Suzuki Roshi

‘The first paragraph is the framework of whole Buddhism.  First paragraph:

All—when all things are in Buddhist way or Buddhist phenomena, we are enlightenment and ignorance, something to study, life and death, buddha, and people.  When all things are without self, we have no ignorance, no enlightenment, no doubt, no buddha, no people, and no life and no death.  The Buddhist way is beyond being and non-being.  Therefore we have life and death, ignorance and enlightenment, people and buddha.  However, flowers fall with our attachment, and weeds grow with our detachment.

This is, you know, the most basic understanding of—of Buddhism or Sōtō Zen, which include all the teaching of Buddhism.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi archives)

I was struck by Suzuki Roshi dealing with the Genjo Koan here, from a 1966 talk, not because he was talking about it – he did that quite a few times in those early years, when he wasn’t paraphrasing in more broadly – but the translation he used. I am curious if it is a version he did himself. In any case, as I have said many times, seeing a fresh translation of a well-known passage is a great way to see it anew and to think about it in a different way.

For reference, here is the Zen Center version which I know and love:

‘As all things are buddha-dharma, there is delusion and realization, practice, birth and death, and there are buddhas and sentient beings. As the myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The buddha way is, basically, leaping clear of the many and the one; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet, in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.’


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