Eight Characteristics of Suzuki Roshi's Teaching

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Sunday Lecture


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insurance are right
weren't they

a good coughing there

i know at least some of you

is it on s
i know at least some of you were here last week
when i spoke about the suzuki roshi in his teaching and the eight characteristics of suzuki roshi is teaching
so although i am sure that many if you weren't here last week i want to continue today with that discussion
as i said last last time last week
characteristics of sucrose is way our
of course completely arbitrary i just made them up
and i'm sure that many of you
those of you who know suzuki roshi and study with him deeply and those of you who just read his book
also have your own thoughts about the characteristics of suzuki roshi way
and of course it will be no good to take my idea or your own idea too seriously
like any sen teaching my words are only given as encouragement
in order to help you inspire you i hope to find out for yourself
the way to live your life wholeheartedly
and zen practice this is always the point of our words not to be telling you something that you should hold on to but ah simply to encourage you to find out for yourself
you've heard last week to
david chadwick's new biography of suzuki roshi to crooked cucumber
it isn't and crooked cucumber he tells the story of a suzuki roshi and miss ransom
miss ransom was
apparently a very
a headstrong english woman and with a pungent personality
and suzuki roshi was her house boy when he was a student that comas our university
miss ransom like many
english people abroad in that era you know was very certain of the way things should be
of the universe versatile applicability of the english worldview
and she was quite critical and not embarrassed to express her criticism of the japanese way of life and the way of looking at things
we didn't use me as a good rationalist and a liberal christian she considered buddhism to be an odd and picturesque form of asian superstition she thought it was a mild form of insanity some sort
and where the good humored lee pointing it out to the people who would listen
so she had in her house a buddhist statue which she kept she was careful to let everybody know not as a religious objects of any sort of but it was a as a work of art she could appreciate you know culture so she had a buddha statue in our house as a work of art
and she kept it in the token nomo you know the the alcove where you often hanging scroll and she just to sort of make the point that this was nothing special
no object of veneration she would keep her shoes right next to the statue
in this a careless this respect really bothered
the twenty-one or twenty two year old shinrykio suzuki a young zen priest and student of commerce our university who as i said was her house boy
but he knew her well enough to know that to try to speak with her about this and argue with her about why this was bad thing to do
was going to be pretty useless so he never tried to do that
one day he began to make offerings to the buddha in the token normal
he would say nothing about it only everyday a particular time
he would make a cup of tea and offer the cup of tea ceremonially to the buddha and making formal bows sometimes he'd put a flower
next to the buddha
never said a word about it
just every day with devotion he would do this
and of course miss ransom noticed didn't say anything either
but the one day she was finally her disturbance over this got to her and she kind of blew up
as azuki roshi and demanded an explanation why was he doing this and then
shown are you says okay the young man and priest explained them to her very carefully and he had been practicing actually his english and his reading up you know so that he when the time came he would be able to make a good explanation of why
buddhists make offerings to statues and so forth and so on the meaning of the inner meaning of this and so forth and he explained to her
and she actually appreciated his explanation and began for the first time to become interested in buddhism
as a spiritual practice and eventually began practicing herself
and this incident became an important turning point in scenario suzuki life
and he realized through this
incident that
it's not enough to just explain something
but rather it's necessary to do something and to do something with constancy and faith
then maybe if there's a little explanation it might be worth something
so whether there are eight or eighteen or eighteen thousand characteristics of suzuki roshi his way
the important thing is not what we think about but what we do and then as i said at the beginning has always emphasized this strong emphasis on our actual experience
and this is because our mind is so interested in something
all the time and then easily confused by that which is interested in
even the best most correct ideas most excellent and true teachings
can be counterproductive if there is not an actual lived experience behind them
an experienced that isn't everyday experience ripening and deepening with each day in each month and each year
in zen practice we are certainly interested in the mind we're interested in thoughts and ideas
but we try not to be led around by the mind
like a bull in a letter around by its nose
we tried to have a balance between mind and body and heart spirit all working together in alignment
we try not to be too excited too concerned about complicated ideas complicated teachings
actually when our life is whole
all the teachings of make perfect sense easily
when we do that in we try to have our breath or posture
our spirit or attitude and are thought all aligned together into one whole being
so i always have to say this in the beginning as i launch into my just wonderful and description of the eight characteristics of securities way i want to remind myself in all of us not to
get too excited about it
i'll repeat the eight characteristics that i shouldn't have distinguished and suzuki roshi way the first one is
no expectations
the second one is faithful daily practice is enlightenment
the third one is
no sticking to any teaching there's nothing special to do or understand
the fourth one is zazen is the most important thing in our practice zazen being zen meditation is the most important thing in our practice
and us in
is our whole life
the fifth his kindness and toughness or not too different things
the sixth is a close and loving relationship with a teacher
seventh is
wholeheartedness in all activity
in the eighth one is paying close attention to the details of form
for true freedom has found there
last week
i discuss the first three out of these eight and when i'm going to do now is in very brief form
for those of you who weren't here that last week i'm to just a little bit make a few points about each one and then i'm going to go on to talk about the other five
everyone comes to practice with great expectations
we expect i mean we may not be
so clear about this in her own mind but actually we have expectations somehow we expect maybe to get enlightened
we expect to become wiser calmer
or even maybe we just expect to have some relief from are suffering
i think that's azuki roshi appreciated the intensity that our desire for results brings to our practice
but he also saw that it was essentially wrongheaded because this kind of expectation is based on self cherishing we want something for ourselves
rather than based then rather than based on a strong confidence in our buddha nature
when we really appreciate the nature of our lives as buddha then we can have confidence in whatever occurs
and we don't have to worry about improvement for achieving something
in the end rather than expecting something our practice is about letting go of something
and when we let go we can be willing to accept every moment as it is no matter what comes
and that's the way to find happiness not only when things go well but under all conditions and this is the essential thing that we have a way of practicing
that will bring us some measure happiness irrespective of the kind of conditions that arise in our life
so that's the teaching of no expectations the second
point is faithful daily practice is enlightenment
suzuki roshi as i said last time was an ordinary
buddhist priest in a small town he was not an eminent great master coming triumphantly to america you sorted she showed up one day to work and so koji temple and the japanese american community in san francisco
and he did not emphasize brilliance or insight
rather he emphasized practicing every day
in his own life he was an example of that he was a very steady person showed up to the meditation hall everyday lived a pretty quiet temple life did not travel all over the place teaching here and there
and for him enlightenment was not some experience in the future that we would have it was to be found in the midst of this daily temple life
and he saw faith and the practice as its own reward as enlightenment itself this face not in a sense of belief in something outside oneself
but in this sense of a growing powerful confidence in the truth the rightness of our own life of our own widest nature
so that's a second one faithful daily practices enlightenment and the third characteristic of suzuki roshi way is not sticking to any teaching there is nothing special to do or to understand
and i think i quoted last time my my favorite saying of suzuki roshi someone asked him a can you sum up the essence of soto zen
and he said yes not necessarily so
over and over again suzuki roshi made clear that there was no fixed teaching
nothing at all to be identified are defined as the way or the one way
while truth itself may be quite clear
expression of truth
is always changing moment after moment and and really is different for each individual
so to be established in the way is not to become an expert in some kind of ideology
but it is to have an awareness
and a flexibility
and not to stick to anything
although he always pointed out that there are various rules that can be quite specific various ways to practice
these are only
provisional helps not absolute rules
so i'm very brief form
that's what i said last week i told more stories but basically
that was what i said last week and now i'm going to talk about the other five
characteristics of suzuki roshi way
so the next one is a deep matter and zazen is the most important thing in our practice and true zaza is her whole life
suzuki roshi no question you know he really emphasized
zazen practice
in us sitting like this physically sitting on the cushion up straight
and doing this everyday
and all of his disciples who are teaching xin now and there's actually quite a number of them all over the place not hundreds but an anomaly but a number every one of them
emphasizes this point in a very very strong way
this was also an important point for a dog and zingy
dogan has a an essay called zama osama which means sir
king of concentrations
the king of all concentrations and in that essay he says the following
sitting in meditation posture vilifies a forthright body a forthright mind a forthright body mind a forthright buddha ancestor a forthright practice enlightenment a forthright top of the head in a forthright live stream
it's interesting how dog and writer
when you sit in meditation posture the skin flesh bones and marrow of a human being are made a it immediately vivid in the king of concentrations
the world hundred one who is the buddha through the world honored one always set in this meditation posture and all his disciples correctly transmitted it the world honored one taught humans and davis who are gods how to sit in this meditation posture
it is the mind seal correctly transmitted by the seven original buddhists before shakyamuni buddha
shakyamuni buddha sat in this meditation posture under the bodhi tree for fifty small aeons
or sixty great aeons or innumerable unclassifiable yawns
perhaps he said
for three weeks or perhaps only for a few hours in any case the buddhist sitting is the turning of the wondrous wheel of dharma in it is contained his lifetime of guidance nothing is lacking the yellow scrolls and the red rolls of the sutras are all here
in the moment is sitting
buddha sees buddha in all beings attain buddhahood
so in other words it's all about this you gotta sit like this it's very important very full
so but you know this sitting is actually very simple as i always say it's embarrassingly simple one would like to think that you know what had he knows teaching this very complicated very important thing but actually it's really simple any any any baby could sit there like that
and they're doing zazen
there's really nothing to it in a way
just to sit up straight be with your breathing pay attention to your life what can be more simple than that
and yet
as you gathered from handle guns words and from the many expressions of suzuki roshi everything is contained in this one practice
so in a way this is a very odd kind of thing i think maybe you don't think so but to me it seems really odd and sort of counter intuitive right
because we think of truth or religion or spirituality as some very ah
you know deep and mysterious and certainly not limited to some physical thing right like sitting down at a certain way
and yet suzuki roshi seem to be teaching that truth means just to sit down in this way this is truth in this particular way
so over the years i can see that this is a very troublesome kind of teaching when you think about it you know
anybody who can twist their legs up into a pretzel
know and sit still without moving for many hours can be doing then
which seems like a very strange idea indeed don't you think i mean what kind of religion is that you know
somebody who's sick or maybe elderly
or disabled they can't practice this religion
that doesn't sound right you know don't you think said ad
one time suzuki roshi scolded someone who he could detect had a superior attitude because every morning this person woke up very very early to go to the zendo and his wife
life was you know peacefully slumbering as he got up from would get on a bed
hence the person was feeling
you know superior about this in a subtle way
and suzuki roshi told this person if you think
that you're getting up to do zazen and your wife is sleeping in bed and not doing zazen
then you really don't understand zazen
true zazen is not limited to a particular posture or state of mind
a real says in his ultimate reality itself
an ultimate reality is the actual essence of each and every moment of our lives and of everyone's life
to sit faithfully is to realize this point that is what does it is to realize this point so when we sit we know
that we are sitting with all beings
not just i am sitting zazen
and when we get up we know that zazen is continuing
so suzuki roshi is a simple idea of zazen which is like duggan's injuries idea of zazen is very hard to grasp
and probably
it's ungraspable
we have to practice particularly specifically with this actual physical body
with these legs and arms and lungs and heart with our own body not just with our mind that our attitude with our spirit but with our actual body in all its detail
and yet we have to realize that this specific body in its detail
is not just our body
if we really understand the measure of this body we find it is truly the whole universe
so we do have to do zazen
and i don't think there can be much as in practice without zazen
and yet we have to understand that zazen is not actually zaza
zazen is really life
in our practice is not something foreign and strange it's just our life

so my fifth point characteristic of suzuki roshi this way his kindness and toughness or not too different things

suzuki roshi when he was young he and he
i grew up in a temple and was ordained when he was about twelve or thirteen
when away from home at that age to study with his teacher
he underwent some pretty tough training
in his original teacher yakuza and so on and it was a really tough customer
and if we if he were in our midst today
we might almost call him an abusive person and we might wonder whether maybe there's something a little wrong with them maybe he should see a therapist
maybe we would think that
suzuki roshi should go to a therapist to work through his stuff you know
with yogurt and so on and i and i don't know that maybe maybe there's something to them
but suzuki roshi loved so a very very much appreciated his guidance and appreciated his toughness always said you know how much he appreciated the oxygen zones toughness
i remember a number of years ago someone told me
and you know who knows if these things are true but i i believed it someone told me that
that the reason we got green gulch was when we got green gulch you know right around the time suzuki roshi died and we got it because he thought we should have a farm
that would be very important for us to have a farm and why did he think that because he thought that when times got tough
and there was no food food was hard to get
we would be able to feed ourselves in feed others because we had a farm that's why he thought it was important
for us to have a farm and this send me an astonishing idea you know myself an american you know born after world war two
it seemed that almost unimaginable to me that there would be a time
when you couldn't get food
but suzuki roshi knew about hard times times when you couldn't get food
and insane and china in the early formation of xin and in the first few centuries there was a traumatic time
when's then was suppressed monks were thrown out of their monasteries and it happened to be also a time of political unrest in china with famines and uprisings and revolts in warfare
and the zen school actually was founded at a time it's because of the nature of the teaching had survived unlike many other buddhist schools had disappeared during that period
so suzuki roshi
and is in school itself
were formed in the midst of these kinds of difficulties and he knew
that the zen life that are human life
in the long run requires a great strength great endurance
but in this strength in this toughness is the truest kindness
for of strength brings softness and constancy
in real kindness is not just an emotion
our sentiment are feeling
but it requires the ability to see things through
to see clearly and follow through on what you see and this really does require strength so effective kind is real kindness i think requires a kind of strength
most of the people who knew suzuki suzuki roshi loved him because he was very very kind and he did not consider himself to be a strict teacher
but he understood the virtue of strictness
and one felt that there was a very strong backbone in the midst of his kindness
this is that his kindness was not just sweetness or sentimental quality but that there was something very strong behind it
so that's the fifth characteristic in the sixth one is a close and loving relationship with a teacher
it again it almost everyone who came into contact with suzuki roshi was deeply affected by the experience
and i find it so inspiring nowadays to listen to the warmth and the immediacy
with which the people who studied with him years ago speak of him even now twenty eight years after he's passed on people speak of him as though
it was yesterday and i've gone sometimes i go places and so every once in awhile i'll meet somebody far up some place far away
who are the sudden the run up to me and knowing that i'm from zen center and they'll get this kind of look in their eyes and they'll say i met suzuki roshi and i was it's incentive for two weeks you know and nineteen sixty eight or something like that and heard him lecture and i've never forgotten it it's still part of my life it's still something that i wish i could follow through with more so
he was like that he had that effect on people
and he himself had several important teachers in his lifetime in apparently he trusted all of his teachers absolutely and completely
as i said a moment ago his route teacher courage and so on
i think we have to say you know at being are most generous that he was kind of a mean person
and i seem to in many cases when suzuki roshi would be express you know what he wanted
say you absolutely can have zero she actually wanted to come to america in his twenties
the yogurt is so said out of the question
so he gave up the idea entirely
didn't come for another thirty years long after you could just so i had died
but suzuki roshi always accepted
these instructions
and felt that surrender to his teacher was the best way to train
he also felt that despite solans gruff manner as someone loved him very much and actually was concerned for his welfare
so when suzuki roshi his way because of his experience
there is a strong emphasis on the teacher student relationship
as essentially
a mysterious and near the same time warm necessity
and without this relationship the alchemy of transformation cannot occur
because the teaching takes place not so much in words but in so much more subtle imprinting and almost physical communication that occurs in the midst of living daily life together
a zen teacher is not a guru he or she is an ordinary person to be grappled with as we have to grapple with everyone in our lives
and he or she will definitely have the various rough edges according to karma
and yet at the same time the relationship to our teacher is not the same as other human relationships such a relationship is our opportunity to develop deep faith and trust in the dharma that's the point of the relationship
and we trust our teacher not as a person exactly
but as the dharma itself
and the minimum requirement
a for a teacher is that he or she
throws their life into the buddhist house
and when we make that kind of effort to throw our life into the buddhist house than we meet each other in the buddhist house not in our own house
so we might have all sorts of personal problems with our teacher or not
but if the teacher is true
and if our effort is strong these personal problems actually don't matter that much
we ourselves find trust in our own buddha nature through the relationship to a teacher
and when we trust him or her unconditionally
not as a personality
but as the buddha in other words as self or truest deepest self
then our zen work is completed which means it really begins
and we will always be grateful to our teacher even if
as in the case of suzuki roshi and so on there doesn't seem to be much overt affection in the relationship
of course you'll understand that with all these eight points we could give eighteen hundred lectures on each point right and not exhaust the point so excuse me if i buy think so little and misleading
ignore that which seems wrong to you and just if something seems useful please use it
the seventh point a wholeheartedness in all activity
oddly suzuki roshi seem to speak somewhat frequently about the nature of time
that time is not an unfolding of things in a linear or a cumulative way
but rather the purest sense of time is the depth and the completion that occurs on each moment
so to practice in time most truly therefore means that we will give ourselves completely in every activity no matter what it is
and he often use the word again quite oddly the word sincerity
sincerity to refer to this
completely doing one thing with our whole body and mind no matter what are feeling about it may be
zazen is the center of our practice but zazen is really just being ourself
and being ourself is being present throughout the whole universe on each moment of our lives
this is why we understand that everything that happens everything that happens every activity we engage in from those that seem important to those that seem trivial
is decisive
and complete
when we approach the world with our ordinary ego inspired mind which projects a cumulative linear sense of time then we have a lot of evaluations about our activity this activity is good one this is bad this is important this is not important this is interesting that is not interesting so
so on
and these evaluations
actually absorb our attention
and make it very hard for us to be present with our activity
anyone we are present because it's something we like and we think is important even when were present with our activity there's some quality of attachment and that quality of attachment is like putting on a pair of blinders you know like a horse whereas you only see part of the world half of the world is not in view
but when we tried to pay attention to our preferences without validating them
but just being aware of them
we see that all our activity is a field of profundity and that any gesture any activity can bring up the whole of reality
and this is one with reason why the main reason why we stress in our practice work instead of studying profound texts we clean toilets and sweep floors and plant seeds and fixed machines
because we understand work as zazen itself
or we could say i work as a form of worship or form of devotion or a form of making offering
and our favorite work and as we inherited from japan is cleaning every day you know in the schedule and as and schedule there's a period of cleaning that everybody runs around and cleans everything
and suzuki roshi used to do cleaning practice lot and his whole life especially when he was young and one of my favorite stories about him as the time that he told many times when he visited the cambridge buddhist association maybe you've heard this story and he made a mistake and he showed up several hours early and when he came he got there
everybody was running around clean the windows and clean everything up for this you know important zen master was about to come and he shows up in the middle of this activity and he said oh and zen masters coming we'd better clean up so he took off his robe and was the as camano he's cleaning along with everybody else preparing for the famous wonderful zen master who was about to come

and for me personally cleaning practice has been very important in my life mostly because it was something that i totally ignored and that was beneath my attention
but i learned from my practice that a
when i swept the floor
i was actually sweeping my own mind
and and the whole world
and i know now that if i could put one corner of my room in order
and with attention
then whole world systems above below in all around come into order
the nowadays
at zen center and some of the old timers grumble about this but nowadays we actually honor people's preferences
and we understand that sometimes it may be difficult for someone to do something and maybe
they should do something else because they really don't want to do something so it's okay know do something else
and believe it or not these days at zen center people are sometimes asked to do a job and they refused to do it
and we say okay we understand your reasons we honor that so you don't have to do
and i think that it's good that we practice in this way i think this is compassionate way
in it's proper i think it makes sense that we would practice in that way
but it would be too bad if we forget that in the end
what we're trying to do is to become liberated from our preference maybe we're not ready for that now you see them mean maybe now we actually would do violence to us to override our strong sense of preference that's okay there's no shame or trouble in now but let's not forget what we're trying to
that we're trying to be whole hearted and whatever we do accept whatever were given and completely taken on this is our ideal this is our goal this is our aspiration and direction and definitely this is the way suzuki roshi taught us to practice
so no i'm down to the last one is one it's nice to have these little thing one two three four you know then you know what you're going to say next right
the buddha had that you know buddhist teaching yeah i said before this isn't the age that's
so anyway the eighth one is careful attention to form as freedom
suzuki roshi was at pains to teach his thinking individualistic lee inclined
american students in the sixties
that being free to choose and to express yourself
it's actually not what it seems to be
in fact true for f to true freedom is not found in the exercise of our
preferential expression
true freedom is actually found in the spaciousness
of our lives
in full self expression is found in whatever form appears
one time he said that when everybody whereas the clothes that they like
and so shows up with their own particular body language
he had a hard time seeing people's individuality
but when everyone puts on black robes
and sits in a row on their cushion and exactly the same way then it becomes very clear the way that each person is absolutely unique
i know that this sounds like paradoxical zen speak
but i have found myself that at that actually is literally true
by letting go of preference which when you think about it is is not as not our individuality is just habit and conditioning
by going beyond preference
to are a real
deeper individuality
we find our own particular spin on buddha nature
it was with this spirit that suzuki hero stressed the importance of form
i've had a bow had a walk and stand with the proper decorum and the zendo how to follow all the temple forms how to strike the bell how to do all the details of or okay eating
he always taught this not because it was the absolute way of doing things the best way of doing things the zen way of doing things but because formal practice is a way for us to find a big openness inside
a truer kind of freedom than our conditioning would ever be able to produce
i know that a lot of people find zen practice too regimented too stiff to formal
and i i i certainly looks that way from the outside
but actually when the body can be guided with form these forms and and completely merged with them
so that you forget forms
there can be a soaring spirit
a real freedom
and a real beauty because the forms once you harmonize with them are beautiful and so many the she informs japanese art that we love so so much tea ceremony flower arranging and so on come out of this spirit of form of the zen hall
so it's not that formal practice is the best way to live or even the zen way to live it's just arbitrary
but i don't know anything more effective in helping us to let go of are deeply conditioned nature which is after all ultimately the force that binds us to are suffering
so formal practice works at the level of the body and its most unconscious aspect
it ultimately if we don't touch ourselves at that level
the unconscious level of the body
i think it we very hard
to find our buddha nature and to bring it to the forefront of our lives every moment
so this is what suzuki roshi was trying to tell people at a time in america when wild personal expression of all it's was the thing to do
so i'm sure that he learned a lot about patients
in those days
and he was patient with all the hippies and other kinds of people who had come into the zendo with their own ideas of how you supposed to dress and i supposed to behave thinking that xin was beyond you know forms
but he was very patient and he seemed to be amused
by what he saw
he was not a narrow minded person so i think he got a kick out of the colorful variety of what he saw
and yet he also knew
that right in the middle of this so-called freedom
was lots of confusion lots of suffering
and he knew that the only way to
i help them see that was too
help them with the forms of the practice and let that work on people slowly and steadily so that's what he would do not say much you know just gently quietly correcting
not complaining are getting mad at anybody a little by little people did take to it
so that's my a characteristics of as suzuki roshi way and and i know again like last week i see when you say can you have to talk about all eight of them and it takes a long time you know so i apologize i thought about you know if i said that there were six characteristics this week when they remember
you know that they were eight i thought about that
but then i rejected that idea
so anyway even though i've gone on a bit longer than i should i don't want to live without a or you another section from suzuki roshi is talks as i did last week
my whole talk as a footnote to this
so here's a little talk by suzuki roshi given in the city center in june six the nineteen seventy one
if you live in each moment
you do not expect anything
with everything you become yourself
to feel yourself without any idea of time even in the smallest particle of time that is awesome
if you are involved in an idea of time various desires will start to behave mischievously
but when you have no idea of time your practice will go on and on
this practice is not so easy
you may not be able to continue it for even one period of zazen
if you want to continue it you must make a big effort maybe though you can practice extending this feeling moment after moment then this practice eventually will be extended to your everyday life
how you extend the practice is to expose yourself as you are without trying to be someone else
you should be very honest with yourself and express yourself fully
you should be brave enough to do this whatever people may say it's all right just be yourself at least for your teacher
when your teacher says okay you should continue your practice in this way
you should try hard
and when your teacher says okay now you should continue that practice forever you don't need me anymore
that is actual practice
the actual life of you
this is rather difficult unless you trust your teacher
but if you find out that your teachers spirit is the same as your spirit
then you will be brave enough to continue this kind of practice
sometimes you have to argue with your teacher sometimes
that is okay
you should do that
but you should be ready to give up your argument when you are wrong when you find yourself foolishly sticking to only one viewpoint or when you are making some excuse
then you should give up i surrender okay i'm sorry
if you cannot accept what your teacher said you should try to understand until you can accept it
you and your teacher are trying to have perfect communication
so for a teacher the important point is always to be ready to surrender to the disciple
when a teacher thinks he is wrong you should say are you alright i was wrong
if you teach her as that kind of spirit you should too even when it is not so easy
if you continue this kind of practice some people may think
he is crazy something is wrong with him
but it doesn't matter
we are not the same each one of us is different from the other and each one has unique problems that's okay you should be yourself unfortunately you have sanga sanga is not an umbrella and thus yeah saga is not an umbrella to provide shade which will protect you but it is a place
where you can have real practice you can express yourself fully and you should open your eyes to appreciate others practice and be able to communicate with others without words to appreciate them and to know them well that is why we have rules or rituals you may feel that no one knows your zazen practice
but for me it is the best chance to understand you especially if i see you from behind is very easy to understand what kind of practice you have that's why i walk around the zendo
not to hit you but to see you
this is very interesting
if you are dancing or talking are making a big noise it is rather difficult to understand you
but when we are sitting together each one sits in their own way
i'm gonna skip a little bit
usually our society
is built up in some superficial frivolous way which is always changing
the controlling power is money or some big noise
this is because our eyes and ears are not open subtly enough to see subtle things
and are feeling is dull
most people who visit since and or feel it is a strange place
they do not talk so much
they did not even laugh what are they doing
we laugh a little more now but probably still the same
but without talking so much we can communicate we may not always be smiling but we feel what others are feeling our mind is always open and we are behaving exactly expressing ourselves fully
actually even when you are not trying to express yourself you are expressing yourself anyway if your mind is open you can see you can feel those who are accustomed to big noises cannot see anything here because we do not make a big noise
we should extend this kind of practice to city life
we can be good friends with everyone
this is not difficult when you decide to be honest with yourself and to express yourself fully without expecting anything just to be yourself and to be ready to understand others
is how to extend your practice to everyday life just to be yourself and to be ready to understand others is how to extend your practice
to everyday life
so i appreciate are having the chance to think about these things together with you and give this couple of talks about sookie roche's way
and let's see in may or early may
david chadwick will come and give the sunday talk and present his book and i would encourage all of you to come may eighth i believe is the date said like that a second a second
and then in july on july eighteenth also on a sunday morning lecture we will have a it's been very nice in the last year or so some of the original disciples of suzuki roshi have been gathering together to meet and reacquaint themselves with each other from far and wide
and they're gonna come on july eighteenth to give a presentation i don't quite know what they'll do but though are the tell stories and but suzuki roshi and so on and and it will be a benefit for the suzuki roshi archive as i mentioned last time thanks to the efforts of david chadwick we now are seeing the nisar
city of
making a proper archive to preserve tapes and transcripts and so on of suzuki roshi talks and somehow discuss exactly one hundred and eight thousand dollars
not a penny less not a penny more
mrs so much we're trying to raise so if any of you feel moved to help us with that please do that come anyway on july eighteenth it will be a historic occasion wonderful occasion to hear these people are speaking about the teacher that they knew and loved so well
if there's no new business
a meeting is adjourned thank you very much
the or intention
nice intimate group and feel like we should make a campfire and then
cinderella get some marshmallows

so does anybody have anything they want to bring up i'm sure that as we talk a few more people will be coming in but in one as well start

was it you who when asked the question and answer about that last week somebody somebody asked less than the question and answer her




well see

ah i guess a conventionally it we think that someone who's appears strict and tough
his strict and tough inside the head that has a hard heart you know or isn't in touch with their heart we would think i'm going to somebody who's that way is not a very tender person you know
and conversely we would think that somebody who's very loving and very sweet a very kind
is that way on the inside also
so we we have a fairly
linear simple minded idea but you know inside and outside you people show their outer
to show our leader inner characteristic
but ah
ah sometimes that's not the case and think that in xin ah training there certainly are
zen teachers and 's in places where it's harsh outside and harsh inside you know
but ah i think suzuki roshi was saw that
we all need some strictness but that when the strictness comes from loving kindness and that's the reason for the strictness
the strictness can be helpful and non-harmful
with kindness this should be some strength not just sentiment and with strength there should be some
loving kind is not just being a tough guy
and i think that what's behind that is an appreciation of impermanence
you see someone suffering
your heart goes out to them
knows that in the middle of impermanence there's always suffering and suffering
can't be eliminated or wiped out in somewhere so mixed in with your solicitor business
is a deep acceptance that this is how it is
so there's a you know that's an example where you might have kindness and compassion and at the same time a toughness knowing that you know just how this and this can't be prevented
so in a way you might say that what stands behind this teaching of toughness and kindness are not too different things is is the teaching of emptiness and impermanence the knowledge that
rob somebody that you know how to use them
yeah slides
maybe maybe leave it open for the moment because many people are coming
so so
so when you appreciate impermanence and emptiness there's always a tough side right in the sense that you know you know that this is how it is
can't be prevented can't be helped
sometimes when we're kind there's a feeling of oh if only this hadn't happened you know if only i could take away your suffering but not when there's a real toughness you know one has a tender heart for the suffer but knows this can't be taken away
there's no such thing as this shouldn't have happened this is you know and that's the way it is
so something like that
and i think that then the question is how do you appear on the outside
the appear tough appear tenderhearted well i think that in then you know there's a lot of discussion about this point and basically the what it says it is that when toughness is needed appear as the tough guy when tenderness is needed appear as a tender person
and know the difference no have the skill to know in a when which one is needed
but for a person who can really see
you can see the tenderness in the toughness if you're looking if you actually are your eyes open to see it and vice versa you can see the toughness and the tenderness of you're able if your eyes are open
i think that the problem that we face just practical problem in western then is that
for too many people the toughness the tenderness within the toughness is not visible
because of past experiences or wounding or something like that so actually i think our style of teacher has to be a lot more
the they call this is in the grasping way in the granting way the granting way as the kind kindly way on the outside looks like and the grasping way is a tough way on the outside it looks like although inside it's exactly the same
japanese buddhism the buddhism that suzuki roshi experienced as a young man was first of all completely masculine basically no women underwent that trainee more or less
number one and number two it was you know that came from a background of recently
evolved samurai culture in a whole
combination of factors within japanese culture that made that kind of toughness understandable and useful to the japanese mind at least to some extent
that same thing appears to us as mean this abusive this so and software that many people who practice in fact i've had those things happen to them in their lives
with all this while we know now about you know alcoholism and all this so many people have in their background so therefore it appears as if
that approach to practice although
it's beneficial in many ways it may not be skillful at this point for many many people and since our zen centres are open centers in which people are coming who we don't know who they are what you're going to meet it's it's like people come and go all the time here so we have to have a style of teaching that will be
hopefully not watered down but at the same time the most beneficial for the most people
so are my own feeling is that a
from experience you know is that it's just not skillful for us to have too much of an external
appearance of toughness because it won't work for most people
and yet in the intimacy of teacher student relationship when there's a certain trust built up and when there's a relationship that's ongoing and we really get to know each other then i think there's a place for that and toughness doesn't have to take the
appearance of you know
beating somebody up because of course they they did use corporal punishment in zen absolutely and suzuki roshi day and certainly the centuries before that they had corporal punishment obviously that's not something that we're gonna have doesn't have to be corporal punishment but some firmness are some saying no at the right time
where are you know just where somebody up to their suffering may be skillful and may be possible in the mist in the in the context of a relationship that's warm and has an on-going quality to it
so as a ted's a tender matter as a we're still working on it
oh hitting them with a stick your character you know
i means nothing more dire than think but i mean of course we know about the stick in the in meditation hall hitting with a stick which isn't really
painful in or not supposed to be sometimes it make a mistake or something but that is used we don't want we actually don't use it here we have not used the stick here at green goals for some time they use it a little bit once in awhile in the city centre
and i don't think they use it at tassajara most most that we don't use the stick but other centers in the west to use a stick
and that's not considered corporal punishment you know that's like relieving tension in the back but in the dog's owner of the teacher would have a stick and sometimes you know they would know wacky wednesday a group seriously hit you with a stick in response to some you ask a question that was stupid or something or you know the hard headed and that you might get whacked with the stick
yes yes yeah but in reality that doesn't happen too often you know you're not supposed to do that you don't hit the boss you know
so basically otherwise you know you've got all these young monks and these elderly zen masters you know elderly zen minister has to be free to beat up on the young monks without feeling that he's going to get beat up you know so if the young monk beats up on the order nurse with they probably get kicked out of the monastery
and their stories where that happened where they in old days they'd beat each other up and they were kicked out for that you know
that was part of your training now you're missing someone well that i was never beat up by any my teachers but we had to stick in here q circle here i well i do and i don't i do miss it
it was i thought i was that was kind of neat you know and i used to carry it and i used to receive it and it was kind of nice to have someone walking up and down you know and hear the sounds and is thicker to me it was always encouraging but i realized that to a lot of people is not encouraging it's like terrify you know
and the thing is that somehow even though it was fun and i miss it
it also created a kind of atmosphere and the zendo that probably is less good than the atmosphere we have now and my impression is that there's a the one of the point of the stick is to wake people up and literally they're they're sleeping you can sleep in meditation new tires early in the morning you retired to fall asleep so because by with a stick
actually wakes you up and in the days when we carry the stick
there was a lot of people sleeping so they needed to get woken up and now that we don't care this stick there's far less sleeping
so i you know somebody asked me to explain why is that i'm not sure why that is but it seems as if there's some kind of cause a relationship there that somehow the existence of the stick seem to inspire people to sleep more you know somehow i don't know how or why but yeah so in other words now people are are sitting and it's their responsibilities
stay awake not somebody else's to wake them up so somehow they feel okay i'll stay awake i don't know but it has been so i actually feel like this better the stick is supposed to foster more intensity and more concentration and i actually think the intensity and concentration seems to be better without it so in that sense you know i'm not tempted to
to reinstate it although i thought it was neat it was seen all these little things that we do in practice or
every time you learn how to strike the bell or learn how to do or aoki meal or learn how to serve in the oh they're all these little details which seem like a why's that important in a way it's not important but every time you'll learn how to do one of those things some aspect of your practice is opened somehow so i remember you know like when i first learned how to carry the stick it was like
clowns great kind of a great thing and new a new avenue for practice so we don't have that avenue anymore people don't learn how to carry the stick it takes a while to learn how to do it you know learn how to hit properly and all this so it a way that's too bad but i think on the whole i wouldn't reinstated and when i teach elsewhere
this that i go visit and i don't ask them to get a stick i'm happy we don't need to stick in a
i think i think arsene has to be different probably that baby the number one factor is that i mean you know japanese zen is basically young man eighteen to thirty years old and that's why they run up and down cleaning into all this stuff well you know because young men and eighteen to thirty years old who were
if you know short can bend over and run down the room with a cloth
in reality our students are men and women just about equally in equal proportions and they're from eighteen to seventy five years old
so to create a kind of a tough guy samurai atmosphere
seems faintly ridiculous to me at this point in time
i mean sometimes i go to a place like that and seems like silly you know arena
we're just trying to practice here you know and live our life you know do we really need to grow like a lion and hub up and down like a rabbit yes
well i think there were to me it seems like what we're doing is a middle way in other words we we don't say said however you like and if you feel like leaving in the middle of zazen and you can leave we say no no set the mood you know try your best not to move so our practice is relatively strict and you know we have sessions you know we sit from
five in the morning until nine at night and you know still moves that their eat all your meals said there don't move after the lights go out and nine o'clock comeback since the more we we we saw you know people people practice hard it's just that the spirit and the attitude doesn't have to be
no nasty or to are harsh you know so i i consider that the way we practice now it's pretty much the middle way between you know take it easy relax don't worry and beat you have yet
yes yes but that's where i know you from a bone
the i realized that you know as the signet ring a boner yeah
no i
right right
about me
yeah yeah and we we did come to here we used to have
for a long time we follow the rule of is someone sleeping you hit them and also you can request it and then we we went to what you what you say what were the only people who would be hit or those who requested it we were that way for many years so yeah so anyway
i think i have question
time in terms of yeah

i want you to i'd like you talk about issue
i think i understand and experience that moment when you have internally experienced it
there is no
all time low
pretty much every day
all resistances function of the conscious
then it occurred to me often it's not just about conscious
where's are hard wired
dr to me
he hints some some brain stem sense of time
oh which makes it
can you talk about now
i think in
i guess in that today and the little excerpt i read from this is a garage should talk he talked about time and they are to deny
he's a desire was created by
yeah bye bye bye thinking of time as any said any thought of time would create desire yeah right
so in that talk and and what i was saying also i was emphasizing and suzuki roshi was emphasizing you could say the absolute dimension of time which is everything is right here there is no time
but as you as you're pointing out
a human beings have a very natural and probably inescapable view of time as linear and cumulative
and that is something that it won't be destroyed or disappear as result of our practice but the reason why suzuki roshi was emphasized the absolute side of time is because that's the part we don't know about what we need to do with know about both of them you so we need to know that each moment of our lives service is the intersection
of those two ways a beer and we have to see
those two ways of being are on each moment present and when we
so when we practice with conventional time or linear time we have to be aware that the absolute side is also there and when we practiced with the absolute that we have to be aware that the that the relative sizes is there if we lose sight of either one of them than will have trouble because we can't really live in absolute time and ignore relative time
and because that's the conventional world
when we're sitting on our cushion there is no relative time perhaps but as soon as we get up we have to be able to grapple with the relative world and so what we lack is a balance we are so completely overcome with the relative that we have no appreciation of the absolute in some practices to help us see that side as well then events
really we have to put them together so in in this talk that was not emphasize but if you study texts like a merging of difference in unity it's all about this and and you know the next book of suzuki roshi that will be coming out is actually a series of lectures on that text whereas the difference in unity where it talks about relationship between
the absolute in the relative
nina and you are you looking for something unique something
bed when herzog here




well this is a sort of acupuncture point issue in our lives in an hour practice is how to understand preference and work with it
there's a famous
zen poem which then became the subject of a number of cons that begins the true way is without difficulty just avoid picking and choosing
and there was nothing to it all you have to do is not have any preferences and then every moment is forever everything that comes is perfect and there's no desire for anything beyond what we receive right now
so that's so the absolute respective
and we are trying to appreciate that side of our lives
when you study that
verse as a call on one of the aspects of it is the recognition that because as you say of the relative nature of human being
a preference arises all the time
and you can't really avoid it and the denial of preference the repression of preference is not to say it going beyond preference just repression so of course you can be a good boy or girl and you know i'm a good monk i have no preferences but inside you have all these preferences and you're constantly you stop pushing them you know know to don't think they'll feel that
so that doesn't work out that will actually you might as well be running around exercising all your preferences as in a journey and down so what's the middle way there in the middle way is to recognize that preferences arise according to our conditioning
the able to observe and hold the preferences without being compelled without being not being under the compulsion and sometimes the obsession of preferences so that means aware it's appropriate and harmless to ourselves and others to exercise our preference we do
where it becomes where it where it becomes an increase in our attachment in and in are suffering we let it go if possible so we work with the ideas that we it's an issue that we're aware of i think that that it is it really is true i mean let's face it you know our economy depends absolutely depends on people exercising their preferences in it
increasingly minute areas of life what brand of this and that and you have to have several of them in different brands so on and so this would have no economy of people were not so we get a lot of information a lot of encouragement to exercise our preferences because why because well
that's who you are i'm a mac user
so i am different from a pc user
and that's back everybody knows max are better
say and then i wear this and that and this is where i eat my meal and this is what kind of car i died so on and so on and so on and so on and then there's a whole unbelievable industry of information beaming trying to distinguish will tell you why it is that the mac is better and so forth and so on look at this great ad campaign of all these people to dalai lama
as even tell you max or better right
so what has to recognize that this is the menu in which we live this is actually what's going on and and
i would say that
i don't think it's their successful
personally i mean the economy is going good and so you know if that's the measure of our success as a species that the economy is going good we're doing great right but if the measure of our success is how will we take care the planet how will we take care of each other how beautiful our lives are how com r minded
is cetera et cetera to me we're not doing that grid in this whole business of
exercise this is what you know now in the world at large you got me started so i know no rather my
no in the world at large we understand that freedom equals a free market economy and a free market economy equals the proliferation an absolute celebration of preferences which are not necessarily created out of our own souls but or korea
aided by marketing departments
this is what we this is the highest value
in conventional culture
to me this proliferation of preference and exercise of preference is suffering because i'm going to indefinitely come up against many moments in my life when my preferences will not be realized things that i want i will not
get things that i don't want are going to come to me bad things will happen things you know so forth this is going to the for sure this we know is definite and so when that happens if i don't know how to work with my preferences and i don't know how to contextualize my preference in a wider context of my what my life is all about then i'm just gonna suffer
and so i think what what we all do is we pile up more stuff as a buffer
against the inevitability of the loss of our preference and of our biggest preference of course the biggest preference of all is i want to live i don't want to die right well forget about it there's no way that you're going to that that preference which is the one preference that really matters to us that preference will not be fulfilled
and what then what you know so we built are piling up more and more stuff to buffer ourselves against the inevitability of the failure of our preferences and and it just doesn't work out
and we and we hurt each other and we have confused lives as a result of that so we have to work with preference and freedom to me is having a life that simple enough so that we can have enough spaciousness around our preference to see or i'd prefer that but it's okay i can let it go and you know it's noticed is not a when you let your preferences go you
may think oh this is such a deprivation my god and are like these presented people that get up so early and they don't get to go the movies all the time and this and that but actually the truth no matter is that it's not at all hard to give a preferences
many many times
you know to be quiet and simple is actually more pleasant i think personally than it is to surround myself with a number of different things that only confuse me sometimes so
you know i think that there's a there's a great joy actually in living a life in which you can accept what comes and whatever comes i can work with that oh this is wonderful this is wonderful you so you know who we still have our preferences and we find that when our preferences are really strong and we come up against our preference and we suffer lot we say
to ourselves or that's something i need to work on there's there's an issue there's an there's something in my life that i really need to turn to because the strength of my preference here and the strength of my suffering but when that preference wasn't real shows me that this is a sticking point so we begin to study our preferences and are added and our relationship through our preferences as a way
a of study our attachments and are suffering and little by little as we clarify that we have a happier life
you know know but nobody is a zombie you know the zen people are not zombies like they don't care now all i know your what kind of ice cube to okay i don't care any kinds okay mean you might say that but actually you like chocolate you know maybe because it's your karma to like chocolate or maybe you don't like ice cream than you so i don't like ice-cream no thank you you know so if people
i have preferences people you like people you don't like so much but everybody your family to you see that's the idea i scream you like ice cream you know like but you read it if it's given then you enjoy it see so anyway it's a big area of study how do we work with our profits how do we hold our preferences so that
we first of all we find out what are our real preferences not just what the ad companies tell us what our real preferences and then how can we will be free within our karmic preferences rather than being pushed around by them so anyway this is all lot of talk doesn't mean a thing at all and less
you yourself study you in your own way in own life is all in the details of your life
otherwise this is this is good idea that what doesn't mean so take a look and i think that meditation practice does really make a big difference because we're so conditioned to identify ourself with our preference and immediately go for our premises soon as it comes up that we don't even notice that we have any area of choice or that there's a key
conflict with conflicting preferences and this is a really what we want we think we want to but we don't really want that kind of thing we don't have the spaciousness of mind to even look at that that's why it's important to sit down and shut up just sit there for a while and let the mind be and then you have access to what happens in your experience in a different way
and then practice is very interesting you know and it's very creative and you get to chance to look and see and is oh look at that and i got this way on and different things you know come up so anyway good luck on working with your preferences yes
oh good
yeah right
exactly that's the idea here i remember i have twin sons you know
for i learned a lot about preferences you know watching them grow up because one of the the second twin
was cut his preference was always clear he wanted whatever the other one had
made no difference you know what it was whether there was desirable are not as i remember like one time there was some kind of thing you know i don't even know what it was like a piece of a broken toy years and like that i mean the most useless stupid thing in the world but his brother had it so he wanted and he threw like a major fit i remember like screaming crying i just couldn't believe if you know
i said you want that you know yes i'm going to have i want the read thing it became a famous thing in our family i want the red thing
and i remember you know like this was one time when i didn't try to intervene and i just said oh so watch this whole thing unfold and yet he was very little in and i could try to explain to him you know well i mean you want is why are you sobs course it didn't make any difference naturally but but at years later it became an emblematic sort of incident and to this day you know
sometimes we say to each other you know i want to read thing it was kind of code for i'm obsessed over this thing that absolutely means nothing and yet i can't help myself
and most of us are living our lives you know desperately wanting to read thing you know
the it


yeah well weren't am here
yeah well this is a difficult thing and in in buddha