Suzuki Roshi

‘Even the name of Buddhism is already a dirty spot on our practice. What is important is not the teaching, but the character or effort of the student. Even to seek for enlightenment means your mind is not big enough.’ (Not Always So)

This is the kind of quote that made me very curious about Buddhism and zen when I started to practise. How could seeking for enlightenment be wrong? How could the name of Buddhism be a dirty spot? In time I came to see how Suzuki Roshi was channeling similar sentiments expressed by Dogen, and other great teachers of the past. Putting a name on things limits them because we think the name is something we know, and is thus sufficient. Having an idea of enlightenment, and how you are going to get there, takes you astray from the heart of the practice – your own effort, moment after moment.

A few days after I wrote this, I was browsing in the Shobogenzo, as you do (at least if you are like me) and came across one such Dogen quote:

‘In this way, know that the buddha way that has been transmitted from past buddhas is not called Zen meditation, so how could there be the name “Zen School”? Clearly understand that is an extreme mistake to use the name “Zen School”‘ (Shobogenzo Butsudo)

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