God Giving

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Thursday, March 3, 1966

Los Altos


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So to do something through and through we resume our true activity of creation or to give up. This is why we sit. If we do not forget this point everything will be carried on beautifully. But once you forget this point all the confusion -- this world will be filled with confusion.
Los Altos box transcript. Exact copy entered onto disk and emailed to DC by GM 08/27/2008.

File name: 66-03-03: God Giving Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 65, (Not Verbatim) Los Altos box title: The Joy of Giving

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