Blue Cliff Records-40, Rikko's Heaven And Earth

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

December 1963 Wind Bell Suzuki Roshi Lecture

This is a brief edited summary of a Suzuki lecture.


Rikko is said to have lived from 764-834. He was a high official of the tang government in China. He was a disciple of Nansen Fugan. His writings and biography are in Koji-buntoruko. There were many famous lay Zen Buddhists during the tang Dynasty. The most famous of these lay Buddhists are:

Ho-Koji (Ho-un)—see Model Subject No. 42

Kak Rakten (Hak-Kyoi)—the most famous writer and poet of the Tang Dynasty.

Haikyu—Highest public official of the time. His teacher was Obaku (Huang Po). Haikyu was the compiler of Obaku's Denshin Hoyo (a collection of sermons and dialogues).

Riko—a high official and the scholar author of Fukuseisho

Sai Gun—a high official and scholar

Chinso—see Model Subject No. 33

Sojo was one of the four most famous disciples of Kumarajiva, who came to China in 401 from Kucina, near Tibet. Kumarajiva and Genjyo were epoch-making translators of Buddhists scriptures. Kumarajiva translated many of the Vaipulya1 scriptures and sutras of the Prajna Paramita group. The Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra (Shingyo), which is said to have been translated seven times, was also translated by Kumarajiva, but his translation is said to be lost.

Nansen Fugan (748-834) was a disciple of Baso. See Model Subjects No. 28, 31, 40, 63, 64, 69.

Introductory Word:

Engo, introducing the subject, said: When complete liberation from the cord of desires takes place, and when there is a perfect cessation of effort motivated by wrong desires, then, even from an iron tree, blossoms might open out. Is it so? Is it so? Even a very artful or clever boy may make a mistake because of his cleverness. Even if one's skill is tactful enough for free activity in seven vertical and eight horizontal2 sects, one will still be led by the nose. Think where is the fault? Ponder the following:

Main Subject:

Attention! While conversing with Nansen, the official Rikko said, "Sojo said that heaven and earth and I are the same root. All things and I are of one substance." This is a wonderful statement.

Nansen called Rikko over to him, pointed to a flower in the front garden and said, "People of this time who see this flower are like men in a dream."

Appreciatory Word:

Seeing, hearing, and knowing3 are not the same. Mountains and rivers do not see a mirror even though they are in a mirror.4 The frosty sky, the setting moon, and the middle of the night: with whom shall I share the coldness of the clear depths of the reflected shadows?

Commentary by Reverend Shunryu Suzuki, Master of Zen Center:

Sojo's famous statement in his last work that 'Heaven and earth and I are the same root. All things and I are of one substance' is wonderful, when it is not applied to Rikko's own attached view of the oneness of all things being in the realm of the explicable. As long as Rikko clings to the ideal of oneness, he is said to still be making an erroneous effort motivated by wrong desires or craving. This attachment will lead to disappointment, even though the idea of oneness is not wrong.

Rikko should try to know why he clung to a particular idea, and he should try to follow the way to attaining single mindedness free from points of view. This effort is necessary if he is to have full appreciation of Reality. Because people and Rikko seek for temporal satisfactions from a worldly view-point, cling to their own stand-points, and do not follow the right way practicing zazen with perseverance, they cannot see things as they are. So Nansen pointed at a flower and said, "People of this time who see this flower are like men in their dreams."

Setcho, in his Appreciatory Word, brings each phenomenal existence into the realm of Reality and stresses the independent meaning of things. He said, "Seeing, hearing, (smelling, tasting, etc.), and knowing do not take place in the same realm. Mountains and rivers do not see (depend on) a mirror. (A mountain is a mountain, a river is a river, and a mirror is a mirror). Late at night when frost is everywhere, the moon is setting, everything is sleeping, with whom shall I share the severe coldness of the reflected shadows (each phenomenal existence) in the clear water (in the realm of Reality)?

1Vaipulya: generally refers to the Mahayana Sutras of universalism, i.e. Lotus Sutra and Avatamsaka Sutra.

2The "seven vertical and eight horizontal" often used to signify the Buddha's direct operation on the heart with no intermediary. The Horizontal energy is that which spreads throughout the universe towards all horizons of life, and therefore includes accommodated truths and other methods of teaching. Pg. 47-48, R. D. M. Shaw, The Blue Cliff Records: The Hekigan Roku. London: Michael Joseph, 1961

3Hearing, seeing, knowing. To these must be added tasting, smelling, and touching. These are the six Roots or Senses. The corresponding objects of sense are: Sound or Voice; Color or Form; Objects of mind; Flavors; Scent; and Material Things.

4The mountains, rivers, and other objects which we see reflected in a mirror do not have their real existence inside the mirror--they exist outside it, outside of their own reflections. So, too, the objects reflected in the mirror of my mind exist outside, apart from my senses. What is seen in the mirror is not the actual objects themselves. (Shaw)
Checked by Gordon Geist using the Shaw translation Suzuki used- 1999

File name: 63-12-00: Blue Cliff Records-40, Rikko's Heaven And Earth Footnotes added from an earlier transcript, pf 1-8-2016.

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In Wind Bell, Vol. 2, issue 8, 1963