Lotus Sūtra No. I-3

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

February 1968
Zen Mountain Center


Maitreya asked Manjusri what is going to happen, and Maitreya—Manjusri started to answer that question:

“When—whereupon Manjusri, the prince royal, addressed Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, and the whole assembly of Bodhisattvas (in these words): It is the intention of the Tathagata, young men of the good family, to begin a grand discourse of the—the teaching of the law, to pour the great rain of the law, to make resound the great drum of the law, to raise the great banner of the law, to kindle the great torch of the law, to blow the great conch trumpet of the law, to strike the great tymbal of the law.”1

Manjusri, you know, started to say something about what he have experienced before, because same thing happened to him when he was studying—studying Dharma in his previous life. “Whereupon Manjusri,” Manjusri or—there were various names for him: Manjusri, Manjusvara, or Manjughosha. All those names are Manjusri’s name. “Manjusri” is—means some auspicious man of–auspicious. And “Manjusvara” or “Manjughosha” means a man who has a beautiful voice. Anyway, those are his names.

“Whereupon the prince royal, addressed Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Manjusri, and the whole assembly of Bodhisattvas.” Whole assembly of Bodhisattvas. This sutra—in this sutra bodhisattva is—has the main position. Almost you can say that this sutra was told for bodhisattva or for bodhisattva—and to bodhisattva too. “...the whole assembly of the Bodhisattva.” This words repeated in—in chapter 15, the famous chapter we recite on Dogen Zenji's memorial day each month. So, old monks in Eiheiji can recite this sutra by heart—almost by heart without any difficulties in Chinese, you know, [laughter, laughs] not in Japanese. All those sutra, you know, Zen Buddhists, you know, chant this sutra—chant twenty-eight volume of this sutra. In former days they could recite very well. But I cannot recite so well, but old monks can recite it quite easily in short time, [mumbles like chanting] in Chinese [laughs, laughter]. And this, you know, word is repeated in—at the beginning of the volume 15, you know, we—this words appears, maybe twice or more.

Page 8[?]. “Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, and the whole assembly of Bodhisattvas. It is” and he started in this way: “(in these words): It is the intention of the Tathagata, young men of good family,” [a few words of this in Japanese?], you know, this is—this word is repeated many times in this sutra,”…Tathagata, young men of good family to begin a grand discourse of the teaching of the law, to pour the great rain of the law, to make resound the great drum of the law.” Drum dundubhi[?]–drum in—in Sanskrit dundubhi[?], what was it? [Laughter, laughs] drum, you know, sound, don, don, don [laughs], so maybe, you know, dundubhi. [Laughs] dundubhi—it is very interesting, you know, name for the drum, dundubhi, dundubhi, dundubhi. In festival, you know, in Japan people strike big drum: dongbish, dongbish, dondabish [laughs, laughter]. “The great drum of the law, to raise—to raise the great banner of the law, to kindle the great torch of the law, to blow the great conch—conch trumpet of the law,...” Do you know the conch trumpet? In Japan, you know, in Shingon temple, Tantric Buddhist—Buddhist has big conch trumpet. Boooo. It goes this way, [demonstrating it in the air]. Great conch trumpet [laughter, laughs] “...and to strike the great tymbal of the law.” [Laughs, laughter.]

But this repetition of various instrument is not the same in various translation. [Laughter, possibly in reaction to a non-verbal gesture.] I don’t think the translator added something interesting [laughs, laughter]. But those who are studying—scholars who are studying this sutra compares, you know, [laughs, laughter] in Tibet rendering this is missing [laughter], in Nepal—Nepalese rendering this is missing, in Chinese rendering this is missing. I mean this way they try to figure out the—how those scriptures were introduced to China or Nepal or Tibet. Those are very important study, but.... And here I have Watanabe's—Doctor Watanabe's translation. He compares Chinese—he compares Chinese—we have two Chinese rendering: new one and old one. And he compares those two rendering to Tibetan rendering, and Nepalese and original text and Pali. So, if we study—if you want to study, I have here—you have various proof for material. But I must continue, you know, I must continue my lecture as quickly as possible.

“Again, it is the intention of Tathagata, young men of good family, to make a grand exposition of the law this very day.” Right now he will extend the grand exposition of the law, as I had before. “Thus it appears to me, young men of good family, as I have witnessed a similar sign of the former Tathagatas,” former Tathagatas—in his former life, “the Arhats, the perfectly enlightened.” The Arhats, the perfectly enlightened who have perfect wisdom, perfect enlightenment—the Arhat, the perfect enlightened, who acquired so-called-it murogi[?].

Perfect enlightenment—he has no desire or no attachment to anything. The Arhat—the perfect enlightenment. “Those former Tathagatas,” –what is this? “etcetera”2 or I don’t understand this [brief quiet discussion]. Maybe he avoids the repetition. “Those former Tathagatas” are something—looks like abbreviation of “Arhats, the perfect—perfectly enlightened.” “The former Tathagatas the perfectly,” let me read it again. “The former Tathagatas, the Arhats, the perfectly enlightened” it should run this way, “they too emitted a lustrous ray, and I am—I am convinced that the Tathagata is about to deliver a grand discourse of the teaching of the law and make his grand speech on the law everywhere heard, he having shown such a foretoken—he having shown such a foretoken” period. “I am—I am convinced that the Tathagata is about to deliver a grand discourse of the teaching of the law and make his grand speech on the law everywhere heard, he having shown such a foretoken. And because the Tathagata, Arhats, the perfectly enlightened one wishes that this—this Dharmaparyaya meeting—paryaya meeting opposition in all the world....” This Dharma meet—Watanabe says “meeting” is not appropriate. Not “meeting” but “teaching” or “learning.” How to know—how to learn, it means. Learning of opposition, not opposition, you know. Because he translated “meeting,” so he says “opposition.” But teaching or learning—some learning which is difficult. So, Dharmaparyaya, hard to learn, “in all the world be heard everywhere, therefore does he display so great a miracle and this foretoken consisting in the luster occasional—luster occasioned by the emission of a ray.” I am sorry, my readings aren’t so good[?].

“And because of the Tathagata, the Arhat, the perfectly enlightened one wishes that this Dharmaparyaya hard to learn in all the world be heard everywhere, therefore does he display so great a miracle and this foretoken consisting in the lustre occasioned by the emission the ray—of a ray.” And in this translation there is some—some objection or some discourse among the scholars, but the meaning is nearly the same. “I remember, young men of the good family, that in the days of yore, many immeasurable, inconceivable, immense, infinite, countless Aeons, more than countless Aeons ago, nay, long and very long before, there was born—there was born a Tathagata called Kandrasuryapradipa— Kandrasuryapradipa, an Arhat, the perfectly enlightened one, endowed with science and conduct—endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata—a Sugata, knower of the world, an incomparable one—incomparable tamer of men, a teacher of gods and men, Buddha and Lord.” Those are, you know, Buddha's ten names, ten titles. And this Shakyamuni Buddha's ten—ten titles also applied here for the—this Buddha of Kandrasuryapradipa. “Kandra” means the moon, “Surya” the sun: sun—the sun, moon: “Burning Sun Moon Buddha.” ??? by Kandrasuryapradipa. This is, you know, one name. And Arhat—the Buddha’s ten names are: Arhat, Tathagata, Arhat—oh, I don’t know in Sanskrit. Maybe Chino Sensei will tell you correct pronunciation. Ten titles of Buddha: Tathagata, Arhat, Samyaksambuddha.

Tathagata means a man who comes from the truth and who do not stay [in] any realm—realm of form—form world, who come from truth and who—who goes to the—go back to the truth, or someone who preach right Dharma and who preach right law, or someone who observes things as—as it is. Those are the meaning of Tathagata. Arhat is who attained perfect enlightenment, the attainment of the Theravada Buddhist. Samyaksambuddha this is the Buddha who knows everything and who knows things as it is, who has no discrepancy or who has no one-sided—who has no one-sided wisdom—one-sided understanding or observation. Shohenchi: Samyaksambuddha.

And Myogyosoku: Vidyacaranasampanna those who have—who can see things—through things, and who knows his former life, and who has perfect enlightenment. This is also Arhats attainment. In morning we say—we pray to have three wisdom—three powers, Arhat's power. And Myogyosoku means to—his mouth and body and his mind is perfectly enlightened. This is fourth one. And Sugata, it means a man who has great knowledge and who can say things nicely. And who has deep, great samadhi. And the sixth one, Lokavit, who knows this world completely. And Anuttara, Mujoshi so-called it incomparable one, who has supreme Nirvana. As his attainment is supreme, he is supreme, incomparable. And last one is “Tamer of the men,” Purusadamyasarathi, who has great means of helping people with great mercy, a tamer of the men, the translation—this translation said. And saver of the human being and celestial being. And the last one—last one is the Buddha-lokanatha or Buddha-bhagavat ???. Those are the ten names. But here, you know, we count[?]—it is different, you know, to—to figure out, but I figure it out this way, in this translation. Tathagata called the Tathagata. This is one. Tathagata called Kandrasuryapradipa. [Possibly a break in the audio here.]

And Arhat, here is Arhat, you know. Tathagata, we have Tathagata. And Arhat, this is the second. And here is some sign, like abbreviation [&c.]. So, the perfectly enlightened one is abbreviated, missing here. But this &c it means—may be the perfect enlightened one. So, here we have the third one: Shohenchi or Saṃyak-saṃbuddha. And we have, “endowed with science and conducts—conduct.” Science and conduct—science should mean wisdom or the three powers of Arhat, like the perfect attaining, the power to see things—through things, and to—the power to know his former life. This is—should be the science. Arhat, science of Arhat. For us it—instead of those three powers we have right now. Nowadays we have science, so [laughs, laughter] maybe this is—must be —because[?]—must be why he translated “science.” The “endowed with science,” I figure that this way. “Endowed with science and conduct,” conduct means precepts observation. So, it must be the fourth one. Precepts observation, Myogyosoku. So, no[?]—so, endowed with science is one and endowed with conduct is another. So, we have fourth and fifth here—fourth—third and fourth here. And Sugata is the fifth one: Zenzei. And Knower of the World, this is, of course, Sekinge, who understand human life completely from both way. Human life, mundane way and enlightened way: Knower of the World. And incomparable tamer of men. But this incomparable tamer of the men should be divided into incomparable one, comma, tamer of the men. It should be divided in two. So, one is incomparable one is the seventh one. And tamer of men is the eighth one. Who has—eighth, Jogojobu, is the tamer of the men. So, incomparable one is the seventh one. So, incomparable, comma, tamer of the men. There should be comma. There’s no other way to understand this part. So, comma is missing or incomparable one comma tamer of men. And so, this makes this one makes two instead of one. And Buddha and Lord, this is the tenth one. So, here we have ten. And those are ten title—ten titles of Shakyamuni Buddha. And here the applied ten titles for the Kandrasuryapradipa Buddha, bodhisattva.

“He showed the law; he revealed the duteous course—duteous course which is holy at its commencement, holy in its middle, holy at the end, good in substance and form, complete and perfect, correct and pure.” This should be also—should be counted—should be counted in ten, but it is very difficult, you know, to figure. I—anyway I did it, but it—it may be too tedious [laughs]. So, I will skip. If someone wants to know, I’ll show you what I did. It is usual, you know, those ten elements of the quality of the teaching described in ten or seven. Here it must be ten.

“He showed the law; he revealed the duteous course of—duteous course, which is holy at its commencement, holy in its middle, holy in the end…” This is, you know, stuck[?]—rather stuck[?] down for—for us. “Holy in commencement, holy in its middle, holy in the end.” Shochugo Zen[?] we say. “Good in substance,” substance—good in meaning it should be. Good in meaning—substance, you know, the contents—good in contents and form, “form” it should be “words.” Good in contents and good in words—instead of form. Form is also, maybe, words. “Good in substance,” instead of “good in substance” it should be “good in meaning, good in words.” “Complete” and “perfect” this is—should be two. “Complete” comma, should be a comma, “perfect,” comma. Complete is—doesn't include any other meaning; in this sense, it is complete. And “perfect,” the “perfect” here means sufficient, you know. One, you know, teaching is sufficient—suffice everything. In this sense it is perfect. So, “complete, (comma) perfect, (comma).” And complete means pureness of the elements of the teaching. And “perfect” here means sufficient—teaching which suffice everything—every teaching. And “correct” is one and “pure” is one. “Correct” means no—nothing wrong with it—correct. And “pure” means the pureness of the practice, or precepts observation. [Possible break in audio here.]

All right? But tape recorder will tell you later [laughs, laughter].
“That is to say, to the disciples—to the disciple he preached…” “He” means Kandrasuryapradipa. “He preached the law containing the Four Noble Truths, and starting from chain of cause and effects, tending to overcome birth—birth, decrepitude, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, woe, grief, despondency, and finally leading to Nirvana.” The first one is, you know, as you know, the Four Noble Truths for the Theravada Buddhists or sravakas. And starting from—and the teaching of chain of cause and effect—teaching of causality or teaching of interdependency—interdependency of birth, old age, “sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, woe, grief, despondency,” or uneasiness “and finally leading to Nirvana.” Those are the teaching for Pratyekayana. Teaching of Pratyekayana. But here, as you listen—as you heard, there is no distinction—the teaching for the sravakas—sravakas and teaching for the pratyeka. But from the viewpoint of Lotus Sutra, which is Mahayana teaching....

Oh, I'm sorry [laughs]. It is not so easy[?]. Maybe too tedious for you. [Lots of laughter in this paragraph.] I almost gave up already, so I can imagine how you feel. When, you know, I was young, I would go to school by train. As far as—so far as train is going, I was sleeping. When train stops, I woked up. I woke up suddenly because I have to get off. As long as my tedious lecture is going, you may sleep. If I stop my lecture, you should wake up. There will be no need to remember those things, you know. But you should know how complicated that our Dharma is. Dharma are very complicated, but very clear, you know. But to make it clear, we have to make a good effort. It looks like very, you know, sometime—it looks like some story of it[?], you know. You may think if you read those scriptures, you think there's no truth in it, just this is a fairy tale or like story, but it is not so. There is very accurate, you know, understanding. Underlying thought is very deep and accurate. So, as long as we study it, we should make it clear.

The—those teaching starting from [laughs, laughter] birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, woe, grief, uneasiness and Nirvana are the teaching of interdependency. We some—sometime we say interdependency, sometime. Listen to me means understand the teaching—this teaching as teaching of interdependency, but old—ancient time, most people—most scholars understand this teaching as a teaching of causality: birth is cause of, you know, old age, and birth is cause of sickness, you know. Because we—we were born, we have old age and sickness and death. We understood this way, but this is actually the teaching of interdependency, and this teaching—those teachings are the—another form of Four Noble Truths.

And we—we say, you know, it’s the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path is for the—teaching for the sravakas—sravakas, and the Twelve—the teaching of—of Twelve Links of Causality is the teaching for pratyeka, but Buddha actually—it is according to the recent result of the study, Buddha told not only the Four Noble Truths and Eight Holy Path but also teaching of Twelve Links of Causality to—without separating those two teachings. So, sometimes the Four Noble Truths and Eight Holy Path, sometime teaching of Twelve Links of Causality. And actually, if you analyze those two teachings, it is the same teaching—it is another form of—another version of the same—two different version of the same teaching. What he meant is the same. So, there is no wonder Buddha, you know, in this Lotus Sutra there is—those two teachings are mixed, and those two teachings supposed to be for the disciples. And here it says “disciples,” but Chinese rendering says “the disciples of words—disciple—disciples of the words.”Sravakas—it looks like sravakas, but disciples of words. So, that—it may be better to say “to the disciple”—instead of “to the disciple,” it may be better to say, “to the disciple of words.” Then the meaning become more clear. And it is said that the original text has “words,” not only “disciple” but it says—original text says, “disciples of words,” and it include both sravakas and pratyeka buddha.

“...and—and to the Bodhisattva he preached the law connected with the six Perfections, and terminating in the knowledge of Omniscient, after the attainment of supreme, perfect enlightenment.” And those are for sravakas, and so far was for sravakas and pratyeka, and now the teaching for the bodhisattva. For the bodhisattva, Buddha taught the teaching of the six paramita—six paramita—para mita. The six paramita, I—I think I explained already. Dana Prajna Paramita, and Sila—no, no—Dana Prajna—not Prajna—Dana Paramita and Sila Paramita, and I don’t know in Sanskrit, but patience paramita and vigor—vigor or paramita, and dhyana—Dhyana prajna—Dhyana Paramita, and Prajna Paramita, wisdom paramita. Those are the six paramita for a bodhisattva—bodhisattva’s practice. Buddha provided those six for practice. [Sound of shuffling papers.] Dana Paramita bestow[?] of material and teaching; Sila Paramita, keeping precepts; the third one is Ksanti Paramita, this is to practice of patience; and fifth [fourth] one is Virya Paramita, zeal and—and progress, Shoji[?] paramita; and fifth one is meditation, practice of meditation paramita, Dhyana—Dhyana Paramita; and the sixth one is Prajna Paramita, wisdom paramita, power to discern truth or reality.

Thank you very much.

1 Suzuki was reading from the Kern translation, but there are a few minor differences. It is available online at www.buddhism.org/Sutras/2/Lotus_Sutra.htm.

2 The Kern text says, “Those former Tathâgatas, &c., ”

Checked, transcribed, and edited by Brian Fikes. Old file name 68-02-LS.3. Prepared for digital archive by DC 9-12. Verbatim version created October 2023 by Peter Ford from audio by EngageWisdom.

File name: 68-02-00-C: Lotus Sūtra No. I-3 (Verbatim) Edited by Brian Fikes

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