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

War and Peace

Gonna link to this on the Peace and War page

Student L: How are we to know that what we expect is something we can't get, unless we try to get that? [Laughter.] For example, the questions of war and peace. Now I think of spiritual--

SR: For?

Student M: War and peace.

SR: War. Yeah.

Student M: Yes. And I think spiritual people would like an end to war--

SR: Uh-huh.

Student M: -- and they might suffer if they expect it and don't get it.

SR: Uh-huh.

Student M: But who's to say that they might, in fact, get it if they work for it?

SR: Yeah. War, you know, it will not be, you know-- we cannot put an end to it, you know. I don't think so. But if we do not make any effort to put an end to it, what will happen to us? So anyway, we should-- even though it is not possible, we should-- knowing that it is not possible, we should try to keep our effort to stop it. That is more Buddhist-- our way. Although we know that that is not possible, we-- we should not be discouraged by it, by knowing. If something is right, anyway we should try and continue to work on it. But usual effort of putting end to war is-- most people may think that is possible. But in some way, you know, not by gun, but in some way war will be continued in our life. I think in this way.

So to-- if all of us try to put an end to war, even though we have actually some war between us-- tragedy-- we will not have this kind of tragedy. By fighting with with some big confidence to win or to put an end to it is, you know, again the cause of war. You will cause war because you think it is possible and because you think you are completely right, you know. That is not always so. That you expect-- that you think it is possible is already wrong. So, you know, you shouldn't think you are completely right. But still you should try to be right. I think this is very important point for us right now especially.

So people may be divided in two and fighting with each other in the same country. One may say: “We should not fight. We should stop war,” you know. “You are wrong, completely wrong.” And the other may say: “You don't know,” you know, “what is going on in this world. We should fight. If you don't fight, we will be lost.” And he thinks he is completely right. So there is big gap between two party, and they have to fight again with each other. Same thing will be repeated. So if both of them knows they are not completely right there may be some way to help with each other. Because our understanding is very naive, and rigid, and we have too much confidence in ourselves so we cannot help each other. So “not always right” is a very important teaching, very strict teaching. Hai.

Student N: Roshi, the first of the four vows we say, “Sentient beings are numberless, I take a vow to save them all.” And I have two questions. One, what is there to save them from? And two, how do we go about saving them from whatever it is? [SR laughs, laughter.]

SR: Oh, that's a terrible question [laughter] to ask. Go away! [Laughter.] You will get 30 blows! From what? Why do you come here I must ask you [laughs]? Endless-- to know sentient beings are endless, you know, numerous, innumerable is very important. But like the previous answer, it would be the same. Same answer. Why should we try to stop war, you know. So we will-- anyway we will not be discouraged in our practice because we have no idea of perfection or attainment. Something which should be done, should be worked for anyway or else you don't feel so good, first of all. If you say, “This is complete practice, this is perfect,” then you will not have so many friends [laughter]. “You think so?”

From  69-08-21. For more go to this entry on the Suzuki lecture archive found on Shunryu Suzuki dot com. - Edited by DC, posted 1-02-15