Way-Seeking Mind, Part II

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Winter Sesshin Lecture No. 2
Sunday, November 30, 1969
Tassajara

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I think nowadays way-seeking mind is understood like something to do good in its-- with a pure motivation-- not for sake of success or not for sake of fame, but to purify our mind and to be a good Buddhist. That is way-seeking mind.

So, accordingly, to do something good is, in its wide sense, the way-seeking mind: for an instance, to do something which people do not like to do: the cleaning restrooms, or pick up garbages, or to save small animals, or to help sick people. Those are things which a man of way-seeking mind will do. And with this spirit, we practice zazen. Zazen practice is just for ourselves-- just for oneself. And when we do it completely, for himself-- for ourselves, the practice will be, at the same time, the practice of saving others in its true sense.

To “establish ourselves on ourselves” is to encourage people to establish themselves on themselves without asking some other's help. That is something what a man of way-seeking mind will do. So when you have way-seeking mind in your practice, you can practice your way in its true sense.

Even though you do something which people may say [is] good, if you do not do it with pure spirit, you don't feel so good, you know. You-- you will create something disagreeable for yourselves. Only when you do it with pure mind, you will be satis- -- you will fi- -- you will have joy of practice, and you will appreciate the great mind, and you will be-- your practice will be the practice of kindness, too.

So when you have pure way-seeking mind, you have buddha-mind. According to Dogen Zenji, buddha-mind could be interpreted in three ways: the big mind or joyful mind, and kind mind, and magnanimous mind. The buddha-mind or way-seeking mind is not something which you will gain by your practice. It is the mind you originally have. So if your practice involved in wrong practice, you [laughs] will not feel so good, you know, because you have originally way-seeking mind or buddha-mind.

So when you, you know, when you do something good you feel good. And when you feel good, when you find yourself kind enough and magnanimous enough and when you have joy of doing something-- pure joy of doing something, there, there is the way-seeking mind. So it is not something which you will attain by practice, but from which our practice originated. The source of pure practice is the way-seeking mind. With-- if I say so, you may think there is some way-seeking mind, you know [laughs], but as I explained already before, the mind you think you have is out-- the mind out of itself, you know. It is, you know, the mind you reflect on.

“I have-- I had-- at that time, I had this kind of mind,” you may say, but that mind is not actual mind you have. The actual mind is always on your side, and doing something, practicing something, and observing something. That is, you know, mind. True mind you have in this moment, the mind you have, you know, you-- you had before. The mind you will have in the future is not the true mind. It is picture of mind [laughs], you know. “My mind in the future will be like this,” you know, “and in past-- in past my mind was like this.” But that is picture of mind, the mind outside of yourself. Do you understand?

So mind is right here [S.R. tapping repeatedly as he says previous sentence]. When you do something, that activity is mind itself. When you see something, that-- to see is the mind itself. So when you do something, when your big-- I shouldn't say “big” or “small” so m- -- too much-- when you do something, you will-- if you do it, you know, just for sake of something, then you will have joy of doing. You will enjoy your doing something, and at that time you have great mind, magnanimous mind. And you will be very kind to your machine [?] or to things you work on. At that time, actual mind realize itself. The realization of true mind is there. That is so-called-it “way-seeking mind.”

So when you practice zazen with the utmost care, limiting your food and having good sleep, and taking appropriate food. By taking great care of yourself and practice zazen with great care, there, there is real practice of way-seeking mind. It is operation of, you know, way-seeking mind.

So way-seeking mind-- when you practice just-- only when you practice way-seeking mind there is actual way-seeking mind. The way-seeking mind is not something you have like a stone, you know [laughs], within yourself. Just when you do it, the realization of way-seeking mind will be there. So moment after moment, whatever you do, that is the realization of the true way-seeking mind.

Why we cannot practice good zazen, you know, is because we are almost all the time caught by upside-down [laughs] mind, topsy-turvy idea. You know, we think whatever we see, you know, we will be easily caught by-- we will be enslaved by it. And if-- when we practice zazen or when we think about way-seeking mind or buddha-mind, you think as if there is something like buddha-mind in term[s] of good or bad. But buddha-mind is not such a mind which you can compare with some other mind. Actually, especially for beginners, after having practiced zazen one or two days, and your mind become very calm, and you feel as if you are sink into the bottom of the ocean where you cannot see anything, you feel as if you are sinking into the bottomless-- bottom of the sea of the death [laughs]. You feel in that way. Why you feel in that way is just because your experience in-- of complete calmness is something you haven't dreamed of it, you know. Even in your imagination you didn't have that kind of experience. That is why you become afraid of it.

But, you know, which is more real [laughs]-- to be dead or to be alive? Which is more real? Most people think to be alive is more real [laughs] than to be dead. Which is real? Dogen Zenji says, “People like which is not real and does not like which is real.” [Laughs.] Which is more real? Think. Which is more real?

Our life will be a matter of one hundred years [laughs], you know. You cannot live more than one hundred years. And it might be very difficult to have human life or animate life rather than to have inanimate life like stone and water. So, especially human being is most [laughs]-- most unreal being. Stone and water is more real.

And if you die [laughing], that is the most real thing. Without exception, we will die, you know. There is nothing more clear than that. That all of us will die is very, you know, clear. There is no doubt in it. But people do not like death [laughing] and like to be alive, and we-- so the doctor will come, you will take various medicine, and Oriental medicine, and Western medicine [laughs]. You will try everything, but, you know, those help is something which will be given up: “Oh, no. I cannot help anymore. He will die in two or three years-- two hours-- I am sorry.” [Laughs.] Doctor will go, and if you have a lot of medicine, it doesn't help. If you take care of me so well-- even though you take care of me so well, but if the time come, you know, you must give up [laughing]: “Oh, anyway, he will die.” That is our destiny. Very real, you know, but you don't like something real, and you like something unreal [laughs].

I always say if newspaper reporter write up something in most realistic way, true report will not be appreciated by people. People will not be interested in it. If there is some fiction in it, they will read it, you know [laughs, laughter]. So magazine you read, the newspaper you read is not real at all. But it is interesting for you. That is why you read it. But even though you are interested in it, it is not real.

So, you know, our tendency is very, very funny. I don't understand [laughs]. Perhaps you may not understand. So, maybe it-- it may be better not to think about it so much. If you think it out, you will find out something very uninteresting [interesting?]. That is our nature. Knowing this, you know-- when you know that, your effort of-- your orientation of effort will change. We say, “accept things as it is.” To accept things as it is means-- ”things as it is” means underlying thought is dao-- dao, or true way, or truth.

So to accept truth means, you know, to give up topsy-turvy idea, upside-down thinking. That is why in zazen you do not think. It means that you give up this kind of topsy-turvy idea, this kind of-- to change our effort to opposite direction.

So when you want to accept things as it is, you must have king-size mind [laughing, laughter]. This is not big enough. Not big enough. Great king-size mind. That is, you know, how you practice zazen. It is so big that you cannot have it wholly in your m- -- body. So may be better to give up every mind and sit. That is “big mind” in its true sense.

Don't compare. Don't say: “This is small mind, this is comparatively big mind. Today's practice was,” you know, “by this much big mind, but tomorrow my practice will be practice with this [probably gestures] size mind.” This kind of practice doesn't work at all.

So, you know, we say-- what will be the right words for it-- word for it?-- we say to enter into-- to enter into Tathagata’s mind in one jump [laughs]-- whht! Not like this, you know. Not like that. But like this! [Probably gestures or imitates a jump.] [Laughs.] That is, you know, how you practice zazen. Not matter of two day, or three day, or four day, or one week. One week or one day doesn't count, you know, when you jump into the ocean of the buddha-mind. Whht!

That is how you do it. There you have true spirit of practice. Doesn't matter whatever happen to you, you just practice zazen without thinking anything. This is the way-seeking mind.

It is just one hour [laughs].

Thank you very much.

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Source: City Center transcript entered onto disk by Jose Escobar, 1997. Transcript checked against tape and made verbatim by Bill Redican (12/26/00).
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