Shunryu Suzuki lecture
Audio Problem Set
Sunday, June 29, 1969
In our practice, which include everyday life, which I
call this the right understanding part. Man and nature. It is
necessary to have constancy, to follow the truth, and to continue our
Because, truth is something which is beginningless and
endless. So our practice should be also beginningless and endless.
And forever ever we call we should continue our
practice. That is the first stage, first step, for your for entering
Buddha hall or Zazen hall.
That is the stage. The form is emptiness. Form is
emptiness needs two halves. Strong belief or constancy in emptiness,
which is the form itself. It is a mirror word. So form may be real
form. Form is emptiness. So form is directed towards emptiness. Which
is Buddha nature or emptiness or enlightenment. Form. This is the
first step to the Buddha Hall.
And next one is emptiness is form. This is more
advanced, maybe more difficult. You know, to understand and to accept.
Form is emptiness. Or, emptiness is form. Emptiness is form.
It is easy, you know, to have direction and start a
practice towards emptiness. Form is emptiness. Form is going to that,
emptiness. That it easy because you have some direction. You know.
Even though it is difficult. As long as we have direction, it is easy.
That emptiness is form is more, maybe more difficult.
And stronger confidence is necessary. Because emptiness is form. When
you say emptiness is form. Whatever it is. You know. Everything is
emptiness itself. It means that. Not only evil. You know, everything.
Not only something good. But, also everything. That is more difficult
Because you know, for usual people like us there is
something good and something bad. There is something, which we don’t
like. And there is something, which we care for. There is common
people and sage. Unless you stop your analyzing mind or thinking mind,
it is rather difficult to accept it. You know, that is which we
experience in our everyday life.
You see that is, but but frankly can’t see, emptiness
is form. You have stronger constancy in your practice. You have
actualized. You can do it. We are, you know, practicing right now. In
San Francisco there’s a company breaking practice. Just to come here.
And we may say, it looks like very easy. But, actually
it is difficult. But, you should know why it is so difficult. As one
instance, sometime, most of the time, in your everyday life. You will
have something something which you don’t like at all. And, it is
difficult when you forget all about it. Even though that is not your
problem. Your business. But you, you know, cannot help but to think
You know that you have this kind of experience.
Sometime you will be very angry. But, someone else will just do it.
But that is not actually your business. But if you spend your valuable
time to think about something, which is nothing to do with you. Maybe
something to do with you. But, not directly? You cannot say. Nothing
can happen with that. Some relationship with you. But may have
something to do with you. But even though you’re thinking, it doesn’t
help at all. You cannot help someone, which is not there to relate it
to. It begins, you know. As a word, as a diminishing a word. It is
almost impossible to help him.
But is but, we don’t know why. We don’t know why we
have to. It is so difficult to stop thinking about it. Don’t you have
this kind of experience? It is very so friend, actually. That is the
world now. That is a relative world. We say world of good and bad.
World of right or wrong. But in there if we. But if we can always
practice counting. Really practice completely. You know, actually you
can stop being worried about it. You can stop. You can cut off the
relationship, unnatural. A wrong relationship with someone.
So I say to be able to count from one to ten is very
fortunate. So if you, when you go from one to two. Or, two to three
until you count to ten. You should bow to Buddha. Thank you very much.
And then you start count one, two, three. And that you can count in
order. Without mistake means mirror practice is complete.
The stage you can do it over and over again is the
stage that emptiness is form. Emptiness is form. If it’s more, you
know, advanced stage, then that first stage you can count. You may
think, "I must count." Anyway I have to count from one to ten. But you
make some mistake. And you will do it your counting. It means that you
have some gap in your continuity of your practice. So, it means you
have gap. So, some worry will, you know, come to you through the gap.
So, when the time you forgot you are counting. The various (insult ??)
will come over through the gate. Even when you don’t know when. But
when it does (insult ??) is already here. That is really the more the
state. That you have direction. Only you have direction. But the
practice is not of it. In your practice there is some gap.
So to be able to count from one to ten means a lot. It
means more than (insult ??). The thought of counting from one to ten
is very powerful. And that is the first way to be free from various
confusion. Which you may be easily above this.
So, I think if you go back to sitting. You have many
things to think. But you don’t think just because you have to think.
But, because you are not able to stop thinking about it. Most of the
thinking is because in that way. Most of the activity you take is not
because it is necessary. But because you can, you are not able to stop
doing it. And there are too many things, which you shouldn’t do. But
most people are doing something they shouldn’t do. But, to be able to
stop doing it and be able to waste enough thinking about it. Doing it.
Is very important. When you are able to do it. It means that your
wisdom is up. Your mind is up. And your mind is a clear as the Buddha.
Mirror may be, mirror is active and emptiness. So, in
that mirror everything will reflect emptiness. Various images will
appear as it is. So we may say that emptiness is form. And, the purer
polished mirror. Everything in various forms. That will be deeper, and
maybe difficult. But, deeper. More polished. So counting will be an
exercise. Maybe the exercise for beginners. And, exercise for more
The third one: form is form, emptiness is emptiness.
But here if I keep order to them. The emptiness is emptiness is. Form
is form is more advanced. Emptiness is emptiness is will practice.
Next emptiness is form. I think so. You would know, but I don’t. Form
is form means, later I’ll explain in some other way. But emptiness is
emptiness means everything appears in the form of emptiness. Or it
means that for people who practice that is a stage when we can say
everything equal as emptiness.
Emptiness comes to us when we are empty, you know.
When we stop thinking. When we are able to stop our emotional
thinking. When we are not involved in any of that. When you are just
sitting, some certain form. So in that stage, you know. That stage is
more the stage you have when you stop thinking when you stop thinking
and stop feeling somebody is thinking things. That’s going to be the
continuity of anything emptiness. Anything emptiness.
But, form is form is the practice which you will have
in your everyday life, more. Form is form. When we say emptiness is
emptiness or form is form. It means that emptiness only. Form only.
Word form only. We don’t think about emptiness when we say form is
form. When we say emptiness is emptiness, we don’t think about it,
form. We have no idea, form. Just emptiness. And form, when we say
form is form, you know, you’re ... you are able to do it. Form is
form. Should be very strong. That is practice. Even though we don’t
aware of it.
If you have strong practice. Power of strong practice.
Even though you don’t aware of it. You don’t know whether you have
that kind of strength, or knowledge. That is why we call it emptiness.
Which was if you say, "I have this kind of power." That is not
emptiness anymore. That is already form. You know. If you say, "I
understand what is emptiness is emptiness," then that is not emptiness
anymore. That is the power you have even though you are not aware of
That power is a power which will be gained, acquired
by everyday practice. By continuous practice. If you sit. If you just
sit everyday at (satting ??) time for one hour or more. You will have
more and more power of practice. Or, for you it is this kind to rule
your power. That is a stage when you have this kind of power. Whatever
you see, you know, the scenes. It’s the scene itself. You can see
things as it is. So you, when you can see things as it is. It is the
world of form is form. That is how we help others, you know. When, you
know, when a scenery come you will be able to see.
Man. When all an old man come. You will be an old man.
That will, that stage or (diafault ??) Form is form. And when you have
this kind of practice. As I said, that’s right. That is the right
form. But it is. You don’t know who you are. You may be a child. You
may be an old man. You may not be aware. Because you will be man. Man.
And you will not. And you know you don’t know. It will appear as if
you know everything. But you don’t know actually. It appears, you
know. As if it has some form. But, you know.
But I’ve seen it appear and vanish. Since in the end
it exists in that way. As soon as it appears it vanish. The lesson
which doesn’t vanish. Everything that appears will vanishes. Like this
is the time, you know, you sat and you cook. That is it disappears.
There is no proof that it doesn’t vanish. There’s no rules that will
die. There’s no way proof that doesn’t vanish. So it appears. To
appear you or not to appear. Or to vanish. So we don’t know what it
is. Anyway, to take care of this one by one. Like you come here maybe.
It’s a life form. What is it?
So we don’t try to figure out what it is, you know? We
don’t want any answer for that. Question is at the same time answered
what it is. That is OK. But we have to take. We cook every dish one by
one. Bread is bread, and soup should be soup. We even thought it maybe
mixed up when you’re eating. But, there’s no one who eat, you know,
who prepare food which mix up. You should prepare each one, one by
one. Like when you count your breathing, like you count one, two,
three. So like you count your breathing, it’s the way you cook. This
is, or the way you walk. Step by step. That is to have full
appreciation of life.
We sit seated be as led by anything else. You know, we
should always be the better. And we should be free from everything.
And we should be first of everything. Always. We don’t trying to
control. By doing things one by one carefully. So because it is kind
of difficult task for us. So we should be able, we should be very
grateful. Even you count from one to two. That is enough. If you can
count from one to, you know if you reach five. You should bow to
Buddha. Or be very grateful for you. Let me count from one to five. In
this way, you can count from one to ten. And which that can bring
great joy. We continue. If you continue, again from one to ten. And
over and over again. That is the last stage. You will acquire by
counting breathing successfully or by practice. For it is not at all
just practice just for beginners.
Last night Jack asked me the question. What kind of
character we use, you know, for form is emptiness? Emptiness is form.
And, form is form and emptiness is emptiness. [ ??? ]
Anything form, anything empty. There are four
characters. Form is form. Emptiness is form. Emptiness is emptiness.
Form is emptiness. [ ??? ]
[69-06-29-bh] - Source: 69-06-29 digital audio archive from DC.
Problem set. Thanks to audio work by AW, transcribed October
2012 by Bill Hackenberg. Further prep by DC.
Most of the last two minutes were unintelligible and
indicated that in the transcript. I think Shunryu Suzuki was perhaps
going into the four Japanese characters for form is emptiness,
emptiness is form, form is form and emptiness is emptiness. He may
have been writing at a board and got far away from the mike? Some of
the audio seemed to indicate he was referring to aspects of the
Japanese characters. Someone who understands Japanese may have better
luck with the last two minutes. It would still be very hard to hear,
but maybe worth a shot. - Bill