Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Audio Problem set
JG first pass
[.dc – the first part of this is the last part of 66-01-21A -
end is marked below. ]
And so when in our practice, there is no trace of
practice, and no shadow of the rules, no trace of rules. No shadow of
rules. To have shadow of rules means “I must do this!”
That is shadow.
Sometimes you are scared of the shadow, only
yourself. That is shadow.
We should not have shadow of the rules.
When you do, that is not rules.
When you did, that is rules.
When Buddha did something, that is rules. There is no shadow for the
Buddha, or there is no obligation for the Buddha. We should not [have]
shadow of the rules, or trace of the rules.
If you did,
that's all. That is the real rule. We should not be caught by what we
did. Even so, it is right. You shouldn't say, “What I did was right.” We
should do in the same way that means you leave a trace of the teaching
or trace of the precept.
Dogen says, “Fish swim like a fish. Bird flies like
a bird.” That is Buddhist way. Fish swim, but there's no trace. Birds
fly, but there's no trace of bird. There's no
settle or trace for bird.
Original Japanese: this bird is
free of traces. This translation
is pretty good, but at the same time, it's rather difficult to
But in the practice we repeat lecture after
lecture, talking some advantage of … in zazen practice, so naturally,
you will be... naturally it will by
itself some blocks or sake to you. And we are buying, and we are taking!
This is not so good. Actually, it is better to
dig without listening anything.
Just by the suggestion of the teacher, and you should just stick to a
teacher, his patience.
So pure mind, interpretation of pure mind is purity
of the mind, and patient mind. It should be when you study with the
patience, inevitably it is absolutely necessary. Because we do not talk
about, too much, about the advantage of Buddhism. Until you find out, we
wait. If so, best for the teacher and the student. The most important
thing is endurance – to wait for the chance, which will come between
If you dig up,
you will have no chance to understand it,
in midst of life. Because
Buddhism is not some marriage or intellectual understanding. That is why
we say, “Do not sell Buddhism. Do not sell anything! Do not take
anything. Cover your ears and bar your mouth, and wait for the chance
which will come to you.”
I cannot talk. You cannot listen. You cannot smell.
That is how you study Buddhism. That is observation
of precepts. So whatever zazen is, the most important thing is a kind of
authentic. This element is very
important for every religion. I don't know other religions, but the
authentic is very important.
Let postering is not good.
When you limit your life to a certain extent, it is
easier to find out the truth. If you do too many things you will be dust
in your activity, but if you limit your activity, you can see it.
That is why we observe precepts. The precept
observation is very important.
[.dc – here 66-01-21A ends but includes “Thank
you very much.”]
Beginning of new material
In the Prajnaparamita Sutra, which we recite every
morning and evening, it says, “No mind.” It says, “No form, no
sensation, no search, no active
substance, no consciousness, no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue.” No.
This negative, no, means liberation.
When you do something, you know, now it doesn't
mean that you have no nose or no eyes. You have eyes; you have nose. But
when we say, “no nose”, it means, you know, you think that your face's
consist of your nose and eyes and and mouth and hairs and ears. But this
kind of understanding will lose the reality of your face. Even though
you have [a face], it is just not just an accumulation of nose, ears …
your face is not just an accumulation of nose and eyes and ears and
mouth. If nose is fixed upside down, that is not your nose, because it
fixed in vertical, as Dogen-zengi says, “nose is nose”.
So “nose” means nose is not just nose; nose is
something more than your nose. If you have this kind of misunderstanding
of nose, it means you have understanding of limited things – a part of a
one existence. But when you say a part of it, “a part” is not a part any
more. A part cannot be separated from the rest of the part.
When you say, “This is nose,” you lose your reality
of the nose. So we have... when we want to express what is actually
nose, the best way is “That is not your nose.” That is maybe the best
way. When you think, “Oh, this is not just nose “– something more than
that, then you realize the reality of the nose. So we say, “No nose,”
No, that is not nose or no nose. Only say, “No nose” we realize what is
So “no nose” means … “no nose” point at actual
understanding or reality … reality of nose. So no … it is the same to
say “no nose” or “no ears” or “no eyes”. When we say “no eyes” it points
at the reality. When we say “no nose” we point at the reality. When we
say, “no mouth”, we point at the reality.
So “no” means sometimes to put emphasis on
something. “No nose” means “that is nose”. The same thing, when I say,
“no nose” this is a correct
expression of your nose. When I say, “nose”, of course you say, “I have
nose! Is that so?” When I say, “You have no nose”, you stop and “Oh, is
it really so? I have nose.” Maybe I realize your nose in its true sense.
So, “no nose” means “You have nose.” “No ears”
means “You have ears.”
So find out what is your ears or what is your nose.
That means “no”.
So in Buddhism, “no” means reality, and sometimes
“no” means when we put the emphasis on something, we say, “no nose”.
When say “This cake is sweet,” sometimes we say, “This cake is not
sweet.” “Not sweet” means “very sweet” – in Chinese..... in Buddhism's
eyes. Sometimes you when you see the score, some say written on score,
you may wonder what does it means.
For instance, “Water dance at the top mountain, and
….no, no, excuse me. Cloud hang on the mountain, and it is not calm.”
“Not calm” means very calm.
When the cloud is on the foot of the mountain, it
express the same calm feeling, but poem it says, “not calm.” “Not calm”
means it is a kind of rhetorical
Sometimes you put, you know … when we want to say
something in strong way, we … you put it in negative form. “Isn't it”
means “it is”. Instead of “it is”, you say “isn't it?” That is stronger
expression than “it is.”
This is a kind of rhetoric, but in
just Sutra, “no” means
affirmation. Sometimes it is
literally negative, but most of the time, it means stronger affirmation.
This understanding rooted from
When you drink tea, you should not listen to
lecture. I'm sorry, but it is true. When you listen to lecture, you
should listen, just listen to lecture. That is our way. When we talk, we
should not take tea like this. We cannot do two things at one time,
because each activity includes everything. When you take tea, it means,
that you take tea, it includes all of your activity, and it covers all
of your activity. This our practice.
So when we say, at the same time, when we say,
“Nose,” nose covers everything. When we say, “Eyes,” eyes cover
everything. And this is the true understanding the way to understand
things in its true sense. When you understand something as a part of
something, you lose the reality. You lose relationships between things
and you just get a dead idea of something.
So, everything... our understanding of everything
is not everything as a part of something. Everything includes the rest
of the thing. That is the true understanding of everything. When we
say, “Mind,” mind includes everything. That is true understanding of
your mind. Mind include everything. In your practice, if you have mind,
which is related to something else, that is not true understanding of
When you say, “Mind” mind should include
everything. Everything that happens to your mind is not a part of your
experience, it is each of your images or function is mind, which
includes everything. And so, each experience is independent experience
from other experience. And each experience … and when each experience
include everything, every experience, that is Zen practice. That is ...
that means you have independent practice, when all practice which
So, you do not attain enlightenment after Buddha or
before Buddha. When you attain enlightenment, Buddha attains
enlightenment and the rest of other Patriarchs attains enlightenment at
the same time. This is right understanding of enlightenment. It is not
before or after you practice zazen, just you attain enlightenment. So
enlightenment include practice and practice includes
enlightenment. This is right understanding of our practice.
And right understanding of reality.
So, this “no” is very important. So, here, also in
this Sutra, “form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Emptiness is
to point at the form itself. Form is emptiness, we say, “Form is
emptiness” it means “form is form, through and through.” “Emptiness is
form”, it means “Emptiness, through and through.”
So, form is nothing but the emptiness. Emptiness is
nothing but the form.
So, when you practice, the way to practice is not
to attain enlightenment.
Anyway, we should do, you should sit through and
through without having any idea. You should not be concerned about
enlightenment – just sit.
Don't be concerned about what your teacher may say
about your practice. He may say, “Your practice is not good!” He may say
so, but it's all right. You have to do it, you have to sit with all your
strength. You have to do your best.
When you say, “Form is emptiness”, I think you
understand that. You understand in this way, “form is emptiness”: it
means detachment, you know. Form is emptiness: we should not be attached
to some certain form. That is true. But you have idea of detachment.
That detachment bothers your
true understanding. Detachment.
It is same thing to put notice on bitter persimmon
or sweet persimmon, you know. If you put some notice on persimmon tree,
they will be interested in doing
that tree. And they will try [to see] if it is sweet or not. So, best is
not to put any notice on that tree. That way, no mischievious boys will
come. Noone will come, noone will be interested in that. If you say,
“not sweet” or “detached”, you will be interested in it.
So, form is emptiness is not that. Emptiness is
form, we say. Then you can get rid of the idea of emptiness, too. Do you
see? It means to directly experience your life without “no” or “yes”.
This point is very important.
When you become you through and through -- we say,
when stone is stone through and through, that is real stone. That is not
So, when, you know, we say, “Form”, that is all.
When we say, “Emptiness”, that is all. There is no comment for us. “I”
that's all. No “You”. When I say, “You”, that's no “I”. It is not
after, communicating “I” and “You”, to intimate understanding between
us. When I become just I, you become me. When you become just you, when
you become just you, you know, I become you.
When there is no need to say anything about the
relationship, there is reality.
But, usually, we arrange many things in some
system, you know. This is teaching
is for Zen. This teaching is for adult
or for boys. This teaching is for girls, and this teaching is for men.
And this teaching is for beginners, and this teaching is for advanced
student. To arrange the teaching in this way is not true way. Each
teaching is independent teaching.
We should understand in this way. You should not
compare the teaching you have with some other students. This is for me,
you know, for me, an advanced student [to say] – this is teaching is for
some beginners, not for me – this is really poor understanding. Whatever
the teaching may be, the teaching you have had is your teaching.
So, it is not …. it is not after you ... advance,
step by step, to attain enlightenment. You cannot arrange your steps to
the enlightenment. Each step is independent practice. And on each step,
there must be enlightenment. When you develop yourself only [on] one
step you have, there is true understanding of the teaching. So, it means
you have enlightenment.
When you arrange it, you know, you lose the essence
of the teaching.
Sengai 's teacher, do you know Sengai? When I went
to Fields Bookstore, the old master hangs the Sengai's picture … picture
of a frog, and it says, if we can attain, while sitting zazen. [laughs]
It says, just if … if it is possible to attain enlightenment by sitting
posture [giggles] – frog says. [giggles]
Very much I miss this statement. Frog has
enlightenment, you know, but you may laugh at the frog. You may think “I
can attain enlightenment by sitting posture” [laughs]. But you are
laughing at him, but he may laugh at you, you know.
“Of course, I have enlightenment, don't you know
that?”, [laughing] he may say, but you may say, “Just by sitting -- how
is it possible to attain enlightenment?” I don't know which is laughing
So, even the frog, when he sit like this, he has
enlightenment. You should not laugh at him.
That if we practice zazen in cross-legged posture
to attain enlightenment, that is worse that the frog!
This kind of … this point is very important. This
is the wisdom of prajnaparamita – the wisdom to cross this shore to the
other shore. So in this shore, there is the other shore. The other
shore, there is this shore. So, when you have this wisdom, this shore is
the other shore; the other shore is this shore. So this is called
perfect wisdom. This wisdom is, so it is said, is the Supreme Mantra.
Supreme, and so that the most important point of the Prajnaparamita
Sutra is emptiness or “not” or “no”.
If you understand this “no” or “not” you have
prajnaparamita – the wisdom to cross this shore to the other shore.
And we'll finish sesshin by reciting the sutra at
future. It might be better, I thought it might be better to recite the
sutra at the end of the sesshin, before we practice zazen until pretty
late at 7 or 7:30. But it is not possible because of the noise of the
movie, so we will stop practice before the movie starts.
Okay, that's enough.
Source: digital audio archive from DC. Problem set.
Thanks to audio work by AW, transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Work in progress. Further
preparation to post by DC