Suzuki Roshi

‘What I want to talk about now is how to orient your mind in practice. For the beginner it is inevitable that there will be hard discipline, the observation of some rules. The observation of rigid rules is not our point. But if you want to acquire vital freedom, it is necessary to have some strength, or to have some discipline, in order to be free from one-sided dualistic ideas. So our training begins in the realm of duality or rules: what we should or should not do. These kinds of rules are necessary because before you start practice or realize the necessity of religious life, before you adore something holy; you are bound in the realm of necessity, you are controlled completely by your surroundings. When you see something beautiful you will stay there as much as possible. When you are tired of it you will go to another place. You may think that is freedom, but it is not freedom. You are enslaved by your surroundings, that is all! Not at all free. That kind of life is just material and superficial.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi Archives)

This post feels like an echo of the last Suzuki Roshi quote I posted, or perhaps an elucidation of what he was saying. This is actually from an earlier sesshin, at Sokoji in 1965, eighteen months before practice began at Tassajara.

3 thoughts on “Suzuki Roshi

  1. When you see something beautiful, all the devils with their mind reading power can see you. But what about when its not like that at all? from a shastra,

    A famous Indian monk named “Big Ear Tripitaka Master” came to stay in the capital city (ChangAn) He claimed to have telepathic powers. The emperor Su Zong called on the National Teacher to test this monk.
    The National Teacher Huizhong said to the Tripitaka Master, “I hear that you have mind-reading power.”
    Big Ear Tripitaka replied, “I don’t presume to say so.”
    Master Huizhong said, “Where is my mind right now?”
    Tripitaka said, “The Master is a teacher of the whole nation, so why have you gone to the West River to see a boat race?”
    After a while, Master Huizhong asked again, “Now where am I?”
    Tripitaka said, “The Master is a teacher of the whole nation, so why have you gone to the Tianjin Bridge to see a monkey show?”
    After a while, Master Huizhong asked again, “Where am I right now?”
    This time Tripitaka had no idea.
    Master Huizhong reprimanded him, “You wild fox demon! Where is your mind-reading ability?”

    National Teachers walked a slippery path because they dabbled in politics and were often criticized by their peers for liking people too much, but because of them monasteries thrived and many monks were able to practice. So the national teacher would meet with various dignitaries. At the end of his life the emperor asked what the Teacher needed and he asked him to build a seamless monument. “What would it look like?” Zhong said nothing. After a while he asked “Do you understand?”

    “No.” The answer was undoubtedly no, but he had to ask because one day someone will explode in enlightenment at the question, as happened with Nanquan, but that’s a whole other piece of the cat.


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