Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. II-12

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. 12
Shunryu Suzuki Lecture

October 1968
[?Transcript in progress. Needs further work, checking. Words in doubt marked as ( word ??).]

This sutra is divided into two parts. And one is so-called Shakumon. Shakumon is … In the first part, we should understand the oneness of the … the oneness of the reality. We should understand aspect of being and aspect of mountain; aspect of subjective, how do you call it? Objective; Buddha and sentient beings are one, not the same.

This sutra put the emphasis on more … rather than emptiness, but on forms, forms. So, for … for this reason, how we understand absolute reality in term of differentiated, objective world, and how we live, we should live with Buddha's life, you know, which is one.

The last .. second part is how we should appreciate Buddha as the source of our life. Dharmakaya Buddha – when we appreciate Dharmakaya Buddha, it means that Sambhogakaya Buddha.

So it means the first part is the way upward, and second part is way downward. Starting from Buddha nature, you know. Feeling appreciation of Buddha nature, we should found out the meaning of our life.

And so, various problems we have in our life, in term of duality: good and bad, life and death. Then it's good devices of Buddha to show us the oneness of good and bad, right and wrong, subjective world and objective world.

Buddhism … so, in this sense, through and through, has double structure: oneness and duality, and upward and downward. The first part, duality – the first part of the sutra is also dualistic – subjectivity and objectivity, Buddha with sentient beings, and the first principle and second principle, oneness of the second principle and the first principle.

And in this way, we will understand what is our life, from two viewpoint. When we understand our life from two viewpoint we say, “Things as it is.” First part is about Shoho Jisso, things as it is. And the second part is about eternal Buddha. Buddha as eternal life, in which we are included. To live in this world is to appreciate Buddha's eternal life, which continues forever. And this is … for Bodhisattva's path.

Sambhogakaya Buddha and Nirmanakaya Buddha … Nirmanakaya Buddha. Trikaya – Sambhogakaya....

Sambhogakaya Buddha is the bridge to the Dharmakaya Buddha, and Nirmanakaya Buddha. If we have just Nirmanakaya Buddha, and Dharmakaya Buddha, truth and phenomenal world – absolute world and phenomenal world, or Dharma body and Form body, we cannot accept the teaching.

Nirmanakaya Buddha is very important. As I explained, Nirmanakaya Buddha appeared for the first time from after Buddha passed away. Buddha was understood as a Nirmanakaya Buddha. Sambhogakaya Buddha.

And Sambhogakaya Buddha, you know, itself was … is Dharmakaya Buddha. So Sambhogakaya Buddha is actually … actually we experience Buddha actually we experienced. And when we experienced Sambhogakaya Buddha, we … in contrast with historical Buddha, we had the idea of Dharmakaya Buddha.

So Dharmakaya Buddha is more – not concrete idea, but more idea of truth.

So, that which is important is Sambhogakaya Buddha. Sambhogakaya Buddha – closely related to our practice, to our everyday life. This idea originated from how … how Buddha attained enlightenment, how he acquired that kind of result, or boundless merit and virtue and wisdom. That is actually Sambhogakaya Buddha.

When we have Sambhogakaya Buddha, and Nirmanakaya Buddha, we have to Dharmakaya Buddha, idea of Dharmakaya Buddha.

In China, there were … there were a kind of dispute, you know, discussion. Svabhavikakaya Buddha, and Dharmakaya Buddha, Sambhogakaya Buddha, Nirmanakaya Buddha, and to analyze Nirmanakaya Buddha in two: Nirmanakaya Buddha and Sambhogakaya Buddha. To open, to analyze Nirmanakaya Buddha in two, where we have Sambhogakaya Buddha and Nirmanakaya Buddha.

Historical Buddha, you know, when we think about historical Buddha, he is also Sambhogakaya Buddha – divided but … by practice. That is one idea.

And we contrasted those two to the Dharmakaya Buddha.

Another idea is to open Dharmakaya Buddha in two: Sambhogakaya Buddha, and to contrast with the Nirmanakaya Buddha.

So, to analyze – one is to analyze Nirmanakaya Buddha in two: Sambhogakaya Buddha and Dharmakaya Buddha … Sambhogakaya Buddha and Nirmanakaya Buddha.

And the other is to analyze Dharmakaya Buddha in two, to contrast with Nirmanakaya Buddha.

And here we have Dharmakaya Buddha, Sambhogakaya Buddha, and Nirmanakaya Buddha. And the other is Nirmanakaya Buddha and to analyze in two: Sambhogakaya Buddha and Nirmanakaya Buddha. And up there we have Dharmakaya Buddha.

But the more appropriate … I think it is more appropriate to analyze Nirmanakaya Buddha in two – Nirmanakaya Buddha and Sambhogakaya Buddha. And Dharmakaya Buddha is up here, is always up here, as a condition of one.

So, there is no need to discuss about Dharmakaya Buddha, but the important thing is to discuss what is Nirmanakaya Buddha and what is Sambhogakaya Buddha.

If I say … if you just say … if you have just two idea of Dharmakaya and Nirmanakaya Buddha, this is just philosophy. There is no relationship. Nothing to do with our actual life, you know. If you understand Buddhism in that way, that is so-called naturalism. Whatever you do, that is Buddha's activity. So there is no need to practice zazen or to study this kind of teaching.

But, you know, for us, we cannot … we can understand that kind of philosophy but we cannot satisfy … we cannot be satisfied by that dry philosophy, which has nothing to do with our actual life, where we have various problems.

Even though we are, you know, whatever it is, and whatever we do, our life is based on the truth of … there should not be anything to worry. But, actually, you know, we have problem. Why we have problem?

Only when we are … reflect on ourselves – the Nirmanakaya idea of Sambhogakaya Buddha become important.

When Buddha was still with us, you know, he was Nirmanakaya Buddha and Sambhogakaya Buddha.

We could accept what he says as a Dharmakaya Buddha. And what he did as a Nirmanakaya Buddha. So he was Sambhogakaya Buddha. He had both sides.

While he has some quality, he was not just usual – he was not just our friend. He had some quality. That quality was acquired quality by practice.

Do you understand?

There may be, you know, in our friend, some of them will be very intelligent. Some of them are not so intelligent! But if intelligent person is, you know … even though … sometimes, even though he is intelligent, you know, he will not be good friend of you. Or he will not be accepted by, as a good friend or good person. Or people will not sometime respect him, even though he is good, and he is intelligent.

Even though someone is not so intelligent or clever, sometimes people may respect, you know, respect him. There is some quality in our personality.

So personality,, inborn, you can't help it, personality, and acquired personality. By the effort, human effort to be more human. To be more … human-like, you know. That kind of effort give us some quality, some different quality from the part you have had before you practice our way.

Do you understand?

Even though you practice zazen all right, stupid person is always stupid. He cannot be intelligent man. ( Aratpero ??).

Do you understand? If you say, if you practice zazen, in two years you will have bright (laughs) you will be a bright, intelligent person, you will be successful in business, (laughs), that is not true!

Even though you practice zazen ten years, stupid, forgetful one is always forgetful like me. It is not possible for me not to forget anything. But what you acquire by practice is some quite different quality.

That quality is that quality as Sambhogakaya Buddha. Quality which will be acquired by practice, by right practice, by right thinking, by right speech. By unselfish practice. By unselfish understanding of the world. To things as it is. And to accept things as it is.

To accept “things as it is” means to observe things from two sides. Usually we observe things from one … one side only. To accept things as it is means to observe things two ways – both, from both sides.

For us, to observe, to accept things from both sides, it's not possible unless we practice, you know, our way. Only when you practice zazen, when you train your activity, you can, you know, see things as it is from both sides, without being caught by one-sided viewpoint. That is selflessness.

Even though you are very intelligent, you know, or the more you are intelligent, the more you can be caught by his own viewpoint, and he is wise enough to insist his viewpoint, ignoring the other viewpoint. So that is why, sometime, intelligent one … so that is why, sometimes, intelligent one cannot help people so much, while the dull, stupid one can help people better.

So this kind of person Sambhogakaya Buddha has this kind of a point. For this reason we put emphasis more Sambhogakaya Buddha, and Buddhists find out … found out why Buddha was so great after his death. And the point we should remember is when they were very much … when they missed Buddha, they found out true Buddha. When they found out how miserable they were when he lose, when they lose Buddha – in other words, when they, we, when they cannot satisfied with themselves, and when they need some help, they found out the Sambhogakaya Buddha.

There were many people … there must be many people that were almost intelligent enough as Buddha, but they missed him – they missed Buddha, and they found out why he was so great. He was not … he is not hero, religious hero or saint who has some supernatural power. But Buddha has some other quality.

We can understand how difficult it is for human being, to be, to see things as it is, and to have selflessness … to have the life of selflessness. He could understand people.

So that kind of quality is something which is possible to acquire only through experience, not by thinking. It is not matter of profound teaching or lofty teaching or beautiful teaching, but the matter of sympathy or compassion, which will be acquired by experience – actual experience of life. That is, you know, Sambhogakaya Buddha, and that is actual Buddha we have.

So this sutra is the sutra of Shoho Jisso or things as it is. Our life as it is. And sutra of … sutra which gives us good example of how we appreciate our life, which is one, which is universal. That is for every being.

This is structure of the … of this sutra.

So, this sutra is the sutra for the, you know, people in suffering, and for the people who appreciate suffering as our practice. So for the people who is suffering, this sutra will be salvation.

And for the people who appreciate our life, this sutra will give firm background for that appreciation, and for the joy of life, because just to enjoy our life is not our way. We cannot enjoy our life in its true sense without any background. When our life is firmly established, in perfect background, we can enjoy our life, because there is no fear of losing.

Is it time?

Q: It is fifteen, twenty minutes left yet.

I will continue a little bit more. I will go further. We, we studied about the sixteen Bodhisattvas, Bodhisattvas. This morning someone asked me about those Bodhisattvas. Those Bodhisattvas, the interesting point about those Bodhisattvas, Bodhisattvas: the more distinguished ones – I don't know all of them, but at least some of them, it's already known as a historical character, characters. But there are ( Buddharavara ??). He is … he was the … he looks like leader of the laymen Bodhisattvas – 16, we count 16 Bodhisattvas, but there must be many laymen Bodhisattvas. And those are, I think, the most .. evident ones, because of the question, because of his wonderful character … ( Badhavara ??). And it is said, that their were six big cities, and those are the most influential people in those cities and ( Badhavara ??) was the most influential in those cities. And we know who is in what city. ( Natonacara ??), Natonacara, Natonacara. Natonacara was a relation. ( Naradhata ??) was a siddhi, but a relative. ( Starva ??) was in city of Naja … no, Saravasti. And Chinese rendering of those names suggests by their characters what kind of people they were. ( Tathanacara ??) in Chinese rendering, his name is treasure, natural treasure Bodhisattva.

Or to live with treasure here. So he must be very ( strict ??) Bodhisattva of the ( nation ??).

( Sarathava ??), the Chinese rendering of this Bodhisattva is a leader. He was a leader, you know, of local Magada. And he had, at that time, as you know, a … there were many people who go to another city, or another country and get some treasures by carrying. And he must be the leader of those ( magin ??). And some people say he was the same person who donated Green ( sociality ??) garden for Buddha.

You know, mistake. I thought about already, I thought but you know that already. When Suddhana, Buddha's disciple wanted him to come, which he found out, and when he found out that that garden was owned by this, owned by some wealthy leader of the characters. He refused to give it to Buddha. So he said, “If you pay my land with coin.” And Suddhana was also wise, so he started to take his life. And so he said, “Oh, okay, okay! I'll give it to you.” That was … it looks like that Bodhisattva was the same person. As ( Sujata Buddhavara ??).

Some of those … some of the 16 named Bodhisattvas appears in some of the parts of, some of the chapters of this sutra, and some haven't. Most of them appear there.

It's time until?

Q: We are five minutes late.

Oh, Do we have someplace urgent?

Q: You didn't mention Vairojena.

Vairojena? Vairojena? Vairojena? Vairocana is Dharmakaya Buddha. It is characterized … characterized by light – the sun – light, which is universal.

When we say light, light has no problem, but it is natural light which is personified, you know. Vairocana as personified as Buddha of a long time ago, and accordingly is absolute. So he is also Sambhogakaya Dharmakaya. As way of virtue, he is light of the future, of the world.


Source: digital audio archive from DC. Problem set audio work by Angus Atwell. Transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Work in progress. Further preparation to post by DC


File name: 68-10-00-K: Lotus Sutra, Lecture No. II-12 speed and level towrd end - ty at 51:00? Changed "giggles" to "laughs" 1-5-2017, dc.

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