Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Friday, September 8, 1967

Audio Problem Set
CM's 2nd pass - see JG's 1st pass: http://cuke.com/Cucumber%20Project/lectures/transcripts-new-2012/srl-67-09-08A-wip.html


Devoted in Japan since Tokugawa... late Tokugawa period or the first part of Meiji period in Japan, is the study of ... theoretical study or historical study of Buddhism, stimulated by European scholars who had many... Buddhist who had... who found many Buddhist literature in India.

And we... Japanese people realized the necessity of -- the importance of the study of all literature, because Chinese Zen ??? is from Sanskrit. So, without understand... without understanding of Sanskrit literature, we thought it is difficult to know – to figure out the original Buddhism. But ... so, Japanese scholars devoted themselves to the study of Indian literature through Pali or Sanskrit. And we have achieved a great attainment, and we almost completed... to... in... comparing all those sutras with many commentaries.

Important as those study is, this is not a true study of Buddhism.

And?? so, there is no wonder that in America, there is psychologist and scholars started to study from various angle – like psychology, or philosophy, or comparative religion.

And we also started how to understand from the viewpoint of modern science. Scientific viewpoint. But it is fitting that we didn't realize – or most of people did not realize how important it is to practice Buddhism.

They're?? just try to apply original teaching of Buddhism to your everyday life through science ... like comparative religion, or psychology, or ethics.

But this kind of study, will not help you in its true sense, because in?? Buddhism, the purpose of Buddhism to attain liberation. So liberation in its true sense is not just psychological one, or just physiological one. It should be both psychological and physiological attainment.

So here, there is reason why we must study Zen. But some Zen masters carefully thought freedom??, or practice, practice Zen just to attain some psychological temper?? or attainment. Psychological attainment. But this is not true understanding, or true Zen.

[So why we?? started Zen – zazen – is because we couldn't satisfy with that philosophical study ... study of this. And many schools accomplished to some certain extent to satisfy with their attainment. And each schools of Buddhism has its own canon. Canon is ... we call it kyoso-hanjaku. This means why some scripture – some special scripture is so important among all of our scriptures. And they organized, systematically, our scriptures from some certain viewpoint.

And after those effort, Zen appeared, and people started to realize how important it is to practice Zen. Because Zen... true practice of Zen is contains the true teaching of Zen, and at the same time it is actual application of teaching. For true Zen, application of the truth and to?? everyday life and true ??? teaching ???. ???, it is not different. So, if so, it is that same application of our practice is not just application of [or is another teaching?? to everyday life. It is direct experience of the true teaching. So, our practice is not to attain something, or to some psychological state, or.... The way, how to apply the true teaching to our everyday life. It is, of course, the application of the teaching for our everyday life, but it is not just application, it is.... The teaching is... it contains teaching itself. The direct experience is... contains ???. The true teaching itself. So, if we want to know the meaning of Zen, it is necessary for you to study Buddhist teaching. But, whether or not you study Buddhist teaching, if you practice our way there is that direct experience of that teaching. And, that is at the same time the application of teaching through your everyday life. So in the study... zazen practice is not just to cross your legs and sit in in some certain posture. And it is also your everyday, your activity in your everyday life. Whatever you do, that activity should be Zen. To... but... Zen... how to sit... but... for... for us, that some instruction or some approach to... through understanding of Zen or through experience of Zen, that is why we sit in cross-legged posture.

But, if you think about – if you understand the true meaning of Zen, you should study our teachings; like fundamental teaching. Like teaching of Four Noble Truths, or teaching of interdependency, or teaching of everything changes, or teaching of emptiness, or teaching of Middle Way.

Those teachings will give you some intellectual understanding of our practice.

So, practice is first, and intellectual study is next. But you can be [best person??, but [in its?? true sense, if you understand directly what is Buddhism, it is necessary for you to practice Zen path, and study intellectually some fundamental teaching through various scriptures.

But, in Japan, stimulated from European study of Buddhism, we were so busy in theoretical study, some people may say if you... even though you go to Japan, there's not much study, ??? not many good Zen masters. Maybe true [laughs]... maybe true, but it does not mean there are no good Zen master at all. There are many – pretty... many good Zen master.

But if you understand what you have... we have achieved in the theoretical study, you'll understand... will understand what we have been doing for 100 years.

Anyway, this morning for this reason... for this reason I want to... I give you some instruction or suggestions in how to practice zazen.

If you want to practice zazen, the most important thing is to do things – to practice it with your whole mind and body. You should be involved in that practice completely. [laughs]??. You practice zazen just to practice zazen – not to attain something. You should be completely involved in it: in the posture you take, the way you take breathing, and with your calm, friend, well-concentrated mind.

The posture we take – there is two kinds, or three kinds. One is true?? lotus, in which we drop our legs perfectly – like this. Right foot on your left thigh, and left foot on your right thigh. ???. And this is full, but it may be difficult for most of you to sit in cross-legged position, so maybe better to cross in half-lotus posture??. Half-lotus is you cross ... or to put your left foot on your right thigh. Or you can sit in this way if it is impossible to trust?? this way.

This is, you know, my sit... you sit just like this, or whatever?? way, whichever you like.

At first, for everyone, for even Japanese, most... most of Japanese, it is difficult to sit in half-lotus position, even. This is very difficult. And, in this case, your... ankle?... Japanese?? ?

Student: Knee.

SR: Knee! [Small laughter]. Knee should touch to the floor [laughs]. Okay? This way. If it is difficult, you put something underneath, like this.

Can you hear me?

And if you do for one or two months every day, for about ... more than thirty minutes, eventually your knees get closer to the floor. This is how you cross your legs.

The more important thing is to put strength here ... to have power here [hara]. And to ... if you want to have power here, you have to bring your hip as far back as you can. Most... most of you, you know, sit on your seat like this [laughs]. Like when you are driving your car. [Laughter]. A very bad posture for Zen students, because you have no strength here. So even though, but?? even when you drive your car, you should take this posture, because your legs are long enough to reach your brake. But?? please take this posture.

Especially when you read... if you read in this posture you will be tired... get tired quite soon. If you take this posture, it is not better ??? which better, you know. To put some strength here [hara], and to keep your back straight, and pull your hips as far back as you can, like this. Even when you sit in your chair, or even when you eat, you should be careful not to lose your nice posture. This is very, very important.

And your mind should be concentrated on your breathing. This is to [attain or obtain] oneness?? of physical and mental activity.

Breathing activity or exercise is both mental and physical. So if you take hold of this point, you can control both mind and body. And that is why this is the best way to [attain or obtain] oneness of physical and mental good state. Even so... even though you have – your mind is on your breathing, you may hear the sounds and you may see something, because we... mostly we sit with our eyes open. And we... we, you know, so you'll see something, and you'll hear something, and sometimes sounds, image will come.

But don't be bothered by them, you know. Just let them [come in??, and let them go out. If you do not entertain them, it will not stay. But not, in the most case, you, you know, you give them a cup of tea [laughs] or encourage them to stay. That is why they stay and bother you. So, don't be bothered by it. Let them [come in?? and let them go out.

That is a kind of thing which you'll gain by your stomach here. When your mind is here or here, you know, it means you are entertaining ???. If your mind is here, you are not concerning – concerned too much about the image you have in your mind.

So, try to keep right posture, with some power in your stomach.

And when you sit, your practice should be bound?? with the spirit. Like, if someone, you know, tell you to stand up, you shouldn't stand up, forever??. Until someone, you know, say, "Stand up".

This much confidence is necessary.

It means you sit right in the center of the... of... of the world, or universe – whatever it is. And?? you are right in the point of zazen, in [karma or dharma] time. If you have some idea of space or time, that practice is not true practice. You should be always sitting in cross point of time and space. That is true practice. And this is very important. Because this practice of ... this practice, it?? is beyond the idea of time and space.

Accord with the true teaching of Buddhism, to reach on this moment, on this point, moment after moment, is ??? to actualize our teaching. So when you sit in this way, there you have the true teaching of Buddhism.

??? teaching. The fundamental teaching. Here you have the oneness of teaching and practice; and oneness of enlightenment and practice.

So, this much, at least, this much confidence is necessary. When you fix your mind, and practice our way, there you have renunciation. You have the true teaching of Zen. This practice, when you practice this.. in this way, we say you remove your original face or original nature.

I already started, you know, to explain the direct experience... experience of Zen, in our... in the... a way of understanding of the original teaching. But the purpose of my lecture today is not to talk about our fundamental teachings. But just to explain how to sit.

Now, we have crossed our legs and to... we understood how to keep our spines straight. Now we have to pull our neck... neck, like this – so that your spine could be straight any?? case. And your tongue should be on your upper jaw and your... your upper... your teeth support with each other.

And your hands fold; cosmic mudra. It should not be like this or like that. Here you have one ??? with your, you know– what do you call it? Joint? [Answered]. You have joint here, ??? to join neck, third right. Then there you have perfect mudra. And your both thumbs support each... each other. Not to... don't press, actually, or don't leave loose, like this. It should be just support with each other, as if you have a piece of paper in-between. And if you, you know ... there's some circle between first electricity and [laughs] ... mine?? has electricity. You know, it is not like this. If your, if it is like this, there will be no circuit??. Spark ???! No spark. If it is like this, you will not have no spark, either. ???.

Student (Richard??): With?? naturally touch.

SR: [Yeah, touch??. Actually it's ???. It should be supported with each other.

This is very true in your everyday life, you know, you?? should be observed?? in what you do, you know? But you should not be too much attached to ???. Buddhist, you know, keeping?? of way of life. You should not be ???, like this. And you should not be too much attached to your everyday activity, or whatever you see or you do. Not??, you know, to have interdependence with ???. ???. You have good?? ??? between your thumbs??. [And this is?? [very true?? to what you hear, or to what you see, in sitting.

And your arms ... your arms should not be too tight to your body or should not be too loose. And your ??? touch to your stomach??. So naturally, your arm opens – this way. Your arms... arms stand?? outward – little bit. ??? this is just seeing??, it should be, you know, exactly right, but out... or... this is... maybe this is according to the personality. You know, someone who is too open should be this way, and someone who [laughs] ... who?? – what do you call it? Inward nature... [Interrupted]. ??? I... I don't remember this word. Person who is too open, and person who...

Student (Richard??): Introvert and extrovert.

SR: Oh yes, extrovert. Or introvert. The mind is always working into yourself, you know. Too... too... too much critical with yourself. This kind of nature or character. ... He has the opposite.

But anyway, if you stand your arms this way, and keep your [vertical line?? with your ... someone pointing to ???...

Voice: The tape was turned here.

SR: Just to have focus in some area four or five feet feet ahead. In this way you practice seven, and it is necessary for you to practice it with strong confidence, and it is necessary to continue the practice, to spend forty minutes a day for the practice is not at all waste of time for you.

So whether you are Buddhist or not, it is better to practice in this way. And if you want to study Buddhism, you know, with this experience, you will understand the meaning of our practice intellectually. And it will help your intellectual understanding of ... the philosophical study of Buddhism, or understanding from very... various angles. Now Buddhism is open to science, and philosophy, and intellectual study, and emotional activity. So from various angles you can study Buddhism. This is one of the characteristic of Buddhism.

We do not say, “This is not the right practice.” Or, “That is right practice.”

You know, we say, “Gateless gate.” [laughs]. Gateless gate is our gate. That we have no gate is true gate. We have no special gate.

So... from various angles you can study Buddhism, but it is necessary to practice Zen, you know. The practice is not easy like this. It is center of the teaching. Not gate. So, from the center you may go out, you know, from various direction.

So we say, practice is first, and understanding is next.

So, for usual study, there may be some approach, and some people may attach to some special way for the investigate??. [laughs]. That is not our way.

So, Zen practice should not be compared with some other approach.

??? if you want to practice Zen, it is necessary for you to do it. Even without teacher, at home, we can do it. But if you understand what does it mean by practice, or what usual?? attained by practice, you must have some... some... you must have teacher. And with teacher, or with friend, you will?? have deeper and deeper understanding of our practice.

??? understanding, you encourage in your practice. And your practice will promote your intellectual understanding.

Thank you very much.


Source: 67-09-08A digital audio archive from DC. Problem set. Thanks to audio work by Angus Atwell, transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Work in progress. Further preparation to post by DC. More editing and transcription by CM beginning of October 2012 using the enhanced audio. Only slightly worsens temporarily around the last fourth. 90-95% is clear, bad audio or muddledness is usually only single words or short phrases, and the talk is straightforward. Around six minutes from the end of the recording a voice announces that the tape was turned.

??? denotes at least one muddled word, or just a stretch of bad audio. ?? denotes a guessed word, with an added open bracket meaning a guessed phrase or sentence. Ambiguous words (such as homonyms or where an "a" might be an "un-") stated in closed brackets.

File name: 67-09-08-A: untitled [Verbatim transcript not available. (Sound problem.)] Crestone tape-A? DB cmnt 660815D

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