if our teaching is a special teaching
Shunryu Suzuki Transcript
Someone asked me this evening, and that—if our teaching is special teaching which was transmitted from Buddha, or if Buddha—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 question.
We are studying right now teaching of Buddhism in general. Not only Zen—teaching of Zen but also the teaching of all Buddhism, all schools of Buddhism. We do not study each one of them, but we're—my lecture is concentrated on some important teaching which we have.
We have a lineage from Buddha to us. The Chinese—the Chinese first patriarch bodhisattva—Bodhi[dharma]—from Buddha to Chinese first master. And from Bodhidharma to Dogen Zenji we count 51, and those names are clearly written. And in our lineage we have 80, or 81, or 85 master 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 teaching, but by special we do not mean some different teaching from other teachings. So, if you think our teaching is completely different from other teaching of other school, it is [to] misunderstand.
And Buddha's enlightenment, of course, was—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 teaching, it should be understood completely.
The difference between Buddhism, or characteristic of Buddhism, is—the Buddhism is the teaching [in] which is possible to include various kinds of understanding, all—all kinds of understanding—and right or wrong, 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 also scientific knowledge, by including all the—all kinds of culture—effort—of human being. This is the most important characteristic of Buddhism.
It is not the best teaching in—in comparison to other teaching, but it is the teaching which include—which has—which will give meaning to every teaching. Which will give deeper understanding of various religion. Which will give proper use of various research. Or which will organize various—our various cultural effort.
This is the characteristic of Buddhism. Especially Zen is beyond all—beyond even all those human effort, and yet Zen will right meaning—will give right meaning to our human activity. This is our enlightenment, transmitted from Buddha to us. And there were no teachers before Buddha or after Buddha like him. This is the main—this is the difference between Buddhism and other schools.
So, even though you compare—if you compare Buddhism to other teaching, 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 matter of lofty teaching or common teaching. We are—our teaching is lofty teaching, of course, but on the other hand it is very common teaching.
And we—our teaching is teaching how to attain enlightenment and how to help others, and how to—how to help ourselves. And our teaching is, at the same time, how to help others, and how to forget all what we have [laughs], you know, 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 is not matter of deeper or shallow teaching. This is the main difference between Buddhism and other teachings.
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 help ourselves and who help others too.
In this way, we have been practicing our way from Buddha to us. Sometime, many teachers will say, Zen is special teaching, or Buddha attained enlightenment—Buddha is the only one who found out the ultimate truth which no one can attain. But what that—it means is not matter of good or bad.
So, if you believe in Buddhism, you have no problem of believing—what problem of what kind of religion you should believe in. All the religion you will believe in, at the same time, will be Buddhism, if you understand it properly. But because of—if you cling to one teaching only, forgetting all the rest of the teaching, or if you cling to the teaching, because your teaching—just because your teaching is a lofty teaching, then you will lose the true meaning of the teaching. Even though you have lofty—your religion is good, but if you think your religion is good and the rest of the teaching is not so good, is not good, you know. It means you ignore [laughs] the rest of the truth, and clinging to your own religion. You have no eyes to see, or no ear to hear to others' actual experience of religion.
But if you have the eyes to see, the ear to hear to—what others may say, all the religion will be your religion. When you have this kind of ears to listen to various religion, then you are a Buddhist.
In this way we understand our way. Especially in Zen we put emphasis on the practice on, or in, each moment. Moment after moment we continue this kind of practice, and moment after moment the meaning of the teaching, or content of the teaching, will develop according to the circumstances. And our practice in each moment will include every teaching possible. This is our practice of Zen.
All right, if you understand in this way, there's no problem of comparing our religion to other teaching, and which religion you should believe in—or whether or not you should accept other teaching.
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 experience, which sometime which is good for you and sometime which you did not feel so good. But anyway, you found something new. You had some new experience.
Now, "what kind of experience will be the best experience?" will be your problem, and actually, you will, if some special experience is good—was good, you want to continue that kind of experience or state of mind which you have had.
This is by future, you know. Many student who attained enlightenment under some teacher, will say, “I attained enlightenment one years or 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 it. But since then, I haven't that kind of experience again.” [Laughs.] “What is wrong with me, or with my practice?”
This kind of question is a question you will have!
Source: 67-10-00 digital audio archive from DC. Problem set. Thanks to audio work by AW, transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Further preparation to post by DC. More editing and transcription by CM October 2012 using the enhanced audio. Verbatim version by Wendy Pirsig and Peter Ford 8/2022 based on Engage Wisdom audio.
if our teaching is a special teaching
(titled by pf)
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