Blue Cliff Records-6, Ummon's Every Day Is A Good Day
± November, 1962
Ummon Bunen (Yunmen Wenyen) was a disciple of Seppo (Hsueh-feng I-ts'un). He died in 949.
Introductory Comments by Shunryu Suzuki
This transcript is a retyping of the existing City Center transcript based on notes taken during the lecture. It is not verbatim. No tape is available. The City Center transcript was entered onto disk by Bill Redican (11/4/01) .
Checked by Gordon Geist using the Shaw translation Suzuki used- 1999
[Date unknown; thought to be 1962]
File name: 62-11-00: Blue Cliff Records-6, Ummon's Every Day Is A Good Day was 62-00-bcr6. 2-28-2015, added "Introduction to the Main Subject" which was in the original Wind Bell version.
Each existence, animate and inanimate, is changing during every moment day and night. The change is like flowing water which does not ever come back and which reveals its true nature in its eternal travel.
Water flowing and clouds drifting are similar to a well-trained old Zen Master. The true nature of water and clouds is like the determined, single-minded travelling monks, who do not take off their traveling sandals even under the roof of sages. Worldly pleasure, philosophical pursuit, or whimsical ideas do not interest the traveling monk, sincere to his true nature; for he does not want to be fat and idle. Such a monk does not care for hospitality which would stop his travels. He recognizes as true friends only those who travel with him on the way.
Wabi and Sabi
The idea of this kind of travel may make you feel lonely and helpless.
In Japan Zen is understood by the word wabi or sabi. These two words are nouns, but today they are used mostly as adjectives: wabishi or sabishi. One meaning of wabishi and sabishi is lonesome and monotonous. The intellectuals understand these words to mean the simplest and most humble form and style of beauty.
In the strict sense wabi and sabi mean reality which does not belong to any category of subjective or objective, simple or fancy. However, it is this reality which makes subjective and objective observation possible and perfect, and which makes everything (simple or fancy) able to come home to our heart. In the realm of wabi or sabi, even on one drop of dew you will see the whole universe.
Acceptance or Analysis
Contrary to wabi and sabi, usually when some object is put into the range of perception, our first reaction is not acceptance, but rather rationality, repulsion, or emotional disturbance. The way of Western civilization is not directed at acceptance so much as at "how to organize many objects and ideas in the realm of perception or thinking" and "how to control the sense data of the sensual world."
Introduction to the Main Subject
In the world of wabi and sabi there is no attempt, no attainment, no anger, no joy, sorrow, or any waves of mind of this kind whatsoever. Each existence in this world is the fruit of subjective self-training and objective pure and direct understanding. The savor of fruits comes home to our heart, and confirmation of reality takes place. We observe falling flowers at their best. By repeating this kind of direct experience, one may have calm and deep understand of life and deliverance from it, like a traveling monk who has full appreciation of everything and is nonetheless completely detached from it.
Now may I call your attention to the following subject:
Main Subject by Setcho (presented by Shunryu Suzuki)
Attention! Ummon introduced the subject by saying: I do not ask you about fifteen days ago. But what about fifteen days hence? Come, say a word about this. He himself replied for them: Every day is a good day.
Commentary by Shunryu Suzuki
Today does not become yesterday, and Dogen-zenji states that today does not become tomorrow. Each day is its own past and future and has its own absolute value.