Some Shunryu Suzuki lectures on the Lotus Sutra weren't included in the
Here's a minimally edited version of the second of six that were given at
Tassajara in the late winter of 1968. - Thanks to Brian Fikes for doing this
work over 20 years ago.
Index for these six lectures
Zen Mountain Center
Manjusri what was going to happen, and Manjusri started to answer that
Manjusri, the prince royal, addressed Maitreya, the Bodhisattva
Mahasattva, and the whole assembly of Bodhisattvas (in these words): It
is the intention of the Tathagata, young men of good family, to begin a
grand discourse for the teaching of the law, to pour the great rain of
the law, to make resound the great drum of the law, to raise the great
banner of the law, to kindle the great torch of the law, to blow the
great conch trumpet of the law, and to strike the great timbale of the
starting to say something about what he experienced before, because the
same thing happened to him when he was studying Dharma in his previous
life. There were various names for him: Manjusri, Manjusvara, or
Manjughosha. "Manjusri" means an "auspicious man," and "Manjusvara" or "Manjughosha"
means a "man who has a beautiful voice." "Whereupon Manjusri, the
prince royal, addressed Maitreya, the Bodhisattva Mahasattva, and the
whole assembly of Bodhisattvas." In this sutra the bodhisattva has the
main position. You can almost say this sutra was told for bodhisattvas
and to bodhisattvas. "...the whole assembly of Bodhisattvas." These
words are repeated maybe twice or more in chapter fifteen, the famous
chapter we recite on Dogen Zenji's memorial day each month. Old monks
in Eiheiji can recite this sutra almost by heart‑‑in Chinese, not in
Japanese. Zen Buddhists chant the twenty‑eight volumes of this sutra.
In former days they could recite very well. I cannot recite so well, but
old monks can recite it quite easily in a short time, in Chinese.
in this way: "It is the intention of the Tathagata, young men of good
family," these words are also repeated many times in this sutra, "to
begin a grand discourse for the teaching of the law, to pour the great
rain of the law, to make resound the great drum of the law." In Sanskrit
drum is "dontobishi" [?], from the drum sound, "don, don, don". It is a
very interesting name for drum. In festivals in Japan people strike a
big drum: "dongbish, dongbish, dondabish". The great drum of the law.
"...to raise the great banner of the law, to kindle the great torch of
the law, to blow the great conch trumpet of the law,..." Do you know the
conch trumpet? In
in Shingon temples, the Tantric Buddhists have a big conch trumpet. "Boooo."
It goes this way, [demonstrating it in the air]. "...and to strike the
great timbale of the law."
repetition of various instruments is not the same in different
translations. Scholars who are studying this sutra compare the
versions: in the Tibetan rendering this is missing, in the Nepalese this
is missing, in the Chinese rendering this is missing. In this way they
try to figure out how those scriptures were introduced to China or Nepal
or Tibet. Those are very important studies, but.... And I have Doctor
Watanabe's translation here. He compares the new and old Chinese
renderings to the Tibetan, Nepalese and Pali. So if you want to study
this, I have various proofs for this material. But I must continue my
lecture as quickly as possible.
"Again, it is the
intention of the Tathagata, young men of good family, to make a grand
exposition of the law this very day." Right now he will explain the
grand exposition of the law, as he it heard before. "Thus it appears to
me, young men of good family, as I have witnessed a similar sign of the
former Tathagatas," in his former life, "the Arhats, the perfectly
enlightened," who have perfect wisdom, perfect enlightenment, "murogi".
They have no desire or attachment to anything. "Those former Tathagatas,
the Arhats, the perfectly enlightened, they too emitted a lustrous ray,
and I am convinced that the Tathagata is about to deliver a grand
discourse for the teaching of the law and make his grand speech on the
law everywhere heard, he having shown such a foretoken. And because the
Tathagata, the Arhat, the perfectly enlightened one wishes that this
Dharmaparyaya meeting opposition in all the world...." Dr. Watanabe
says "meeting" is not appropriate, but "teaching" or "learning". And
because he translates it as "meeting", he says "opposition". But it
should be some teaching or learning which is difficult. So, "And because
the Tathagata, the Arhat, the perfectly enlightened one wishes that this
Dharmaparyaya hard to learn in all the world be heard everywhere,
therefore does he display so great a miracle and this foretoken
consisting in the lustre occasioned by the emission of a ray.
"I remember, young
men of good family, that in the days of yore, many immeasurable,
inconceivable, immense, infinite, countless Aeons, more than countless
Aeons ago, nay, long and very long before, there was born a Tathagata
called Kandrasuryapradipa, an Arhat, a perfectly enlightened one,
endowed with science and conduct, a Sugata, knower of the world, an
incomparable tamer of men, a teacher (and ruler) of gods and men, a
Buddha and Lord." Those are Buddha's ten names, ten titles. Shakyamuni
Buddha's ten titles also apply for this Buddha Kandrasuryapradipa. "Kandra"
means the moon, "Surya" is sun: "Burning Sun‑Moon Buddha".
The ten titles:
Tathagata [nyorai] means a man who comes from the truth and
who does not stay in any realm of form or form world, who comes from
truth and who goes back to the truth, or someone who preaches right
Dharma and right law, or someone who observes things as it is. Arhat
[arakan] is one who has attained perfect enlightenment, the
attainment of the Theravada Buddhist. Samyaksambuddha [shohenchi]
is Buddha who knows everything and who knows things as it is, who has no
discrepancy or one‑sided understanding or observation.
[myogyo‑soku] is one who can see through things, who knows his
former life, and who has perfect enlightenment. This is also an
attainment of the Arhat. In the morning we pray to have three wisdoms or
powers, the Arhat's power. Nowadays we have science instead of those
three powers, so maybe that is why he translated it as "science".
Myogyo‑soku or "conduct" means precept observation; his mouth and
body and mind are perfectly enlightened. Sugata [zenzei]
means a man who has great knowledge, can say things nicely, and who has
deep, great samadhi. The sixth one, lokavit [sekenge],
one who knows this world [lokadhatu] completely, who understands
human life completely from both sides, the mundane way and the
enlightened way. Annutara, [mujoshi] is the so‑called
incomparable one, who has supreme Nirvana. As his attainment is supreme,
he is the supreme, incomparable one. "Tamer of men,"
purusadamyasarathi [jogo‑jobu], who has great means of
helping people with great mercy. Shasta devamanusyanam [tenninshi,
"teacher"] of human beings and celestial beings. And the last one is
Buddha and Lord, lakanatha or Buddha‑bhagavat. Those are
the ten names.
"He showed the
law; he revealed the duteous course which is holy at its commencement,
holy in its middle, holy at the end, good in substance and form,
complete and perfect, correct and pure." This should also be counted as
ten elements of the quality of the teaching, but it is very difficult to
figure out with this translation. "Holy at its commencement, holy in
its middle, holy at the end" is a rather stock term for us. "Sho chu
go zen" [?], we say. "Good in substance" should be good in meaning
or contents, "form" should be "words". Good in meaning and good in
words. "Complete" and "perfect" should be two elements. Complete doesn't
include any other meaning; in this sense, it is complete. It also means
pureness of the elements of the teaching. "Perfect" here means
sufficient. One teaching suffices for every teaching. In this sense it
is perfect. "Correct" is one element and "pure" is another. "Correct"
means nothing is wrong with it, and "pure" means pureness of practice,
or precepts observation.
"That is to say,
to the disciples he preached,"--"he" means Kandrasuryapradipa--"the law
containing the four Noble Truths, and starting from the chain of causes
and effects, tending to overcome birth, decrepitude, sickness, death,
sorrow, lamentation, woe, grief, despondency, and finally leading to
Nirvana." The first one is, as you know, the four noble truths for the
Theravada Buddhists or sravakas. And the teaching of causality or
interdependency of birth, old age, "sickness, death, sorrow,
lamentation, woe, grief, despondency, and finally leading to Nirvana" is
the teaching of the pratyeka‑yana. Here, as you heard, there is
no distinction between the teaching for the sravakas and the
teaching for the pratekas. From the viewpoint of the Lotus
Sutra, which is a Mahayana teaching....
Oh, I'm sorry.
Maybe it is too tedious for you. (lots of laughter in this paragraph) I
almost gave up already, so I can imagine how you feel. When I was young,
I would go to school by train. As long as the train was going, I was
sleeping, but when the train stopped, I woke up. I woke up suddenly
because I had to get off. As long as my tedious lecture is going, you
may sleep. If I stop my lecture, you should wake up. There will be no
need to remember these things, you know. But you should know how
complicated our Dharma is. Very complicated, but very clear, you know.
But to make it clear, we have to make a good effort. Sometimes it looks
like some story, and you may think if you read those scriptures, that
there's no truth in them, that they are just fairy tales or stories, but
it is not so. The underlying thought is very deep and accurate. So as
long as we are studying it, we should make it clear.
starting from birth, old age, sickness, death, sorrow, lamentation, woe,
grief, uneasiness and Nirvana are the teaching of interdependency. Most
scholars used to understand this as a teaching of causality: birth is
the cause of old age, and birth is the cause of sickness. Because we
were born, we have old age and sickness and death. But this is actually
the teaching of interdependency and is another form of the four noble
We say the
Four Noble Truths and Eight-fold Path are teachings for the sravakas,
and the Twelve Links of Causality is a teaching for pratyekas,
but according to recent results of scholarship, Buddha actually taught
both of those teachings without separating them: sometimes the Four
Noble Truths and the holy Eight‑fold Path, sometimes the Twelve Links of
Causality. And if you analyze those two teachings, they are two
different versions of the same teaching. What he meant was the same. So
it is no wonder that in this Lotus Sutra those two teachings are
mixed and are supposed to be for the disciples. Here it says
"disciples", but the Chinese rendering says "the disciples of words [or
disciples of the worlds?]". It looks like sravakas, but it may be
better to say "to the disciples of words". Then the meaning becomes
clearer. It is said that the original text says "disciples of words",
and it includes both sravakas and pratyeka buddhas.
"...and to the
Bodhisattvas he preached the law connected with the six Perfections, and
terminating in the knowledge of the Omniscient, after the attainment of
supreme, perfect enlightenment." So far the teaching was for sravakas
and pratyekas, and now the teaching is for the bodhisattvas. For
the bodhisattva, Buddha gave the teaching of the six paramitas. I
think I explained them already. Dana Paramita, bestowing of
material and teaching; Sila Paramita, keeping the precepts;
Ksanti Paramita, the practice of patience; Virya Paramita,
zeal and progress (shoji [?] paramita); Dhyana Paramita,
the practice of meditation; and Prajna Paramita, wisdom
paramita, the power to discern truth or reality.
Thank you very
and edited by Brian Fikes.
Old file name 68-02-LS.3
Prepared for digital archive by DC 9-12