cuke.com  - Shunryu Suzuki Index  - WHAT'S NEW - table of contents

Film with Shunryu Suzuki


Sunseed - Zen in America - film transcript


 

Transcript of Shunryu Suzuki section of SUNSEED -- ZEN IN AMERICA

for Suzuki only transcript including outake, look below

To see the video and stills, click here for the Sunseed page on shunryusuzuki dot com. The whole film is there and also broken up into parts plus outtakes with the 5:33 outtake of Suzuki talking about not sacrificing our lives to thinking something wonderful. Transcript for that talk is below:

credits below


Tassajara. 

Early Summer 1970.

[Opens with the sound of the han being struck, and the inside of the zendo with students and Shunryu Suzuki. Chanting and preparing for an oryoki meal. Also, scenes of the garden and tending vegetables and lighting incense].

Bill Shurtleff: The longer you practice zen, I think, the less you know what it’s about --   and the less you know what you’re doing, in a sense that you can verbalize it or answer some question coherently [laughs]. You know, if you ask most students here ‘what’s zen?’, they’ll kind of laugh at you. It’s like a palace with so many rooms, you know, and you’re in one room and then you’re in another room and you can’t describe that palace with all of those rooms inside it. Or, it’s like a jewel with many sides. And as you practice through the cold of the winter and through the part of the summer when there are flies, you know you’re always in a different room. But the variety of experiences that comes in the total simplicity of this way of life is astounding.

Our practice at Tassajara and Suzuki Roshi’s practice is not based on attainment. It’s based on living totally in each moment. Of giving life to your life situation in each moment. And not really even at each moment because that becomes some plan that you set for yourself. But more simply, in this moment. In living in this moment. And the only time that you ever are is now. And the only place that you ever are is here. And what are you going to do with it? What are you going to do with it? With the person that you meet; with the eating bowls as you open them in the morning; with the bread as you’re kneading it -- ah, it either is alive or it’s not. And to live totally in that one moment, the only moment that you ever live in, is the emphasis in our practice. And any notion that you have of searching takes you out of that moment. And any notion that you have of something that you’re going to attain in the future only takes you out of that moment. Some people ask, well, you know if there’s nothing to attain, then why are you practicing? What’s the purpose of sitting zazen, of getting up at 3:45 in the middle of winter with no heat in the morning? And, like, there’s no answer to that question. But, here we are, you know [laughs]. And we’re doing it.

[Scene of Reb Anderson in the zendo striking students with the kyosaku stick].

Meg Gawler: It’s like I got into zen without even being aware of it, you know, it was like before I knew it it had taken my life. A lot of people, when they start sitting, are very hesitant, you know, it takes them a long time to get into it. You come and then you go away for a while, and you come back. But, um... [Man asks ‘how did you get into it?]. Well, I read a book, and then I came to San Francisco, and I started sitting, and that was it. You know, I met Roshi and as soon as I could, I came to Tassajara, and I’ve been here ever since.

[Scene of Shunryu Suzuki, outside among the trees].

Shunryu Suzuki: If we try to listen to something wonderful [laughs] -- it means that to ignore the bird which we are listening now. You know, when you think Buddha said something wonderful, and I must find out what he meant; then your mind is directed to Buddha’s words [pointing up with his right hand], so you don’t hear the birds [pointing left with his left hand, and birds are chirping loudly]. So always we sacrifice various actual reality because we stick to something. And we stick to something which looks like very good [laughs], but that is not so good. If we have this kind of attitude, when we listen to words or teaching even, we lose our life and maybe our whole life will be sacrificed because of some special teaching. So I always rather to enjoy, you know, our life right now without sacrificing.

[Scene of Shunryu Suzuki playing yoyo with a child].

Shunryu Suzuki: This is a kind of desire, you know, which human being has. To some extent, desires we have is good, but if we are enslaved by desire, you know, we will lose whole being. [laughs].

[Scene of an oryoki meal in the zendo, and Shunryu Suzuki unwrapping his oryoki bowls. And scenes of students working in the garden.]

Alan Marlowe: The zen master’s mastery is in everything -- everything that he does is with that concentration. It comes out of zazen, out of sitting. I mean, I keep Roshi’s house, and when he eats an apple -- the core I can’t even describe it to you. The core of the apple is about a matchstick thin. He’s really eaten that apple, you know. I find a little apple core sitting there. So that everything about the person develops in the sense of this vastness, like a circle -- it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And that is the difference, in a sense, between zen and all of the other religious practices that I’ve experimented with or gotten involved in the past ten years. That, if you look into our garden, you’ll find people practicing. If you see the way -- look at the stone wall for instance -- there’s no mortar in that stone wall. And it’s just a question of finding each stone and making it fit. And that’s what you’re doing. And then that’s your practice, that’s your training. Or, if cleaning a cabin. But it’s in the concentration that’s applied to whatever you’re doing.

[Scene of han being hit, and Shunryu Suzuki leading a small procession into the zendo. Chanting and lighting incense].

 

Movie credits:

Zen in America.

A film by Amertat.

Produced by Ralph Harper Silver.

Cinematography by Baird Bryant.

From the film Sunseed.


transcribed by Clare Holland 12-12
posted 12-13-12 - updated 9-26-15


IMDB page for Sunseed (1973) - with no mention of Suzuki but very little on the film.

NY Times review

TCM page on Sunseed


 

Transcript of Uncut Version of Shunryu Suzuki speaking from Zen in America segment of Sunseed film (1970)

 

 

Audio used for the final film in italics.


 

And if we are able to listen to another word, in this way several words at that time you know, then the words will help us. The words will be the nourishment for us.  But if we have to…

 

If we try to listen to something wonderful [laughs] -- it means that to ignore the bird which we are listening now. You know, when you think Buddha said something wonderful, and I must find out what he meant; then your mind is directed to Buddha’s words [pointing up with his right hand], so you don’t hear the birds [pointing left with his left hand, and birds are chirping loudly]. So always we sacrifice, y'know, various actual reality because we stick to something. And we stick to something which looks like very good [laughs], but that is not so good. If we - and if we have this kind of attitude when we listen to words or teaching even, y'know, we lose our life and - ah - maybe our whole life will be sacrificed because of some special teaching.

 

And sometimes one teaching is good, you know, for him, and another time, some other teaching is better. So, ah, before you listen to when the Buddha's words, you know, means sacrifice various - ah - words and voice [?] for sake of Buddha's words. And when you come to listen to Buddha's words, then you may think, oh, Buddha wasn't so good [laughing], maybe better to listen to the Christ, [laughing]. So now you sacrifice Buddha's words for sake of Christ words. In this way, you know, we have no time to listen to something clear, and we are enslaved by some idea, you know .  Innumerab… innumerable words which will come to you one after another - and you're chasing after words - sacrificing the birds you hear. That is how we get lost in this, you know, uh world where we have too much fun.

 

Maybe I should go to San Francisco. If you go to San Francisco - Maybe I w… I should go to Tassajara. [laughing]. When you are at Tassajara, you sacrifice Tassajara to go to San Francisco. When you go to San Francisco, you sacrifice San Francisco for… to go to Tassajara. Back and forth. [laughing]. So it is… I think that is how we loose our, you know, ah - actual life. Our way is rather to enjoy, you know, our life right now… you know - without sacrificing, without being too much idealistic.

 

This is a kind of desire which human being has. To some extent, desire we have is good, but if we are enslaved by desire, you know, we will lose whole being. We will… we don't get anything.

 

 

 

 

Shunryu Suzuki film page