Suzuki Roshi

‘So if you think enlightenment is just a personal experience, this idea of enlightenment is like collecting only square stones or only round stones. If someone likes beautiful stones, in which you can see something blue and something white, if that is his enlightenment, he will keep collecting the same stones. But with so many of the same stones, you cannot build an interesting garden. You should use various stones. Enlightenment is the same. If you attach to some particular enlightenment, that is not true enlightenment. You should have various enlightenments. And you should experience various experiences, and you should put more emphasis on relationships between one person and another. In this way, we should practice back and forth, according to the position in which we find ourselves.

This is the outline of our practice and how you attain it. If enlightenment is just collecting, or just being proud of a kind of experience, that kind of experience will not help you at all. And if that were enlightenment, there would have been no need for Buddha to strive hard to save people after he attained enlightenment. What is the purpose of wandering about the dusty road of illusion? If attaining enlightenment is the purpose of zazen, why did Bodhidharma come to China from India and sit for nine years on Shaolin Mountain? The point is to find our position moment after moment, and to live with people moment after moment according to the place. That is the purpose of our practice.

I wonder if I was able to express myself, and if you understood what I said. But I think we have some more time. Will you ask me questions?

Student A: Can you put too many stones in your garden?

SR: We should forget them, one after another. At the same time, it may be better to give them away after we enjoy them.

Q: Could you please try to summarize, again, the idea of the true teaching?

SR: Samurai?

Q: No, summarize.

SR: Oh, summarize. Zen?

Q: No, just the point you were making tonight. About the true teaching.

SR: The true teaching is to accept “things as it is” and to raise it, or to let it grow, as it goes. I understand the purpose of our practice in this way. We do it by living on each moment in the right position, by giving things some nourishment, day by day, when they want it. And to understand what they want, you should be able to talk with them. That is Zen. Did you understand?

Q: Thank you, I think I understand now.

SR: I should not talk too much. I should summarize. All right?

Q: Thank you.’

(from the Suzuki Roshi archive)

I am enjoying spending time browsing in the archive of Suzuki Roshi’s talks, and this one strikes me as a sound commentary on the problem I was writing about the other day.

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