Given by Suzuki Roshi on Friday, August 7, 1970
About this talk
This is the second part of 71-08-07 after tape turned over.
Transcript:You may-- you may think, you know, Zen practice is, you know, a kind of training. Yes, it is training, but our training is very different from usual training. Your training, first of all, [is] based on zazen practice. That is one point. And your training should be-- purpose of the training should be how to experience unselfish practice. That is another point. Whether your practice is selfish practice or unselfish practice will be pointed out by your teacher. Your teacher knows whether your practice is, you know, selfish one or right practice. Your teacher can easily tell. And you should not stick to same old question or same old problem. The problem will help your practice when it arise, but if you stick to same old problem [laughs], you know, that-- that will make your practice worse. It is necessary, when you feel you have to stick to same old problem, you should reflect on your practice: whether that practice is selfish practice or unselfish practice. If it is selfish practice, you know, you shouldn't stick to it. You should find out another topic to think about. You should choose right material, you know, to think about. And if you, you know, have to-- or if you are always involved in same old problem, then you should ask someone's help, with humble-- humble-- humbleness of your mind-- that is important-- without thinking whether your understanding is right or wrong. That is another matter. Even though your understanding of the problem or way of solving problem is right, if you have to stick to same old problem, then it is bad enough. Even though you think your way of solving problem is right, but it is not-- it is bad enough for Zen practice. As a Zen student, we must be ashamed of thinking same thing over and over. But you may think if you, you know, come to your teacher, your teacher will help you. Maybe so [laughs], but way he help you will not be same way, same old way. We-- we don't help you same old way. Something positive, something negative: according to the situation he may take many different ways. Sometime he may agree with you; sometime he may not agree with you. If-- he may give you some suggestion how to solve the problem, not by words, but give you some measure [?] or medicine. That medicine sometime may be sweet and sometime may be bitter. But when it is bitter, what you may think: “Oh no, this medicine doesn't work [laughs], not for me. I need some-- I need some sweet medicine-- sweet water, not bitter water like this.” And, you know, when you think in that way-- your feeling, when you feel in that way, that is, you know, how your teacher help you. If you-- if your teacher give you always sweet, you know, answer it doesn't help at all. You will be involved in same old problem again and again. And if you always confront with your actual problem and work on it to improve your practice, then you will have power to help others. Because you treat your problem as your own problem, and to solve your-- solve the problem as your own to feel better. So even though you have good chance to practice, to improve your practice, you cannot. This is very important point: How to, you know, solve-- what kind of attitude-- with-- with what kind of attitude you solve the problem is very important. Actually it is not your problem-- it should not be your problem, although it will give you chance to develop your practice. Maybe-- do you have some question? [Laughs, laughter.] If there is some in your brain? [Laughs, laughter.] Student A: [10-15 sentences unclear.] SR: To me that is good, you know [laughter], because, you know, you-- you-- you are-- you wanted to come here, you [were] eager to come here, and your mind is, maybe, fully devoted to your practice here. So I think that is good. Fear-- fear you say, that is not just fear, you know. You see? There is some-- when you are very-- your mind is very alert, you know. You feel that kind of feeling too. That is how you felt, how you felt, but there-- you may feel some other way, you know. At that time you felt it. Sometime you will feel great joy instead of fear-- some unusual feeling, you know, in your heart [?]. If you really want to do something, you know, you will feel a kind of excited. When your mind is excited something unusual will happen to you, but that is not bad. You-- you-- you shouldn't feel-- you shouldn't have negative understanding about it. Okay. Hai. Oh, no? Question? Hai. Student B: What part does emotion [1-2 words]-- what part does it play in [1-2 words]. SR: Emotion-- emotion. Emotion-- emotional, you know, activity-- or emotion-- emotion will-- if you-- if you refine the emotion it is good, but if you take let-alone policy [laughs] for emotion, it is not so good. It needs some effort [?] to refine or to-- I don't know. Emotion itself, you know, cannot be always acceptable, or they will train it. But that kind of element is necessary. It will, you know, push your practice. For an instance, putting various problems aside, if you practice zazen, you know, still you will have-- emotionally you will be involved in some particular problem even though you are sitting. But in that-- in such case, the emotion you have-- for an instance you have girlfriend, you know, and came to Tassajara and practicing zazen. The emotion you have about her will help your practice, will encourage your practice. And how you feel, maybe, “Since I came here saying-- convincing myself that I have to practice zazen anyway. So I came here. If I don't practice zazen, you know, here, I am fooling-- I am just making excuse for her.” And you will feel very bad if you do not have good practice here. In that way your emotion-- same emotion will-- will result [in] some different effect on you. So to have problem is good. Without problem, it is very difficult to practice. For an instance, here we have not much mosquito, you know. In Japan, while we are sitting, mosquito will bite us. But still we-- we cannot move as long as we are sitting. Mosquito will help our practice a lot [laughs]. It is, of course, disturbance, but because of that disturbance we will have good strong practice [laughs]. That is pain, or a kind of an emotion. You may not like, you know [laughs], that kind of practice, but actually it helps. So it is not emotion which is bad, but you-- because you make it bad, emotion is bad. Because you are spoiled by it, emotion is bad. If you are not spoiled by it, emotion is good. Instead of being helped by-- instead of receiving emotional help, trying to help others with-- instead of helping yourself emotionally, you help others, you know, with same old emotion. But-- emotion is same, but if you-- if it is directed in right direction, it will help our practice. So when our emotion follows buddha-nature it is good, and when our emotion spoil our practice or [are] against our practice it is bad. But emotion is not different. Emotion itself is same. That is how, you know, I feel about emotion, but emotion could be treated various-- many-- various way. As you are an American, you must have some other way of treating your emotion, I think. I don't force-- I don't ask you to follow our way of treating emotion, but there is many ways of treating it. But usually people do not know how to treat our emotion. We always treat our emotion by same old way [laughs]. That is why, you know, we should-- we should say something about emotion practice. Does it make sense? Some other questions? Hai. Student C: Roshi, I [4-8 words] want to make the most of it. SR: It is okay. Student C: What's wrong with me [?]? I don't understand [?]. SR: Yeah, we don't understand-- is okay. Don't try to understand things. It is a kind of small-minded practice. You need something to sit on, you know. Actually that is not necessary. When you are you, that is okay. Before you understand who, you know, you understand things much better. But if you feel you understand things, then you feel better, that's all. And if you don't feel good, you are not so happy, maybe. That is not so good. Whether you feel good or bad, you know, you should be-- you are you, and you should accept yourself. The feeling is just superficial, you know, problem, not real problem. Our understanding is just excuse. Most of the time, that is, you say, “help.” But it is not actual help. If I have-- if I have a book when I give lecture, I feel good [laughs]-- something like that. You see? So it is good to have books. It is good-- just to have some understanding is good, but if you stick to it then you cannot do anything. You will burned-- you will be burned by it. You cannot open your mouth. You cannot do anything. When you do something, you should forget your small understanding, and you should listen to others, again and again forgetting your own viewpoint and your own understanding, and try to understand again and again the situation you are [in]. That is, you know, right practice [?]. So you don't have to have any question when you come to Zen Center. You should expose yourself. Hai! [Laughs.] I am here. Maybe-- is there something wrong [laughs]? That is [4-8 words unclear]. Hai. Student D: [10-12 words unclear.] SR: Literally-- sometime literally. But why you have to observe is, you know-- you-- that is more-- more-- more important than understanding of rules. Or else you cannot-- the rule will be dead. Even though you observe it, sometime you will be-- you are violating it. Rules is not for master [?]-- for the monastery, but for yourself, you know. To help your practice we have rules. Student E: [4-8 sentences.] SR: If you are in individual practice, of course. Student E: How? SR: How? [Laughs.] Because you don't know why. [Laughter, laughs.] Do you understand? [Laughter, laughs.] First you burn [?]. Student E: My problem is, Roshi, sometimes I follow the rules and sometimes I don't, because I wanted to see what would happen [laughter]. SR: Oh. I see. You can, you know-- you can find out what will happen without observing our rules. There are many chances to-- to-- to test yourself. But what you-- you mean is whether I become angry or you will be criticized or something like that or? Maybe-- it may not be so-- some other things, perhaps. Perhaps I know, but that is too much curious-- curious-- curiosity, you know. You are very-- very curious about your practice. Not-- it is not main road, you know. Your practice is not following main street or main freeway. You are kind of making trip by bicycle or something. [Laughter, laughs.] Student E: Maybe more and more if I ride the bicycle [2-3 words]. SR: Then-- then maybe you better try some other place, you know, not main freeway like this [laughing]. Student E: [3 words unclear.] SR: That will be better. Hai. Student F: Why do we bother at all? SR: Huh? Student F: Why do we bother to do it? SR: Bother to do it? [Sighs.] There is many reasons. The reason why-- I cannot give you all the reasons, you know. But it may be better for you-- for your practice, if I am just usual person and usual teacher of zazen [in] some usual way. Like a river or mountain, I exist in that way. That will be better. If I give some reason why mountain is a mountain is like so. Why river runs slow in that way? That is too much, you know. If you come to the river, you can bathe or drink from it. That is maybe better. I-- I-- I don't want to give, you know, I don't want to talk about reason why I am here or something like that. Hai. Student G: Why is it so difficult to get up in the morning? SR: Hmm? Student G: Why is it so difficult to get up in the morning? SR: Because of your, you know [laughs]-- if you get up, you know, very easily it means that you have pretty good practice. Practice I mean-- you-- natural-- you are [2-3 words], and you are very much one with the practice. Without trying to be something good you can do something good. Without trying to be free from various desires you are free from desires. We say if you-- if you can eat anything offered, then already your practice is very good. It's the same thing, you know-- to eat which was given to you, without, you know, discrimination. So if you cannot get up right-- the moment you hear the shinrei bell, it means that it is difficult for you to die. You know, if you-- if you can get up quite easily, you know, it means that when you have time to die you can die quite easily. Big problem and small problem does not [make] much difference. To die is big problem [laughs], people think. To get up at the moment you woke-- wake up is small problem. But it is not so. So to get up is very important practice. So-- so even though you are sleepy, you should get up anyway, you know, [at?] once. And if it is necessary to go back to your bed, then you can go back. But anyway you should-- you should get up. Same thing is true to observe our way. Anything-- you-- you should say YES!-- or if you are Japanese, HAI!-- say to yourself, with very strong, sharp, you know, clear practice. That is correct [?]. If you are able to say so, it means that you have not much attachment to things, you are pretty free from your clinging. Very important practice and very important point. Okay? One more question. Hai. Student H: In the [1 word] it says that how [1 word] is everywhere. I was wondering [2-3 words]? SR: Oyo? [?] Student H: [3-4 words] nyoho. Student H: Yeah. SR: Nyoho. Nyoho is “things-as-it-is.” Is it-- in Japanese-- are you-- nyoho-- do you mean nyoho? Student H: Nyoho, yeah. SR: Yeah. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere-- yeah-- everywhere, everywhere-- it-- when [we say] everywhere it means here and here, here, here-- everywhere. But that one-- one thing shall include everything. It means that. That things, you know-- this is the [1 word] of [4-6 words]. It include various possibilities of the great being. Nyoho. So it is very personal. It is about everything, and it is about a great being which include us. That is everywhere, they say. So nyoho means when you get up you should get up, you know. When you go to bed you should go to bed. That you-- you can get up when you should get up means that you can die when you die. Same thing. So one practice-- if you understand one practice, one activity, if you can do one activity with good spirit, then you can do everything in the same way. If you are good friend of Tassajara student, you will be, wherever you go, in the same way, you will be a good-- good friend of people. That is nyoho. Okay? Anyway, tomorrow morning we will have just one zazen [laughs, laughter]. Five past ten, so one more question please. [Laughter, laughs.] Hai. Student I: Roshi, you were speaking about death. What-- what should the awareness of death be in our karma? SR: Awareness-- it he- -- it will-- it is not possible to experience death, to think about death even. But some time I think you may think about it. Most people have some experience of thinking about their death. Most people has. But that is not actually death. But I don't think it is necessary to have actual picture of death in your mind. But it is pretty big problem-- must be pretty big problem, and we should be ready for death. Why I say so is, if you think about it always it will be a big-- great encouragement for your everyday practice because it is the most big problem for-- for everyone. There is no bigger problem for us, so it is very good practice to be ready for death. Student I: [Question (6-8 words) unclear.] SR: Not thinking. You know, you cannot-- you can think about it, but why you think about it is to-- to have some good feeling about it. That is why you think about it, maybe, you know. The point is emotional problem. It is problem of desire or defining. Thinking mind may accept our death quite easily. What is death? You may explain what is death quite easily, but emotionally [laughs] it is not so easy to think about. After our death is not so easy to accept. To have actual feeling about it is very difficult. So some people say it is like to go another way from this way-- open the door and go on the [2-4 words]. If you go to the next one, that is death. But even, you know, [if] someone explain about death in that way, still you have-- it is big problem for you. So if you accept your food properly, if you get up, you know, when you should get up, then it is not so difficult for you to accept your death. It is really so, and that is only way of helping your practice in its true sense. Thank you very much.