Pure Rules

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Wednesday, July 28, 1965

Summer Sesshin


For the instance, your seat—half—this—from here to here is your seat. You must—even though you must be strictly –here it is. If your sleeve [laughter]—if your sleeve invaded your neighbor's [laughs] domain [laughs] you will be scolded [laughter]. So, you need to be careful about that, where you sit, and it is difficult to maneuver[?] your back ???.

Here is, you know, wood, like this. This wood is for prayer, so you—you should not step on this wood, that part. But this is not wide enough so—this goza mat is not wide enough. We have to add six—five or six inches more like that. So, it can't be helped, but we should not step on that wood part—wooden part. And of course, you cannot cross foot here. When you want to come to this side, you have to go around it. And in Eiheiji, when you pass that part, you should bow, but here, you know, it may be too difficult because so many people are here, so there may not be no need to bow there, you know. In front of—when you pass in front of Buddha, you have to—you have to bow. And in monastery there are officers: the temple master will be there. That corner is for—the seat for temple master. And—and there is another—godo, and seido, and tanto - three officers are ???. When you pass three officers' seat, you have to bow, but [SR presumably turns to face seat] make this way.

[From another part of the room] Here—when you hit post[?] here you have to—so you have to. And suppose[?] I am here, he’s head monk [laughter] but that corner—that corner is not head monk so we will not [laughs] ???.
And other officers are out of the zendo—they are sitting out of the zendo. So, but officers in the zendo are godo, tanto, seido, and temple [master]. There are four corners, and in—on each point, in each point, in there are officers.

Student (Richard Baker?): Do you bow only when they are sitting there?

Suzuki Roshi: Mmm?

Student: Do you bow only when they are there? Or anytime?

Suzuki Roshi: Anytime.

Student: I mean if Reverend Katagiri is not sitting there, do you...

Suzuki Roshi: No. Even though he is not here, you should bow.

We call it Pure Rules, you know. Pure Rules means it is not dualistic rules. Pure Rules is absolute rules, and there is no—no rule to—it is not matter of to obey or not to obey: you have to just do it; as you practice zazen, you just sit, and that is zazen.

This idea is very important: we deprive—or we take—or we take everything—every discrimination and every function of your mind is not there, when you practice something. That is pure practice. Or else all what you do will be dualistic—just dualistic. This way may be—is very difficult to apply in your everyday life, but if you have this attitude in your inmost heart—heart you can do anything, and you are pure and be free from duality of the world. Because you have no[t] this idea, you are not free from the dualistic world.

Those are the so called Pure Rules, not dualistic rules. Just do it, good or bad [laughs], convenient or inconvenient, it is out of question. So, when we decide some rules, it is important to know whether it is possible to practice it or not. So, the rules should be decided little by little, or else—we cannot force anything. So, the rules will be created by yourselves. But once you decided some rules, you—we should obey completely, until we change the rules. The important thing is how to obey your rules. We should obey the rules once when it is decided, without any discrimination; good or bad is out of question. In this way, you will learn the pure mind.

Though the way to study pure mind is through practice, that is only one way because our inmost nature wants some medium. Without medium it is impossible to get contact with the pure mind, or even inmost request. Without something, without some means, it is impossible to express your inmost nature. So, your everyday life is also the expression of the inmost nature, but our everyday life is too dualistic. So, in everyday life it is almost impossible to study what is inmost nature. Only in zendo it is possible to study what is inmost nature. That is why we—we have zendo. And if you understand—if you get accustomed to this kind of life, you can apply this way in your everyday life. So that you may not be bothered by duality of the world. It is maybe proving difficult [laughs].

In duality, actually, there is oneness. Oneness will be expressed by duality. Duality and oneness is actually the one, but—in zendo—in zendo it is one. But in your everyday life, duality and duality is one [laughs]; no oneness exists. In its true sense, duality and duality is one, and one and one is one. This formula is very important [laughs] in—in ourselves, but in usual sense, duality is duality; it means nothing, it is just confusion. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is form; emptiness is emptiness; this formula will we understand in zendo. But in your everyday life, you know, it doesn't make any sense. In everyday life, we will give the interpretation to those four formulas in your worldly state—your dualistic state.

[Tape stops and restarts]

... your own practice in America someday. But when you decide nature, you have to be very careful. It is—the rules should be—should not be too strict. It should be, you know, observed quite easily, and it should be strict enough, or loose enough, to—to have authority. Once you decide a rule, it—it has, you know, absolute [laughs] authority; everyone should obey. So, when you decide it, you have to be very careful. There's no exception! [Laughs.] If it is too strict, you will pay. And if it is too loose, it will not work.
In this way, I think—our tradition was built up in this way. And spirit will—will be followed – you know, understanding should be followed. But that understanding, I don't mean the mental understanding or logical understanding. There must be some good feeling in observing it. Not even feeling, but the understanding is—should be pure understanding. That is why our monastic life is difficult to establish. It is not—not matter of the building. It is matter of spirit, and matter of the person who can be responsible for that.


Transcription by Shundo David Haye, Sept. 2021. Verbatim version by Peter Ford 1/29/2022.


File name: 65-07-28-AN: Pure Rules (titled by SDH) (Verbatim) Transcript from newly digitized audio by SDH, 9/21. (Sound problem.) Summer Sesshin July 1965, Wednesday morning 9:00am Instruction.

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