zazen practice and to listen to right teacher

Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

LECTURE
Monday, August 3, 1970

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In our practice two important practice is zazen practice and to listen to pure teacher, or right teacher. This is just like two fields of _________. Without practice, you cannot understand teaching. You cannot listen to your teacher and without practice, without listening to your teacher, your practice will be, cannot be right practice. Right practice, by right practice we mean practice, fundamental practice from which you can start -- from which various teaching will come out. So from right practice, if you have right practice you have already right teaching there. So right practice is the foundation of all Buddhist activity. Right practice. It is--it cannot be compared to various practice or training. There are many ways of Zen practice. There are many practice, zazen practice, meditation practice, but our practice is, cannot be compared to other practice. I don't say which is important or which is better but anyway without foundation various practice does not work. So if you practice some particular practice which has no foundation, your practice--you will eventually, you know, fall into a pit hole. You will be caught by it and you will lose your freedom. But if you have--if you have the foundation to your various practice, the various practice will work and will help you. Right practice we mean that kind of foundation of practice. It is not--it is more than practice. So when you have foundation to your practice even though your practice is not perfect, it will help you. That is right practice. And what is--if you want to know actually what is right practice, as I told you, it is necessary to practice with right teacher, who understands what is right practice.

And right practice is also foundation of precepts. Precepts. When you do not have right practice, you will hesitate to accept precepts, but if you have right practice you can accept precepts. Whatever precepts may be, you can accept. So precepts for the people who have right practice is called “bodhisattva precepts,” in comparison to some other so-called-it “Hinayana precepts,” which is quite different. The way of observing is quite different. Last night I talked about-- little bit about it. I said if you do something good, you cannot, you cannot-- you have no time to do something bad. That is how you keep precepts.

Why we say “bodhisattva precepts” is-- it is based on bodhisattva mind. As you know, bodhisattva mind is to save others, all sentient beings before you save yourself. That is bodhisattva mind. To save others is first and to save ourselves is next. Or we say, bodhisattva mind, bodhisattva mind -- bodhisattva mind is spirit, to devote ourselves in serving others.

How you then, how you arise bodhisattva mind will be the next point. You will ask me how you arise bodhisattva mind. You-- many people ask me about this point. How they, you know, question will be something like this:

“I have various problems, and you say, you always say you should not try to attain enlightenment. You should not be involved in selfish practice. If so, to try to save others is also, you know, gaining idea because you have some purpose or some idea of doing something. So that will not be actually bodhisattva mind.”

Actually we will have this kind of question always. To practice purely you start to try to do something, to help others. But you may wonder whether you are doing something to help others or to help yourselves. It is very difficult to know which. I think you may suffer on this point a lot, as I did when I was young. Whenever I try-- while I am trying continually doing something, more and more, I feel lose my confidence. For instance, if you clean restroom as your everyday task -- .
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