Suzuki Roshi

‘If I– if you see me, you may ask, “Is there lecture tonight?” Maybe I’m very smoky kerosene lamp [laughs]. I don’t want, you know, to give lecture. I– I– what I want is to– just to live with you, moving stones, having nice hot-spring bath [laughs], and eat something good [laughs, laughter].

Zen is there, you know. When I start to talk about something, it is also smoky– it is already smoky kerosene lamp. As long as I [must] give lecture, I have to explain it in term of right or wrong: “This is right practice. This is wrong. How to practice zazen.” It is like to– to give you recipe [laughs]. Recipe doesn’t work. You cannot eat recipe [laughter]. Maybe after having a long, long practice in hot summer weather, it may be good to enjoy to say something [laughs] and to listen to something. This is, you know, our [a?] purpose of practice.

I said just now [that] to know how to adjust the flame is important. This is actually what Dogen Zenji worked so hard for– for us descendants. Not just– not– usually Zen master– a Zen master will give you: “Practice zazen! Then you will attain enlightenment. If you attain enlightenment, you will be detached from everything and you will see things as it is. So if you want to see things as it is, you have– you must practice zazen hard and attain enlightenment.” That is usually [what] a Zen master will say.

But our way is “not always so.” That is, of course true, but we, you know– Dogen Zenji told us how to adjust back flame– back and forth, he told us in his Shobogenzo– this point. This is one of the characteristic of Soto Zen.

In– in Soto, people say in Soto– Soto priest doesn’t– Soto school doesn’t use koan, and they have no koan practice. But Dogen Zenji, after studying koans, and he simplified all the koan in a– in a quite simple forms, as– like Tozan Zenji in China did. Tozan Zenji used five ranks– five ranks of practice, or five ranks of seeming and reality. But Dogen Zenji did not use five ranks in practice or five ranks in seeming and reality because Dogen Zenji’s understanding or teaching of Zen is much simpler than that. Quite simple. The point of Soto Zen– Dogen Zenji’s zazen is to live on each moment in complete combustion, like a kerosene lamp or like a candle. So how to live in each moment, and how to become one with everything, and attain oneness of the whole universe, is the point of his teaching and his practice.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi archives)

Without wishing to compare myself with Suzuki Roshi, I feel at the moment that I am in a phase where I just want to move stones, have a nice hot bath and eat something good (all three of which were wonderful aspects of living at Tassajara). I am offering several meditation sessions a week, and don’t often have much else to say. For regular readers who might want to be hearing more from me, I can only apologise.


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