Suzuki Roshi

‘So people may [be] divided in two and fighting with each other in the same country. One may say, you know: “We should not fight. We should stop war,” you know. “You are wrong, completely wrong.” And the other may say: “You don’t know,” you know, “what is going on in this world. We should fight. If you don’t fight, we will be lost.” And he thinks he is completely right. So there is big gap between two party, and they have to fight again with each other. Same thing will be repeated. So if both of them knows they are not completely right there may be some way to help with each other. Because our understanding is very naive, and, you know, rigid, and we have too much confidence in ourselves, we cannot help with each other. So “not always right” is very important teaching, very strict teaching. Hai.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi archives)

I thought, without particular deliberation, that it might be nice to have a week of Suzuki Roshi quotes. I have accumulated many during my work on the archives, and in my talk on Wednesday, and the class on Saturday, I will certainly be focusing on his words. Having not made it to Tassajara, I substituted the post I had planned for yesterday, but the rest of the week will be a selection.

I came across this talk – or more accurately, this question-and-answer session – while studying for the class on Hyakujo and the fox, as he mentions this story earlier in the transcript. The summer of 1969 must have been an interesting time at Tassajara, with the foundations of the monastery starting to be more settled (after the more macrobiotic commune element had been superceded by a more disciplined practice), and the Vietnam war looming ever larger in people’s minds. I suspect, that if Suzuki Roshi were alive today, he would be making the same point.


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