Ekō Lecture 1
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The First Morning Eko
Wednesday, July 8, 1970
[This is the first in a series of six lectures by Suzuki on the four ekos chanted at the conclusion of morning services at San Francisco Zen Center and other Soto Zen temples and monasteries.
The lectures were delivered from July 8 to July 15, 1970. The Japanese transliteration and English translation of the ekos are based, with minor changes, on DC's
“Eko Study Book: A Tassajara Project,” December 1970 (unpublished manuscript, San Francisco Zen Center.]
The First Morning Eko:
Choka butsuden fugin
Line 1. Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite shokan o taretamae.
Line 2. Jorai, Maka Hannyaharamita Shingyo, shosai myo kichijo dharani o fujusu,
Line 3. atsumuru tokoro no shukun wa
Line 4. daion kyoshu honshi Shakamuni Butsu;
Line 5. Shintan Shoso Bodai Daruma Daiosho;
Line 6. Nichi-riki Shoso Eihei Dogen Daiosho;
Line 7. Daisho Monjushiri Bosatsu no tame ni shi tatematsuri.
Line 8. Kami jion ni mukuin koto o.
Morning Service Buddha Hall Sutra
Line 1. May Buddha observe [see?] us, and may we receive his true compassion.
Line 2. Thus, as we chant the Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra and the Dharani for Removing Disasters,
Line 3. we offer the collected merit to
Line 4. the great kind founder, the original teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha;
Line 5. the First Patriarch of China, the great Bodhidharma;
Line 6. the First Patriarch of Japan, the great Eihei Dogen;
Line 7. and the great sage Manjushri Bodhisattva.
Line 8. Let us reflect their compassion and mercy.]
Sources: Contemporaneous transcript and Eko Study Book by DC; transcript entered onto disk by Jose Escobar, 1997; transcript checked and corrected against tape by Bill Redican (11/30/01).
File name: 70-07-08: Ekō Lecture 1 (Verbatim) crk. Changed "to explain echo" to "to explain eko" 3-20-2015, pf. Changed "Marlow" to "Marlow" 12-28-16, dc.
I want to explain eko. The eko is-- after reciting sutra, we-- [it is] a sort of explanation of why we recite sutra. And this sutra is for such-and-such buddha, or next sutra is for arhats, or third one is for our patriarchs, and fourth one is for disciples and students who is related to this monastery and the ancestors or relative who passed away. Those are eko.
The first sutra-- first of all, we recite sutra for-- for Shakyamuni Buddha. And here in Tassajara we recite sutra for Bodhidharma, who is the First Patriarch of China-- and next-- third-- excuse me [first sutra]-- and Bodhidharma and Dogen Zenji, who is the First Patriarch in Japan. So in India, we-- Shakyamuni Buddha; in China, Bodhidharma; and in Japan, Dogen Zenji. The first Prajna Paramita Sutra is recited for those patriarchs and buddhas. But originally, even nowadays in Japan, we recite this sutra-- first sutra for Buddha, and-- and Dogen Zenji, and Keizan Zenji (who is the founder of Sojiji Monastery), and then we, you know, [invoke] Keizan Zenji and many deities who protects, you know, or who is related to Dogen Zenji.
When Dogen Zenji went to China-- as you know, he went to China when he was twenty-four, with Myozen. And he arrived-- after he arriving-- after his arriving at China, he stayed in-- in the ship for three or four months, maybe three months. When he was there [on the ship], he was-- once in a while he landed [went ashore] and visited many temples and came back to the ship. And in this way he spent three months.
During that time, his brother-- dharma brother or he-- who is Eisai Zenji's disciple-- who was Eisai's disciple, Myozen. Myozen did not stay in the ship. He landed [went ashore], and he went to his teacher's temple-- a temple where his teacher studied and received transmission]. So he left Dogen in the ship, and he landed. Dogen, alone, [was] living in the ship and collecting information.
At last-- no, before he landed, a monk, old monk about sixty-one, came-- visited his ship. And Dogen, of course, wanted to know what is going on in China. That monk was from Aikuozan Monastery. And in Aikuozan Monastery there was a shrine where the deity called Shoboshichiro Dai Gongen. And we recite, you know, in Eiheiji, and so many monasteries we recite. We call his name “Shoboshichiro Dai Gen Shiribosatsu.” And that deity which is enshrined [at] Aikuozan, [is] also enshrined in Shobozan. Shobozan means “to invite treasure mountain” [laughs]-- ”inviting treasure mountain.” Shobozan.
It is enshrined in the mountain where people can-- from where people can see Japan and Korea. It may be pretty high mountain. And under [nearby] the mountain there is a big fishing port [laughs]. There various, you know, trading ship come in from Japan and Korea and many places. So we call-- they call that mountain Shobozozan. Shobozan means “to invite treasure-- treasure-- inviting treasure mountain.” So inviting the treasure and many things from other country. So this mountain-- this deity is very-- very closely related to Dogen Zenji's trip to China.
[In Japan] we say in the morning eko, “Shoboshichiro Dai Gen Shiribosatsu. Gatto no shinsai ni shukensu.” Mmm. “Shoboshichiro Dai Gen Shiribosatsu.” But here in America we don't recite, you know, [the name of this deity]. It doesn't mean much to you. So we skip “Shoboshichiro Dai Gen Shiribosatsu,” or we say, “Gatto no shinsai.” “Gatto no shinsai” means the temples in Japan who has long, long history-- there many deities have been enshrined.
So those-- we recite sutra [in Japan] first of all for those deities too. But we don't recite [in America]-- we do not have this kind of [deities]-- here in America we do not have this kind of deity, so we don't-- so we just recite sutra for Shakyamuni Buddha and for Dogen Zenji [and] Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma is the First Patriarch in China; Dogen Zenji is the First Patriarch in Japan. So we recite sutra not only [to] Shakyamuni Buddha but also to those teachers.
[Line 1] Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji,
fushite shokan o taretamae.
Aogi koi negawakuwa means-- aogi is “to,” you know, “to,” you know, “to”-- aogu means “to look”-- what do you say, you know? “To look at” or “to look up,” you know. Altar is higher place, so Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite-- . Aogi koi negawakuwa shinji, fushite shokan o taretamae. Shinji means “mercy.” “I want to receive.” Koi negawakuwa means “we want,” you know. Koi negawakuwa. “I want to receive.” Shokan is “wisdom.” “I want to receive wisdom of the Buddha.”
[Line 2] [Jorai Maka Hannyaharamita Shingyo,
shosai myo kichijo dharani o fujusu.]
We have recite-- jorai means-- jo is, you know-- means-- ahh, very difficult-- jo [laughs]. “Up and down.” “Up” is jo. “Down” is ge. Jorai means “We-- ,” you know, “So far we recited sutra,” you know. “So far we recited-- the sutra we recited so far, maybe, the sutra we recited is four [?] jorai-- jorai-- the sutra Maka-- Maha Prajna Paramita Hridaya Sutra. So far we recited the sutra of Maha Prajna Paramita, and we respectfully-- .” Hmm. “So far we recited sutra Prajna Paramita, and its merit is-- by its merit, we want to repay the mercy of great teacher Shakyamuni Buddha and Joyo Daishi.
[Line 5. Shintan Shoso Bodai Daruma Daiosho,
Line 6. Nichi-iki Shoso Eihei Dogen Daiosho.
Line 7. Daisho Monjushiri Bosatsu no tame ni shi tatematsuri]
Nichi-iki Shoso-- Nichi-iki-- ah-- Shintan Shoso. Shintan-- Shintan means “China.” Shoso means “the First Patriarch.” The First Patriarch in China, Bodhidharma Daiosho. And First Patriarch in Japan, Eihei Dogen Daiosho. Nichi-iki means “Japan.” Shoso means “the First Patriarch.” Eihei Dogen is Dogen's name. The monastery he founded is named “Eiheiji.” So Dogen is called after the monastery he founded. Dogen is called “Eihei Dogen.” Eihei Dogen Daiosho-- no tame ni shi tatematsuri.
And we here [Tassajara], we recite sutra in zendo. And [in] zendo, as you know, we have Manjushri Bodhisattva, you know. So we also recite Prajna Paramita-- Prajna Paramita Sutra is for Manjushri Bodhisattva too.
So we call [recite] four names: the great benevolent teacher, Shakyamuni Buddha; the First Patriarch in China, Bodhidharma Daiosho; the First Patriarch in Japan, Eihei Dogen Daiosho; and the great-- ” Daiosho” means “great sage”-- great sage Manjushri Bodhisattva. And we want to respect or repay the benevolence of those teachers and bodhisattva. That is what eko means-- eko which we-- which doan recite means. Although what we-- we skip many deities which has-- which is related to our history, I think it is necessary for you to know what kind of feeling we have when we recite sutra for the-- those teachers.
Let me continue something which Dogen experienced in his voyage to China. It was not so easy thing to go to China at that time. Three times-- once of three times, you know, a ship-- big ship could go to China, according to the historical events. So it cost a lot of money to go to China by a big ship, and it took more than one month to go to-- from Japan to-- to China. So it is not at all easy thing.
After arriving [in] China, Dogen spent three months in the ship. During [that] time, he was very much discouraged in one way-- to see bad practice of Chinese famous Zen masters [laughs]. I think this is always true [laughs]. If you go to Japan to study Buddhism, you will be also discouraged to see many famous Zen-- famous Zen masters. According-- he described-- Dogen Zenji described in Shobogenzo what kind of experience he had at that time, good and bad.
He also. you know-- he respected-- after he received transmission because of Nyojo Zenji, he respected Chinese priests very much. But before he met with Nyojo Zenji, he was pretty critical with Chinese monks. For an instance, he said Chinese monks did not know even precepts, you know, which is described in Kegon Sutra or many other precepts-- book of precepts-- sutra of precepts. They didn't know [them] at all.
They-- they had long fingernails [laughing] and long hair. Very interesting. And dirty clothing, and he did not-- they did not know even to-- how to rinse their mouth. That is why he wrote Shobo--- in one of the fascicle of Shobogenzo, how to clean up our face and body after-- when you go to rest room or when you get up. And he says, you know, their breathing had strong smell [laughing] from too-- when he talk with some famous teachers [laughter], he-- he could hardly stay with him because his-- their, you know, breath exhale is too bad-- smells too bad [laughs, laughter]. And, you know, even in great China, there is not much good teachers, and he was very much discouraged. And they did not know even what is precepts.
But on the other hand, you know, the monk who visited his ship to buy mushroom, you know. At that time, maybe, Japan-- ships from Japan loaded a lot of mushroom-- Japanese mushroom. So head-- head cook of Ayuwanshan Monastery, you know, visited ship from Japan, and he wanted to buy some mushroom. So Dogen Zenji, you know, seeing a monk who is buying mushroom and addressed him: “Where are you from?”
And he said, “I am a head cook of Ayuwanshan Monastery. Next day-- next day is July 5th, and we will have, you know, noodle-- we must serve noodle for monks. So for-- for noodle [soup] we want mushroom for seasoning.” You know, if you put mushroom in noodle soup it taste very well, as you know. So for special occasion of July 5th, he [the tenzo] came to buy some mushroom to Dogen's ship. After-- but he said, “I cannot talk with you so long because I am very busy. Tomorrow I must-- by tomorrow-- by this evening, I must go back to the temple because tomorrow we have to-- I have to cook for monks.”
But he was over sixty, so Dogen Zenji wondered, you know, in such a great monastery, there must be someone, you know, some young priest who may cook for monks, you know. And so he asked him to stay for one night to tell him something about Chinese monasteries. But he [the tenzo] said, “I am busy. I must go home-- go-- go back to the temple.”
And Dogen asked again, “You are over sixty, you know. You don't have to work so hard. You must rest, and you must read some scriptures, or you must study some koan, or you must study-- you must spend your time in sitting meditation or reading sutra,” he said. “That is more appropriate practice for you,” Dogen said.
That-- but that monk said, “You don't know what is practice [laughs]. You, a venerable priest from Japan, do not know what is practice. And you don't even know what is character to read [laughs]. You don't know any characters! You don't know any Chinese character, even. You cannot read anything. Even though you read it, that's-- that will not help you,” he said. So he [Dogen] was very, you know, startled.
And Dogen asked again, “Then what is characters, you know? If I don't know any characters-- I think I know many characters.” In his mind, you know, he read whole scriptures three times, you know, at that time. It is difficult for usual person to read all the scriptures once, you know, even in his whole life. But at age of twenty-four, he went over three times all the scriptures.
But he [the tenzo] said, you know, “You don't know any character-- Chinese characters even,” [laughs] that monk said to him. And he [Dogen] was very ashamed of himself, and he couldn't say anything.
And that monk said, “If you want to know what is character, you should come to my monastery. Then I will show you what is actual character,” that monk said to Dogen. And later Dogen says, “It is because of that monk that I could understand a little bit about Buddhism-- Zen Buddhism. So not all the-- in China, even though almost all the monks were not so good, but there were several good ones, including this monk, head cook of Ayuwanshan.
The first sutra is for Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha means, you know, as you know, sometime he may be a historical buddha, and sometime he may be a dharma-- dharma body, and sometime he may be you yourself, which is, you know, which has same buddha-nature as Buddha. So when we say “Shakyamuni Buddha,” we mean Shakyamuni Buddha who is one with us, you know, who is one with Shakyamuni Buddha and with one with us. Shakyamuni Buddha is nothing but each one of ourselves. That is Shakyamuni Buddha in its true sense. The first sutra is Prajna Paramita-- is recited to the Shakyamuni Buddha which can be each one of ourselves-- which can be a dharma body, or which can be a historical buddha who was born in two thousand and five hundred some years ago.
[Sentence finished. Tape turned over.]
Do you have some question? Hai.
Questions and Answers
Student A: Why is Manjushri such a special bodhisattva for the zendo?
SR: Bodhi- -- Manjushri is, you know, symbol-- symbolic buddha of wisdom. Wisdom means, you know-- not wisdom in its true-- usual sense. Wisdom means something more than that, which [is] not accumulation of knowledge or wisdom to know something. Wisdom means fundamental truth-- so-called-it ri, you know, ri? Ri/ji. So when we practice zazen, you know, what we will have is Manjushri's wisdom, or Manjushri's true nature. That is why we recite sutra-- we have Manjushri in zendo. So we resume the true nature of Manjushri. We are supposed to resume the true nature of Manjushri. That is why we have Manjushri in our zendo. Hai.
Student B: Why did Dogen Zenji stay on the ship?
SR: Stay on the ship? He wanted to-- he [was acting] carefully, you know. He wanted to know where he should go, you know-- where he should be. Once in a while, of course, he visited, you know, many temples around there, but he came back to the ship. And he was preparing to, you know-- he-- he was writing many letters to the many temples, you know. He did not, you know, he did not just, without any preparation, he did not call [on] any temples. Maybe, yeah, that is the reason. Hai.
Student C [DC]: In the last-- the last line of the sutra, Kami jion ni mukuin koto o?
David: The-- that word mukuin--
David: -- it sort of-- it means “pay back” or “compensation”--
David: -- or something. Could you explain exactly what that means? It seems to be a very important part of that-- the eko.
SR: Yeah. Kami-- kami is, you know, kami jion-- kami means “up.” So, you know, “towards Buddha,” you know. Kami. “To the Buddha.” Kami.
Jion means “Buddha's mercy.” Buddha's mercy means Buddha who left teaching for us, Buddha who transmitted his spirit to us, and Buddha who encouraged-- who is encouraging our practice, who is protecting our practice always, you know. So we say Ho nu no jiwan. Ho nu no jiwan. Ho is “dharma milk,” you know [laughs], the benevolence of dharma milk-- giving dharma milk to--
David: Now-- now--
SR: -- pay back his-- [interrupted by David].
David: -- who gives-- who gives who?
SR: Hmm? We.
Student C: The ones who are chanting--
David: -- are-- are-- are--
SR: By merit of chanting this sutra, or by practice of chanting--
David: -- are--
SR: -- what we want to do is to pay back [laughs] Buddha's, you know, mercy of milk-- dharma milk.
David: -- are-- are we-- are we paying it back by-- by practicing--
David: -- to?
SR: To pay back-- the way to pay back to the [his] mercy is-- to practice hard is only way to pay back his mercy. There is no other way. So practicing-- chanting-- sutra chanting sincerely, we pay back-- in this way, we pay back to the mercy of Buddha. That is what it means. Hai.
Student D: I don't understand how there can be more than one buddha-- how there can be--
SR: More than--
Student D: Bodhidharma was one personality, and-- and Dogen was another personality?
Student D: How can this be?
SR: It can be more, but we picked up [out], you know, just three. It can be numerous-- innumerable, but we pick up Shakyamuni Buddha from India, from China Bodhidharma, from Japan Dogen Zenji. We should call Keizan Zenji's name, but when, you know, because we pick only one [laughing] from China, so in America we picked up only one from Japan, who is the First Patriarch in Japan. Do you understand?
Student D: Um, no--
SR: It is-- it is a kind of representative.
Student D: Do they-- do these men differ-- did they differ in personality?
Student D: And how can that be if they are all buddhas?
SR: [Laughs.] A good question. It must be so, you know. We should not be all, you know, we should not be like all-- all of us shouldn't-- should not be like Shakyamuni Buddha, who was born in India more than two thousand years ago. We cannot be the same. We must-- we-- the-- the-- we say, you know, we are like a candle: big and small candle, red and white candle, you know. And there is big and small candle, but fire is the same, you know. Or the stream is same-- shallow and deep, and flowing fast. And some in-- in mountain-- in the mountain-- in the mountain it will flow fast, in the field it will go slower and maybe deeper, but it is same water.
Unless you don't understand this point, you don't understand Buddhism. Spirit is the same, but how, you know, someone express it-- the spirit is different. It cannot be same. Okay? So should be different, but there is no contradiction. Hai.
Student E: After the eko when we all say [chant] the Ji ho san shi--
Student E: -- eko?
Student E: Could you say something about what it means [?]?
SR: That is-- maybe I have to explain tomorrow. Then. Some other questions? Hai. Hmm? Oh. Hai.
Student F: Roshi, daiosho-- ”great sage”-- means something so big and so far away and so long ago, and this practice that we have here is so small and so new, and our flame-- flame--
Student F: -- of our candle is so small that it's very hard sometimes to believe that when you say “Bodhidharma Daiosho” or Dogen's name in the eko, that they really will come here, that we can feel close to these men.
Student F: I know it must be so, but it's very hard to feel.
SR: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I, you know, I feel for you, you know. It is absolutely necessary, you know, to be related to this kind of, you know, spiritual history, you know. We must make a great effort to get contact with this kind of spiritual, you know, history or effort of great sages. You say you cannot understand. “There is no wonder for us. That I cannot understand,” you may say. But it-- it means that you gave up, you know [laughs], already to understand something which has been going, you know, in our human history.
Student G: If we chant sincerely, will that help us?
SR: Mmm. Yeah. It-- it-- it will, you know, some day. Why I say “some day” is, you know, you will see here in Tassajara many teachers-- many good teachers. Then you will-- through their character they will understand-- you will understand something, not literally, but you will feel something. So, you know, we have to-- we have-- we come to the point where we should make one step forward in our-- in our practice in Zen Center. So far, you know, we somehow get together and started Zen Center practice so that, you know, to establish American Buddhism, you know. So far we have [been] striving for establishing something. But when you say “American Buddhism” or “establish something,” you know, it is something like for your convenience. [You may think] “because this is America, America must have American-- our own way of Buddhism.”
That is very true [laughs]-- very true-- but one point is missing. As-- what is your name? [speaking to Student D]
Student D: [unclear reply]
SR: As someone said, you know, we cannot understand why we pick up-- we, you know, pick up [out] Bodhidharma or Dogen or Buddha. They are three different characters.
Pretty soon you will have [laughs], you know, one more character, you know, in-- from America. They are-- should be different. It-- they are different, but they should be connected with some spiritual relationship. That-- without this kind of effort, you cannot establish American Buddhism in its true sense.
American way-- if you don't like to say “Buddhism”-- American way should be established. And when it is established, it is-- the American way should be closely related to some other country's way too. Your way should not be separated from other country's way. You know, that is-- if you try to establish something special, something different from other country's way, that is, you know, selfish practice. It is not bodhisattva way.
So if you, you know, think about this, you have to understand, you know, Japanese Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, and Indian Buddhism too as a Buddhist. So it is not so easy thing. So we should be concentrated on this point from now on. Hai.
Student H: Roshi, the phrase “dharma transmission”--
Student H: -- what exactly does that mean? What is the dharma transmission?
SR: [Laughs.] If you are ready to listen to me, I will explain it to you. I have it and you haven't [laughing, laughter]. So when I give you, I will explain what it is. But if I-- even though I explain it, if you don't understand, you know, it doesn't make any sense. So more closer relationship between us is important and necessary-- real, you know, human relationship [laughs]. Hai.
DC: If your name were chanted in eko, would it be “Zenshin Shunryu Daiosho,” like Eihei-- Eiheiji Dogen-- Eihei Dogen?
SR: Uh-huh [laughs, laughter].
David: So would-- would we use this-- this place's name [Zenshin] or your personal name?
SR: If my-- my name isn't-- I don't know. I have-- my teacher gave me my name already. Not “Zenshin Shunryu.” [Laughs, laughter.]
David: You mean-- well I thought-- I thought that he was called Eihei Dogen--
David: -- in there because he was-- he founded Eiheiji Temple, not because Eihei was his name.
David: Was Eihei his name?
SR: Eihei, no. Not his name-- his temple's name. He called his temple Eiheiji.
David: Oh-- okay. What-- what should-- how should you be called?
SR: Mmm. That up to you [laughing, laughter continuing]. Whatever you call me, it's okay with me. Anyway, I don't listen to you.
David: You wouldn't be able to-- you wouldn't be able to listen if we were chanting your name in the eko!
[Brief and mostly unclear exchange off-mike. Mike volume drops severely. Last thing S.R. says is “okay.”]
Student G [Alan Marlowe]: The name that one-- I've been trying to figure out-- the name that one's teacher gives one--
Alan: -- when is that name used, as opposed to the-- our-- our name-- Alan Marlowe, or Shunryo [sic] Suzuki. How is-- how is that name used and when is it used-- the name that you're given by your teacher?
SR: After you receive ordination, you know, strictly speaking, you know, we should use his n- [partial word: name]-- his Buddhist name like Sojun, you know. We'll do it, you know. “He is Sojun!” [Laughs.] Uh-huh.
SR: Hai. [Laughs, laughter.] Ohh--
Alan: No, but Roshi you don't use that-- the name that your teacher gave you, do you?
SR: My-- my name is Shunryu.
Alan: Shunryo [sic].
SR: Shunryu. This is the name.
Student I: What does it mean?
Student I: What does it mean-- ”Shunryu”?
SR: Not much. [Laughs, loud laughter.] You make me blushful [blush/bashful].
Student J: Roshi, would you tell me?
SR: You-- you must be a great teacher, you know. Not me. You must use your name, but I'm okay. I am here, anyway, drinking a lot of water. [Laughs, laughter.] My ma- [partial word: master?] teacher died when I was 32 years old. So I was not so lucky, you know, in this point.
So I want to live as much as I can [laughs], you know. I was very weak. I don't think I-- I didn't think I will live more than 50-- 60. But 66 is, so six is extra. Now I become greedy [laughs, laughter], because of you. Ten years more. Give me ten years, all right? I-- I am asking Buddha, you know, give me ten years more. Then you will be, you know, 40-- 50. You will be a good teacher if you try hard.
If you follow Buddhist way, you will [be] sure to be a good person. That is quite-- I am so sure about that. Each student here, you know, improved a lot. That is very true. So if you live-- if you practice our way maybe five more years, you will be a quite different person.
Our way is difficult. Why it is difficult is it is because it is too simple. [Laughs, laughter.] It's like nothing happening at Tassajara [laughing]. All day long, day after day, we are carrying stones and building cabins, and scrubbing floors, eating same food. You know, it looks like nothing happening here. [Laughs, laughter.] But something great is happening here. I am quite sure about that.
Then you will know what is transmission, what is Bodhidharma, or Dogen, or Buddha. You yourself are Buddha. Then you will recite sutra with full joy, you know, to pay back their mercy.
Thank you very much.