Pure Rules

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===== Awakening the Archive - Tape #6, by Shundo David Haye =====

The value of these sets of recordings during sesshins in the summer of 1965 at Sokoji is that not only were the formal dharma talks preserved, but also the chanting services, and various instructions that Suzuki Roshi gave in the zendo during the day. Transcripts of these were not thought to be worth publishing or distributing in the same way as the talks, so the content has been lost over the years. The audio quality of these is far less good; in some cases he was walking around the zendo and is competing with the traffic noise out on Bush Street. The tape operator would have also had to act quickly when Suzuki Roshi started speaking, so in each of the different segments on this tape, the opening words are lost. On a sesshin tape from 1966, the operator (Richard Baker) notes that several instructions were not recorded because "It was too difficult to set up and get it done, and it interrupts what he says. But I've written it down."(https://suzukiroshi.engagewisdom.com/talks/fourth-day-our-sesshina-0)

In this 9:00 am instruction, Suzuki Roshi is explaining the arrangement of the zendo, how each student should manage the space at their own seat, and also the significance of the corner seats. As he explains, according to the traditional zendo layout, as at Eiheiji (the Soto Zen main temple founded by Eihei Dogen, where Suzuki Roshi trained), senior teachers would be sitting in these corners. There are rules and guidelines on how to move, to sit, and to bow; while these can just be used as a tool for continual mindfulness, they have a deeper purpose as well. They are manifestations of the absolute, beyond our ideas of whether things are 'good' or 'bad,' and as such, they are an important component in our practice. The container of practice in the zendo, with its pure rules, is how we can approach the absolute.

"This way may be -- is very difficult to apply in your everyday life, but if you have this attitude in your inmost heart, you can do anything, and you are pure and be free from duality of the world" (@7:40)

The last few minutes of the instruction appear to have been a continuation of the main part. The recorder had been stopped, and the sound quality is different, so perhaps Suzuki Roshi had sat down again. His theme is continuous: on the establishment of rules in the community. He emphasizes the middle way - "If it is too strict, you will pay. And if it is too loose, it will not work." (@16:55). Rules may be developed according to circumstances - as they were in the historical Buddha's time, and also, anecdotally, at Tassajara - but because of their absolute and impersonal, nature, they are an opportunity for us not to get caught in our personal preferences, and thus to enter whole-heartedly into practice.


This tape is from the earliest recorded week of sesshin at Sokoji. The audio has been enhanced to allow for greater clarity.

Tape 3 Summer Sesshin July 1965 - Wednesday July 28 1965 Tape 3 Side 1: Wednesday morning 9:00am Instruction - transcribed; copied June 30 1973; SR001


Transcript from newly digitized audio by SDH, 9/21.
Initially there seemed to be two separate pieces, but since the photographs only list one, they were edited together. The theme is consistent.; #new-audio, #awakening-the-archive


For instance, your seat -- half -- this -- from here to here is your seat. You must -- even though you must be strictly -- here it is. If your sleeve [laughter] -- if your sleeve invades your neighbour's [laughs] domain (?) you will be scolded [laughter]. So, please be careful about where you sit, and it is difficult to manoeuvre (?) your back.

Here is wood, like this. This wood is for prayer, so you should not step on this wood, that part. But this is not wide enough - this goza mat is not wide enough. We have to add six -- five or six inches more like that. So it can't be helped, but we should not step on that wood part -- wooden part. And of course you cannot cross here. When you want to come to this side, you have to go around. And in Eiheiji, when you pass that part, you should bow, but here it may be too difficult, because so many people are here, so there may not be no need to bow there. In front of -- when you pass in front of Buddha, you have to bow at that part. And in monastery there are officers: the temple master will be there - that corner is for -- the seat for the temple master. And there is another - godo, and seido, and tanto - three officers are ??. When you pass three officers' seat, you have to bow, but [SR presumably turns to face seat] this way.

[From another part of the room] Here -- when you pass here, godo seat, (some words unclear) so you have to. And that -- I am here as head monk (?) [laughter] but that is corner is not so we will not bow (?).
And other officers are out of the zendo -- they are sitting out of the zendo. But officers in the zendo are godo, tanto, seido, and temple master. There are four corners, and on each point, in each point, there are officers.

Student (Richard Baker?): Do you bow only when they are sitting there?

Suzuki Roshi: Mmm?

Student: Do you bow only when they are there? Or anytime?

Suzuki Roshi: Anytime.

Student: I mean if Reverend Katagiri is not sitting there, do you...

Suzuki Roshi: No. Even though he is not here, you should bow.

We call it Pure Rules. Pure Rules means it is not dualistic rules; Pure Rules is absolute rules, and there is no -- no rule to -- it is not a matter of to obey or not to obey: you have to just do it; as you practice zazen, you just sit, and that is zazen.

This idea is very important: we deprive -- or we take -- or we take everything -- every discrimination and every function of your mind is not there, when you practice something. That is pure practice. Or else all what you do will be dualistic -- just dualistic. This way may be -- is very difficult to apply in your everyday life, but if you have this attitude in your inmost heart, you can do anything, and you are pure and be free from duality of the world. Because you have no this idea (?), you are not free from dualistic world.
Those are called Pure Rules, not dualistic rules. Just do it, good or bad [laughs], convenient or inconvenient, it is out of the question. So, when we decide some rules, it is important to know whether it is possible to practice it or not. So the rules should be decided little by little, or else we cannot force anything. So the rules will be created by yourselves. But once you decided some rules, you should -- we should obey completely, until we change the rules. The important thing is how to obey your rules. We should obey the rules once when it is decided, without any discrimination - good or bad is out of the question. In this way, you will learn the pure mind.
Though the way to study pure mind is through practice, that is only one way, because our inmost nature wants some medium - without that medium it is impossible to get contact with the pure mind, or even inmost request. Without something, without some means, it is impossible to express your inmost nature. So your everyday life is also the expression of the inmost nature, but our everyday life is too dualistic, so in everyday life it is almost impossible to study what is inmost nature. Only in zendo it is possible to study what is inmost nature. That is why we -- we have zendo. And if you understand -- if you get accustomed to this kind of life, you can apply this way in your everyday life. So that you may not be bothered by duality of the world. It is maybe proving difficult [laughs].
In duality, actually, there is oneness. Oneness will be expressed by duality. Duality and oneness is actually one, but -- in zendo -- in zendo it is one. But in your everyday life, duality and duality is one [laughs]; no oneness exists. In its true sense, duality and duality is one, and one and one is one. This formula is very important [laughs] in our sense - but in usual sense, duality is duality; it means nothing, it is just confusion. Form is emptiness; emptiness is form; form is form; emptiness is emptiness; this formula will be understood in zendo. But in your everyday life, you know, it doesn't make any sense. In everyday life, we will give the interpretation to those four formulas in your worldly state, or dualistic state.

[Tape stops and restarts]

... your own practice in America some day. But when you decide rituals, you have to be very careful. It is -- the rules should be -- should not be too strict. It should be observed quite easily, and it should be strict enough, or loose enough, to have authority. Once you decide a rule, it has absolute [laughs] authority; everyone should obey. So when you decide it, you have to be very careful. There's no exception! [Laughs] If it is too strict, you will pay. And if it is too loose, it will not work.
In this way, I think -- our tradition was built up in this way. And spirit will be followed -- understanding should be followed. But that understanding, I don't mean the mental understanding or logical understanding. There must be some good feeling in observing it. Not even feeling, but the understanding is -- should be pure understanding. That is why our monastic life is difficult to establish. It is not a matter of the building. It is a matter of spirit, and a matter of the person who can be responsible for that.