Believing in Nothing

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Thursday, December 30, 1965

Los Altos

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I found out that it is necessary -- absolutely necessary to believe in nothing. We have to believe in something which has no form or no color -- something which exists before every form and colors appear. This is very important point. Whatever we believe in -- whatever god we believe in -- when we become attached to it, it means our belief is based on, more or less, self-centered idea. If so, it is -- it takes time to acquire -- to attain perfect belief or perfect faith in it. But if you always prepared for accepting which we see. -- is appear from nothing, and we think there is some reason why some form or color or phenomenal existence appear, then, at that moment we have perfect composure. When I have headache, there is some reason why I have headache. If I know why I have headache I feel better, but if you don’t know why, you may say, “Oh, it’s terrible I have always headache-- maybe because of bad practice. If I -- if my meditation or Zen practice is better, I wouldn’t have this kind of trouble.” If you accept things -- understand things like this. It takes time. You will not have perfect faith in yourself, or in your practice until you attain perfection (and there’s no -- I’m afraid you have no time to have perfect practice) so you have to have headache all the time. This is rather silly practice. This kind of practice will not work. But if you believe in something which various -- which exist before we have headache and if we know just reason why we have headache, then we feel better, naturally. To have headache is all right because I am healthy -- healthy enough to have headache. If you have stomach ache your tummy is healthy enough to have pain, but if your tummy get accustomed to the poor condition of your tummy, you will have no pain. That’s awful. You are coming to the end of your life from your tummy trouble.

So it is absolutely necessary for everyone to believe in nothing, but I don’t mean voidness. There’s something, but that something is always -- is something which is always prepared for taking some particular form and it has some rules or theory or truth in its activity. That is so-called Buddha nature or Buddha himself. When we understand what him -- .rather when we personify this existence we call it Buddha, or when we understand it as the ultimate truth we call it Dharma, and when we accept the truth, and when we act as a part of the Buddha, or according to the theory we call ourselves Sangha. But, in short, even though we have three Buddha form, in short it is one existence -- some existence which has no form or color, and always prepared for -- ready for taking forms and colors. This is not just theory. This is not just teaching of Buddhism. This is absolutely necessary understanding of our life and this kind of understanding is -- without this understanding religion will not help us. By religion we will be bound by it and we will have more trouble -- because of the religion. If you become victim of the religion -- victim of Buddhism, I shall be very happy, but you will not be so happy. So, this kind of understanding is very, very important -- I found out. Before, I talked about Dharmakaya Buddha, or Sambhogakaya Buddha, or Nirmanakaya Buddha, and I explained what the three bodies of Buddha are and what is emptiness but I didn’t realize that this understanding of Buddha was so important for us -- for everyone.

You know, while we are practicing zazen we heard rain dropping from the roof -- in the dark. I think soon we will see the wonderful mist coming thru the big trees, and later, before when the people start to work, we will see the bright sunshine rising from the east, and we will see the beautiful mountains, but for some people, if they hear rain drop, in their bed, they will be annoyed, you know, without knowing, later he will see the beautiful sun rising from the east. If our mind is concentrated on our selves we will have this kind of worry, but if we accept ourselves as embodiment of the truth -- temporal embodiment of the truth we have no worry. Now, it is raining, but -- you will think, but we don’t know what will happen next moment. By time I go out it will be beautiful day, or stormy day. -- we don’t know -- so let’s appreciate the sound of the rain now. This kind of attitude is the right attitude, but if our activity is concentrated, or if you think you act something, you have always difficulty, but if you understand yourself as a temporal embodiment of the truth, you have no difficulty whatsoever. And we can appreciate our surrounding, and we can appreciate ourselves, as a part of -- a wonderful part of activity. Even we are in difficulty -- thru difficulties we will acquire some experience. This is our way of life.

Having the Buddhist terminology we should start from enlightenment to practice, and thinking. Thinking is rather self-centered, but sometime it is not, but almost -- in everyday life, our thinking is ninety-nine percent self-centered. “Why I have to suffer? Why I have trouble?” This kind of thinking is ninety-nine percent of our thinking. When we study science -- start to study science we become sleepy or drowsy quite soon, but we are very much interested in self-centered thinking. So, the enlightenment is first -- enlightenment, I mean -- by enlightenment to believe in nothing is enlightenment. To believe in something which has no form or no color and ready to take form or color by some immutable truth that is our enlightenment. So enlightenment, our activity and our thinking and our practice, and then thinking -- if it is necessary. If you are not interested in it, that is our way.

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Los Altos box transcript. Exact copy entered onto disc and emailed to DC by GM (no date)

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File name: 65-12-30: Believing in Nothing Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, p. 116, (Not Verbatim) Los Altos box title: Nothing

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