Crooked Cucumber

The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Below are transcriptions to Shunryu Suzuki audio excerpts that are included at the end of each chapter in the Audiobook. Click on the chapter title to listen and the 🔊 for podcasts when available..

Introduction to the Audio Book

The truth which is truth for us was the truth for even Shakyamuni Budda. There is no difference.
From 69-03-16. 🔊



While I was talking with some students, I was talking about, you know, my relationship to my wife. [laughs-laughter throughout] I have many complaints about her. But I cannot, you know, I don't think I can live without her. That is, you know you know, what I really feel.
From: 70-06-06.   🔊

JAPAN 1904–1959                                     

Chapter One

There was small river in front of the temple. The many rotten old, you know, vegetables would [come] floating down from upper river [laughs, laughter]. So as soon as he find some vegetable-like thing, you know, not exactly [laughing, laughter]-- to me, you know, that was not exactly vegetables. It might be good for compost [laughs], but not for eat. But my father he cooked it, and so I had to eat it. And he said, “Everything has buddha-nature. [Laughs, laughter.] You should not throw away.” And wherever he goes, you know, he talked about how valuable the food is, you know. You should not throw it-- throw them away.
From 70-05-24. 🔊

Chapter Two

at first we cut a corner of it. It is in the box, like this [laughs, laughter throughout]. And we would cut just a slice of it. And next time a little bit more, until, you know, it is obvious we cut it. So when we realize that anyway he may find out what we did, so we cut and divid it, you know. But when we divide the cake and eat it, he was not so angry. But when he thinks someone ate it by himself, he became very angry.
From 69-03-16. 🔊

Chapter Three

She was rather amazed, you know [laughs]. She didn't know Buddhism is so profound. And she started to become interested in Buddhism. That kind of experience I had with Miss Ransom resulted in my coming to America, I think. She was very tall. She used to put a white, big hat. She was very tall and I was very small. When we go to shopping, I have to almost run. [laughing/laughter]
From 69-11-09. 🔊

Chapter Four

The sound of the bell, you know, is the activity of whole universe, and blowing wind is also activity of whole universe which, you know, covers everything. That we hear our activity of mind is also the activity of whole universe, not only my activity but also activity of whole universe. So one activity include everything.
From 69-09-00-D. 🔊

Chapter Five

Encouraged by trumpet and guns and war cry (WRAAA) [laughs, laughter]. It is quite easy to die. That kind of practice is not our practice. We practice with people, you know, first of all. But goal of practice is to practice with mountain, and with river, and with trees, and with stones-- with everything in the world, in the universe-- and to find ourselves in this big cosmos. And in this big world we should intuitively know which way to go.
From 71-01-10. 🔊

Chapter Six

“Truth,” we say; but truth usually is one-way street. “Go! Anyway, go this ways”-- that is truth, usually. But the truth can be various truths. So if you try to follow some direction only, or if you always depend on a sign, you will not find out your own way to go. So the best thing is to have eyes to read the signs.
From 71-07-17. 🔊

Chapter Seven

You think you are helping, maybe, your wife or your husband only [laughs]. But actually it is not so. You may fail, you know, even though you make best effort to have good family life. You may fail maybe, you know, we don't know. But even though you fail, you know, to help your family, you are helping actually many people around you, you know. “Oh, he is so good,” or “She is so very good wife,” you know. If you give your friends or your neighbor that kind of warm feeling, actually that is how you help people.
From: 71-06-22 🔊

Chapter Eight

Because you have a great pain, because you know human nature well enough, you start Buddhist... like you can go to the doctor to have operation.This is nature of Buddhism. That is why you practice zazen.
From: 71-08-21 🔊

Chapter Nine 

Something beyond accomplishment or success. Successful or unsuccessful is not the point. What kind of accomplish you have is not point. It doesn't matter. But the point is if the quality of practice is good or not-so-good. That is why Buddhism, you know, lasted for so long time.
From: 69-12-02 🔊

AMERICA 1959–1971

Chapter Ten

Even though you expect some answer, you know, my answer will go [in] some [laughs] other direction. Even though my answer is something you didn't expect, you should be able to follow the direction. You shouldn't be lost.

And teacher will always try [laughs] to put you in some confusion [laughs, laughter]. Sometime, you know, your teacher will give you some answer which you expect. But back-and-forth in this way we will-- we will help with each other.

From: 69-09-00-D 🔊

Chapter Eleven

So we should be always equal. If you know better than I, you should teach me. If I know something which you don't know, I should teach you. In this way, we should practice our way.
From: 69-05-18 🔊

Chapter Twelve

Unless you know how to practice zazen, no one can help you. You know, in the heavy you know, rain may wash away the seed, small seed like sesame [laughs] when it has no root [laughs]. We should not be like a sesame without its own roots. Because if you have no roots in your practice, you will be washed away. But if you have really a good root, the heavy rain will help you a lot. So I want you not to lose our good chance to practice our way. Thank you very much. [He doesn't say "in the heavy rain" it sounds like "produce rain"]
From: 70-07-26 🔊

Chapter Thirteen

We must settle ourselves on ourselves, as Katagiri Sensei says. To settle one's self on one's self, you know, that is very important point. How you do it is to be yourself on each moment. Whatever you do, you must do it, you know. You shouldn't expect someone's help. You should protect yourself, and you should grow upright to the sky.
From: 71-06-09 🔊

Chapter Fourteen

And when you have perfect composure in your practice, it means that you include everything. You are not just you. You are whole world or whole cosmos, and you are a buddha.
From: 69-03-30 🔊

Chapter Fifteen

The point of Soto Zen-- Dogen Zenji's zazen is to live on each moment in complete combustion, like a kerosene lamp or like a candle. So how to live in each moment, and how to become one with everything, and attain oneness of the whole universe, is the point of his teaching and his practice.
From: 69-09-00-A 🔊

Chapter Sixteen

Your life, you know, from your age of hippie [laughs], is very different, I think. Time of hippie, you know, different. Very Buddhist-like. That is why you like Buddhism, maybe. But if you become a Buddhist, your life will change more-- more-- you will be super-hippie [laughs, laughter], not usual one.
From: 71-06-09 🔊

Chapter Seventeen

I was in bed for a long time, and just practicing zazen in bed [laughs, laughter throughout]. I should enjoy my bed. Sometime it was difficult. If it is difficult, I laughed at myself. “Why is it so difficult?” “Why don't you enjoy,” you know, “your difficulty?” That is, I think, our practice. Thank you very much.
From: 69-03-30 🔊

Chapter Eighteen

I think, you know, you will miss, you know, the driver, you know. After [laughs] he is no more, you know, you will miss him a lot. And there you have some advantage too. Because you miss him, you will try hard, you know, next time, you know, not to waste your time [laughs]. You know, if he dies, you know [laughs], you must find out another driver, so you will not waste your time and you will not disturb your driver anymore [laughs], saying, “Let's [laughs] stop here,”
From: 71-02-27 🔊

Chapter Nineteen

We don't know how long it takes for us to make, you know, buddha trip. [Laughs.] We have many trips: work trips, you know, various trips-- space trips [laughs]-- various trip we must have. Buddha trip is very, you know, very long trip. That is Buddhism. Thank you very much.
From: 71-08-21 🔊


Thank you very much. [from the end of many, many lectures.]