlighted a few places and cleaned up a little but still a lot to be done. - DC (6-07-17)


SR: Lafcadio Hearn-- the-- I don't know what nationality he-- he--

SR: He is very familiar to Japanese people. He lived in my home town, Yaizu and Matsue-- he thought Matsue or Yaizu is his native town. He wrote many books about Japan and many interesting books. Dr. Kato was studying about him. And one of the story he wrote was “Miminashi Hoichi.”  [Tells the story]

1(Patrick) Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904): essayist, journalist, and teacher. Son of an Irish father and Greek mother, Hearn settled in Japan in 1890 after living in America for several years. In Japan he taught English and wrote extensively about the country, its myths, and its history. His essays became the West's most popular source of information about the recently “opened” Japan. h



People get married to help each other. So if my boy marries a beautiful, healthy, rich woman, then he is not a Buddhist. My boy should marry someone whom he can help. So I told him he should marry a girl he likes (feels toward), even if the villagers think she is plain and dumb, etc. He should not consider appearances.



When we were little boys, we were all Buddhas; even when we were 16 or 17 years old we were still innocent and Buddha. But Zen can be dangerous to innocent minds. they easily tend to view Zen as something good or special by which they can gain. Such an attitude is misleading and can lead to trouble. We should not regard Zen so, because such a perspective is the same as attaching to Zen. If we attach to Zen, we go swiftly to hell even though we think we are good and innocent. Thus an innocent young person can become careless of his Buddha nature (his original innocence) and attach to his own idea of his innocence-and create more problems for himself.



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.


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.”



My father was a priest. And his friend-- my father passed away long, long time ago. But his friend who was a priest stayed only [at] one temple, but he had many good friends. But he is a kind of exception, but there is some truth in his way. So try not [to] study Buddhism in your pleasure. And choose something-- choose your way in some common and plain world. There there is true pleasures of life, and eternal truth is there.



My teacher Kishizawa Ian's teacher, Nishiari Bokusan -- oh, before I tell you this story, I must [laughs] say something about his life when he was quite young or before he become a priest. [He was] my teacher's teacher's teacher [laughs]-- teacher's teacher's teacher. Grand, no-- no-- grand-teacher. Grand-teacher. He was a, you know, a kind of rascal [laughter] when he was young. He left Tokyo for Kyoto because he had nothing to eat, or nowhere to stay. So he stayed [at] Kaizoji in Odawara near Hakone Mountain. There, there was famous Geitan Zenji, and he invited the rascal to [go] upstairs. “Come and sleep here,” he said. So, you know, he [was] rather surprised-- unusual treatment or entertainment. For-- so he thought it may be good idea to stay one or two days.

So he stayed, but even when he wanted to go out, he didn't allow him to go out. “You should stay here.” [Laughs.] So he-- at last he became a priest [laughs, laughter]. The rascal change into a priest.

That priest was my master's-- my teacher's teacher. When-- before he [Nishiari Bokusan] passed away-- five years before he passed away, when he wanted to make-- give his disciples some lecture, he couldn't find out some paper [with a] commentary on it. So he called my teacher, “Where did you put my paper?” So he tried to find out and seek for it, but he couldn't find out. So my teacher's teacher was very angry with him. “You must have lost it! You must have thought that is just paper. Learned one as you, that commentary may be no good, just a paper-- maybe just paper. But for me, that paper is very important. How I want it you may not understand it because you have too much [laughs, laughter] knowledge here. You may not understand it, but I want it badly.” [Laughs, laughter.]

So, you know, not only my teacher, many disciples tried to find out, but no one could find out. But someone who were working in the kitchen said it was in box [laughs]. So my teacher took it and-- took it to the teacher. And the teacher became more angry, you know. “You must have-- where was it?” he asked. “It was in the box” [laughing, laughter ongoing]. “Who-- who allowed you,” you know, “to open that box?!” So, he-- my teacher said, “I am sorry.” “You always say, 'I am sorry.' Even though you say 'I am sorry,' you don't mean it.”

And several months later, my teacher's teacher was, you know, crying. And so my teacher asked, “Why are you so sad?” You know, he said, “I am so short-tempered! [Laughs, laughter.] I am very sorry for myself and for you too.” So since then, you know, my teacher almost, you know, forgot about his, you know, ego-centered attitude. So you may say this is just anger, but it is not so. They are very-- their practice is always concentrated on selfish idea, ego. Until we can get rid of ego, we will have pretty difficult time. But after that, how you feel is-- maybe you cannot imagine.



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.



Do not commit adultery [laughs]. Do not commit adultery. It-- it means attachment, you know, some extreme-- this precept emphasize especially our attachment to some particular thing. But it does not mean to-- not to attach to other sex [laughs]. But we attach to things-- to some particular thing as we attach to the other sex. As you attach to girlfriend or boyfriend. That is very true. So, if you, you know, if you keep yourself from being attached to-- if you are able to do it when it is necessary it means you are able to refrain from various attachment. Do not commit adultery.

I was scolded by my master many times: “You are committing adultery!”1 [Laughter.] In my temple, Zoun-in, there was no female. But still he said, “Don't commit adultery!” [Laughter.] He was right, I think [laughter]. Do not lie. This precept belongs to, you know, world, but, he said, even though I don't say anything, don't lie [Laughter]. Your eyes telling lie, your countenance telling lie. It is true, very true.



introduce to you Kobun Chino Sensei, June 1967

I am so grateful to introduce to you Kobun Chino, sensei. He was appointed to Zen Center to be a teacher of you. I hadn’t met him before. I was told about him but yesterday I met him for the first time and I felt as if we were old friends. I was so happy to see him. It was quite a long time since I saw you -- maybe three weeks, but I feel as if it is almost one year or so but actually it is just three weeks. In this three weeks this zendo, Haiku Zendo, made a big progress under the guidance of Katagiri

67-06-22 A


Our study will be concentrated for a while on the statement: “The mind itself is Buddha.”1  It is pretty difficult to study, to listen to our lectures or our teachings. Usually when you study something, and even when you are listening to our lecture, I think that what you understand will be an echo of yourself. You think you are listening to me, but actually you are listening to yourself, so no progress will result.  You always understand our lecture in your own way. Your understanding is always based on your way of thinking. So I think that you hear my voice and see my face, but actually you see yourself, and what you hear is nothing but an echo of yourself.

My study was like that for a long time. I think this is often the case when we study Buddhism. If you want to study Buddhism, you have to clear your mind. You should not have any prejudice. You should forget all you have learned before.



(speaking to students at Tassajara bout their work and problems with each other)

Usually what we do is not so difficult. The problems which follow because of your imperfect understanding of work are more difficult. You will suffer from the useless problems, and you will lose the whole monastery. If the point of your work is lost, it is not a monastery any more. If you visit a monastery and everything is in order, the plants and vegetables are healthy, every place is clean, and the tools are well polished and sharp, that is sure to be a good monastery. But polishing your tools or raising your vegetables is not the main point of your practice. The main point is whether or not your effort is real practice. When there is good teaching and good practice, there is good feeling, and everything will grow. But the purpose is not just to get larger crops or to have a great amount of work. So even though you have some special ability, you will work on something you are not familiar with. But as long as you have something to work on, you should do your best in your position.

[Was with SR in Tassajara shop and he looked at the tools and sighed and said at Eiheiji they’d be all polished and neat. They weren’t that bad – they were clean and mounted in place on the wall as I thought they should be but there was some clutter here and there as there is in any shop where there’s a lot of activity.]

67-08-21: Genjo-Koan


The founder of my temple was always studying Zuigan's koan. Zuigan always addressed himself, “Zuigan?” And he answered, “Yes!” “Zuigan?” “Hai!” The neighbors wondered what he was doing! “Zuigan!” At first they thought, “Zuigan isn't well.” But he was always addressing himself, “Zuigan,” and answering, “Hai!” Do you understand? Our practice should be like this, you know.

Of course, all of us have some small or big enlightenment, and in your zazen you may think about it again. But if you try to think about it, you will be lost, you will be lost. I know. I myself was lost, so I think you will be lost too,  because you are involved in an intellectual, cerebral way of thinking. And once you lose yourself, you start to torture yourself, you don't feel so good. That anxiety, that impatient, angry feeling will continue, and your practice will become worse and worse. That is what will happen to you.



SR: As I said this afternoon in my lecture, the second master of my temple in Japan was studying Zuigan's addressing his own name for six years it was not enough. After he found out the truth of addressing himself is addressing to the Buddha nature, addressing to our Shakyamuni Buddha, the true practice started in my temple. Sometimes many students, sometimes quite few students, but that practice incessantly continues so far. But his practice will continue forever and pervade whole world, whole universe, because this is the truth how everything exists in each world and each world without any contradiction or disturbance exists at the same time in the same way. As I believe in this truth, I am here now in Tassajara, and practicing our way with you. This is not Japanese way



During this practice period and sesshin I think you have been making a very good effort and that what you have attained is great. There is no wondering about this point. You came here, so far from your home, and you are right now listening to something quite different from anything you have heard before. I have been encouraged by your sincere effort. My understanding of our Buddha's way has been improved a lot by the feeling you have expressed for me, whether you are aware of it or not.

[continues along this line]



(3rd time he refers to this story) When I was young, I wanted to practice true practice, and I wanted to know what the way-seeking mind is in its true sense. I thought that to do something good might be the way-seeking mind. So I got up very early, and washed the toilet and sink before the other students got up. I thought that would be a very good thing to do. But while I was doing this, I was afraid someone would see me. I wanted to do it just by myself without being noticed by anyone else. “If someone sees me, that will not be pure practice,” I thought. But, before they saw me, I was already going wrong in my mind. I asked myself whether I liked doing it without being noticed by anyone, or whether I wanted it to be known by someone else. Why am I doing something like this? So, in a way, I couldn't accept my way-seeking mind. I was not so sure of the purity of my way-seeking mind.

When I saw a lamp lit in one room, of course, I hid myself. I thought that someone had gotten up already and might come down. It seemed as though I was at least trying to do something good with a pure mind, but that my mind was not so pure. My mind was wandering about. I couldn't make my mind sure, and I was at a loss for what to do. I suffered a little bit. And I thought, and thought, and thought about what I should do.

One day, when I was listening to a psychology lecture, the teacher said, “It is impossible to catch our mind exactly. It is especially impossible to know what we have done. The mind which acted some time ago, the mind which belongs to the past, is impossible to catch. And even the mind which is acting right now is impossible to catch, actually.” So I thought, “no wonder it is so difficult for me to understand my mind.” And I gave up trying to be sure of my way-seeking mind. Since then I have done things, without thinking, just because they were good. And, at the same time, whether or not people saw me was not my problem anymore.



There are many interesting story about the cook in the kitchen. [Laughs]. I think I have told you about this story.  Tonight we had something interesting, you know – do you know what it was? In Japan, we call it gobo. It is the root of the plant, as thick as this. It is rather troublesome to cut. But head of the gobo is as big as this. [tells a story of head of snake in Gobo]

When I was at school, the head of the school always told us, "You should not be concerned about what people do. You should be concerned about what is ???."

You should be a friend of ???. And you should not be friend of your practice for your friend. "You should not be friend of human being," he said. I couldn't understand, you know, it??. "You should not be friend of human being. You are friendly, ???," he said.

Now I understand what he meant. When your practice is their?? practice, including ???, which includes ???, that is true practice. We should not be ???. Confusion. [Which we'll?? have in our human world. This is very serious?? ??? for us. To be completely caught by some trivial things which we'll?? ... which we don't... do not know when it will happen to us. If we became angry, ??? some... some ??? thing, like that, you know, we?? have no time in?? practice of our way. ???, this kind of thing is happened to us.

This point, should be remember??. And we should not ??? some trivial thing??. ??? constancy??, or patience, or taking?? of ??? way of practice.

Source: 67-09-12 [problem tape]


Interview with Suzuki and Baker on KPFA radio

Elsa Knight Thompson:1 -- by telling us something more about our guest, Suzuki Roshi.

Richard Baker: Roshi came to America about six years ago, and he was only going to stay for a year or two and [2 words]. Many Americans came to meditate with him. He kept postponing leaving, and finally there was such a large group meditating with him in San Francisco we had no more room, and there wasn't an opportunity to study with him as well as if we had a place in the mountains. And we found Tassajara Hot Springs, which is a beautiful, old, historical hot springs and historical sight in the San Lucia Mountains.

Thompson: Now, we're-- we're still talking about Suzuki Roshi. Didn't he have a congregation in Japan prior to coming to this country?

Baker: Yes, he-- as I understand, now I--

Thompson: We can ask him at what-- prior to coming to the United States--

SR: Oh, I was appointed by our headquarters to Sokoji. And when-- while I was there, I sit every morning, and many Caucasians started to join my practice. That is why I started sitting with them-- with Caucasian. Mostly--

Thompson: You were a Zen priest--

SR: Yes.

Thompson: -- to translated into American.

SR: Uh-huh.

Thompson: Is that--

SR: Yes.

Thompson: -- in Japan you were a Zen priest--

SR: Uh-huh.

Thompson: Attached to a monastery or a center? What would the proper explanation be?

SR: Yeah. I was the head priest of Rinsoin, which is a pretty big temple, and I was always helping the monastery near there-- my teacher's [?].

Thompson: I see. You were attached to a temple, and you worked also with the Zen monasteries.

SR: Yeah.

Thompson: And you came to this country for a visit and acquired so many people who wish to study with you--

SR: Uh-huh.

Thompson: -- that there was first a congregation in San Francisco, was there not?

SR: Yes.

Thompson: And then this whole situation expanded suddenly into something which is now the Zen Mountain Center. And perhaps, Richard, you could tell us how the Zen Mountain Center came about? Where it is and so on as you started to do a while ago, but I wanted the audience to have a little better acquaintance with--

Baker: Right.

Thompson: -- Suzuki Roshi before we began on the center.

Baker: It's in the San Lucia Mountains down inland from the big coast about ten miles. Do you-- should I say something more about his background in Japan or anything like that? I mean, it wasn't-- it's not exactly clear. Let me say that Sokoji, which he mentioned, is the name “Sokoji.” “Soko” stands as Japanese shortening for San Francisco-- ”ji” is temple-- is the Japanese congregation in San Francisco which he was asked to come to because he knew English.

67-11-06-I: KPFA Radio Interview with Elsa Knight Thompson.


So far is what I said this morning in my lecture, and I recited Fukanzazengi. And it is too dark, or even [if] I have glasses I cannot read this print. So I will not read it, but usually in evening zazen, we recite this Fukanzazengi every night-Eiheiji. If you read it over and over, you will realize the true meaning of it.

So to do something with-- with right feeling is the purpose of practice. You will see someone who do things in quite appropriate way with, you know, with very harmonious feeling. Even though he is, you know, practicing something very rigidly, if someone else imitate his practice, it be-- it will be extremely rigid way. But for him it is quite natural.  I know some Zen master who had this kind of feeling. When we-- when I would go with him to the bath, you know, he sit-- he never sit [in] the middle of the bath-- bathtub. He just sit in some corner-- not corner, but some appropriate place. And after taking bath, he may arrange everything which other students misplaced, you know-- the wooden-- this is-- I cannot pronounce this [laughs] word-- wooden bar?

You know, wooden--

Student: Brush? Okay.

SR: Okay [laughs]. Okay. He put-- you know, arrange everything quite naturally, you know. So he do it so naturally that no one notice it, and it doesn't-- he doesn't bother anyone. And way he talk, way he eat-- this is very harmonious with other people, and yet very-- very beautiful anyway. This kind of, you know, activity is, I think, well-trained Zen monk's activity. It may take pretty long time before one can act in that way.

So he himself does not know what he is doing. If he is aware of his practice, you know, naturally, we will bothered by his being with us [laughs]. “Oh!” Here he came, and, you know, you may not like him at all. It is not just because of training, but because of his liberation from the idea of good or bad. I cannot express. This is so subtle activity that-- and I cannot behave like that, you know. If I work, you know, I stay work so long [laughs], and I shall not be in time for service [laughs] [1-2 words] sometime. This is very bad. When we, you know, stop working, we should stop working. We should not be too enthusiastic, you know. Because I am caught by some-- something in your work, I lose the complete freedom from the work. Without much zeal in your practice, to practice it quite naturally in appropriate way, without trying being-- without trying to be appropriate, is the way it should be.



Nowadays we have very complicated life. But in this direction, as long as we are making effort to reach the moon or the Venus, if that is only way we know, there is no hope for us to be-- to attain liberation. a The other day-- the last year, or the-- no-- the year before last year, I went to Yosemite and saw a waterfall. I was watching it. It was one sheet of, you know, white pearls hanging on the rock. But a part of it, you know, separated from-- by the rock. Part of the water separated from the rock and falling down. When I saw it, I felt very sorry for the [laughs] separated water, you know. It is-- it was almost going to be mist, you know, but still water. If it become completely mist, there will be no problem [laughs] for it. But they are not mist yet and water. So it has to travel one thousand feet, you know, all the way down to the bottom. If, you know, when-- if I didn't see that separated water, I have that kind of feeling for the water. But separation from the original source creates some feeling for us.



Sometime I, you know, I am amused myself [laughs] to observe Japanese way in America. When I go to grocery store-- grocery store, I usually buy worst fruits or old-- oldest [laughs] vegetables. If I see something good I, you know, I take off the something good to find something bad. And why I buy something-- the worst one, because I feel very sorry [laughing, laughter throughout story] for the worst one. This is habit, you know, and I pay same amount of money. So at the store they are interested in my way of buying. “Why don't you take this one? This one is better,” they say. “No, I want to buy this one.” And they say, “Why? Why?” I will say, “I don't know why.” And I-- I amuse myself, you know, [with] my habit. I have very funny habit. But I couldn't get rid of my forgetfulness. I tried pretty hard, but I still forget.

But to repeat something is not so difficult. If you repeat it, it will be a part of you, and this is, you know, how we observe our way. Here at Tassajara you do not pass big pickle dish, you know. You divide mine and put it in front of me. But if you pass, you know, our pickles in one big dish starting for me, I always eat [laughs]-- I shall always eat the worst part [laughs], and in the monastery, the last one will eat the best part.

This is, you know, our-- our way and our habit. No one ask us why. But sometime, or when I was young, some people explained why. He said, “You should cultivate your virtue. You should accumulate your merit. If you do not eat, if you give others good part of the pickle, that much you will accumulate your virtue-- merit. That is why you should take worst part of the pickle.” And I thought, you know, it was, you know-- then I would rather take the best part [laughs, laughter] to save others-- to let them [laughs, laughter]-- to let them accumulate more merit. I don't want to accumulate merit for myself. But I didn't try, but I thought so. Really I thought so. !



It’s been a pretty long time since I saw you. I am still studying hard to find out what is our way. Recently I reached the conclusion that there is no Buddhism or there is no Zen or anything. Yesterday, when I was preparing for the evening lecture (in San Francisco) although I tried to find out something to talk about, I couldn’t find out anything so I was just reading. And I thought of the story which I was told in Obon Festival when I was young. The story is about the water or the story is about the people in Hell.

Although they have water, the people in Hell cannot drink it because the water burns like a fire, or water which they want to drink looks like blood, so they cannot take it. While the celestial beings -- for the celestial beings it is jewel and for the fish it is their home and for the human being it is water. You may think, if you think water is water (if you understand that water is water, as we do ) is right understanding the water sometimes looks like -- although water sometimes looks like jewel or house or blood or fire that is not real water -- you may think in this way. As you think that zazen practice is real practice and the rest of the everyday activities is the application of zazen, but this (zazen) is fundamental practice. But Dogen Zenji, amazingly said, ‘Water is not water’. If you think water is water your understanding is not much different from the understanding of fish’s understanding, and hungry ghost’s understanding of water, or angel’s understanding of water. There is not much difference between our understanding and their understanding.



Maybe before I finish my lectures, I'll, you know, let me talk more about Kumazawa. I rather, you know, angry with him! [Laughs]. Because I was fooled by him for maybe more than thirty years! [Laughs].

And I found out that I was fooled by him, you know ... some thirty years ago.

And, you know, he gave us ... some Zen story during sesshin time. We are sitting in cold, cold zendo, for seven days, at Eiheiji. In the snow. And we are, you know, very serious our practice. Of course, we are so young!

One morning, Kumazawa Zenji ... at that time he was Kanin – he was Director of Eiheiji monastery – came to zendo and gave us a Zen story.


He said, "Do you understand this story?" We?? said, "As sparrow, a sparrow broke, you know, big stone gate--" torii. Ichino Torii means, you know, big gate built by ... built of stone. As thick?? of this, maybe, I don't know how big. But, a sparrow break it. I don't know how – maybe by stepping on it! [Laughs].

And he said, "Do you understand?" I... we thought that is some koan, you know. We must solve during seven-day sesshin!

And he started to talk about it, in very serious mood.

I didn't like, you know, that kind of, you know, story. Zen story. So-called Zen story. I feel as if, wherever I read or hear Zen story, I felt as if I was fooled by it [Laughs]! Giving not much reason for it. They talk about something funny.

So because I didn't like it, so I remembered it what he said. I still remembered it.

But the other day, you know, when I, you know, think about what he said, you know, when I repeat it, what he said, "Kosuzume ga ichi no torii wo fumiotta."

What does it mean? Of course, in Japanese, I'm sorry. It is Japanese. "Ichi no torii wo fumiotta" Fumiotta means to step on it and break it but another meaning may be a sparrow was stepping on the, you know, stone [Laughs].

For me, always one meaning is break, and the other meaning is stepping on it.

So, [laughs] what he said was... he was, you know, seriously talking about it as if a sparrow was breaking the, you know, was... has broken the big stone gate.

Before he start to talk about, to say something to explain that koan, he repeated, "Did you understand?" [Laughs]. "Did you understand!"

You know, no one could understand that is was joke! [Laughs]. Because we were too serious! [Laughs].

No one talked about, you know, his joke, or his koan after, you know, that, you know, sesshin time.

Because no one could understand what he meant! [Laughs]. Or, no one could understand that was just a joke! [Laughs].

You know, that is another side of the serious, you know, practice.

If someone could, you know, know that was just joke, you know – we are practicing very good practice – not too much effort, but not too little! [Laughs].

Maybe we are... we are wasting our effort, doing ... making some excessive effort.

Too much effort – so we adjust our usual thinking mind.

That is how we obtain, you know, our true practice.

He was a really great Zen master.

That is, you know, how you'll solve the problem.



Here, as you heard, there is no distinction between the teaching for the sravakas and the teaching for the pratyekas. From the viewpoint of the Lotus Sutra, which is a Mahayana teaching....

Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe it is too tedious for you. (lots of laughter in this paragraph) I almost gave up already, so I can imagine how you feel. When I was young, I would go to school by train. As long as the train was going, I was sleeping, but when the train stopped, I woke up. I woke up suddenly because I had to get off. As long as my tedious lecture is going, you may sleep. If I stop my lecture, you should wake up. There will be no need to remember these things, you know. But you should know how complicated our Dharma is. Very complicated, but very clear, you know. But to make it clear, we have to make a good effort. Sometimes it looks like some story, and you may think if you read those scriptures, that there's no truth in them, that they are just fairy tales or stories, but it is not so. The underlying thought is very deep and accurate. So as long as we are studying it, we should make it clear.

68-02-00-C: Lotus Sūtra No. 3


[Been sick long time] Because I was not well, I am sorry I couldn't join your practice so much. But you did very well, I think, and if-- even though as a personal experience you cannot accept your practice, maybe that is not so big problem. We can-- if you can accept yourself completely [laughs], then you are-- you will not be in this world any more [laughs, laughter]. So that you have problem means you have-- are still alive. That is our way [?]. And even though you make a trip to another world, same problem [laughs] you will have, as long as you have your body and mind. Things exist, you know, in that way. That is how things exist in this world.

When I was-- the cold I experienced this time was pretty unusual one-- unusual one for the cold we take-- I took in America. The cold I have had in Japan was as bad as I had this time. High temperature and was feeling, you know, sleeping [or slipping] on some slope upside down [laughs]. Head is-- head is down and feet is up. That is the feeling-- that was the feeling I had when I had cold in Japan.

And as I was very careful recently, as I am trying to, you know, find out some way to help you, so I carefully experienced my bad feeling [laughs, laughter]. And I want to tell you some of them.

But first-- first of all, I want to tell you about breathing. This time, instead of finding of my breathing difficult with some-- what do you call it?-- through our nose or throat, this time, you know, it-- my nose and mouth is open-- too open, you know. Like a bottle without cork [laughs]. So when I take medicine it comes out-- comes in, you know, all at once. And when I exhale, you know, it comes out forcefully [?] so I cannot, you know, take normal breathing [laughs].

So I tried to, you know, I tried to make my throat-- or make throat narrower, with tongue and bottom of my nose so that I can make a snore [makes snoring sound] [laughs]. In this way, I felt good. I thought at that time the life without a problem is like a, you know, breathing without any nose or mouth-- without head [laughs]. The breathing will-- may be very easy, but very, you know, unhappy feeling [laughs, laughter]. No feeling of breathing at all.

So-- and my back ached pretty bad. So I could have-- I could have been patient with it, but I tried many things. I put a stone on my back and tried to, you know-- tried to make some substitute-- substituted problem, you know [laughs]-- the pain. Instead of, you know, unhappy feeling of pain, maybe some usual pain may be better. So I put stone here, and having some pain on my back, you know, I-- I couldn't forget my pain in my back, but I-- it helped the unhappy feeling of my spine. When I did it, you know, I have no idea of zazen or anything. But later I thought, you know, zazen pain in your legs or body in your practice can be a-- may be a stone on my back, you know. That is healthy, you know, normal problem. So if it is-- whatever experience it is, if it is normal experience based on right understanding of life, you can accept the problem quite easily.

There were-- there are many stones, you know, in Tassajara Creek. Each stone has very mysterious strange shape, and which will tell us various things. Here Kumazawa Zenji wrote something about stones, in Japanese. If you go to Sokoji, I think you have-- you must have seen it already: five virtue of stone. Even though you see stone, there is our practice. That is everyday mind. So everyday mind is not just-- just a kind of mind which is always involved in dualistic sense.

[more on this]

68-04-23-A: Because I was not well.


This is, you know, my understanding of sectarianism and Dogen's non-sectarian. I think this is not just-- Dogen's sectarianism can be non-sectarianism with Christianity or some other religion too. Only if you have this kind of understanding, you know, Christianity is all right. [3-4 words] may be all right [laughs, laughter]. Maybe [laughs, laughter].

But they will not understand, you know [laughs], the point. It is they could understand our point, whatever the religion is, that is very helpful. This is my non-sectarianism. So my sectarianism is sectarianism and non-sectarianism [laughs]. Both. Do you understand? You cannot say it is non-sectarianism, because I am very proud sectarian [laughs].

You cannot change my, you know, understanding. No one can change it [laughs]. The only way is to change their understanding [laughter]. But you only frustrated [?] [laughs, laughter]. Even so I, you know, I do not reject any understanding. And I don't-- it does not mean for me there is nothing to study [laughs]. I have to study a lot of things, but there is no need for me to change my foundation of religion.

Because of this foundation, I feel free to study many things, you know. If we-- I lose this foundation, you know, I must be a kind of sectarian-- very bad sectarian [laughs]. Because I feel some easiness, you know, I have no fear of losing my way. Whatever I study, it is all right.



Student F : You said your master always used to get angry at you, right? Something like that.

SR: The, you know-- anger-- when anger-- we don't say anger is not good, you know. But anger-- when anger is just anger, that is-- we cannot say that is bad, you know. But anger-- if anger find out some excuse, you know-- if you find out some excuse for being angry, for yourself or for some purpose, that is not just anger. So anger should be just anger, but that is-- unless you practice, you know, our way or unless you understand what does it mean, “form is form” or “emptiness is emptiness,” it is rather hard, you know, to be just angry like a thunderstorm [makes sound like thunder] [laughs]. Next moment nothing [laughs]. That is beautiful, you know. [Makes loud sound like thunder.] [Laughs, laughter.] That's all. This is very good for-- for himself and for others too, you know. If you could do so -- I wish I can do so,  but [makes sound like thunder] [laughs, laughter]. I think you have more possibility, you know, in this kind of anger [makes sound like thunder] [laughs, laughter]. And I think you will be a good student, you know, better than Japanese people.



In Japan, once a year, we have general housecleaning [laughs]. We take out everything. We choose-- we decide, you know, to have housecleaning, watching newspaper [for the date], you know. And when-- sometime it-- it may be windy, or cloudy, or rainy day. So we, you know, watch the newspaper, and we have housecleaning. On that day, we take everything out [laughs]. We expel everything [laughs], even Buddha shrine or Shinto shrine, you know. We take them out, and we clean completely our house. In the same way, I think, this kind of cleaning is necessary. Without this kind of effort, you pile up, you know, things one after another. Then you will be easily caught by some same old way of life, you know. So you cannot practice zazen in its true sense. When you have this kind of spirit, you can practice shikantaza.

68-10-12-A: Shikantaza, Tenryu's One Finger.


Student A: I have two questions. We read about certain masters who, upon attaining complete enlightenment, are able to direct their future rebirths, in other words, to return to help all sentient beings, coming back through a vow rather than through karma. Would a master, say in this century, who could do that, be a Nirmanakaya buddha?

SR: Do you mean someone who actually knows his former and future lives?  Since I don't know my former and future lives, I cannot say for sure that he is or is not. If I really knew, then I could say yes. When my self doesn't know, how is it possible to say, “Yes, he is”? But according to our more traditional teaching, I think I can say he is a real master.



Nowadays we have robes for everyday practice and robes for ceremonies. I think that we should not use as gorgeous robes as we do now, never wore such gorgeous robes. When I gave a funeral service for the first time for a very rich old person, I just wore a black robe with a brown okesa. They were very angry with me. At the time they didn't say anything, but later they said, “Why didn't you wear a more beautiful one like your master had?” They knew what my master wore, so they asked why I didn't wear it that time. But now I think we should not be attached to the material or the outlook of the robes. A gorgeous one is alright, a shabby one is alright. Now that is my attitude, but at that time I was very concerned about what I wore.

Perhaps no one likes to wear robes that are too gorgeous, like an actor or actress on the stage. In Japan we have ______ [sounds like “agratory”][ask John Kyoto] actresses. In the winter, when they don't have much to do, or during their lunch, they would come out to the city with some gorgeous clothes, hitting drums and bells, and entertaining people with music or a play. So I thought, “We shouldn't be like that. We are not ______ [this time sounds like “andratory”] actors.” But, I think, this kind of attitude is very important, and we should not forget this point.


Buddha's nirvana day. At various temples they hang a picture of Buddha lying down on a bed surrounded by many disciples who are very sad. Even various animals and birds came to see how he was. And when they saw that he was critically ill, they all cried. But we cannot find a cat in the picture.

No one explained why there is no cat, but I thought, “Where is the cat?” When I asked them, they said, “I don't know why the cat didn't come.”

When I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I found some words expressing a superficial good manner. At that time I didn't like the monk's way or priest's way. They always went like this [presumably making some gesture], and it seemed to me they didn't mean it, they just did it superficially without any feeling. And that kind of way is called a “catlike manner.” Cats look very lovely, and their manner is very gentle, but it is not so deep. There is no strong feeling in it. If we say, “Go away,” they will go away. [I'm not sure about my interpretation of this. What he actually said was, “There is no strong feeling in it, they're just [laughs] go-- we say go away, they will go away.”] If they think it is all right, they may easily approach you. When we are busy or are observing something else, a cat may come. They are supposed to be very sneaky in some way. In some literature, someone called that “catlike manner”. So I thought that is why the cat did not come to Buddha's last hour.

Why did I start to talk about this? To just do this [making some gesture] is not a true expression of respect. To live a humble, bare, and simple life is already an expression of respect. It is the best way to express respect to ourselves and others. Even though we lead a bare life, inside, spiritually, we are rich. Even living the simplest way, we have the possibility of giving good feeling to others.

68-10-00-I: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. 10.



Even though, you know, we have plenty of food, you know, you can do that. For instance, if there is … you are head of the kitchen, like Ed, you can use all the food without wasting. How to make best use of it is your spirit.

When I came to San Francisco, for two years I lived … my life was not easy, when I go to restaurant, when I buy something, I chose the most – instead of restaurant. Then I save money to … I chose vegetables which people may not want it.

You know, the next Sokoji days, … and the mistress, you know, very much interested where I buy my food!

I always felt sorry for the rotten … especially potatoes! I thought, eventually, they will rot away. Insides are changing, and the money. I used the money and I buy. And I also felt very good how vegetables may feel when I buy. (Giggles) If I buy vegetables, you know, … I saw crying vegetables each … {Laughter by all} If I buy, you know, worst of them, all of them may be happy! (Giggles)

That kind of, you know, ( constellation ??) is necessary – the same spirit – with the same spirit you can this. Like now, after going, after 2000 years, after Buddha passed away.

I think I'm not Mahakashapa, but that kind of spirit is necessary. This is especially transmitted spirit from my master, and from my father, too.

My father was a teacher, a master of my master, you know. So, I became a disciple of my father's disciple. So, their way is very similar. My father … my master used to tell me something about what my father did when he was young.

After takuhatsu, or when he come back to his zendo, there were river … not big river. If vegetables, you know, come down from upper river, my father would take off his geta, and pick up vegetables, by himself. Sometimes he told my master, who was my father's disciple, told him to pick the vegetables., whenever he saw it.

So, my master said, “Whenever I see vegetables”, before my father tell him to pick up, he would take it back to their temple. So my master told me not to waste anything, and if you take anything with food, you should take the worst one. Most stale – if there are three apples, you should take …. (Giggles) So I was trained in that way, and still I feel very sorry, you know, if I take best one.

So, naturally, you know, without thinking, I take most … and ….

68-10-00-: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. 11


Even though you practice zazen ten years, stupid, forgetful one is always forgetful like me. It is not possible for me not to forget anything. But what you acquire by practice is some quite different quality.

68-10-00-K: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. 12


Student B: Roshi,[that’s DC] I don't know about reincarnation, but I have read Buddhist things on reincarnation that say there is no person reborn, but there are no actor reborn, but the acts continue -- and it seems to me that you could just as easily say as “Who is being reborn now?” As you can say “Who will be reborn later?” We don't understand. What is happening now is no more miraculous, I think, than some continuation of whatever is happening. But do you see what I mean?

SR: Mmm. [Laughter] I am not -- I cannot explain it, you know, satisfactorily. I studied from many teachers, but it was pretty difficult to understand.

Student B: You have no opinion?

SR: No. I have many opinions. [Laughter.]

68-10-00-M: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. 14.


When I came to America, I found very, you know-- I found-- special, some special food for me and I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it very much-- that was potato. Potato was delicious to me, but I don't know if it is so for you or not. I don't know what kind of nourishment potato has, I haven't studied anything about potato, but I like it very much. The reason why I like it is-- I don't know why-- when I was in Japan, of course, I liked it, but I didn't think I liked potatoes so much!

But after I came to America, having very-- various foods and I haven't not much chance to eat potatoes: maybe once a month or so. When I was invited for Thanksgiving, I had mashed potatoes-- that was delicious. But usually I haven't mashed potatoes, or even baked potato. At Tassajara I told Ed I like potato [laughs]. Sometimes, as we have various food-- various kinds of food, so Ed cannot give me always potato. So only once in a while I had potato.

As soon as I come back from Tassajara I go to the grocery store and buy three or four potatoes. And as it takes pretty long time to cook it, I cut it and fry it. My boy doesn't like it, but I like it. My wife doesn't like it much. So I cook it just for myself. Do you know why? Potato was-- when I was young I-- my hometown produced a lot of potatoes, so I was eating potatoes always when I was a boy. So that is why I like it. When I was eating I didn't like it so much because I had it almost not everyday, but four times or more a week.



I'm not blaming you. I was very much stubborn, and ah … but even though I say so, it doesn't mean you have to change your attitude until you really feel something you should go and go on and on. And I think you should try your best, and you should always be faithful to your own confidence and understanding. That is all right.



Next Tuesday we will have no lecture, so this may be-- will be the last one for this-- at the end of the year we clean up our house and we throw [out] old things which we do not use anymore. And we renew our equipment, even things in the-- furniture we renew it. And after cleaning our room we-- we put new, new -- and which is distributed from temple like this. We take off old mats and put new ones, like this. This is-- when in temple we have prayer for the-- to control fire, this is what you call it -- “taking care of fire,” it says in Japanese.

And this is-- in temple at end of the year we have ceremony to read Prajnaparamita Sutra-- 600 volumes of Prajnaparamita Sutra. But actually we cannot read 600 pages of sutra, so the priest conducting the ceremony read one-- one volume of the 600 sutras. Then we have one volume, one of 600-- [inaudible]-- just to turn it instead of reading. And so the most important volume will be recited by the priest who is conducting, and we-- and you receive this kind of prayer card from the temple. That is what we do.

And end of the year is the most busy days. We have to clean up our rooms, and if you have some debts you should pay. For someone to collect the money he lent, and for the most people it is time to pay the debt. And then we-- after cleaning up everything, spiritual and physical, we decorate New Year's decoration so old times [?]. Those should be done before twelve o'clock. And after twelve o'clock there is no need for you to pay-- pay back the money you owed, so the man who-- who wants to collect his money -- even after twelve o'clock, if he had chosen [inaudible].

So usually it is pretty exciting week. This kind of custom still in Japan and each one of us, rather we enjoy this kind of activity. We understand each other-we fool ourselves in some way and enjoy the last day of the year. This idea is based on Buddhist way of understanding life. Moment after moment we should renew our life, we should not stick old idea of life, or way of life, we should renew it, our life day by day, especially at the end of the year. Especially at the end of the year we should completely renew our feeling and completely renew our car. If we stick to old ideas always, or if you have no chance to renew it, it is rather difficult to renew your way of life. Some encouragement is necessary if you always repeating same thing over and over again, then even though you have no feeling of sticking to old way of life, actually you are confined in old way of life. Some excitement or some occasion is necessary. For instance, we use this kind of stick. This is to renew your practice, if you become drowsy, if you don't receive a stick you will[not missing] have chance to renew your -- and in this way, you can live moment after moment. Actually-- faithful-- you will be faithful to your own life.

So, as it is we say, but actually when most people say “way as it is” is not at all way as it is. Without clearing up your mind and body, physically, you will not have chance to live on each moment. So the (end) for us is laziness. If you are always lazy and drowsy, spiritually and physically lazy, you actually have no chance to live truthfully to yourself. That is why we practice various practices. But if you-- if we stick to old way of practice it is not so good also. So it is necessary maybe to change our way of practice sometimes. For an instance, at some monastery they start to bathe in cold water from January, December 1 until December 15. All the monks getting up about four o'clock and going to the lake and bathe --. This is not -- just to get out of drowsy mind. And you will not catch cold. Recently flu is all over, but if you make up your mind to bathe every morning and evening in cold water, your mind do not accept -- because you are so physically and mentally very active. So we monks rather -- ourselves when we catch cold. Lazy monk!

Especially-- it is rather difficult to take cold-water bath, and more difficult after working so hard and to take cold bath in evening very difficult. Maybe I don't know why but anyway when you get up you need some situation, natural, but in evening usually we are not prepared for that kind of situation. That is-- it is so difficult to take cold bath in evening. This kind of practice is not orthodox practice, but according to the situation of the monastery we apply various ways of life and to keep chance to renew our mind and body.  Especially people who live in San Francisco where climate is always same, it may be necessary to, to have some pool for Zen monks to take cold baths. Maybe exciting practice for us, and it will give pretty good stimulation for San Francisco people. I am busy now, everyday activity, but if you want I think you can do it, and you are young enough to do it. It doesn't mean to be involved in ascetic practice, it is the purpose of those practices -- physically and spiritually. We say Zen-- if we, if we are caught by even the idea of Zen we call-- sticking the -- he is not fresh enough-- old stinky Zen student! But if we do not have some chance to renew our practice we will soon, soon we will be stinky student. As if you wear same underwear one week or two weeks. What will happen to us --

And so my teacher or my master always told us: “You stinky boys, wash your underwear!” Not just underwear. And so my teacher-- my master, his way of training his students was-- disciples was pretty different from usual master. He did not allow me to stay at Eiheiji so long time. “Two years is enough! You will become stinky Eiheiji student! That's enough, you should go to Sojiji.”

And when I stayed at Sojiji more than one year, one day he appeared and after talking with me ten minutes. “Maybe it is time for you to leave Sojiji.” And he always put emphasis on Dogen Zenji's beginner's mind. You should always be all right. It means you should not stick to old style of practice, or any kind of practice and you should be always new student. When you go to Rinzai temple, you should be new Rinzai student. And if you go to Japan, you should be new student. You should forget all about what you have studied in America. You will know-- the fundamental practice is the same, but we should practice the essential practice with renewed feeling. This is important. To practice always with new fresh-- freshness of the feeling is rather difficult. Necessary for us to change some part of our practice.

My master didn't give me-- didn't give us any idea of what we will do next day or next week. He didn't talk about tomorrow and it was-- he was very unpredictable type of monk, and monks and priests were very much afraid of him. They couldn't get what he had in his mind. Maybe he didn't have any idea, but he was always concentrated on what he was doing. That is, I think, too much, but it is necessary for us to practice our way moment after moment, with our best effort and -- mind. As we are pretty new students, so it is rather difficult to practice our way without much rules, but each one of you should make your best effort to study without, without instruction in detail, detailed instruction. You should feel as if you are study-- with few people, you shouldn't think that we have so many students. You study our way as if you are studying with your teacher only. I think that help you to ignore other's practice. But we should not be involved in group study only. This is not school-- not school system. I want you-- to understand this point more, whether you are you have only one teacher. We have each one of you are only disciple, disciple for teacher, for a teacher. With this spirit we should practice our way. If this point is missing, we cannot practice Zen --. Originally Zen master do not have so many students. When Dogen left China, receiving transmission from Tendo Nyojo. Tendo Nyojo Zenji said to him: “After you go back to Japan, you should practice your way in remote country with few students and keep always our practice fresh and new, and take good care of your students.” That is what he said when Dogen leave China -- and he secluded himself in remote country, northern part of country and built his small temple in [Echizen, now Fukui] Prefecture, where there is Eiheiji now. d

Tassajara may be-- at Tassajara they may have small, but Eiheiji they-- at this time of year the-- all the buildings is dark because of the snow. We have to cover all building by -- to protect building from heavy snow. Such a remote country he practiced his way, with candlelight, when winter come. That was his way.

68-12-29: at the end of the year we clean up our house.   no more info?



Autobiographical and some Historical Material
in Suzuki lectures - 1968 --
1969 - 1970 - 1971