Shunryu Suzuki Lecture
Audio Problem set
JG's first pass - see CM's 2nd pass
In the last lecture you
studied two Prajnaparamita of the six Prajnaparamitas that make the
Bodhisattva practice. The Bodhisattva … I will explain what is
Bodhisattva is different
from Buddha. A Buddha is the perfect one. And a Bodhisattva is the one
who Bodhisattva is mortal and help other before he helps himself. And
this idea was very deep and wide.
Combining with the idea of
the Bodhisattva, we have some other idea, Theravada. Theravada means the
Hinayana Buddhists. The difference between Hinayana and Mahayana is the
Hinayana Buddhist is concentrated on his personal practice to attain
Arhatship. That is Hinayana's way of practice, and Mahayana practice is
to help others rather than to help themselves. This is Mahayana way of
practice, and those six practices are Mahayana way of practice, or
We count here six, but
those six paramitas will be formalized in three. This is observation,
and practice of Zen, and wisdom. Those are more popular way of counting
it – numbering it. I think it continues for us to understand this
teaching in six ways, which is precept observation, or dana
prajnaparamita, almsgiving or begging some people and then precept
observation, constant practice or effort, to make effort, bigger effort.
And practice of zen and wisdom, those are six prajnaparamitas. Oh, and
one more important one is constant patience practice. But patience
practice, or vigor practice, will be included in Zen practice or in
precepts and zazen,
It is necessary to be
patient, or to be vigorous when you practice Zen, or when you observe
precepts. So those two will be included in practice of Zen, or the
observation of precepts.
But when our way of
counting is to count … to name six practices, and we already explained
precept observation, and we have explained observation of the precepts
and observation of pre-Buddhistic version of the precepts. And the
difference was, as we studied, pre-Buddhistic observation was clear to
be born in heaven. Or to attain something was the purpose of precept
But for us, Mahayana
Buddhists, precept observation is
certifiable – it is not to attain … it is not the way to attain
And, not only for
Buddhists, but also all the religious people, it is very important to
Incidentally this observation of precepts is
to write it, and know it, but
this is not extended to … When religion, and especially Buddhism become
more and more philosophical, and more and more, observation of the
teachings becomes more and more elaborate and politic, glory, actual
observation of the precepts many favorite teachers left here, and
observation of the Buddhism happened.
One maker of reformation
was Hakuin, and precept observation was emphasized. In the Kamakura
period in Japan, there were many famous teachers in
Heien court Kondaisan or Etto Zenji
or Dogen Zenji or hannazen.
Before those famous teachers appeared, there were many teachers who
emphasized the precepts observation. And after those unknowns, or pretty
unknown teachers who emphasized precept observation, very famous
Anyway, as we already
studied precept observation, it is very important.
Tonight we want to study
about constancy, or vigor, practice of our way.
And patience, patience – it
is important to be patient when we study our way.
As Buddha says, observation
of this wisdom of patience is more important than even precept
observation. There he speaks of precept observation of constancy. And
this constancy or patience.... observation is the opposite of to be
angry – anger. Let me become angry and the
[j g1] viper will
be not all at once.
Victory is a treat, you know. To
be angry, anger is the most advan..... the most dangerous thing. It
makes you not, you know, feel your head. When head.... to be angry is
like being a white rat. White rat, it comes out of the white cloud,
Literally lightning comes out of the black cloud, and that's the black
cloud. You are not black cloud. Edward is black cloud. And some of you
are red cloud, or golden cloud. But this is you lose your head. Other
people look at your head.. To be angry is to have lightning from the
White cloud is supposed to
be peaceful and calm, but if lightning come out from the white cloud,
there's no value in the white cloud. It afraid to become angry, for the
value of the whole place will vanish, all at once.
Anyway, for everyone, it is
necessary not to be angry and to be patient. This is very important
When we become angry, we
lose everything. We lose our way. To come to Tassajara for you is to
study our way. How can you become angry if somehow you lose your way.
You lose your point why you come to Tassajara. And you receive three
Tassajara, all at once. One look before. You have no idea of going back
to San Francisco, but one move and you're right there. “Oh, I must go
back to San Francisco. There's no point in Tassajara any more!”
You lose your point
already, because of your guest, anger.
We know how foolish this
is, to become angry. But when we become angry, it is never hard to stop
it. And if it's too late, you know, try to stop anger when appears, so
constant practice is necessary. The
[j g2] energy of
your mind, there must not be any gap. For one practice, if you have
right understanding of our practice, there is no gap between your
practice – observation of zazen, observation of precepts, or dana
prajnaparamita. All the practice is there are many cases of one
So, you know, dana practice
and precept observation is not two – it's just one.
And Zen practice is just
another side of the one practice. If so, they are … there cannot be any
gap between one practice and the other.
But you … your
understanding is piece by piece. Here is precept observation, here is
zazen, here is dana or other precepts here. You have many practice, you
know, one by one. And if your understanding is like this, one by one,
understanding – in your practice there is gaps.
But if you understand, if
you are practicing many sides of one practice, there should not be any
gap. You gain one practice, through that. In this way we should
understand our way.
So, in Japan, I don't know
how many yet will go. Maybe two – more than 160 will go, 170 disciple of
famous Zen masters.... and he had very good disciple, and he was called
Geiwa. Very famous one. Geiwa
wore very white tabi one pack.
So, why wear white tabi hiking yet? Not clean yet. He did not, you know,
have any other pair. Just one pair, and he wear it for thirty years.
Very taken patches, noone had more patches than that. Thirty years.
And we have, you know, just
sand. We can see the sand. Of course, … what do you call it? Patch?
Patch over patch. It doesn't look like tabi any more. He was a famous
cook in the kitchen. And his active master was very good. He had many
disciples. Not disciples, but many
hearing, who practiced our way with him. But as he was so poor,
he couldn't afford to give them enough food. But he wouldn't leave his
master, so naturally they had very, very poor food. And for Tenzogyo,
the cook of that monastery, have very, very difficult time to prepare
food for them.
But for all moon, he take
the best. Everyone was very hungry, of course. Genwa was sick. But late
at night, someone – many people saw him in his room something thicker,
late at night. When night bell was rung, they were cooking something.
And some student told his master that he was cooking something after
everyone went to bed. But his teacher didn't believe that he's cooking
So the student has a
conference one morning, and he didn't know what to do with him, because
he didn't believe that they were right. He always said, that is your
mistake – he's not that kind of person. And in the discussion, there
were many people who see him cooking late at night. And they say,
several people went to their master and told him, so many people saw him
cooking late at night.
So his master one night
went to his room late at night, and well something from inside, and he
became very angry, but he had to open the door. And he saw him cooking
something. And he asked him, the master asked him, what is he doing? And
“I'm cooking something here,” he said.
And he said, “I'm not
cooking anything thicker” but the master said, “Let me see what you are
cooking.” And he has to open the roof [lid]. But he cannot see what it
is. And Geiwa said, “This is not for you. You cannot eat it,” he said.
And the teacher got really angry, because he was cooking something. Even
though he was doing something wrong, he had to offer something out of
the bowl the food he was cooking. And he took it. And it was something
That food, he cannot tell
what it is. It was, what do you call it? Green eggs. That was what it
is! Everyone says I'm cooking something thicker. Yes I'm cooking
something thicker. Because they have not much to eat. So every day I
cook the leftover. Some of them is already, you know, gone bad, but I'm
eating it anyway.
Well, his master, he didn't
know what to say, and the next morning the master went to his room, and
bowed to his disciple. The master said, “I'm sorry. I couldn't
This is a good example of
the patient priest, Dengo. It is pretty difficult to cross someone, and
it is classic therapy our
condition. Whatever happens to us. When we think it is good, our way, we
justify one something. We don't focus on all our habits, like anger.
Like having eggs between people.
We must know why we act it. This is the most important point of all
We should know, always, the
purpose of practice. That to cook something good is not honor of our
practice. It is a part of it. But the more important thing is to do it
completely. If you point to whatever happens to us, we cannot give up.
I see many students don't
understand me. I need, this is very need – whatever happens to us – this
is satisfying to us. This is not. And here we prove our theory without
dictate, you cannot practice our way.
Zen is not some technique
to attain something. When you are doing something, in that moment, they
the way. When you do it with some purpose, when it is inevitable to sit,
that is practice. To study it, and that is the practice.
So, to do something, or to
cook something good, is not the ultimate goal. To give people something
good, always is the reputation of the cook in the kitchen.
Dogen Zenji said, “Cook in
the monastery is quite different than cook in the hotel. We should not
compare our cook to the cook in that hotel. Or
lentern[restaurant?] The cook in
the restaurant, it is to make something good. The cook in the restaurant
that is all he should do. That is not the monastery for a cook. There
there is some more responsibility.
What is cook, in the
kitchen? In the monastery, in China or in Japan, the cook in the kitchen
is supposed to be most great man of peace. Without great patience, you
cannot work in the kitchen. You cannot have good relations in the
The other day, I talked
about gardener. Tonight, I'm talking about cook. But whatever we do,
that is practice when we have, when you realize through and through, and
when we deport ourselves with environment completely. Forgetting all
other things, all other superficial things.
With this kind of spirit,
when you do something with this kind of spirit, whatever you do, that is
There are many interesting
stories about the cook in the kitchen. I think I have told you about
this story. Tonight we had something interesting – do you know what it
was? Like black something --- black bean. In college in Japan, gobo. It
is the roots of the plant, as thick as this. It is rather troublesome to
cut, like that. But head of the gobo is as big as this.
In the monastery, in one
monastery there, he was a very good cook, but they hadn't had much food,
so they had
[j g3] vicker and
black ends for people. For others, the other students drank to throw up
food. And people wanted to resign his post. Someone there to take his
place, they thought. Then we will have some more good food.
So, someone, you know,
throw... someone caught a snake, and cut off his head, and put it in the
miso soup. As the leftover, he picked up the spine. And then he said,
“I'm here. What is it?” and picking up the head of the snake! The head
of the snake didn't break up and stuff, and he put the frog on his
hands, and in that part the head of a snake. But he wasn't afraid of
anything, so next he said, what is it? He couldn't understand what it
was. And the Zen master said, “I'll put it in my leather
And he said, “Oh, I know.
This is head of gobo!” That is why I serve gobo. The difficult plant can
combine for the effort they made to get it. That kind of attitude is
necessary for the people who work in the monastery. That is the ultimate
point for everyone – this kind of thing is necessary.
mayor enjoy monastery, giving
water to the plant, and watering on that and everything.
But it is not only thought.
Something will happen to us. In the world, what will happen to us? When
will it happen – something will happen to us? With that faith we sit
now, but we are actually....
When nothing happens, we
enjoy happening, stay here, practicing our way. Whatever wear may look
like, our journey, so many stops here. But actually, this is your stop.
When you wonder what we are doing, don't run away from Tassajara. Make
When the big aspect … we
have big aspects to take – ah there are really interesting stories. A
man, who is supposed to be of value to himself, they can never run away.
And someone who will not say anything, and looks like very common face,
stays there and perfect duty. They do what they can do with what came.
This is not because you
practice better that you attain enlightenment.
That practice just to
attain enlightenment does not work.
It is exactly the same to
enjoy our sitting or taking a cross-legged position every morning and
evening, you know. And in one or two months, after one or two months,
you may say, “I studied Zen for two months, or 60 days, but nothing
I think this is the time
you go back to San Francisco!
This kind of Zen does not
When you react, when you
don't practice it, it helps it. It is not bad.
When you have this kind of
spirit, how can you be arrogant so easily? It is just so easy to be
angry. Because you are stuck in that web, so you become angry. Because
your mind is caught by something trivial – trivial things, you become
When your effort is
concentrated on the true teacher, breath – true way of things, it is a
bit crazy to be angry.
Apart from … when I was at
school, the head of the gymnastics always told us, “Do not be concerned
about what people do. You should be concerned about what is history.”
I think he was a friend of
Ed and I. And I figure he was a friend of practice for your friends.
This was the attitude of my teacher. I couldn't understand it. I could
not be friend of human being, “They are friendly, heaven and earth,” he
Now I understand what he
meant. When your practice is their
practice, including everyone dies, which includes everyone does, that is
pure practice. I think that he invariably included contingent,
which will have our human world. This is very safe thing for us. We are
completely caught by some trivial things which will … we do not know
when it will happen to us, When you became angry, you have some
savior idea like that, you have
no time to practice. Why time at all is
this kind of thing is happening to us?
Next time, maybe remember,
and not be caught by some trivial thing. Take the path to be constantly
caught by things, or take the bigger way of practice.
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