Genjo Koan continued

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Sunday, March 13, 1966

I want to continue the lecture about Dogen Zenji's Genjo Koan. It is almost impossible to translate this part into English. I'm not so interested in translating ?? Buddhist thoughts ?? It is so different. But this translation may not be perfect ??? so I want to use this. As he himself says, this is ??? and the word -- the words he used is not as good. But he want ?? to find some new meaning in your language, through study of Shobogenzo, so you yourself put some new meaning to those words he uses in this translation. For instance, he says ignorance, but ignorance is not accurate (?) but what he meant ?? partly not ?? not like you. But his -- Dogen Zenji's way of life is so simple and very essential (?), so he took tremendous meaning in one short word. So we actually -- we need to have some difference to -- so instead of the technical paragraph (?) maybe he would use these words 'ignorance' ?? that would make sense, but if you listen to my lecture and understand what it means ?? you will deepen -- you will make your values (?) different. You will put some new ideas into your framework. This is what I want you to study, and I want you to repress your language by Buddhist -- by study Buddhism.

The first paragraph is very important, so I want to spend two or three lectures -- I want to discuss the point of this particular paragraph: "When all things are Buddhist phenomena, we have enlightenment and ignorance; studies, birth and death; Buddhas and people. When all things are without self, we have no ignorance, no enlighentment; no Buddha, no people; no life, and no death. The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being, therefore we have life and death; ignorance and enlightenment; people and Buddhas. However, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment"

The first statement is "When all things are Buddhist phenomena, we have enlightenment and ignorance; studies, birth and death; Buddhas and people." This is -- this statement is -- in Tendai school, this statement is called the view of existence. "And when all things are without self, we have no ignorance, no enlighentment; no Buddhas, no people; no life and death." This statement is so-called it view of non-existence, according to Tendai. And the next statement, "The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being, therefore we have life and death; ignorance and enlightenment; people and Buddhas." And this statement is, according to Tendai, past superior aspect, beyond non-existence and existence. So we call it superior aspect. And last statement, "However, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment," this is how we apply those three statements ??? actually.

I want to explain Tendai's three important aspects. According to Tendai, our aspects -- our view of life may be put into three categories. Most people just do ?? Third one is Buddhist: advanced existence and non-existence ??? existence and non-existence. The first view -- according to the first view of life, we exist here, flowers exist, and everything we see exists. This is view of existence. But if you think more, and don't know whether everything we see exists in that way -- so from when we don't think, or when we -- our understanding is not deeper (?), we may accept that view of existence. But if you think more you will find out contradiction in your view of life, because everything is changing. If everything changes, we don't know whether things we see exist as it is ?? changes. So as long as it changes, it doesn't exist in that way as you think. So, this view is called view of non-existence. Nothing exists - this is the second view. While we have two ?? is -- for Buddhists we have some reason why we have views like this, but for non-Buddhists it is quite natural for Dogen Zenji (?) to have those two views. One is quite narrow (?), fleeting view of life, the second one is more advanced view of life - more considerate, more deep view of life.

When -- but there's no reason why you should be stuck (?) two kinds of view of life. For Buddhists (?) there is some view. Because it is necessary -- for Buddhists it is necessary to have those two views of life. So before you understand what is Buddhism, it is necessary for you to have some deeper understanding, actual understanding of the two views of life. Because if you have the accurate understanding of one and the second view, you will have the superior view, which is the third. Before you had accurate understanding about the second -- the first and second view, you cannot understand the third view.

And when you understand the first view and the second view, you will understand that both is necessary. One is not good (?) And both categories are contradictory, it's stupid, here (?) It is necessary to have the third view which is superior view. It is not difficult to understand the first view, because even though it is not perfect, everyone observes things in that way. When you see the flower, you think as if it exists in that way, forever, that -- at least this is the feeling you have when you see the flower. It is true, but when you think 'it is true' -- when you just think 'but not always', then according to the second view, although we think it is -- it lasts forever, but actually true (?) So what we see is not real. It is reality, ?? small part ?? So it doesn't exist in that way. So here you have contradiction. We want things to exist to exist forever. At least you feel in that way. But you cannot accept the flower. As Dogen Zenji says, 'Flower falls when -- with attachment.' [Laughs] Although you attach to that, or you go to attach to it, the flower will live forever (?) The moment you attach to it, the flower is eroded (?) actually, and you feel sad. But -- and if you do not like something, it will live [laughs], because of your detachment. When you do not like something -- if you do not think ??? function ??? Because you [laughs] do not like it, it lasts in your mind for ever like that [laughter]. This is a kind of absurdity of ??? contradiction. But this is the contradiction, we have to accept it. We have to accept this contradiction as long as we live. So how to accept this contradiction is the third, superior view.

While we have -- corresponding idea or teaching to the view of existence is teaching of forms. Forms is not permanent. But unfortunately this view is the conventional view for human beings. But actually -- but we have to, we are very sorry to say, but you see it is not permanent. Form is not permanent. So here we have the teaching of Buddha of third? [laughs] The form is not permanent, colour is not permanent. And we are not immortal. So here we have the teaching of 'form is not permanent', which -- in context to the view of non-existence, 'don't be discouraged,' we have to say, we have to ?? -- don't be discouraged, that everything changes, that actually what you see does not exist. But in that smallest particle of time it really, actually exists, so don't be discouraged.

So we have to guard (?) against sorrow. Sometimes we say don't be discouraged, and sometimes we say don't be fooled (?) to behave ?? don't be too attached to something. Don't rely on something. So we deprecate (?) something. This is actually the third. So we -- here we have the thought to break the view of existence, and to establish the teaching of --- the third view. And to break -- when you break the view of existence there we have the third view. When we set up the view of non-existence, there we have the third view too. To break the understanding -- the view of -- the commonplace view of existence is to have deeper understanding of the first view, which is view of existence.

If you do not deny the view of existence, you cannot have proper, thorough understanding of the first view. Before you deny it, your view is just narrow view. When you deny it, although I say it is not perfect, when you accept the imperfections of the first view, it means you have already the deeper understanding of the first view. When you deny the second view, which tells you everything does not exist, then you will see the view from -- view of completely (?) Although we deny the existence of -- existence which we see as ?? it does not mean we do not exist. ?? [laughs] ?? is just after you, which is Jane. Actually something exists. So by denying the first view, you will get -- you will be relieved from the view of confusion (?) So to -- this negation means to have more deeper understanding of your own view. So actually if you have deeper understanding of the first and second view, there is actually no need to set up the third view [laughs].

But in Tendai school, anyway, they set up the third view, which is -- which is supposed to be the superior understanding. So the third view is -- they are arranged so. By one side - by one ? it will deny the negation which, the one which is the other is to break the preview -- view of -- activity and existence. So they call it double or no -- double negation of existence and non-existence -- double function of here ?? the other side ??. And existence -- view of existence and view of non-existence here is the side ?? the other side the view of existence and view of non-existence. And double negation, so we -- hmm, not double negation we -- on one side apart we accept ?? second view, existence and non-existence. And the other side, we deny -- negate -- aspect of existence and aspect of non-existence. Here we put (?) the other side too, and on this side we accept, on the other we negate -- negative and positive aspects towards the first and second view. This is the third view.

Through this process of thinking -- we are just discussing, just thinking -- through this discussion you will realize what is your life, and you will have thorough understanding of ??, the perfect understanding of this side. Being free from thinking ? When thinking, it is impossible to accept or negate this contradiction. But in reality is so [laughs]. In thinking it is not so [laughs]. If I talk in this way, you will think 'he is crazy [laughs]. He says that is not true yesterday, today he says that is true [laughs]. He is crazy. What all of us ??? [laughter] No wonder people treat us -- call us -- call Buddhists crazy people.' I don't know which is crazy [laughs]. I don't know whether you are thinking, but if you explain it, they have to accept it [laughs]. ?? crazy too. This is the third aspect.

So those three teachings in Tendai school he approached something new, concerning to the understand -- way of treating the teaching. Our teaching -- usually people arrange teaching according to some -- according to circumstances, or according to the nature of people, like medicine. For Derek (?), this medicine; for Neil ?? this medicine. In this way, Buddha taught us various teachings. That was out of his mercy and kindness. But that kindness -- if you rely on his kindness, and this medicine ?? for everyone. This medicine is the most effective medicine, and the best one (?) for a cure. Then that medicine may be poison for someone. So the teaching which is told already by someone is not perfect.

So it is quite natural to say this teaching is for the people who have -- who is -- stick to the first view. This teaching is not for the people who stick to the ?? without knowing the purpose of the medicine. The purpose of the medicine is to release (?) the short disavantage of the medicine, and to give some help to the patient, to the people who have narrow view. So -- but it does not mean that medicine is almighty. It means we should not stick to the teaching which was told by him, but we should know the purpose of the medicine. To know the purpose -- ?? purpose of the medicine is more important than to rely on just some teaching taught -- already taught or already prepared by some special person. It will give you some idea, but we should not stick to it. But unfortunately we make this kind of mistake always.

The Tendai school says the Lotus Sutra is the best sutra. And Pure Land School says the three of their scripture is the best teaching told by Buddha. And for the Shingon School there is Diamond Sutra which is the supreme teaching [laughs]. This is very dangerous, I think. So, we -- that is why we have those three
viewpoints: first, second and third. If you put various teaching in those three categories and treat the teachings as they do -- as Buddhists do, you will have proper understanding of the teaching (?). Without having this kind of viewpoints, if you are not prepared for those three ??, you will be caught by -- you will lose your freedom if you ?? But if you have this categories, even with your intellectual understanding, you will caught by some particular teaching. And you will find out proper meaning of each sutra and each teaching. This is why we have talks ?? viewpoints, viewpoints.

But the conclusion is anyway, 'flowers -- however, flowers fall with our attachment and weeds grow with our detachment.' [laughs] This is conclusion. But for a beginner this is not ?? this is ?? ?? ??

So he says ?? ?? and flowers are ?? This is -- I think we have to make one mistake. But that we -- in this reality we went through all the view -- views of life and in this reality, through this understanding, we will -- he is going to explain what is enlightenment and what is correlation to ignorance: "That we move ourselves and understand all things is ignorance.""That we move ourselves and understand all things is ignorance." But in the realm of this understanding, in the realm of the world which exists in this way -- in that way, we sometimes try to understand something -- sometimes try to ??? If we know already ?? But sometimes we try to enjoy it by studying. If you know everything [laughs] so you will ?? know everything [laughs] So we try ??? when we try to forget all about what I studied now. If you have this kind of perfect understanding of our life, there is no joy in our life [laughs]. So if you forget for a while all what I -- we studied, start to study again something new, feeling something new [laughs] completely new, after forgetting all what I think of it, that is ignorance. Actually that is ignorance. Buddhism is something new. Buddhism is the teaching which everyone knows -- everyone knows before you study, and everyone should accept. But if I say you should not -- you should be ignorant ?? So -- but if you forget all about it, you accept the teaching that the flower ??? out with construct which you have forgotten, and you -- when you have some feeling in this way ?? you will start -- you will be -- you will start to be interested in doing something. That is ?? -- that is a delusion. But we have to enjoy something new (?). We have to teach something, mentally, physically (?) - that is delusion. Is it delusion? [laughs] Or enlightenment? Which? [laughs]
You have to decide (?) Which is enlightenment? Which is delusion? To have complete -- to set up complete view of life -- to set up, to understand, to have complete understanding of our view of life is to start to get interested in something, feeling this is quite good. It must be delusion (?) If, to feel some fresh feeling in your life is enlightenment, to have perfect understanding of human life ???

We cannot say which is delusion, which is enlightenment ?? perfectly [laughs] ?? which is which? Which is good, which is ?? What do you do (?) It is very hard to talk -- feel sometimes (?) -- words (?) ???? ????? ???? [laughter] We don't know what to do in Zen [laughter] We don't like it. It maybe better to go away [laughs] an hour or two (?) But here, there is true meaning [laughs] "When you say that things advance and understand themselves is enlightenment." So things are always developing themselves (?) and understanding manifests itself and understand themselves -- by themselves, for themselves. That is enlightenment.

???? There is no idea of self. "It is Buddha who understands answer (?). Buddha understands ??" That is Buddha, that is Dogen (?) To know -- to know the first and second states of existence (?) ??? "It is people who are ignorant of enlightenment." It is people who are ignorant, Dogen says (?). It is people who have fallacious view of enlightenment. So Buddha -- Buddha is someone who understand our life (?) ???? And it is people who have fallacious view of enlightenment, although we have -- we are enlightened, but in the -- without knowing it, we attach to ??? ???? something ??? ??? So Buddha and people ?? ?? When you tell some story to the students, the students knew the story you are going to tell them, you will be discouraged -- people -- students. So for the students it is better not to know what he is going to talk. And for the Buddha it is better, I think, if the student does not know which he is going to talk. So Buddha and people are good friends -- should be good friends. Here in this building ???

Transcript from Engage Wisdom, created by SDH in 2021.


File name: 66-03-13-C: Genjo Koan continued (titled by ew) Transcript in progress, SDH 9/21 Unintelligble words or phrases marked ?? or ??? depending on duration of lacuna. Date is unlikely to be correct.

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