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Beginner's Mind

Chapter 3 - Nothing

 See BELIEVING IN NOTHING, p. 116 of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
See 65-12-30 in for Verbatim (unverifiable) talk

Beginner's Mind Chapter Index

Marian Derby's original manuscript that led to Zen Mind,
Beginner's Mind

from the 1965-66
Shunryu Suzuki talks
at the Los Altos, California, Haiku Zendo

Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

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read the story of the creation of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

See for Verbatim (unverifiable) talks with two exceptions

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I found out that it's necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. We have to believe in something which has no form, or no color. Something that exists before any form and colors appear. This is very important point. Whatever we believe in -- whatever god we believe in -- when we become attached to it, it means our belief is based on more or less self-centered idea. If so, it takes time to acquire -- to attain perfect belief, or perfect faith in it. But if you are always prepared for accepting everything which we see is appearing from nothing, and we think there is some reason why some form or color or phenomenal existence appear, then, at that moment, we have perfect composure.

When I have headache there is some reason why I have headache. If I know why I have headache I feel better. But if you don't know why you may say, "Oh, it's terrible I have always headache! Maybe because of bad practice. If my meditation or zen practice is better I wouldn't have this kind of trouble." If you understand things like this you will not have perfect faith in yourself or in your practice until you attain perfection (and there's no -- I'm afraid you have no time to have perfect practice) -- so you have to have headache all the time. This is rather silly practice. This kind of practice will not work. But if you believe in something which exists before we have headache, and if we know just reason why we have headache, then we feel better naturally. To have headache is alright because I am healthy -- healthy enough to have headache. If you have stomach ache your tummy is healthy enough to have pain. But if your tummy get accustomed to the poor condition of your tummy you will have no pain. That's awful! You are coming to the end of your life from your tummy trouble.

So it is absolutely necessary for everyone to believe in nothing. But I don't mean voidness. There is something, but that something is always -- is something which is always prepared for taking some particular form, and it has some rules, or theory, or truth in its activity. That is so-called Buddha nature, or Buddha himself. When we personify this existence we call it Buddha; or when we understand it as the ultimate truth we call it Dharma; and when we accept the truth, and when we act as a part of the Buddha, or according to the theory, we call ourselves Sangha. But, in short, even though we have three Buddha forms it is one existence -- some existence which has no form or color, and always prepared for -- ready for taking forms and colors. This is not just theory. This is not just teaching of Buddhism. This is absolutely necessary understanding of our life, and without this understanding religion will not help us. By religion we will be bound by it, and we will have more trouble because of the religion. If you become victim of the religion -- victim of Buddhism -- I shall be very happy, but you will not be so happy. So this kind of understanding is very very important, I found out. Before, I talked about Dharmakaya Buddha, or Sambhogakaya Buddha, or Nirmanakaya Buddha, and I explained what the three bodies of Buddha are, and what is emptiness, but I didn't realize that this understanding of Buddha was so important for us -- for everyone.

You know, while we are practicing zazen we heard rain dropping from the roof -- in the dark. I think soon we will see the wonderful mist coming through the big trees, and later when the people start to work we will see the bright sunshine rising from the east, and we will see the beautiful mountains. But for some people, if they hear rain drop (in their bed) they will be annoyed, you know, without knowing later he will see the beautiful sun rising from the east. If our mind is concentrated on ourselves we will have this kind of worry. But if we accept ourselves as embodiment of the truth -- temporal embodiment of the truth -- we have no worry. You will think, "Now it is raining, but we don't know what will happen next moment. By the time I go out it will be beautiful day, or stormy day -- we don't know -- so let's appreciate the sound of the rain, now." This kind of attitude is the right attitude. But if you think you act something, you have always difficulty. But if you understand yourself as a temporal embodiment of the truth, you have no difficulty whatsoever. And we can appreciate our surrounding, and we can appreciate ourselves as a part of -- a wonderful part of activity. Even in difficulty -- through difficulties we will acquire some experience. This is our way of life.

Using the Buddhist terminology we should start from enlightenment, to practice, and then to thinking. Thinking is rather self-centered. Sometimes it is not, but almost -- in everyday life, our thinking is 99 percent self-centered. "Why I have suffering! Why I have trouble!" This is 99 percent of our thinking. When we start to study science we become sleepy or drowsy quite soon, but we are very much interested in our self-centered thinking. So, the enlightenment is first. By enlightenment I mean to believe in nothing. To believe in something which has no form, or no color, and is ready to take form or color. By some immutable truth that is our enlightenment. Our activity, and our thinking, and our practice should be based on this enlightenment, and next our practice, and then thinking -- if it is necessary. If you are not interested in it -- that is our way. - Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

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