No Dualism

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Thursday, November 2, 1967

Los Altos

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We say our practice without gaining idea, practice without expecting even enlightenment, but what we mean by those statements is -- it does not mean just to sit without any purpose. Of course this practice of -- without gaining idea, based on the gaining idea we have in the Prajna Paramita Sutra: “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form”. But when we say ‘Form is emptiness” or “emptiness is form” this is still dualistic. But when we say ‘form is form’ and ‘emptiness is emptiness’ here there is no dualism. When you find it difficult to stop your mind in your sitting and are still trying to stop your mind, this is the stage of form is emptiness and emptiness is form. But while you are practicing this way, more and more your practice will -- in your practice you will have oneness of your goal and your practice without effort, you can stop your mind. This is the stage of form is form and emptiness is emptiness.

To stop your mind does not mean to stop your activities of mind. It means your mind pervades your whole body. Your mind follows your breathing and your mind -- with your full mind you form the mudra in your hands; with your mind you sit with painful legs without being disturbed by them. This is to sit without gaining idea. At first you feel some restriction in your posture but when you find -- when you are not disturbed by the restriction that is actually what we mean by emptiness is emptiness and form is form. So to find your own way under some restriction is the way of practice. So it does not mean that whatever you do that is zazen. Or even lying down that is zazen. When your mind is not restricted by restriction that is what we mean by practice. When you say, “Whatever I do that is Buddha nature, so it doesn’t matter what I do, and there is no need to practice zazen” that is already dualistic understanding of our everyday life. If really it doesn’t matter there is no need for you even to say so. As long as you are concerned about what you do, that is dualistic. If you are not concerned about what you do you will not say so. When you sit, you will sit. When you eat you will eat. That’s all. If you say it doesn’t, it means that you are making some excuse to something by your own way. It means you are attached to something especially. That is not what we mean, but just to sit, or whatever you do that is zazen. Whatever we do that is zazen. If it is so there is no need to say so. So when you sit you will just sit without being disturbed by your painful legs or sleepiness. That is zazen. But at first it is very difficult to accept things as they are. You feel some -- you will be annoyed by the feeling your have in your practice. When you can do everything, whether it is good or bad, you can do it without disturbance or without being annoyed by the feeling that is actually what we mean by form is form and emptiness is emptiness.

Suppose you suffer from an illness like cancer and you realize you cannot live more than two or three years. Then you will start practice because it is difficult to rely on something. And someone may rely on the help of God. Someone may start the practice of zazen and his practice will be concentrated on obtaining emptiness or all things. We naturally -- originally we are empty beings. That means he is trying to be free from the suffering of duality (this life, or next life, or this life). This is the practice of form is emptiness or emptiness is form. Because that is true so we want to have that actual realization in our life. But of course this practice will help you and if you practice it and believe in it that is true, and if you -- and realizing that to be concerned about this life or that life is wrong, still you are making effort. That is, maybe, that will help you, of course, but that is not perfect practice.

Knowing that his life is just two or three years time to enjoy day after day, moment after moment that is the life is form is form and emptiness is emptiness. When Buddha comes you will welcome him; when devil comes you will welcome him. Like Ummon said, ‘Sun-faced Buddha, and Moon-faced Buddha.” When he was ill someone asked him, “How about you?” And he said, “Sun-faced Buddha and Moon-faced Buddha”. That is the life of form is form and emptiness is emptiness. There is no problem. One year of his life is good. One hundred years of life is good. If you continue our practice you will attain this stage. But at first you will have various problems in your practice and it necessary for you to make some effort to continue our practice. Practice without effort is not true practice for the beginner. For the beginner the practice needs effort. So whatever we do that is practice-- that is Zen. So it does not matter whether you practice or not -- that kind of understanding is completely mistaken. If you continue, whatever you do, that is practice. If you do it everything with this purpose and this idea that is practice.
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Los Altos box transcript. Exact copy entered onto disk and emailed to DC by GM 02/20/2009. Hard copy marked as ‘original’ at top of first page in type.
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File name: 67-11-02: No Dualism Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 41, (Not Verbatim) Changed "Like Woman said" to "Like Ummon said" 3-3-2015 by DC.

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