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Shunryu Suzuki Lectures

Beginner's Mind


Chapter 11 - Self-Nourishment

 See MIND WAVES, p. 36 of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
See 65-11-18U i
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Beginner's Mind Chapter Index


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Beginner's Mind

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Shunryu Suzuki talks
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Self-Nourishment

When you get up early in the morning, by alarm, I think you don't feel so well. It is not so easy to come and sit; even after you started sitting, at first, you have to encourage yourself to sit well. Those are the waves of our mind -- just waves, and in pure zazen, there should not be any waves in our mind. But while you are sitting, those waves will, more and more, become smaller, and your effort will change into some subtle feeling. We say, "Pulling out the weeds we make nourishment of the plant." We pull the weed and bury the weed near the plant to make it nourishment of the plant. So even though you have some difficulty in your practice, even though you have some waves while you are sitting, those weeds will help you. So we should not be bothered by the weeds you have in your mind. We should be grateful to the weeds you have in your mind, because eventually they will enrich your practice. If you have some experience how the weed you have in your mind will change into your mental nourishment in your practice, your practice makes remarkable progress. You feel the progress, you know. You can feel how it changes into the nourishment of yourself. Of course it is not so difficult to give some philosophical interpretation to our practice, but that is not enough. We must have actual experience about how our weeds change into the nourishment.

Strictly speaking, the effort we make is not good because that is a kind of waves of our mind, but it is impossible to attain absolute calmness of your mind without any effort. You must make some effort, but we must forget ourselves in the effort we make. In this kind of realm you have no subjectivity or objectivity. Your mind is just calm, without even any awareness. And in this unawareness every effort and every idea and thought will vanish. So it is necessary for us to encourage ourselves, and to make effort to the last minute where we have no effort -- continue our effort forever, and when we continue our effort we should not expect some stage when we will forget all about it. We should just try to keep our mind on our breathing. That is actual practice. And that effort will be refined, more and more, while you are sitting. At first the effort we make is quite rough and impure, but by the power of practice the effort will become more and more pure. When your effort becomes pure, your body and mind become pure. This is the way we practice Zen. This kind of practice is not possible by ordinary activity, but once you understand our innate power to purify ourselves and our surroundings you can act properly and you will learn with each other, and you will become friendly with each other. This is the merit of Zen practice. But the way of practice is just to be concentrated on your breathing with right posture and with pure, great effort. This is how we practice Zen. -Shunryu Suzuki Roshi


next - Forgetting Ourselves