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Autobiographical and some Historical Material
in Suzuki lectures - 1970

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through 1968 - 1969 - 1971


This has a wheel [castors] here [moves chair again], you know. Wheels, you know, it has. This is very convenient. So I, you know-- sometime I don't like something too convenient, you know. It gives us some-- some lazy, you know, feeling which does not accord with our spirit of practice. And this kind of laziness, you know-- I think our culture is started this kind of lazy idea. And, you know, eventually we-- because of this, we should eventually fight with each other. And we have our cultural background, East or West, nowadays, is something, you know. This kind of lazy idea. Instead of respecting things, we want to use it for ourselves. And if it is difficult to use it, we have idea of conquering something. I think this is not-- this kind of idea does not accord with our spirit of practice.


My teacher, Kishizawa Ian, you know, did not allow us to shut amado-- to draw amado more than one [at a time]. We should, you know, draw it one by one. Do you know? Perhaps you don't know amado, the door outside of shoji screen. There is-- outside of shoji screen there is wooden wood [shutter] to protect shoji from storm or rainstorm. It is, you know-- the end of the building there is a big box for the amado, and one by one we put it in the box, you know. It is sliding doors, so one by one we, you know, put it in that box.

So one priest is there, and another priest is there, and if you pull-- if you push [laughs] five or six doors, you know, like this [probably gesturing]-- another one can be wait there and put it in the box. But he didn't like it. He told us to do it one by one [laughs], so if you-- so one by one-- so one person can do it, you know, and push it-- put it in, and next one. That is how he told us to do it. And it is more-- I think, anyway, it may be in that way we will not make much noise, of course, but the feeling is quite different when you do like this, you know [probably gesturing]. The feeling we receive from it is something, you know-- lack of respect. But when you do it one by one carefully, without making much noise, then we will have there the feeling of practice there.

So there we have feeling of zazen practice. So even you carry, you know, even you arrange your chair-- [drags chair back and forth]-- if you do like this, you know, there is no feeling of practice. If you do it one by one [moves chair in one motion], then you have complete feeling in dining room. I don't feel good to practice zazen in the first floor where we eat-- no, under-- under the dining room.

70-01-04: Respect for Things


We have ordination ceremony for Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley after this lecture-- immediately after this lecture. I wanted to talk about ordination ceremony, but I think it is pretty difficult to explain it, you know, because even-- because you have no idea of, you know, Buddhist priesthood. And what you have in your mind is priest in America, you know, so [laughs] I have no word to communicate.

70-01-11: Ordination Ceremony: Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley.


In Japan now it is a season of typhoon. And recently, on the 16th, a typhoon arrived at San Francisco from Japan [laughs, laughter]. And now typhoon has left San Francisco to Tassajara [laughs, laughter]. Now it is the time when we have clear, blue sky again. Typhoon was so strong that I stayed in bed for two, three days [laughs, laughter]. I think you are also stayed in bed [laughs, laughter].

Each time some-- at first, I came to America alone. And two years after, my wife came. And I had to share some difficulty we had-- I had when I arrived San Francisco and culturally where I experienced cultural shock, you know [laughs]. And I had to share the same experience with my wife again, two years after. Whenever someone come from Japan, I have to share, you know, the excitement and difficulties they have, you know. That is not so easy [laughs]-- always to have same experience and renew the difficulties and excitement again.


And in our-- I am studying now a little bit about the rules of monasteries, which I didn't in- [partial word]-- I was not interested in so much. But there must be some rules if we want to study our way or so that we can eliminate egoistic, you know, practice. Without rules, our practice tend to be egoistic, you know. The rules-- by “rules” I don't mean some, you know, rules to give some advantage to the people who are responsible for the-- in the position to manage zendo, but to give advantage to the student who practice in that zendo. And actually, even though you want to find out some rules in-- some rules of monasteries in the written-up rules, you know, of Eiheiji or Sojiji or many Japanese and Chinese temple, it is difficult to find out the rules-- some particular rules. But we will-- we find out that the activity they do-- the way they put-- the way they decorate or set up altar or seat. There is underlying, unstated rules, which is not written up. That kind of rules is something which we must understand or else it is difficult to understand why we have-- why we observe our rituals, why we set up our altar in some certain way. It is very difficult. And underlying rules-- and there must be some underlying rules.


If we have some rules, you know, in this zendo how to treat people, you know, regardless he is Japanese or American, you know, it might be a great help. I was quite busy, you know. In my room I had Japanese guests [laughing]. And here we have, you know, zendo students. I didn't know what to do [laughs]. You know, this is very silly to be involved in this kind of confusion. Mmm-- no-- so I thought it is necessary anyway to have some, you know, rules, you know, which-- how we treat people, you know.

Of course, where there is rules there must be some exception, but we must work hard on this point so that we will have more international, you know, practice here in this zendo.

70-01-18: Rules.


In Soto school, you know, there is ridiculous things, you know, in giving some title to a person, you know [laughs]. I think only when I was in Zen Center, I am a teacher of Zen Center. I am a teacher, you know. If I go back to Japan, I don't think I can be a teacher any more because I am already too Americanized [laughs, laughter]. I don't know, you know, what is going on in America [Japan?]. So I cannot be a teacher, you know, if I go back to Japan. That is right, you know. I should be like that, you know.

If I think I am always teacher wherever I go, even though I join monkey teachers [laughing]-- ridiculous idea, you know. I cannot be a teacher of a monkey or monkey group or teacher of fish. That is not possible, you know. So I should not have any special title, you know. But here, today, I shall be a teacher of you, you know. I think that is real teacher.

But people, you know, very Hinayanistic people think, “I'm always teacher. I am entitled as a teacher by Soto headquarters” [laughs, laughter]. That is very, I think, Hinayanistic teach- [partial word]-- idea. And that is, I think-- that is why I don't like sectarianism. But most people, you know, involved in this kind of misunderstanding. That is why it is-- there is some difficulty in managing-- in the management of the group. If we-- we really become interested in Mahayana Buddhism, there is no problem of this kind.

Even though we are teacher and disciple, teacher and student, we are, you know, eternally friend of Buddhism. That is very important statement, I think. We are eternally, you know, friends. Tentatively, even though we have position, but we are eternally friends. This point should not be forgotten.

70-01-25: Caring for the Soil


My master, you know, for an instance, had-- didn't have so many students. But he did not give me any suggestion [laughs], and he didn't give us any, you know, lecture. What he did was-- when he become impatient he scolded us, that's all [laughs, laughter]-- only when he become impatient. So we, you know, we liked his scolding voice very much because we-- we, you know, we know immediately what I should-- we should do.

It is very embarrassing, you know, to-- to be with him without [laughs] knowing what to do, especially when we visit someone’s home, you know. For an instance, when we have-- when we visit to observe memorial service for someone, you know, and when many visitors are there following him without knowing what to do [laughing]: where to sit, how to recite sutra, or how to hit bell, you know. Anyway in front of us there-- there is-- there were bell or mokugyo, you know, although we don't know what to do with it [laughs, laughter]. And, you know, if we don't know, you know, how to start, how to say, “Maka-hannya-haramita-shin-gyo,” he himself will start it [laughs]: “Maka-hannya-haramita-shin-gyo,” he says, you know, he started, and look at us [laughs, laughter]. “What are you doing?!” We don't know how to, you know, manage bell or mokugyo. And if I don't he [probably gestures] [laughs, laughter]-- very impulsive, you know. If no one watching us, it-- it is-- if it is only, you know, my teacher-- our teacher and us, it is all right. Between us, that is usual routine, so it was all right. But if many people are watching us, you know, it is very embarrassing. But he didn't mind at all [laughs, laughter]. If I can-- if we cannot do it: “Give me bell and mokugyo!” He hit by [probably gesturing [laughing]-- just sitting behind him.

And we n- [partial word]-- we didn't know what kind of sutra, you know, he may recite. So immediately after-- before-- when we start, you know, he-- he said: “Take this sutra.” So at that time we know, “Oh. This is the sutra we will recite today,” you know. But we don't. [Laughs, laughter.] So he, you know, recalls, you know, almost by himself. We, you know, first one or two page we followed-- we could follow and-- and three, four page, we don't know what to say. So, you know, as much as possible we followed, you know, without voice. [Laughs, laughter.] But that is not possible at all, you know, so we [laughs]-- eventually we will give up. We would give up [laughs, laughter].

But when we, you know, go home they may give us, you know, envelope. It is very, you know, bashful to receive envelope without [laughing] reciting sutra, you know, without doing anything. They may say dozo [laughs] very formal, you know, but [laughs] it was very difficult to receive it. But we have to receive it, so we did. That's all. That kind of thing was-- were what I did when I was, you know, small-- not so small, but when I was a novice.

I think this kind of experience, you know, was very valuable and helped me a lot. So it may not be so good habit, but I don't prepare so much, you know, for something I will do, you know, for-- to-- in-- tomorrow or next year, you know. And I-- I can find out what to do. I have some confidence, you know, to find out what I should do there when the day come.

For an instance, when I come to America, you know, I didn't collect any information about Sokoji or America or San Francisco. I just came to San Francisco without any-- knowing anything. And I was-- I didn't afraid of anything [laughs]. I was-- I felt very good making airplane trip, you know, and seeing San Francisco [laughs].

And when I arrived at San Fran- [partial word]-- airport, many people were there, you know, to see me. And I went to Sokoji Temple. Because I didn't expect anything, you know, because I did not have any picture of Sokoji in my mind, so what-- I felt very good anyway. “Oh, this is Sokoji. Oh, this is Japanese restaurant” [laughs], you know. The first floor is parking place, and, you know, stepping up the high stair, we went to restaurant. “Oh, this is American restaurant.” [Laughs.] Usually, in Japan, first floor is, you know, dining room. But here, you know, the first floor is parking [laughs, laughter] place. And an old, old lady appeared, you know, and said-- half English and half Japanese-- said something to me: “Oh, this is Japanese people in America.” Everything was interesting [laughs]. And I could easily find out, you know, how to become friendly with-- with those people. So because I have not much, you know, preconceived idea of America, so I didn't care Japanese people or, you know, Caucasian, you know-- I didn't mind at all because I didn't have any idea of what we will do here.

This kind of, you know, attitude is very important. That is how you, you know, live in each moment, you know, to accept things as it is. So naturally, in your practice some day-- sometime your practice will be very good [laughs]. Sometimes very drowsy, and sometimes very, you know, stiff, you know. But that is zazen, you know. There is no other zazen for you [laughs, laughter].

70-01-31: our effort in our practice


Student C: I wanted to ask where does effort come in? That is to say, suppose we become part of [3-4 words unclear], but making an effort in that direction is shikantaza possible?

SR: Good question.  The effort, you know-- I had-- for a long, long time I had that problem. And-- but I didn't ask anyone about it, you know. But the effort, you know, to continue, you know, the practice is allowable [laughs]. To make our practice pure is-- effort to make our practice pure is allowable. If something comes out, you know, let it come out-- come up. Without some effort, you cannot do that [laughs]. If you, you know-- this, you know, stuff [probably gesturing] is, you know, standing like this, but if it-- if it stand just like this, it is not our practice. When it is supported by, you know, invisible, you know, relationship, then this is completely supported.

So how we keep, you know, those invisible relationship is maybe belief or prayer [laughs]. “Let me have pure practice.” [Laughs.] “Even though we don't know what it is.” [Laughs, laughter.] “It is too much to know,” you know, “the relationship, but let me be like this.” [Laughs.] That kind of effort is necessary. If it doesn't, you know, go this way or that way, you know, it doesn't be like this. It is not-- it cannot be like this, and so when your zazen, you know-- there must be that kind of feeling. Why-- that is why we stretch our neck, you know, as if your head is going upwards [laughs] to the heaven. And your back should be straight, as if your back is deeply rooted to the center of the earth. Shhww. [Laughs.] That kind of feeling should be in our shikantaza. That kind of feeling is not the feeling, you know, when we intensify our practice, but, you know, some spirit-- spiritual feeling.

70-02-22: The Background of Shikantaza


Our life in monastery, you know, is very simple and monotonous, you know. We are repeating same thing [laughing] every day, over and over. There is nothing to enjoy. So sometime we do something very foolish, you know, to enjoy-- how foolish we are! If we find ourselves very foolish, you know, we, you know, we enjoy [laughs] our foolishness, to, you know-- to eat radish, you know, without cooking [laughs, laughter]. Just, you know, when we are carrying radish, you know, without washing, without even washing. Bring out the radish and scratch the dirt out [laughs, laughter]. Sometime that is not interesting enough for us [laughs, laughter], so late at night when there are, you know, when they are fast asleep, you know, we, you know, cook it by bucket or something [laughing] outside of the monastery. But once you cook radish, smell is awful! Whole monastery will, you know, [be] filled with the smell of the radish.

Of course, we know, you know, we will be easily found out, but, you know, to do it is most important part. And if we are scolded that is another, you know [laughing]-- something, you know-- we have something more. They may scold us. “Okay, let's do it!” [Said in a mock conspiratorial voice.] [Laughs.]

Our life in the monastery is so simple and so monotonous, we cannot work fast, you know. We should always work slowly without making noise. We cannot talk loudly. If you enter someone's room, the head of the room will see your-- you from your feet to your-- up to your head [laughs]. He will check you, you know. If you have some reason it is very difficult to stay. Maybe recently, you know, their masters want-- want them to be a priest-- good priest. So even though they don't want-- they themselves don't want to stay at Eiheiji, because their teacher, you know, or their master want them to stay at Eiheiji, so that is maybe why they stay there for one year or so. But no more-- not more than that [laughs]. Most people feel in that way.

70-03-28: Way-Seeking Mind


How do you feel now? [Laughs.] Excuse me. I thought of funny thing right now [laughs]. I feel as if, you know-- I don't know how you feel, but I feel as if I-- I have finished, you know, things in restroom [laughs]. As I am pretty old, you know, I go to restroom so often. Even when I was young, I went [to] restroom more than, you know [laughs], usual person. I had, I think, some advantage, you know [laughs, laughter], because of that. When I went to tan- [partial word]-- Eiheiji and sit in tangaryo, for seven days [laughs], I could go to restroom without any guilty conscience because I had to [laughs, laughter]. I was so happy [laughs, laughter] to go to restroom. I think someth- [partial word]-- to go to restroom is something to do, you know [laughs, laughter], with our practice.

Ummon may be the first one to make some connection between our practice and restroom. “What is our practice?” Or “What is buddha?”-- someone asked him. He said, you know, “toilet paper”-- no, not toilet paper. Nowadays it is toilet paper, but he says [laughing, laughter], “something to scratch your-- scratch yourself after you-- after finishing restroom.” That is what he said. And since then, you know, many Zen masters [are] thinking about or practicing on that koan: What is toilet paper? [Laughs.] What he meant by it?


We are very much afraid of, you know, death. But, you know, death is something which should happen to us when we are mature enough, you know. When you are young, maybe, you will be very much afraid of death. And if you die, that is terrible thing [laughs]. Yeah, it is so, you know. But if I die, it is not so terrible thing to me and to you too, because I am matured enough, you know, to die.

So I understand our life-- my life pretty well, and I understood what is human life, you know-- what is to live one day, and what is to live one year, and what is to live, you know, sixty years or one hundred years. So you-- anyway, when you become mature, experienced things-- or when you eat, you know, many things in this life, I think you-- you will be happy to die as if you go to restroom [laughs, laughter]. Yeah, actually it happens in that way, you know.

Old man of eighty or ninety, you know, haven't not much, you know, problem-- difficulties. Physically, they may suffer, but that suffering is not so big as you see, you know. You know, it is our habit, you know, when we feel uneasy, and from, you know-- when they are young, they have been, you know, thinking about death [as] something terrible [laughs], you know, so when they are dying, you know, they think it is terrible. But actually it-- it isn't.


And in monastic life, the most important thing will be-- or the most good practice-- the best practice will be to clean restroom. So wherever you go, whatever monastery you may go, you will find out someone-- some special person who is cleaning restroom always. We do not, you know, clean our restroom just because it is dirty. Whether it is clean or not, you know, we should clean, you know, restroom until you can continue it-- you can do it without any idea of, you know, clean or dirty. If so, that is actually, you know, our zazen practice.


Why I came to America was, you know, I was almost, you know, disgusted [laughs] with Buddhist life in Japan. You know, I have too many problems [laughs]. That is maybe why, you know, I came to America. I didn't know that, but I think perhaps [laughs] that will be the reason-- would be the reason why I came to America. But when I was, you know, in Japan, I didn't practice zazen [laughs] as I do here, as a matter of fact [laughs, laughter]. Since I came to America, you know, I have-- I don't have same problem, you know, as I had in Japan. But I had very different problem [laughs] which I had in Japan. Hmm. I have no time to explain it [laughs, laughter].

Anyway, you know, my mind is like a garbage can [laughs]. So, you know, even I am in America, which is called free country, you know [laughs], my mind is garbage can-- even though I am, you know, I am practicing-- practicing zazen with you. I am a Japanese, and I have many Japanese friends there. So I have enough problem which Japanese-- most Japanese people have [laughing]. In addition to, I have some other problem.

So sometime I-- I, you know, I wonder, you know, what am I doing here, you know. But when I know what I am doing, you know, clearly, without any overestimation or underestimation, very honestly [laughs], truly, I have not much, you know, burden in our mind-- especially zazen practice has been [sighs]-- I think will be-- the great help, you know. If I haven't had practicing zazen, you know, I wouldn't have survive in this way, you know.

Last year I was pretty weak, you know, but I am recovering even little by little. I think that is merit of zazen or because of zazen I think I can survive anyway. And, you know, I have no joy of accumulating anything, you know. But I have joy of getting rid of, you know, something dirty [laughs]. That is, you know, how-- why I can survive in this way.

I started my practice when I was pretty young, actually. But the more-- actually I think I started my practice in its true sense after I came to San Francisco. I think you have pretty difficult time with me [laughs]. I know that, you know, and I am doing, you know, something-- I am making you, you know-- making your practice difficult. But this kind of effort to understand things from another angle without communicating [with] the people who-- who is brought up [in a] quite different cultural background, I think you will understand things more clearly.

To understand things just, you know, [from] some certain egoistic personal or national viewpoint is our weak point. So we cannot develop our culture in its true sense. When our culture came to this point, only way to-- to make our culture healthy is to participate [in the] various cultural activity-- cultural activity of various human being. Then you will understand yourself better, as I understood myself better, you know-- zazen better since I came to San Francisco.

If you understand yourself better and others better, you know, there is not much to study-- just to be yourself. And just to be good American is just to be good Japanese. And just to be good Japanese is just to be, you know, to be good American. Because we stick to [laughs], you know, Japanese way or American way [laughs], our mind become wastepaper basket.


I think that is-- if you notice this point, I think how important-- you will understand how important it is to practice zazen. Maybe I am forcing you Japanese practice [laughs]. I know, you know, what I am doing [laughs, laughter]. But there is some reason, you know, why I do this. If you are ready, you know --

-- to get rid of various dirty things, then there is no need. But fortunately or unfortunately, even though you don't like it, we should go to restroom [laughing]-- stinky restroom. I am so sorry [laughs, laughter], but I think we have to go to restroom anyway [laughs] as long as we live.

If I am young, you know, I like to sing a Japanese folk song right now [laughs] about restroom [laughs, laughter].

70-03-29: The Zen of Going to the Rest Room


In Japan, right n- [partial word]-- nowadays we celebrate around eighty-- around eighth of April on Sunday. Here in America, Japanese people celebrate his birthday mostly also around eighth on Sunday. The other day when we have meeting, we had, you know, beautiful cake for the birthday, and then some of them celebrated Buddha's birthday right here, singing “Happy Birthday” [laughs, laughter]. I think that is the first, you know, happy birthday song for the Buddha [laughs, laughter]. Many things is happening here! [Laughter.]

Zen group in America, including Zen Center, [are] developing-- developing so rapidly. And after, you know, painting the hall and decorating flower shrine, and cleaning up various rooms and hallway, we have this ceremony. This is, I think, very meaningful thing. The flower shrine and altar we have right now is very tentative one-- not permanent one. I think this is very meaningful.

Celebrating our Zen Center effort, headquarter of Soto School in Japan promised us to give us another maybe $3000, and they allowed me to wear yellow robe. That is the robe I weared for the first Buddha's birthday in Zen Center. I don't know why, but I-- I do not like that kind of, you know, beautiful [laughs]. Some things too beautiful.

But today I felt something quite different feeling. I appreciate their appreciation of our effort to develop Buddha's way, which was-- which has been transmitted more than 2500 years. This is the most meaningful thing. In this way, if we make our effort, something will result in this country. And as the Buddhist-- bodhisattva vow is to continue our way forever. If so, Buddha's teaching, something which was told by Buddha, will be developed forever. With this spirit we should celebrate Buddha's birthday, even [though] the way we celebrate is not perfect.

70-04-12: Buddha's Birthday Lecture.


The more people around who ask, who practice Zen, and say “It’s too hard” and who think gaining anything without any great effort – even the Buddha’s teaching will be very ???… when we practice that way.

So, I think, I must actually tell some thing , or explain ideas, and I will support it. And I was sincere as to how to practice more than any other.

For this point, my practice and belief constantly to be most, and I am very forgetful.

I am expert in my forgetfulness!

When I think of you, in my mind there is nothing. When I see , when I see you practice, that’s it. That’s all that is. When I see that will be my private teaching.


Now here, in us, some talk after taking this name of temple.

70-04-25A: How To Have Sincere Practice.


When you are, you know, trying to give up everything, you don't-- you haven't give up everything yet. When you become tired of foolish, you know, discussion or foolish study of, you know, foolish mind-- to seek for something which is called truth or true teaching, you will be completely involved in pure practice, giving up everything.

My teacher, Kishizawa Ian, he was a-- actually a great scholar. But his study was started after when he give up everything [laughs]. He didn't care for position or fame or, you know, reputation. Whatever people may say about him he doesn't care. And he continued his study and his practice just to meet some ancient teachers who devoted themselves to the-- to our teaching. When we, you know, realize this point, there is no Soto or no Rinzai, you know. Before you give up everything, you have Soto or Rinzai. When you give up everything, there is no Soto or Rinzai.

In Dogen Zenji describing various teachers' ways of practice, among them there are Rinzai teachers, Soto teachers, and some other schools-- teachers of many schools. He just, you know, wanted to see him through books. That was also true with my teacher. Whenever he meets some student or some scholar, what he ask is-- give me some record you have. Whatever record it may be, he was very much interested in to see it, to read it. He was seeking for his friend always, his teacher always. Whether he is famous or not, it doesn't matter for him. Only when you give up everything, you can see true teacher.

Even name of Buddhism is already dirty spot on our practice. It is not teaching but the stu- [partial word]-- but their character or their effort. When you seek for even enlightenment, his mind is not big enough. He is not sincere enough because he, you know-- he has some purpose in his study. To, you know-- for us I think everyone want to see a great man. That is not, you know-- that is not a selfish desire. It is the desire which everyone has. But desire to accomplish something or even to propagate Buddhism is not pure enough. Just to-- just to see someone who is holy and great and pure is our purpose of studying Zen or Buddhism.


My teacher had many disciples [laughs]. Not so many, but pretty many. And he was always angry with us-- always [laughs]-- because we are lazy. We are always pretending, you know-- we were always pretending to study, you know, Dogen's way. But actually, we were not. So he was very angry with us.

But he cannot be always angry with us, so he start to speak something to the audience, you know-- many people in lecture hall. He [laughs]-- instead of angry with us, he was angry with people-- all the audience. Rrrr! [Laughs, laughter.] Ohh.

So I was-- we were listening to him, you know-- we feel as if we are scolded. And, you know, when he was not, you know, scolding us, we realized, you know, what we are doing, and we become-- became very sorry.

“The first precept-- 'Don't kill.'”

This is a precept transmitted from Buddha to us.

“Can you keep it or not?”

And he said, “Yes! I will keep it!”

This is the way you keep precepts, you know. He was almost screaming [laughs]:

Dai-ichi husessho-kai, nanji yoku tamotsuya inaya?

Yoku tamotsu! [Laughs.]

“This is the way you keep precepts!” you know.

We have-- we don't have that kind of spirit. When you say, “Yes I will!” there there is Buddha's voice. When you hesitate, you are always, you know [laughs], you are always saying nothing happened to you. Only when you say, “Yes I will!” and feel how you feel it when you said “Yes I will!”-- when you fix your mind to do so, whatever happen. Without spirit-- without this spirit, you cannot, you know, extend our way, especially in America, I think.

I may be difficult to accept Tatsugami Roshi's way, you know. I know that [laughs]. I know very well. But, you know, you should try, and you should say, “I will do it!”-- not because it, you know, Buddha's teaching or Japanese way or American way or appropriate to our society or not. You should say it-- you should do it-- and feel what it was.

[Laughs.] Did you see the movie 2000? [Laughs, laughter.] That is what you are doing. 2001-- or what it?-- 2001-- square, I am. All the monkeys, you know, hanging around [laughs, laughter]. [Probably gestures like a hominid.] That is, you know [laughs], what we are doing. If you feel it-- if you, you know, seize it, nothing happen. It is yours. Maybe that is the key point of practice and way to save all sentient beings.

70-04-28: Sincere Practice


No Zen master, you know-- almost all the, maybe, famous Zen master is-- are the people [laughs] who had very bad habit when he was young. It is-- I-- it is amazing to find out, you know. If you the picture of a good Zen master when he was young, you know, you will be amazed [laughs, laughter]. You can see, you know, by the picture, you know, how, you know, short-tempered he was [laughter] or how stubborn he was [laughs]. You can see, you know, just by glance of him-- ”Oh!” [Laughs, laughter.]

But, you know, you-- it is almost, you know, impossible to believe that he was his picture when he was young. Of course, you know, it took many, many years it be a Zen master [laughs], but that is possible, you know. I think that is a great encouragement for us [laughs, laughter].

I was very short-tempered, very short-tempered when I was young. I know how impatient I was when I was young, but people said, “He is the most patient.” [Laughing, laughter.] I feel very funny when he said, “He is the most patient person.” I immediately want to say, “No!” But-- but it was-- on the other hand, it is good feeling, you know [laughs], when they admire my, you know, patience. “Oh, he is very patient.” [Said in an ironic voice.] So I just listen to them. “Okay.” [Laughs, laughter.]

Zazen practice is, you know, may be difficult-- very difficult, but I think it is easiest way to correct your, you know, short point-- shortcoming. It is almost impossible to correct your shortcoming. [Sentence probably finished. Tape turned over. Little or nothing seems lost.] But by practice we can do it.

But if you know how, you know, how our practice change your character, you know, I think you can understand what they actually mean. Maybe, you know, if you try to change your character in-- only in this life, it is almost impossible. Actually it is not possible, but zazen practice will change your character completely. This is a kind of magic, you know, even though I don't know my past life. But I knowed-- [laughs]-- I know this life and how I change, you know, from my childhood life to my life we-- I have now.

70-05-02-A: On Breathing.


This morning I want to reflect on our long, long practice, which we started maybe more than ten years ago. The purpose of Zen Center is, as you know, to provide a Zen meditation hall or whatever it is, you know: some place to practice zazen, and practice with some teacher, was the original intention of Zen Center. And with this purpose we organized non-profit organization. And now, here, when we, you know, acquired this building, we named this building Mahabodhisattva Zendo. It is-- reflecting on our practice that was, you know, nothing but the bodhisattva way: to help others and to help ourselves.

In the meantime we had Tassajara zendo because we needed some place where we can practice our way, putting everything aside and being completely involved in our practice-- not-- maybe not completely, but [laughs] more completely [laughs]-- almost completely. For a human being this “almost” is always necessary [laughs], or else we cannot survive. “Almost” is, you know, actually the secret of practice.


Physically, you know, I feel much better this year [laughs]. So, you know, I may survive [laughs]. I don't know how long [laughs], but, you know, let's try hard, and I want you help us, you know.

70-05-10: Zen Center and City Practice


This morning when I join you, you know, I felt a deep feeling. I think that is because you were sitting just before you coming. This kind of feeling is important. This is the real sangha, you know. With this feeling I think you should carry on our practice and our life in this building.

70-05-17: How To Observe Precepts


You know-- you-- you think food is very important, so you study food. But the way you study food is not always right because you put emphasis on yourself, you know, ignoring the value of food, you know. We have very selfish discrimination about food [laughs]. I think that is a kind of selfish attitude of human being. According to Buddha, everything has buddha-- buddha-nature. If so, we should respect everything as you respect yourself. That is, you know, main point. So how you, you know, appreciate food is the most important point-- before you have discrimination about food.

Buddhists from all the time-- all-- always noticed this point very strictly. You may say that is too much.  But, you know, for an instance, my father was a priest, you know. When he was going home, he, you know, if he find some, you know, vegetables on the roadside, he picked up [laughs] and he brought the old vegetables the farmers and people-- which farmers and people throw away. And he cooked it [laughing] for us, and so I had to eat it.

There was small river in front of the temple. The many rotten old, you know, vegetables would [come] floating down from upper river [laughs, laughter]. So as soon as he find some vegetable-like thing, you know, not exactly [laughing, laughter]-- to me, you know, that was not exactly vegetables. It-- it might be good for compost [laughs], but not for eat. But he cooked it, and he said, “Everything has buddha-nature. [Laughs, laughter.] You should not throw away.” And wherever he goes, you know, he talked about how valuable the food is, you know. You should not throw it-- throw them away.

So my teacher, you know, my master was my father's disciple, so he was also very strict with, you know, food. Here you say, you know, you study what food is good for you, you know, what kind of food you should take. But to me, you know-- and they are very much proud of their knowledge of, you know, food: how much, you know, nourishment some certain food has, and this is acid, and this is [laughs]-- this food contain a lot of-- what do you say-- alkali?-- yeah-- opposite of acid. But, you know, to me it is-- yeah, I understand. I think that is good [laughs]. But before you say so, you know, you forget something [laughs]. You are-- you make-- you make-- I wonder if you don't make big mistake, you know.


The other day, you know, we officers discussed how we should run this Zen Center, you know. We don't like to say you should pay [laughs]: “If you want to come and study with us, you should pay some money,” you know. We don't like, but for us, you know, that is a part of practice, you know. Just sit in black cushion is not only practice, you know [laughs]. The all-- how you treat money is, you know, very important practice for us.

70-05-24: Money And Labor.


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

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

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


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


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

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


70-06-01: Buddha Is Always Here


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

SR: Uh-huh.

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

SR: Yes.

Student F: -- together.

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

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

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


2At the end of the last zazen period of the day, the large drum at the back of the zendo is hit. The night before this lecture was given, Suzuki stopped the student hitting the drum and, while everyone continued zazen, explained that hitting the drum should be sound, not noise. [Note from Wind Bell, Summer 1976, p. 46.]

70-06-03: The Blue Jay Will Come Right into Your Heart


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

SR: Give me?

Student E: Mm-hmm.

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


70-06-10: Today We May Be Very Happy


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

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


70-06-17: Without Any Idea of Attainment


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

70-06-25: The Willow Tree Cannot Be Broken


Ri means-- I already explained. Ri ozure ba. When ri accord with the event-- ”the way ri

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



So usually strictness means to become rigid, to be caught by your own understanding and no or-- do not provide any room for others. That is usual way, you know. That is not our way.

So my master always said-- if someone ask his opinion about something, about some matter, he always said, “If you asked me,” you know, “my opinion is this!” [hits the table with stick at “this”] [laughs, laughter]. When he say so, he is very strong [laughs]. Why he could be so strong is because he says, “If you ask me” [hits table with stick] [laughs]. You know, that is our way. So to be just, you know, yourself is to be-- to have-- to be ready to accept other's opinion too. That is very important point. Each moment you should intuitively know what you should do. But it does not mean to reject someone else['s] opinion.


70-07-04: We Should Not Stick to Words or Rules Too Much


SR: Yeah, I understand that. You know, we priest always put our hand together when you eat. How many times you put your hand together, you know. How many times you put your hand together in Tassajara, you know? I didn't like it at all, you know. I felt as if I am fooling myself [laughs], and, you know, I didn't feel so good. But as I had to, you know, I did it, that's all. But now I understand, you know, because I understand how foolish I am. I have not much strong spirit [laughs] as I had before. So I understand. But still, you know, truth is truth. I cannot agree with you now. Maybe if I were to be your age, I can agree with you. I could have agreed with you quite easily, and you would have been a great friend of mine, but now [laughs] I ca [partial word-- probably “can't”] [be] your friend. Hai.


70-07-06: Do Not Pass Your Days and Nights in Vain


Student H: -- what exactly does that mean? What is the dharma transmission?

SR: [Laughs.] If you are ready to listen to me, I will explain it to you. I have it and you haven't [laughing, laughter]. So when I give you, I will explain what it is. But if I-- even though I explain it, if you don't understand, you know, it doesn't make any sense. So more closer relationship between us is important and necessary-- real, you know, human relationship [laughs]. Hai.


DC: If your name were chanted in eko, would it be “Zenshin Shunryu Daiosho,” like Eihei-- Eiheiji Dogen-- Eihei Dogen?

SR: Uh-huh [laughs, laughter].

David: So would-- would we use this-- this place's name [Zenshin] or your personal name?

SR: If my-- my name isn't-- I don't know. I have-- my teacher gave me my name already. Not “Zenshin Shunryu.” [Laughs, laughter.]

David: You mean-- well I thought-- I thought that he was called Eihei Dogen--

SR: Mm-hmm.

David: -- in there because he was-- he founded Eiheiji Temple, not because Eihei was his name.

SR: Mm-hmm.

David: Was Eihei his name?

SR: Eihei, no. Not his name-- his temple's name. He called his temple Eiheiji.

David: Oh-- okay. What-- what should-- how should you be called?

SR: Mmm. That up to you [laughing, laughter continuing]. Whatever you call me, it's okay with me. Anyway, I don't listen to you.

David: You wouldn't be able to-- you wouldn't be able to listen if we were chanting your name in the eko!

[Brief and mostly unclear exchange off-mike. Mike volume drops severely. Last thing S.R. says is “okay.”]

Student G [Alan Marlow]: The name that one-- I've been trying to figure out-- the name that one's teacher gives one--

SR: Mm-hmm.

Alan: -- when is that name used, as opposed to the-- our-- our name-- Alan Marlow, or Shunryo [sic] Suzuki. How is-- how is that name used and when is it used-- the name that you're given by your teacher?

SR: After you receive ordination, you know, strictly speaking, you know, we should use his n- [partial word: name]-- his Buddhist name like Sojun, you know. We'll do it, you know. “He is Sojun!” [Laughs.] Uh-huh.

Mel: Hai.

SR: Hai. [Laughs, laughter.] Ohh--

Alan: No, but Roshi you don't use that-- the name that your teacher gave you, do you?

SR: My-- my name is Shunryu.

Alan: Shunryo [sic].

SR: Shunryu. This is the name.

Student I: What does it mean?

SR: Hmm?

Student I: What does it mean-- ”Shunryu”?

SR: Not much. [Laughs, loud laughter.] You make me blushful [blush/bashful].

Student : Roshi, would you tell me?

SR: You-- you must be a great teacher, you know. Not me. You must use your name, but I'm okay. I am here, anyway, drinking a lot of water. [Laughs, laughter.] My ma- [partial word: master?] teacher died when I was 32 years old. So I was not so lucky, you know, in this point.

So I want to live as much as I can [laughs], you know. I was very weak. I don't think I-- I didn't think I will live more than 50-- 60. But 66 is, so six is extra. Now I become greedy [laughs, laughter], because of you. Ten years more. Give me ten years, all right? I-- I am asking Buddha, you know, give me ten years more. Then you will be, you know, 40-- 50. You will be a good teacher if you try hard.

If you follow Buddhist way, you will [be] sure to be a good person. That is quite-- I am so sure about that. Each student here, you know, improved a lot. That is very true. So if you live-- if you practice our way maybe five more years, you will be a quite different person.

70-07-08: Ekō Lecture 1.


So when dharma wheel is turning, you know, our belief is if the dharma wheel is turning-- going, then the materialistic wheel will be, you know, will-- will be going, too. That-- that we are not supported by anyone means our dharma wheel, actually, is not going [laughs]. So we should know that. If our dharma wheel doesn't go-- if we are not supported by people, it means that our dharma wheel is not going. This is very true.

I-- you know-- I have-- you know-- I-- since I know this world of Dogen Zenji, I experienced it, I tested whether [laughs] it is true or not. So I-- even when I was in, you know, when I was almost, you know, especially in the-- during the war, wartime, I had not much to eat [laughs]. Most priest, you know, worked to earn some money to support themselves and to support their families. But my belief was if I, you know, observe Buddhist way, faithfully, someone will support me, you know. If no one support me, it means that Dogen's world was not true [laughs, laughter]. So I never ask anyone to give anything to me, and I just observed the Buddhist way, without working in, you know, as a teacher, or as a clerk of the town office [laughs, laughter], or I-- I raised some vegetables and sweet potato [laughs]. That is why I know how to raise vegetables [laughs] pretty well.

When I was cultivating temple garden, you know, I have pretty spacious temple garden in front of the building, so I dig the garden out, and took out all the stones, and put manure in it, and I raised, you know sweet-- I was trying to raise sweet potato, and some [laughing] villagers came and helped me too. And I had a good crop.

And one day, my neighbor came and opened my rice box, you know. I had rice box as much-- as big as this [probably gesturing to students] and as long as this. Pretty big. One day, they came and-- came to help me cooking. When they opened the rice box, there was no rice at all [laughing]. She was quite astonish-- astound, and she, you know, brought me some rice-- not much, you know. She didn't have so much rice. And, you know, my neighbors and my members collected some rice, you know. But I had pretty many members, so I had a half, maybe [probably indicating that the rice-box was half-filled]-- pretty many rice. But, you know, when people found out that I have a-- a lot of rice [laughs], they come to the temple. So I gave it-- gave my rice to them. And the more I gave my rice to them, the more I got the rice [laughs, laughter].

But at the time, Japanese people had a awful time, you know. At that time, most people-- city people went to the farmer's family and [ex]changed their dressing [dresses], or geta, or whatever it may be. Something good was changed to food: potato, or rice, or sweet potato, or pumpkin. But I had no difficult- [partial word]-- no such difficulties. Most of the time, I had a plenty of food. But I didn't feel so good, you know, to eat something special, something different from the usual people, so I tried to eat the same food which was given to us.

The Tassajara food, you know, is wonderful, you know: strong and rich, in comparison to the food we had in the wartime. So I-- I don't have any complaint about food. And, if you observe our way strictly, we will be-- we are sure to be protected by Buddha. That is very true. We should-- should trust people, and we should trust Buddha.  Since then, since wartime, Japanese priest started to wear, you know, your suit, you know, giving up robes-- not give up, but when they have funeral service [laughs], or memorial service, they wear it, you know, to observe service. But usually they didn't. I didn't feel so good about that, you know. So that is why I didn't, you know-- I don't wear-- that is why I always wear robes.

When I was coming to America, you know, almost all the priests who is going abroad wear, you know, good suits and shiny shoes [laughs, laughter], but the head was not shiny, their hair was pretty long and well-combed, but their shoes were very shiny. With shiny shoes and new suits [laughs, laughter], they came to America, because, you know, they thought to propagate Buddhism to America. They have to wear something-- they have to be like-- something like American people. But, even though they wear-- they buy best suits and best shoes, Japanese are Japanese. They cannot be American people anyway. And the American people will find some fault in your wearing-- way of wearing your suits or shoes. So, anyway, Japanese are Japanese, you know.

So that is one reason why I didn't come to America in, you know, suits. Another reason is I was disgusted with the priest who gave up robe and change their robe into suits to support themselves. When Dogen said: “We are protected from within, firmly, why do-- do we expect support from outside?” That is our spirit. But [laughs] nowadays they started to lose that kind of spirit. The priests in Japan-- most priests, I may say, in Japan, does not respect their way, their practice.


Nowadays, you know, as our world become busier and busier, you know, even in a big monastery in Japan, they have not much [laughs] time to dedicate, you know, our way, you know, without any idea of time. So, you know, their doan is watching always time [laughs, laughter]-- time to, maybe-- ”How many memorial service we may have?” [laughs], or “Ten more service, then it will be-- will be-- our breakfast will be-- very late, so, let's make it faster [laughing, laughter]. It become faster and faster!


70-07-12: Supported from Within


I had, this evening, treat of Japanese noodle with our guest [laughs]. Noodle is something which is supposed to be long, but my lecture is not-- is supposed to be short, you know [laughs]. If noodle is-- is very good noodle it is very long, and if it is not so good it is very short. So I think my lecture is not so good, so it should be short, you know [laughs, laughter]. So I am trying not to make it, you know, it is not possible for bad noodle to be long, you know [laughs, laughter]. So my lecture for tonight will be very short, especially after having a good noodle, which is very long [laughs, laughter]. But our transmission should be very long, very long, long, long-- one should be. And our transmission is “special noodle,” you know.


Generally speaking, actually, before you become your teacher's disciple, you may receive his transmission. And, you know, after receiving transmission, long, long time after you receive transmission, you will realize [laughing] what was transmission-- what was your-- who was your teacher. “Oh, he was my teacher!” You will realize it when it is too late, maybe. But you will come to that point if you continue in your practice.

So there is no need to worry [laughs], even though you receive transmission or lay ordination. Before, you don't know exactly what it was, even though you [were] ordained before you have not much understanding about ordination ceremony. That is okay, I think. If you, you know, feel some commitment to continue your practice, then it is okay. Some day, you will realize it.

I thought, you know, I-- from the beginning, you know, I thought Gyokujun So-on was my teacher, you know. But, you know, but on the other hand, after many-- I found out that, many years later, I was not his disciple at that time [laughs]. I thought I was, you know. I had a strong conviction of my being disciple of my teacher, but I found out that I was not his disciple in its true sense. Now I think I am, you know, his disciple. But I don't know how I feel next year [laughs]. Next year I may say, “Oh, last year I was [laughs] his disciple, yes [?].”

In this way, you know [laughs], your teacher is always with you. Sometime with you, and-- but sometime you feel he is not your teacher. Or he was not your teacher. He-- and sometime he will not be [laughs] your teacher. But it is okay, anyway. You will be his teacher. Teacher and disciple is, you know, that kind of relationship.


70-07-13: Ekō Lecture 5.


When we say hokuyo [Okuyo] in Japanese, you know, we-- in Japanese we say hokuyo itashimasho ari- [partial word]-- or hokuyo or oniga itashimasho. Our member may come-- would come maybe tomorrow, or the day-- week-- ”tomorrow is my mother's memorial day,  so we want to have hokuyo-- hokuyo itashimasho.”  Hokuyo means, you know, ku means “offering.” Or “to offer” is ku. Yo means “to encourage,” you know, their parent or their mother's spirit to practice more, and ask her encouragement for our practice is, you know, yo. Yo means “to-- to give-- to give some nourishment” or “to encourage” is yo. [I think it's okuyo, o being something like honorable. - dc]

In-- and-- when in Japan, you know, I didn't like so much, but [laughs] anyway, when they observe hokuyo or memorial service, and they would, you know, have a kind of-- not party, but, you know, they provide various dishes for priest. Originally, you know, priest-- they invited priest to give them some talk or to give them some sermon. And they would offer food for the sermon.

So still, in Jap- [partial word]-- in China and Japan, whenever we observe-- whenever we observe memorial service for their parents or their ancestors, they would give us food. A lot of food. If I cannot-- if we cannot eat it, they give us, you know, too much, so we cannot finish it. If we cannot finish it, they would ask us to carry it back. When I was a little temple disciple, I had a very difficult time [laughing] to take them back to my temple. My teacher would leave as soon as he say goodbye. Yatomo gyatso animashte. And wearing geta, they-- he would go-- go back. And my duty was to, you know, to borrow some bags, you know, to put various food in it, and to carry his food and my food. And if I am youngest, you know, I would carry my older disciples' food too [laughs].


Anyway, in Japan we observe-- in the countryside we observe memorial service in that way. It-- they are very good people, and they observe it very sincerely without, you know, asking too-- too much question. Yesterday someone was saying-- what-- what was the song-- religion?-- religion?

Student: “Give Me that Old-Time Religion.”

Oh-- ”Old-Time Religion,” yeah. “Old-time religion [laughs] was good enough.” [Laughs, laughter.] It is exactly so, you know. They don't mind what it is. “Old-time religion is good enough for me” [laughs, laughter]. But it was not so happy with me, you know, when I have to do some- [partial word]-- too much about it.

And-- ohigan,p you know. Ohigan-- do you know ohigan? Spring and evening-- autumn equinox day. We every-- almost all the family observe big memorial service. And they would, you know-- each family will make offering to my temple's Buddha [laughs]. You know, so, if my village is-- if there-- there were eighty families in my village, eighty-- from eighty families we would-- Buddha would-- receive eighty, you know, offerings. Sometime mochi. Sometime dango. Dango is “rice bowl.”[ball] It is originated in India, you know, and Japanese peoples still observe it, you know, Indian custom to offer dango, which is “rice bowl.” You-- you grind rice and steam it and make rice bowl and offer. So, you know, Indian people, as you know, when they eat they make bowl and eat it, so they-- we still offer, you know, dango to the Buddha-- one of the important offering to their-- to the Buddha and their family shrine.

In Japan, actually, we are-- we were too busy in taking care of memorial service or funeral service, and we actually didn't have not much time to practice zazen even. And around the temple there-- mostly we have big cemetery, and to clean cemetery-- cemetery of the family who is not-- is not in village. Recently, you know, in countryside of the Japan, people give up their home and go to the city to work, to have more-- to have better job.

So in the country, there are-- there are many tombstone no one actually taking care of. So in ohigan or equinox day, we-- we were pretty busy. This is for-- I think hokuyo.? Originally it is good-- it has deep meaning, but if, you know, we depend on alms-giving or preaching too much, forgetting the fundamental-- fundamental practice of zazen, Buddhism will be lost. I hope-- I think in America we Zen Buddhist will not be involved in such a activity so much, I hope. But I think we should not forget our friend with whom we practice, and who encouraged us, and who had very good time with us. We shouldn't forget. But I don't think it is necessary to have big celebration or to have big memorial service for them.

As Dogen Zenji said: “If you,” you know, “if you have-- if you want to make alms-giving, the cherry blossom in the mountain will be good offering-- will be a good offering.” Even a cherry blossom in deep mountain will be a good offering-- will be maybe the best offering. So to have this kind of sentiment is important, but we should not be involved in that kind of activity too much, I think.

That is-- anyway, we-- last dedication is for our ancestors and for priests and students who practiced with us, and for people who worked for-- who worked hard for our country and society.

I think this will be, as I am going to visit Japan end of August, I must-- I am leaving Tassajara the day after tomorrow, and tomorrow evening we want to observe a kind of ceremony for our friend. So there will be no lecture. Accordingly, this lecture will be the last lecture for a while. If you have some question, please ask me. Hai.

Questions and Answers

Student A: Roshi, in a week or so the ordination-- lay ordination of students will take place.

70-07-15: Ekō Lecture 6.


After-- after forty days of my leaving from here I feel I am a stranger to the building, not to you but [laughs] to the building and my cups and [laughs, laughter]. I forgot where is my-- where was my things. Each time I need something, I have to try to think about “Where is it? Oh! There.” [Laughs.] Something like that.


Nowadays, it is not so much, but when I was quite young-- young schoolboy, what we see in Yokohama City, where there was a big port, you know, Yokohama: It is big trading center, and there were many cups and pots and everything for ho- [partial word]-- foreign countries to export. What we see there was not supposed to be Japanese article, you know. But to me, it was-- to us, it was not at all Japanese, you know, things. It is things to attract, you know, foreigners as a Japanese article, but it isn't-- it was not actually-- they were not actually Japanese article. They were too-- maybe too much Japanese [laughs] or something.

Anyway, we felt very bad about-- to see-- about seeing that kind of article to be called Japanese, you know, article. When your understanding-- when your practice is not good enough or very superficial, you will buy that kind of thing, thinking that they are Japanese article. If you really understand what is Japanese article, what you may buy is really Japanese, and which could be applied in-- which could be very harmonious articles in your own room. Sometime you may not realize this is Japanese article, because it will be very-- it will go with the furn- [partial word]-- other furnitures or things you have there. That is, you know, what I want to call Japanese article.

There are many such articles which is really Japanese and which could be really American. That kind in-- that kind of article is the article I want to introduce [to] you. And what that kind of, you know, Zen is I want to introduce to America. That is why I stick to robes [laughs]. Do you understand? Maybe not.

I thought at that time, when I saw many, you know, pseudo-Japanese articles, you know, in-- in Yokohama, I felt very bad and I felt very sad to see them and to export that kind of a thing as Japanese article.

At that time I thought-- I thought I might go to abroad after understanding our Zen completely to introduce real, you know, Zen Buddhism to some other countries. Buddhism I want to introduce to this country is, I think should be very, very Japanese in its true sense, and at the same time it could be, you know, completely applied in America too.

So I am very particular about, you know, about design of the temple or altar. I don't like, you know, too-- too much Japanese things or too-- not enough Japanese or seemingly too much, but in its real sense it is not enough Japanese, you know. When our practice is not good enough, we will stick to our practice. We have no freedom from our practice. When we understand Dogen Zenji's way completely, when he said: “no trace of enlightenment there,” or “enlightenment-- after enlightenment. Over”-- not over-- ”after enlightenment.”

I don't mean that, you know, I am completely Japanese or completely Zen teacher. I don't think so, I must confess [laughs] because, you know, I am very much, maybe, Japanese still, and I may stick to Japanese-- Japanese way, maybe, still. But what I am trying to [do] is without changing my, you know, outlook, and to be completely-- how to be completely Japanese or forget all about Japanese. This is not so easy thing. You shouldn't think this is quite easy. If you think it is quite easy, it is-- will be a great mistake.

70-07-19: Japanese Way, American Way, Buddhist Way.


This evening I want to talk about some problems you have when you come to Zen Center. And you understand why we practice-- zazen practice, pretty well. But why we observe this kind of ritual-- rituals, is maybe rather difficult to understand why. Actually, it is not something to be explained [laughs] so well. If you ask me why we observe or why I observe those rituals, you know, without much problem is difficult to answer.

But first of all, why I do it is because-- because I have been doing for a long time [laughs]. So for me there is not much problem [laughs, laughter]. So I-- I tend to think that because I have no problem in observing my way, there must not be problem-- so much problem for you [laughs]. But actually, you are an Amer- [partial word]-- you are Americans, and I am Japanese, and you have been-- you were not practicing Bud- [partial word]-- Buddhist way, so there must be various problems [laughs].

So this kind of problem is almost impossible to solve. But if you, you know, actually follow our way I think you will reach-- you will have some understanding of our rituals. And what I want to talk about is actually about precepts, you know.

But precepts for me is also include rituals.


My, you know, master used to say to us, you know: “If you stay with me for,” you know, “for several years, whether you become a priest or not,” you know, “if you become a priest, you will be a good priest, and you-- if you stay-- remain layman, you will be a good,” you know, “layman or good citizen,” he always said, “and you will have no problem in your life.”

And I think that is-- that was very true, you know. I was the six[th] youngest disciple when [laughs] I became my master's disciple. And-- and two of us become a-- became a priest, but rest of the disciples became, you know, remain laymen. And they are very good, you know, actually. When they come to my teacher they were, you know, some [laughs]-- they had some trouble, you know. But all-- most of-- one disciple who passed away, you know, is exception, but rest of the people has been doing pretty well, although they are not priest. You may-- so I think that is very true.

Anyway, this kind of practice is very-- very good practice for you. You may think our practice is like a army practice or something [laughs], but actually it is not so. The idea is quite different. Maybe Japanese army, you know, copied our practice, you know. Maybe looks like so, but they couldn't copy [laughs] our spirit.  [war]


70-07-28: How To Understand Rituals And Precepts


After sesshin, we will have ordination ceremony for Paul [Discoe] and Reb [Anderson]. And-- and then we will have lay ordination ceremony for the students-- all the students who has been practicing zazen who-- who has practiced zazen for three years before (leave “before and add [since]) 1967. And so that is why I explained the meaning of our practice, zazen practice, or way of our zazen practice, referring to the precepts and rules-- rules which you may like [laughs]-- you may not like so much [laughs].


But anyway, you should start our way, and you should try to, you know, try to trust our instruction, our precepts, our zazen practice. This is, you know, actually to-- how you join our practice, why you receive our precepts.

When I was working [laughs]-- I was working on a stone with student at Tassajara, you know. He will ask him-- I asked him to hit, you know, a stone, to cut it, you know. The stone has naturally-- originally some, you know, layer, you know-- stripes or layer. I know if he continue to hit it, it will be, you know, broken in two-- two pieces. But, you know, I-- if-- because my student didn't, you know-- haven't-- didn't have the experience of cutting it, you know. So while he was-- he became tired of hitting it [laughs], but I-- I-- I was quite sure, you know, he will cut it [laughs].

It is same thing, you know. The teacher knows, you know, it will-- it will be cut, but student doesn't know, you know. So he doubt. But-- but at last, you know, it was cut all of a sudden in two. Phht! [Laughs.] That is, you know, practice. It is not so easy, you know. It looks like almost impossible, sometime. But after long, long experience, you know, of various teacher, not only Dogen Zenji, you know, or Bodhidharma, you know, we know what kind of stone a human being is. So if we continue to practice in this way, he will be clearly, you know, cut. We know that. That is, you know, Buddha's-- Buddhist way, and Buddha knows that. But even though you don't know it, if you continue to do it, it will work. [stone]

70-08-01: observation of precepts and practice of zazen is same thing.


So many people, you know, go to Japan and to study something about Zen, but it is rather difficult, you know, to study Zen in Japan. Many people ask me, “Could you introduce me to some monastery?”  But I have no idea, you know. So I may say, “Maybe why don't you stay at Zen Center?” [Laughs.] And almost all the people say that, “I thought that will be your answer.” [Laughs, laughter.] He knows very well. They know very well but, you know, why they go to Japan is to encourage [raise?] hotel, you know, money [laughs] to build some more new buildings.

So, you know, you will be very discouraged, you know. It means that you cannot be a Zen master [laughs]. But when you understand real practice-- what it is, you know, this is-- you will never be involved in such a foolish, you know, problem like Sengai. p When-- maybe 6–7 [years ago?]-- 2–3 years after I came to America, I went to Fields Bookstore,p and I saw Sengai's picture, you know. And, you know, it was something like calendar [laughs]. And frog was on the calendar. And Sengai said, “If frog,” you know, “if someone can be a buddha, I-- maybe I can be a buddha too.” [Laughing.]

Frog was sitting like this [probably gestures] [laughs, laughter]. “If people can be a buddha by practice of sitting, then I can be [laughs]-- soon I will be a buddha” [laughs]. For the people who knows what is actual practice, you know, even though they don't experience enlightenment experience, if he sees someone who, you know, who is sitting to attain enlightenment [laughs], we think he is like a frog sitting [laughs].

Actually their sitting is much better than [laughs, laughter] our zazen. I always admire, you know, their practice-- much better than my practice.  They never get-- they never be sleepy, you know. Their eyes is always open. [Laughs, laughter.] Tatsugami Roshi will admire him very much, I think. “Open your eyes!”[me o akete!]-- you know. But there is no need, you know, for him to say so if we are like a frog [laughs, laughter]. And they do something very, you know, appropriate intuitively and [in an] appropriate way. You know, when something-- when something come, they go like this-- chomp! [Laughs, laughter.] [Sounds like he is snapping at something with his mouth, like a frog catching a fly.] Never-- they never miss anything, but they, you know, are always calm, you know [laughs, laughter], and still.

I always think “I wish I could be a frog.” So Sengai says, you know: Moshimo-- Zazen shite moshimo hotoke ni naru naraba, you know: “If by practice,” you know-- ”If by practice we can be a buddha-- ” you know. He doesn't say anything more [laughs], and he draw a frog [laughing]-- sitting frog.


Sometime I [am] ashamed of myself when I see someone-- some student's practice which is very good. “Oh, he is very good.” You know, I think-- I wish I could be as young as-- as he is once more. But it too late.

70-08-02: Walk like an Elephant and Sitting like a Frog


How you then, how you arise bodhisattva mind will be the next point. You will ask me how you arise bodhisattva mind. You-- many people ask me about this point. How they, you know, question will be something like this:

“I have various problems, and you say, you always say you should not try to attain enlightenment. You should not be involved in selfish practice. If so, to try to save others is also, you know, gaining idea because you have some purpose or some idea of doing something. So that will not be actually bodhisattva mind.”

Actually we will have this kind of question always. To practice purely you start to try to do something, to help others. But you may wonder whether you are doing something to help others or to help yourselves. It is very difficult to know which. I think you may suffer on this point a lot, as I did when I was young. Whenever I try-- while I am trying continually doing something, more and more, I feel lose my confidence. For instance, if you clean restroom as your everyday task -- .

70-08-03: zazen practice and to listen to right teacher.


For several nights, I am concentrate-- my talk is, you know, concentrated on this point of, you know, why you have-- you receive bodhisattva precepts when you, you know, are [receive] lay ordination. Recently I did not put emphasis on Dogen Zenji's zazen practice, which is shikantaza. But shikantaza-- we do not say even “shikantaza.” But we just say “zazen.”


SR: Yes, yes. Nondiscrimination is very important in our eating practice. [Laughs, laughter.] We Japanese people do not like, you know, raw vegetables so much. Especially we don't eat beans, you know, without cooking. The smell is so strong [laughs, laughter]! But in San Francisco zendo, as long as I am here [laughs, laughter], I have to eat, you know, raw beans and [laughs, laughter]-- which have strong smell! All salad looks like, to me, you know, green bean. If you cook it, it has not much strong smell. Good flavor [laughs]. But if you don't cook, all the salad will-- looks like to me green bean [laughs, laughter]. But, you know, we should not discriminate [laughs, laughter]. Non-discrimination is very important [laughs, laughter]. Hai.

Student D: Roshi, why do we eat the banana and throw away the skin?

SR: [Laughs.] I don't know. [Laughter.] Maybe very difficult to eat. I tried [laughs, laughter], but it was too difficult.  And actually, I think if you eat it, you know, your tummy will stop, you know [laughs, laughter]. You will-- you will have hard time in your restroom next morning [laughs, laughter]. So that is too much. Hai.


Student M: I thought you said that we should begin by practicing as if we were shopping-- as if we were shopping for things?

SR: Yeah.

Student M: Would you-- how did that fit in with buying the rotten vegetables? Would the bad vegetables be what you would buy [?]?

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] No, I-- when-- at that time I have no idea of buying something, you know. It is a kind of-- my special practice, maybe, you know. Not-- but I didn't-- I-- that is my habit or feeling, you know. When you-- when I see it-- good, you know, fresh vegetables and fresh apples and, you know, old, you know, rotten apple, I feel if I don't buy it, if I don't eat it right now, you know, it will be-- no one will buy it, so he must throw it-- throw it away. So if I buy it, you know, that apple will save-- will help us. But if I don't, for that apple there is no chance to serve its purpose [laughs, laughter]. Immediately I feel in that way, so I cannot help buying bad ones first and leaving good ones for someone, you know, because many people will like it, you know. Maybe if you work in the kitchen you will have that kind of feeling, you know.

Student M: Wouldn't you then always buy bad things [?]?

SR: No, not always.

Student M: Bad [1 word], bad [1 word].

SR: [Laughs, laughter.] No. No, not always, you know, especially food, you know. If it is some-- if it is-- if I buy a motorcar, I want to buy a brand new perfect ones [laughs, laughter]. But the more you have knowledge of something, you know, you will be, you know, like me when I buy something-- some apples or something. Before you have not much knowledge about it, you will, you know, buy something good first. If you have good knowledge of, you know, car, even though it doesn't look like so good, but you know how to-- because if you know how to mend it you will buy it, you know, because maybe it is cheaper. And you know how to make good use of it. So if your mind is very kind and very clear, you will observe in that way without having superficial discrimination. Some question? Hai.

70-08-04: our practice is expression of our true buddha-mind.


Suzuki (speaking formally): -- Paul Discoe and [1 word unclear] Reb Anderson, who have come here to be ordained as a disciple of the Buddha. Listen to-- listen calmly and attentively.


Paul Discoe, your name-- your Buddhist name will be Daiho Zengyu. And your friend will call you by name of Zengyu. August Ninth, Nineteen-Seventy.

Nyoho Reb Anderson, your Buddhist name will be Tenshin Zenki.

And your friend will call you by name of Tenshin. August Ninth, Nineteen-Seventy.


70-08-09: Priest Ordination Ceremony: Paul Discoe and Reb Anderson


At Tassajara, here, you know, my teeth was not so good. So I didn't like to chew brown rice or some hard vegetables. But by chewing-- after [unclear] my teeth completely, and chewing them carefully, and-- I found some special, you know, taste. I feel as if I have perfect kitchen, you know [laughs, laughter], within my mouth. And I appreciate to put something in my mouth-- after cooking it very well and carefully, I ate it.

But this kind of [2 words] usually I-- I thought-- my wife is cooking-- someone else is cooking-- and my way is just to eat [laughs, laughter]. That was my way of life, I thought. But now I have and I am cooking my food by myself. Because I cook by myself, I appreciate the taste of the food. That is actually how I feel, you know. --

So I think what we are doing is-- something great is coming out from our life in Zen Center. And so I think if you observe your practice or your way of life and observe your feeling, against this __________ world -- the feeling you have is a more (precious) life. You will find out many treasures for human being. We should rather to walk slowly and understand -- If possible we should fly with our arms [laughs]. -- If you fly big airplane as I -- more feeling of --

-- if I could fly, you know, with-- with my arms like this, that is wonderful.  When I studied at Eiheiji with my teacher, you know, this is-- I forgot [i.e., SR forgot train of thought]-- any-- anyway, if I were a bird, this is fantastic [laughs, laughter]. I wish I were a bird. This is fantastic! Right now we are flying by big birds-- airplane, but according to the earth, you know, there is many-- you can appreciate moving. You will have big sail [?]. -- And you will enjoy many things and beautiful. [inaudible]. It doesn't make much sense [laughs, laughter].


70-08-16-B: To Be Honest And Sincere In Its True Sense It Is Necessary to Push Yourself Into Some Very Strong Hard Rule.


 [Zen Center records indicate that this lay ordination was performed on August 23, 1970. Among the 36 ordainees were Carl Bielefeldt, DC, Katherine Thanas, Jerome Peterson, and Yvonne Rand. The original tape was labeled 7/23/70, but August is correct, confirmed on the back of DC's rakusu in SR's own hand.]

70-08-23: Lay Ordination Ceremony


As some of-- some of you may know, tomorrow I am leaving San Francisco for-- for a while and coming back December first or second. I'm not so clear yet, but for three months I shall be in Japan.

I feel very sorry for-- for you-- not to be with you, but there there is something I must do for Zen Center. First of all, Dick Baker will receive transmission. And I am hoping that we can-- Dick and me-- can do something, you know, for-- even a little bit of important-- important teaching. If we can translate it into English, it may be one step for Zen Center practice.


I think if we introduce, you know, the way which was, you know, established by him when he-- when he did not like, you know, the practice which was going [on] at his time. So in this sense, you know, to introduce his way-- his pure way here means, you know, to introduce something which is more appropriate for American new generation. That is why, you know, we started Zen Center.

And another point was in Japan, you know, only priest are practicing Zen, you know. If you go to Eiheiji, you know, no layman cannot practice Zen with monks. This is, you know, wrong.  Here in Zen Center, you know, monks and city people or whatever they are can practice our way in the same place. Even though you listen to teaching of Dogen, if you don't practice it is impossible to find out why he, you know, left that kind-- why he practiced his way in that-- in such a way.


I have no special, you know, purpose of-- oh, you cannot hear?-- I have no purpose of my trip to Japan this time, but I want to be, you know, with Dick and with my close friend as much as possible. And I don't want to try to, you know, explain what we are doing here, you know. But for some people it will be a good stimulation, you know. For the sincere person what we are doing will be, you know, will be good news. And more teachers like Yoshida Roshi or Tatsugami Roshi will come and help us, I hope.


Some time I feel very bad, you know, because I am losing my physical, you know, strength more every day-- each year, you know. When you are growing fast, you know, maybe as long as you keep that-- this kind of, you know, sincerity in your study-- study of yourself, then I think you will have naturally good teacher from everywhere. This is, I think, something amazing, you know. And we-- and at the same time, we should be very grateful to come across this-- this kind of situation.

I don't think this kind of chance-- I don't think human being will have this kind of chance so many times-- maybe-- many-- once in many hundreds of years. I think we are now in very, you know, important-- we came to very important time. Without this kind of, you know, understanding, you know, our-- what we are doing doesn't make any sense.


70-08-25-A: when someone receives transmission


Lecture after Trip to Japan

In this trip, I studied in Japan [laughs], you know, and I found out many things, and many things happened. Many things has happened since I visited Japan four years ago. [lot of comment on this]

When I was, you know, writing something I thought it is easy to write something in nighttime rather than daytime. I could write many-- many pages or ten or fifteen or sometime twenty pages at nighttime. But when I started to correct or to read what I wrote again, the part I wrote [at] nighttime, you know, more-- more and more became less and less. [Laughter.] The part I wrote in daytime is very constant [laughs]. There was not much need to correct or to cross-- to erase out [laughs]. !

So I felt it may be, you know, good for an artist, you know, to work in nighttime when your imagination, you know, is very strong. But for real thinker or for religious people, it may not-- it may not be so good. Nighttime will not be so good time to work. Nighttime, I thought, we should rest. Daytime, you know, [we should be] with people and we should work more practically.


I think my trip this time was very valuable-- give me very valuable experience. I was very busy in Japan, and main purpose of my trip is Dick Baker's transmission ceremony which took about-- more than one month. He has-- he had been working for that-- not ceremony-- but for transmission-- accepting transmission from me. You may ask what does it mean [laughs], but you shouldn't ask [laughs, laughter] because, you know, you will have-- you will have just a picture of transmission, you know. When time come for you to receive transmission, or when you realize something, you know, that is actual transmission. So we have-- we say we have nothing to transmit [laughs]. What you have is-- to realize what you have is actual transmission. On December 8th, we finished his transmission ceremony.

70-12-13: Japan Now: Zazen As Our Foundation.


In my last trip to Japan I found out many things. The feeling I had there was-- they were-- you know, Japanese people nowadays are trying very hard, but according to Uchiyama Roshi, you know-- do you know him? He is in Kyoto, and he is practicing with students. And many Caucasian students were there. And when I went there they asked me to speak something [laughs], so I just saw them and talked a little.

Japanese people now-- group, group-- bo-kei: group is group, but bo-kei means “lose themselves.” Lose themselves in group. That is Japanese life now. Group bo-kei. Japan is a big family or big group. [Laughs.] They lose themselves [laughing] in group, so they don't know what they are doing actually. I don't say ma [partial word-- ”many”?] all of them, but most of people there lose themselves in group.


And so, that is why I think I have difficult time in San Francisco [laughs, laughter]. Knowing Japanese tendency and Japanese people's tendency, you know, and your way of life, it is very difficult to, you know, to keep harmony. And while you are young it is okay, but even so, if you want to make real effort, real progress in your practice, you must have some base of the life or more deeper complete understanding of the practice and way of life.


I like old art objects [laughs], and my teacher would say “Don't-- don't act unchaste acts.” [Laughs.] To him it is unchaste act to be attracted by something, some antique or old art object is unchaste act [laughs] to him. It may be so.


70-12-20: What Is Self? What Is Our Practice?.


My temple in Japan [Rinsoin], when you would drink water from the stream-- you know, not stream, but big and small, small spring. But the water we-- they drink now in that temple, I don’t think it is good enough; it is not pure enough, I know. And people may know what kind of water they’re drinking; but they give up to talk about it. If they talk about it, you know, what they feel, you know, what they have will seems [?] like a bad feeling. and [there is] no way to, you know, purify the water. There is no way.

The earth itself is already not good for human beings. It’s terrible, you know. The vegetables they raise is not good enough, I don’t think. And I thought what will be the way to eat good vegetable, good water? But no way to get pure water. No more place to raise good vegetable or water.

I didn’t talk about this, you know, when I was in Japan. It is so cruel to talk about this kind of thing.

People who take-- make trip by fast train. When I was young I would, you know, I-- we were very happy to see Mount Fuji. But people now, instead of looking, instead of seeing Mount Fuji, they see the other side of the train where there is many factories and pollution, polluted water. And they talk about how bad it is without seeing Mount Fuji [laughs]. It’s awful condition. Last time I visited Japan, four years ago, it was not so bad, but in four days-- in four years it changed a lot. But we must be, the-- I think we forget, we human being, does not-- do not realize what we are doing and what is our karma.

70-12-23: Teisho (Introduced by Jakusho Kwong – Mill Valley)


When I was young, I have my teacher-- I had my teacher. But when I was thirty-two, I lost my teacher. He passed away. So I had not much chance to, you know, practice under my teacher. But-- under my master [corrects “teacher”], but I-- I had some other masters. So I could practice-- I could continue my practice. But it is important for you, you know, to have more intimate relationship with your teacher, which you don't have here. [At] Zen Center, we have too many teachers,[don’t] [freq err- omit imprnt word] so I am sorry we haven't [laughs] give you this kind of, you know, practice.

But that is very important. But if you have true, you know-- if you understand true-- what is true practice or purpose of true life, wherever you are, even without teacher, you can practice pretty well, as I did after [age] thirty-two. [Laughs.] For an instance, you know, when I was [at] Sokoji, as some of-- I told you many times [laughs], but still I want to talk-- tell-- I want to talk about [it] again-- because I found, you know, tremendous joy of practice when I was-- each time I went to the grocery story-- grocery store to buy some vegetables. I would choose, you know, the fruit which is, you know, almost, you know, almost going to, you know, rotten [laughs]-- soft, you know.

If grapefruit is soft, it is-- it mean it is not already so good, you know. Grapefruit is sour, but soft, you know, grapefruits with-- with-- even though it-- it has no mold on it, it taste bitter, you know [laughs]. Do you know the taste? Fresh one is only sour, but old one is bitter. I will choose, you know, that kind of soft grapefruits or vegetables with lead [red? dead?] leaves already on it. I found there my practice. When I divide something, you know, one grapefruit with someone else, you know, I give the top part to someone-- someone, and the bottom part I take. Top part is usually better than bottom part, even though top part is small, you know. Maybe you will take [laughs] top part, don't you? [Laughs, laughter.] But I take bottom part. You may feel strange [laughs], you know. If I explain my way, you may feel very strange. But I found there, you know, a kind of practice when I eat.

So it is not matter of “That,” you know, “practice is good or bad,” you know. When you say, “My practice is wrong,” you [laughs]-- your purpose of life is, you know, something different from me. That is why you say, “Oh, that practice is very poor,” you know, “very strange,” you know. But to me it is not strange. That is, you know, my practice.

70-12-27: no practice will destroy people.



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