Suzuki Roshi

‘Student: Docho Roshi, let me see who I am. [Pause] To die each moment to be reborn is the great freedom of the dharma. I’m like a small fish, I swim in and out of big death. 

SR: [Softly] Yeah, that’s right.

I am grateful that you are making your best effort in accepting this dharma. Of course it is not easy, but dharma cannot be so easy. Dharma is the thing to which everyone of us have been striving for, and will strive for, to know what it is, to accept as their. So it is not only you, but all the patricarch and sages have been striving for it, and you are one of them. And you should be pitiful for the people who do not strive for it, who haven’t good chance to realize the necessity of striving for it. To realize the necessity of striving for it is the point to which we are making our best effort. There’s no other point to strive for. Since you have realized the necessity of striving for it, you are already one of the patriarachs and you gained that state. Don’t think Buddha and patriarchs were quite free from birth and death. They are still striving for it in the name of various sentient beings. It is most valuable thing that you realized the necessity of striving for it. The suffering you have is the every — should be everybody’s suffering, but perhaps most of them will not realize it, but it should be so. And it was and it will be the true with the future Buddha and past Buddha.’ (from the Suzuki Roshi Archives)

In what spare time I have – and now I do feel like I have caught up with everything and have some time to spare – I have still been transcribing lectures from the Suzuki Roshi archive. This exchange came from an undated shosan ceremony at the end of a summer sesshin, and the best guess (for various reasons) is that it comes from 1968. I originally offered this tape to someone who volunteered to help, knowing that it was an hour and a half long and would take a while, but six months later, even after following up, I heard nothing back, so, since I have to write an article about it soon for the series, I contacted a couple of regulars in the Suzuki Roshi field and we took roughly thirty minutes each.

This was the last exchange that I transcribed earlier this week, and I was totally struck by the intensity of how he spoke, almost to the extent of having my hair stand on end. It was the most remarkable moment for me since I played the tape that contained the Beginner’s Mind talk, about two and a half years ago. I am inclined to think, especially having read some of the material that David Chadwick has, that it was Trudy Dixon, already sick with cancer, who asked the question. In any case, I thought it worth uploading the audio, if you have time to listen to the exchange:

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