Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Audio Problem set
JG's first pass - see CM's 2nd pass
Someone asked me this evening, if our teaching is a
special teaching, which was transmitted from Buddha, or if Buddha's
enlightenment is some special enlightenment, which no one else could
attain, could attain before Buddha or after Buddha.
What is the relationship between the usual teaching
and our special teaching? This is the question – the point of the
We are studying right now teaching of Buddhism in
general. Not only Zen – teaching of Zen but the teaching of all schools
of Buddhism. We do not study each one of them. But my lecture is
concentrated on some important teaching which we have.
We have lineage from Buddha to us. The Chinese …
the Chinese first fedrick
Bodhisattva … from Buddha to Chinese first master. And from Bodhidharma
to Dogen Zenji we count 51, and those names are clearly literary. And in
our lineage we have 80 or 81 or 85 master's names written. Those are the
masters who transmitted the true spirit of Buddhism. And also, this is
the essential point of Buddhism. But because it is essential teaching,
we call it special, but by special we do not mean some different
teachings from other teachings.
So if you think our teaching is completely
different from teachings of other schools it is misunderstanding.
And Buddha's enlightenment is what happened to
Buddha, after studying many schools of … many kinds of religion at that
time, and after trying hard, every possible way, he found out his own
way of practice. So, in this sense, it is different, quite different
from another religion. It is so.
But why it is special or his teaching is different,
how his teaching differs from other teachings, it should be understood
The difference between Buddhism, or characteristic
of Buddhism, that Buddhism is the teaching which it is possible to
include various kinds of understanding. All kinds of understanding –
enlight or brown, good or bad,
high or lofty or common. The Buddhism has some possibility to put every
teaching in right order, and to have understanding of each experience or
knowledge, which we have – not only religion, but scientific knowledge,
by including all the ... all kinds of culture – effort of human beings.
This is the most important characteristic of Buddhism.
It is not the best teaching in comparison to other
teaching, but it is the teaching which have, which will give meaning to
every teaching. Which will give deeper understanding of various
religion. Which will give proper use of various results. Or which will
organize various … our various cultural efforts.
This is the characteristic of Buddhism. Especially
Zen is beyond all even all those human efforts. But then will give right
meaning to our human activity. This is our enlightenment, transmitted
from Buddha to us. And there no teachers before Buddha or after Buddha,
This is the main … this is the difference between
Buddhism and other schools.
So, even though you compare … if you compare
Buddhism to other teachings, you cannot find out true, why we believe in
our way. Because it is not matter of comparison, or it is not matter of
which is better, or it is not a matter of lofty or common teaching. Our
teaching is lofty teaching, of course, but on the other hand it is very
And our teaching is teaching how to attain
enlightenment and how to help others, and how to help ourselves. And our
teaching is, at the same time, how to help others, and how to forget all
what we have. No. How to be common.
So, our teaching is very upward, and very downward
at the same time.
So, our teaching is not a matter of lofty teaching
or common teaching. So it does not matter deeper or shallow teaching.
This is the main difference between Buddhism and other teaching.
Usually I find people seeking for something good,
only. Something lofty, only, but they are not interested in something
common, and something usual. But we do not stay the stage of Buddha,
because true Buddha is always someone who helps ourselves and can help
In this way, we have been practicing our way from
Buddha to us. Sometimes, many teachers will say, Zen is special
teaching, or Buddha attained enlightenment – the only one who found out
the ultimate truth which no one can attain. But what it means is not
matter of good or bad.
So, if you believe in Buddhism, you have no problem
believing of what kind of religion you chose to believe in. All the
religions you will believe in, at the same time will be Buddhism, if you
understand it properly. But because of... if you bring to one teaching
only, forgetting all the rest of the teaching, or if you cling to the
teaching, because – just because your teaching is lofty teaching, then
you will lose the true meaning of the teaching. Even though you have
lofty... your religion is good … if you think your religion is good but
the rest of the teaching is not so good, it means you ignore the rest of
And clinging to your religion, you have no eyes to
see, or no ears to hear true others' actual experience of religion.
But if you have the eyes to see; the ears to hear
to what others may say, all the religions will be your religion. When
you have this kind of ears to listen to various religion, then you are
In this way we understand our way. Especially in
Zen we put emphasis on the practice in each moment. Moment after moment
we continue this practice, and moment after moment the meaning of this
practice will develop through the circumstances.
And our practice in each moment will include every
teaching possible. This is our practice of Zen.
Now, if you understand in this way, there's no
problem in comparing our religion with other religion, and which
religion you should believe in – whether or not you accept other
And another question to which I should answer is:
What kind … during our training period of two months, including our
training after training period, we had various experiences, which
sometimes were good for your and sometimes which you did not feel so
good. But anyway, you found something new. You had some kind of new
What kind of experience will be the best
experience? Will be your problem, and actually, you will … if some
special experience was good, you will want to continue that kind of
experience or state of mind which you have had.
This is my future, you know. Many students who
attained enlightenment and some teaching, who say, “I attained
enlightenment one year ago or two years ago!”
But I want to have, and I want to have this kind of
experience always, or I want to have that kind of experience, whenever I
want to have. But, this then, I haven't had that kind of experience
again. What is wrong with my practice?
This kind of question is a question you will have.
And the next night we.... [Audio ends]
Source: digital audio archive from DC. Problem set.
Transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Work in progress. Further
preparation to post by DC