Tokusan and The Old Lady

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Saturday, February 19, 1966

[Tape operator tests microphone]

To practice sesshin

[30 second gap in audio - remaining audio has bleedthrough of radio programs and music]

There is no reason for you to consider ??? you will only create more difficulties (?) you have to work with it (?) Practice this day [laughs] will introduce you to pain (?) [laughter] Moreover, there is no purpose (?) ?? No bottom. [laughs] ??

I think you know that the bottom for the ?? more than I know -- I hope [laughs] ?? this is ??

[2:45] It is necessary for us to continue our practice with our perfect effort, and actually we have completed our sesshin. What we completed will be -- will become more meaningful if you continue -- if you extend this practice for tomorrow. In this way we extend our practice from today to tomorrow, and from sitting practice to everyday life. This is itself our way of practice.

And this morning I talked about some discussion between Tokusan and old lady. But Dogen Zenji says the discussion is not completed. You may think that old -- old lady was better than Tokusan, but no-one knows -- old lady was -- this old lady -- whether old lady was better than Tokusan.

[5:45] And if Dogen Zenji were Tokusan -- no, old lady, he says he might have asked him -- or Tokusan, if he were Tokusan, he might have asked old lady, first of all, if he is -- were Tokusan the young monk, he would have asked old lady about the meaning of present mind: since it cannot be grasped, future cannot be grasped, past cannot be grasped, what does he mean -- does it mean if he were -- Tokusan he would ask. Then he will find out some meaning, but he didn't - he just went out, and old lady also didn't say anything about it. That is not right, he said. He should say -- she should say something.

And if Dogen Zenji were the old lady, Dogen Zenji says -- I must have -- he said, there is no reason why I should give you -- why I should offer to you (?) to buy my cakes (?) ???

[8:55] It means that mind, or Buddha mind -- for Buddha mind, there is nothing to be offered. Is -- Buddha mind is absolute mind. For the absolute mind there is nothing to offer, so old -- if he were old lady, why he asked you for some cake - there is no need for you to be entertained by cake (?) ??? She should say so. And if the monk -- Tokusan, says -- if Tokusan says, if [long pause] And if the monk, Tokusan, asks her to give some serious thought of (?) three cakes, three rice cakes, and if Tokusan takes ???, he will say present mind cannot be grasped, past mind -- present cannot be grasped, past mind cannot be -- present mind cannot be grasped, past mind cannot be grasped, future mind cannot be grasped, he would say. I think as he would say (?) This is what he said.

Without saying anything, to leave the old lady is not right -- was not right. And without any reason, to refuse the monk is not also right. The present [long pause] -- the cake -- although the cake is not Buddha, there's nothing to offer for the Buddha. But for us -- for Buddha there's many things to give us. For Buddha, there's nothing to receive, but he has many things to give us. And if so, what we do, whether it is offering a cake or practice zazen, this kind of practice is not a matter of to attain enlightenment, or to practice to do something (?) When we do something, it looks like we are doing something good, but actually, for Buddha there is nothing which is good or bad. And Buddha -- nevertheless Buddha has many things to do for people (?) When Buddha do many things for us, it is true practice. When we do -- when we think we do something, that is wrong practice. That is not right practice.

[16:15] But it looks like we are practicing zazen to attain enlightenment, if we expect so (?) And maybe so, because [laughs] if we practice zazen, eventually, or at that time, we are actually Buddha. So there's no one -- it is obvious that we are practicing zazen to attain enlightenment - that is the way that it is. But if if you take it literal (?) and you say, "I -- my practice is not so good," after many years it's for your own (?) enlightenment. But if you say "I did that," in this way, it is wrong, because what you do is what Buddha is doing first. If so, Buddha is doing it for something good. Buddha is constantly doing something good. That is true practice. So true practice, we have three points. One is, we practice -- we practice zazen. The next is Buddha practices zazen. The third one is Buddha's practice too. That is the third. We are Buddha when we -- when we practice zazen.

This is our ritual, we bow with each other. Whatever the teaching of three, it's really only two (?) That is, Buddha is bowing to him, Buddha is pointing to Buddha -- Buddha's ??. And at the same time, Buddha -- I don't know who this is (?) [laughs] Buddha is doing something for him, and he is offering something to Buddha. But actual meaning it is not different - the same thing.

[19:35] So we should not take those three statements in three ways. Actually it is one statement. If the old lady knew this point, and said in this way, she was -- she was very good nun (?), but we don't know, because she didn't say anything ?? - she didn't know (?) this point. And Tokusan must have a chance (?) with the old lady ?? this statement.

So Dogen Zenji says, we don't know what she has in her sleeve. It might be -- it might be honey (?) or bees (?) could be something [laughs] honey or bees, we don't know. But perhaps she didn't have anything in her sleeve. Or she must have a ?? in that sleeve.

[22:10] This kind of understanding of that case( ?) is the right understanding of practice which is transmitted from Buddha to us. This is not just Dogen Zenji's interpretation (?). And in this way our culture was formed. Moment after moment we developed new paths. Even though it is a new culture, there's some connection between past and future, past and present, and present and future. It was developed from past to this moment, from present to future. But as we call it "eternal present" we are doing it moment after moment, we are forming new culture, moment after moment.

[24:05] Here we have three meanings of practice: Buddha is doing -- we are doing something for Buddha: Buddha is doing something for Buddha; we are Buddha, always Buddha. Our meaning of culture contains our culture, always Buddha. But the expression is not the same. Sometimes we ?? point Buddha ?? Sometimes hero (?) will be ?? and at the same time age (?) will make mis-step because of the previous (?) ?? Buddha. But he controls ??.

But if you understand ?? immediate reaction ??, it is actually Buddha who is working Buddha. If you understand that that you are helping, you are offering something to the leader (?) that is what it will take. Leader (?) is always helping that is not ?? -- leader (?) is one world with the Buddha [laughs]. There's no -- actually each one of us ?? even though we cannot ?? sometimes someone will become as some other -- some other Buddha. This is how Buddha develop our ?? It is the same thing with our practice.

[27:20] So you can say, where there is Buddha, there is nothing. And at the same time, because of sentient beings Buddha exists. Because of sentient beings Buddha exists. That is why we should practice Zen, we should live in this way. How we should live in this moment is to continue practice in this way to reach renewed ?? moment by moment. And how to do it, how to actualise those three understandings is just by sincere effort (?)

[29:04] When you can sincerely to forget yourself that will rid of (?) the idea of the self, our world will start ???. If we cannot forget ourselves in our society then we have to do many things for your society. You have heavy burden on your back. But if you become quite sincere ?? not to do things without any reason, just ?? There is no value whatsoever ??
In this realm there is no leader (?) or no people (?) or no ??? no ?? And if ???? this is how to cultivate our society and our ?????

[31:00] What I say is rather complicated, but in short, whenever you have some difficulties, you have to watch yourself, whether you are without your coveted (?) idea of self-centered ?? If the center of the candle is covered by wax, the wick doesn't work, you have to get rid of wax on the center. So you shouldn't cover yourself with the idea of self. You should be always free of sincerity (?) ??? Then, when you ??? In this realm the actual activity, and actual activity has candle and ?? something is ignited. This is ?? This is true. Something is ??, something ?? on which ??

So idealistic practice will cover that something which your own self-centered idea doesn't work. You are always - you will always ????? How many time that happen to you ???? This is not our way. This is why we practice zazen, and why this sesshin ?? on this kind of ??

[35:11] I am sorry I was not -- I couldn't -- I didn't remember the discussion -- order of the discussion actual order of the discussion between Tokusan and the old lady. I was in sesshin [laughs] What I meant - what she meant is ?? -- she took it in the order of discussion is divided ?? ?? it is rather complicated. I was lost, excuse me, but I think you have ?? ?? And I accept what you actually lost (?)

[Closing chant (?) and bell]

SR: [a few words unclear]


The originally ascribed date has been amended due to his reference to the story of Tokusan and the old lady, and its presence in another talk on the same reel from February 19, 1966, which he refers to in this talk.

Transcript Shundo David Haye 12/21


File name: 66-01-22N: Tokusan and The Old Lady (titled by SDH) This tape has been reprocessed, and some of the transcript may be clear now. Seems more like an end of sesshin lecture. (Sound problem.) Lecture date has been changed.

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