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Shunryu Suzuki Lecture Transcripts in Progress

Shunryu Suzuki Lecture Transcripts 2012 --- INDEX

Working with the most difficult tapes in the Suzuki tape archive

Thanks to Judith Gilbert for transcription and AW for Audio work - DC, 4-05-12

Yellow words are ones where Judy guessed.

Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Audio Problem set
JG 1st pass

The topic is about causality. Causality. We believe in causality, but our way of believing in cause and effect – every cause and effect is not the same as people … other people believe in it.

Before we talk about …or  before we discuss about the causality, we ... we talk  two viewpoint of life.  One is just mechanical … ahh ….way of understanding or existing,

Another is …. like determinism[Judith Gi1]  – but to believe in some  results.

Nowadays, people … oh ...  ascribe those two view of  life, but without any clear understanding of it, so  ... sometimes they believe in  ...ah ... determinism; sometimes they believe in a liberation which is quite mechanical.

So, so ... true believing mechanism, they .. their way of life is very [Judith Gi2] critical, and ah … they literalistic in its order to take .... very naive understanding of our life. So, they want, here they want vast freedom. They have no time to consider to take … ah... they're … to take ... take .. to take other … liberties. They just exist … on their own liberty.

This is … this kind of attitude of life is based on mechanical or … way of … mechanical understanding of life. According to mechanical understanding, the mechanical understanding of life, which is speaking as we saw, based on a type … idea of life ... discontinuity. And determinism is based on idea of continuation.

Ideas of time difficulty -- many things exist. Even which if one of them meant[Judith Gi3]  …. Here we felt no idea  … idea of time, even, you know. If we have continuity of time, we are not free.  That time is continuous means that the change of things … change of form and color in certain.... way.

So, everything... if everything changing, in a certain way, each thing, if change, has no freedom. Each of them should change into something else, whether they like it or not. Impossible, impossible to delay obtaining some certain character … all that is impossible, you know.

But actually, things are changing, so we have no freedom.

But, when we believe in just … mechanical ... in this way, we have … we will discover find out that we have no freedom even though we think of freedom, it is impossible … to have freedom.

But usually, we do not … our understanding does not reach so far. They just exist … tentative freedom … So, they have … they don't mind what will happen to them later. They want to enjoy their life in each moment, without any consideration of past and future. This is so-called misunderstanding of freedom.

But in Buddhism, we do not ignore freedom. At least, in certain moment, we have to.... But in next moment, we have to change our way, literally. And next time we have to change more. In this way, everything in our life, will go and go and go. This is Buddhist understanding of our life.

Fundamentally, those who believe in … ah … telelogical understanding of life, or determinism, they sacrifice this present for the future. This is hopeless, you know. We have to ... actually, what we have have is happiness in this life. To sacrifice this moment for the sake of future is upside-down way. This is also wrong.

But actually, if you understand our life, we … our life should be, in one hand, our life should be absolutely free. From past and  future, from everyone. At same time, we have to have some purpose, some goal to achieve. How this contradictory way of thinking go together is our philosophy.

Originally, this contradiction is the nature, based on the nature of time – or idea of time. Time is outside, always say. Time is continuous and discontinuous. Time is not always continuous.

Time is difficulty. When you say, in, you know, time stops, you know. If it is going, you cannot tell. This is sixth of koan Heikigan-roku. When you say eight o'clock, it is eight o'clock; it is not a... a future nine o'clock.  It is eight o'clock.

When you say “eight o'clock”, time stops. Tentatively. But actually it is going on – we have to know that actually time is going on and on, but we have to say, tentatively, “it is nine o'clock” or “ten o'clock”.

Time is, from this understanding, time is some point on “the straight line from past to future”.

But, actually, time is going on, going on and on, so there is no “point” to point at. It is going on; and you may, you have to follow that clock, or follow the [Judith Gi4] phantom, that is the only way we call the idea of time. So when you have idea of time it is, it means you have idea of time of continuity and discontinuity.

And time of discontinuity will result … mechanical.

And idea of time continuity will result -- telelogical way of understanding of life. You have some purpose, some goal, and you have some way to attain that goal. It means, it is actually – if it is true, it is actually a dynamic change of life.

When we [Judith Gi5] follow with that dynamic change of each … every being, our goal will attained. But if we no that dynamic view of universe, even though you have plan in your mind, it will not work.

So, if your plan is right, to have some goal in your life means to follow the dynamic change of the world. In this way, our life will go on and on and on endlessly. This is right understanding.

Here, people have to have some misunderstanding. They think, we human beings can attain some purpose … goal. But the human beings, and for various – all the rest of the existence there is no limit in achieving things. You will go on and on and on. We don't know when it will end. But it should go on and on and on.

Here you will find out Buddhist understanding of causality is both materialistic and spiritualistic.

And it is not – it is endless … effort, succession of effort. There is no end, or no beginning. There is no beginning and no end –  is its understanding of life.

So, characteristic of Buddhist understanding of causality is – one way it is mechanical, and we do not ignore freedom.[Judith Gi6]  On the other hand it is telelogical, and we don't believe in any perfection, you know. That people live in perfection, this is also mistake.

So we should be free of those three mistakes: to have idea of perfection as a human being, just to be bound by causality, or just to try to ignore the theory of cause and effect.

These three points, at least, as far as I know, should be understand – should be understood, as the understanding of causality in its true sense.

My talk may seem very dry and … logical. But actually I do not mean to say some .. this kind of cold logical or philosophical idea.

We have had very difficult times for three days, and we did not know how to hide to how suffer to take advantage[Judith Gi7]  this pain in our capacity. I think you can sit very well, and I think some of you, actually, get through all the problems in sitting. I think so.

When we find real job of life in pain and in difficulty, that is true job, according to Buddha. We say, there is no natural Buddha. Buddha is someone who attained enlightenment, but human, who has break-through the human life, and who find .. who found eternal joy in human life, in modern life.

There was Buddha, we say. That is why we say there is no natural Buddha. Buddha is someone who strive for eternity. But he does not strive for difficulty or to strive to suffer from difficulty. Which … there is difficulty or one side of life is.

He was called Buddha because he had wisdom. With wisdom [Judith Gi8] serve those contradictions in life, of our life. We human beings have, by nature, good and bad, dark and light.

So, anyway, if there is no difficulty, there is no happiness. If there is no happiness, there is no difficulty.

Mechanical, mechanically you will think -- materially you will think – how anything good? – but this is just materialistic idea. But good and bad is not just material, materialistic. You cannot find, really, true religion[Judith Gi9]  in mechanical way of understanding of your life. Or by static logic.

The Buddha is more dialectical than … practique-like[Judith Gi10] .

Why we have suffering? Because we have happiness or joy, on the other hand.

Why we have happiness is because we have difficulty at the same time.

You cannot join happiness to difficulty. It is … It is completely singularly quality.

It does not mean material quality. But as we feel, when we … we feel, as long as we are conscious ... our conscious mind, it is impossible to join unhappiness and happiness.

This is, essentially, different quality … quality of consciousness.

You may say if you get a lot of money, you will be happy. That may be all so.

If I try hard, I will attain enlightenment, that is not true.

In its true sense, you know, enlightenment and ignorance are quite different quality. It is pair of opposites, you know. Because it is opposite, it has different value. If it is possible to join … enlightenment and ignorance, you may strive for, attain enlightenment by materialistic way, and with some money and sitting many and many years. You may try!

But, I don't think it is possible because it is two completely different qualities.

You are ignorance, through and through!

Enlightenment – through and through!

How is it possible to compare enlightenment and igorance?

Materialistically, you can... psychologically you can compare [the] two, but there is no way to join the ignorance to enlightenment.

According to Buddhism, suffering is valuable, you know, because it is suffering, through and through. Enlightenment is valuable because enlightenment is enlightenment, through and through.

So when we say, enlightenment, the rest of things is enlightenment.

When we say, “I am good”, everything... everyone knows is ignorance.

It means that there's no need, ah literally explain about the contradiction.

Past and future are two opposite ideas. You say past... you say, you think future is extension of past time, but it is not so, actually. When is the joining of the future and past. Present is – you may say present is the joining of the future and the past.

But actually, there is no present! Present!

What is past and what is present, it is impossible, to explain what is past and what is future – materialistic way.

Past and future just exist in our minds. You say “past”, and you say “future” without knowing exactly what it is.

So past means – when we say “past”, all the rest of time is past. When we say, “future”, past is also future. So time goes from present to future, from future to past. And there may be many and many interpretations of time, idea.

But, actually, it means time does not exist. Something which changes exist. Changing of relationship or quality or color or time, in time. When function of things change, it is time. When color of function changes, it is time.

But, actually there is nothing besides actual changing of things.

So, when we … we say, …. past, in this sense, past is already negating future. The idea of future negates idea of past. When we say “past”, past only. When we say “future”, future only. Future negates past, idea of past.

And when we say “present”, present negates past and future.

So, someone is here -- means. Everyone else's one … is here, in historical[Judith Gi11]  sense, not material. Materialistic understanding: that is not true. If I am here, there is many people. If I am talking here, many people are listening. But I say “I am talking to you,” it means, the idea of “I” negates the other.

If you say “I'm listening to you”, it is negation of ah... speaker. Do you understand?

Going.... everything passed. When one thing difficult, the rest of things will be negated.

It is … complementary relationship.

From one to the other, you know. And from the other –  one. Things are... relationship is cause... the relationship is, you know – there is no other relationship. Actual relationship is one. So, this way or the other  is the only way we have. Only interpretation of the relationship. Do you understand?\

So, we are engaging with each other, because we are negating one one level, it is possible to attain oneness..... do you understand?

Here is man and woman, one of them are here. But actually, actually – which does exist is the unity of man and woman. The unity of man and woman exist, but if you separate man from woman, there is .. there is no more woman or man. Because there is man, there is woman.

Because there is liberty, there is sick. If there is no [Judith Gi12] liber... there's no fire – it is not even important!

Well, actually, the unity of opposites two – pair of opposites exist. Good and bad,-- there is good and bad exist. But there is no good, besides, except bad. There is no bad, except, besides good.

We always exist is a pair of contradictory … we are a pair of contradictory existence. Perfect contradictory existence! [giggles] which is – we are like this … not we are not perfect, but contradictory existence!

Or realistically, there is no way to attain oneness. One absolute existence.

We cannot overcome suffering. Because suffering and … ah … freedom is pair of opposites, complete pair of opposites, it is possible to attain absolute, uncomparable.... uncomparable way of life.

So, here things going as a pair of opposites. Past, present, future.

We, in past, we …

[[Judith Gi13] RB: In changing tracks a little bit was missed, but I think it's a repetition of what he said – something like present and future are a pair of opposites, or a pair of … yes a pair of opposites and there's no need to change joy to suffering – both exist. Ah... anyway, something like that, but it's a … pretty much a repetition.]

If we realize, through and through, if you realize what is unhappiness and what is happiness, through and through, you will realize this fact.

That is why Dogen-zengi said, if one side is light, in life – one side is bright, the other side is dark.

When  you say “happiness”, that's all.  Happiness only. When you say “unhappiness,” unhappiness is  only. You have only unhappiness. When you accept unhappiness or happiness through and through, in this way, you have absolute renunciation.

So when you ... when you accept difficulties with conflict, with big mind, or when you give your difficulties to work in its true function, then you have no difficulty. That is not difficulty any more.

The difficulty is a past -- like a bird, flying in the sky. Your mind is...

The sky knows what it is... oh, “ flying”....

That is [importive][Judith Gi14] 

 Something is good like, oh, reality is good. –  people are enjoying. That's good. That is the kind of understanding we have.

So know things through and through is the point. Without criticizing what it is. If you like, you can criticize it,  but that criticism has nothing to do with the deep way.

To know things as it is is to let everything act as they want.

Let it free is to be free from; because you want to … to bind it, you have difficulties.

It means to have subtle understanding of our life. And our practice should be based on subtle understanding of our human life, and subtle understanding of all the rest of existence.

Now I ...  I think … I start my brief talk about the teaching of causality.


This is very … deep problem for each of us: causality.

In the Shobogenzo, in the fasicle of Soku Shin Ze Butsu  – What is Mind Itself is Buddha. What is mind, and what is Buddha.

And in conclusion he said, “Mind … mind is Buddha, and Buddha is Buddha, and each is good. Each … Buddha is, Mind is good. Buddha itself is good.” Those four characters.

“Buddha … Mind itself is” oh those are five characters, or four statements.[Judith Gi15]  Mind itself is good. And he says, “mind is Buddha and each is Buddha, and itself is Buddha. Buddha is Buddha.” [laughter][Judith Gi16] 

When we say “Buddha”, there is no need to say, [Judith Gi17] anyway, “Mind”, except each, when we say “each is being”,  or suchness or suchness[Judith Gi18] . “Being” is Buddha. Something which exist as it is, is “Being”. Something in the cause of form and formless.

In the past it is form, in the future it is, in the present it is formless. Those being is Buddha, actual being is Buddha. Reality is Buddha.

And itself is Buddha. When you understand something through and through, that is itself. When you understand suffering through and through, what does it mean? There's no other Buddha. All the rest of Buddha, including Shakyamuni Buddha, is included in suffering.

If you pick up one thing, it negates all the rest of things. Negating is not negative, good or.... You can say, “include”. It is directly … under, or something. If you take hold of something, you have other, all the material. If you drive a car, by under,[Judith Gi19]  it means you have your own, all of your car. If you point at one point of an arc, you point at whole universe. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter.

So, so, itself means, because you compare one thing to another, in materialistic way, you are caught by idea of freedom or idea of restriction.

But if you have this kind of understanding of reality, all that be, all that is, something what is, is itself.

So, Buddha is – itself is Buddha, and mind is Buddha. And each is good,. Being is good, And Buddha is good. Buddha is, of course, good – although we don't know what it is! [laughter]

And there's no point to know what it is, because we are Buddha! If so, why is it necessary for us to know who he is?

Because we have some particular … because we are caught by some particular view of life, without knowing – what does it mean in its true sense? We are caught by … thoughts … ah, view of life, or teaching or philosophy or whatever – religion. Whatever it is.

So, as I [Judith Gi20] learned about Catholicism, little ... my eastern if it eastern to talk about our practice, to do something is the only way. To do something is the only way to understand what it is. To be involved in what you are doing completely, without thinking. Then you understand what it is.

If you have difficulty, that is true. If you have pleasure doing it, that is also true. And pleasure is not just pleasure. When you do completely, observing your activity, that is not just experience. It is more than experience; it is more than understanding.

But forgetting this point, we seek for some superficial understanding of practice, without you have attained enlightenment or not, whether this practice is right practice or not. Just do it anyway. Then you find out something.

It doesn't matter whether it is difficult or easy. When you wonder why, it means you are already caught by, you know, artificial ….. You are trying to understand our practice in superficial way, without any conviction, without believing in this ultimate truth.


Noone can deny what I'm saying now. I'm just saying the points are they are.

I have no particular teaching, you know.

Buddha said to just … how we are that is the result. So when we completely understand how we live in this world, that is why enlightenment. That is that way to live to have the meaning …  in our life – leads to effect.

It is the actual way of not the wasting of our life. We should not waste our time in unnecessary, unnecessary statements or study.

If you want to study, study something which is true and real. Don't study something very hard or very deep. The truth is always near at hand.

In sitting, I think some of you must have found out something unusuall – some unusual experience. It means you acquire freedom without how you get about it. Whether … whether it was bad or whether it was, you know, ectasy or joy. It is out of question, but whatever it is, something what you have found out – or what experience it is – means you are free from your ordinary running backward[Judith Gi21]  or your thinking or way of life.

Because we are, our life is limited, it just mean materialistic understanding of life. After Dogen left this kind of teaching, it is seven, no.... 900 years, but we are still caught by materialistic just materialistic understanding of life our logic is … static logic.

You are coming from, you know, bank book![Judith Gi22]  That is static logic.

You do not think even in dialectic way, but before him, Dogen-zenji created, his way of thinking was very much dialectical. If you practice Buddhism in its true sense, you will have this kind of freedom of mind. Because his mind was free from complete static logic.

He could establish his own way of life, and he left other teaching. So, Dogen-zenji was great, not because of his real adaptive[Judith Gi23]  philosophy, but because of his actual practice – pure practice, transmitted from Buddha through many and many patriarchs.

Our practice, although our practice is quite difficult, but it is the result of millions of peoples of hard practice and way – for this way. And establish this practice, this way of practice and understanding.

Negation after negation. Criticism after criticism, we have established this kind of teaching.

So far, our sesshin was very successful under the guidance of Dainin-san. I'm very much grateful for him to come and direct our sesshin. Tomorrow, Monday, he will give the final address for this sesshin, so I have to talk this evening.

Thank you very much.


Source: digital audio archive from DC. Problem set. Transcribed March 2012 by Judy Gilbert. Work in progress. Further preparation to post by DC. [This transcript was initially mis-titled 68-08-17. Fixed 8-30-12.

Judy Notes

 [Judith Gi2]2:25

Primical – primitive?


 [Judith Gi4]12:04

 [Judith Gi5]13:23

 [Judith Gi6]16:24

 [Judith Gi7]18:42

 [Judith Gi8]21:40

 [Judith Gi9]22:31 wager?

 [Judith Gi10]23:07 pragmatic?


 [Judith Gi14]41:15 really hard to discern

 [Judith Gi16]46:46 can't hear

 [Judith Gi17]46:58 horn

 [Judith Gi20]51:51 really difficult to discern



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

Shunryu Suzuki Lecture Transcripts in Progress

Working with the most difficult tapes in the Suzuki tape archive

Thanks to Judith Gilbert for transcription and AW for Audio work

Suzuki lectures blog on SFZC site or Shunryu Suzuki dot com-the whole archive

Shunryu Suzuki Lectures on cuke