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Excerpts from Shunryu Suzuki lectures - 2014-5
[laughs] = Suzuki laughs [laughter] = students laugh

Things as they are as it is

12-22-14 - Shunryu Suzuki used the phrase "things as it is" a lot. One of the anecdotes in Zen Is Right Here illustrates that he did so on purpose. He also used "things as they are" and so I saw it as him going back and forth. But reading through all of his lectures on recently, it became more and more clear that he favored "things as it is." In this most complete collection of his lecture transcripts, according to our count, he used "things as it is" 137 times and "things as they are" 31 times. The first instance of the former is in 65-07-27-B which is also one of the first verbatim transcripts from one of the earliest recorded lectures with a surviving audio. I wonder if any of the instances of "things as they are" in versions without audio to check against, were changed by transcribers or editors. Using the New Search Form in we find 11 instances of "things as they are" from verbatim lectures - and another one in a student question.

Here's the earliest instance found of "things as they are" from Blue Cliff Records-40, Rikko's Heaven And Earth, Dec 1963 [63-12-00].

Because people and Rikko seek for temporal satisfactions from a worldly view-point, cling to their own stand-points, and do not follow the right way practicing zazen with perseverance, they cannot see things as they are.

And here's the first instance found of "things as it is" along with "things as they are" from In our way of Zen, we emphasize the way-seeking mind, Jul 1965 [65-07-27-B] (verbatim transcript). It does sort of seem like he's feeling his way with these usages here.

In our way of Zen, we emphasize the way-seeking mind-- way-seeking mind. This is, in another word, bodhisattva-mind or way-seeking mind. In Zen, people say “way it is” or “to observe everything as it is.” But “the way as it is” or “to observe things as they are” will not be the same what you mean by that. I don't know what-- how do you understand “to observe everything as it is.” I find out there are big misunderstanding in your understanding of “way it is” or “to observe things as it is.”

Neither excerpt edited by DC - posted 12-22-14