From “Not Always So”, by Shunryu Suzuki


“To develop your well-polished eye, or clear, unbiased judgement, it is important to give up, or be ready to give up everything, including your understanding of the teaching and your knowledge of Buddhism. Then you will be able to tell what is good and what is bad. Many teachers gave up sutra study and only practice zazen. They did not rely on anything, but just practiced zazen to purify their minds. Any teaching can be a good teaching for you, but because of your faulty judgment, the teaching does not make much sense. You spoil good teaching with your own judgement, but when you do not judge it, then you can accept the teaching as it is.


Even the name of Buddhism is already a dirty spot on our practice. What is important is not the teaching, but the character ot effort of the student. Even to seek for enlightenment means your mind is not big enough. You are not sincere enough because you have some purpose in your study. And the desire to accomplish something or even to propagate Buddhism is not pure enough.


As long as you try to understand reality or you yourself in phenomenal terms it is not possible. When you understand that there is something more than spiritual or material, more than right or wrong, that is reality. That is actually each one of us. To know this is to have renunciation, to be free from ideas of right and wrong, life or death, spiritual or material.

Though you try very hard to be spiritual, still you are existing only on one side, ignoring the other side of yourself. That is why you suffer. If you really want to attain enlightenment and realize the real you, you have to go beyond ideas of good or bad, life or death. How we do this is through zazen. If something comes, let it come. Don’t think about it in terms of good or bad. Let it come and let it go. That is actually zazen – to go beyond various ideas and just be yourself.


How things go is a matter of cause and effect. Things that exist now will cause some effect, and that effect will cause another effect. Something that is not good and not bad is going on that way. That is reality. Not realising this point, you tend to understand things in terms of good and bad; you think there is a good person and a bad person. But I don’t understand in that way. Things are just going on. If we realise this point, that is renunciation.

When you sit in zazen, you are you. You cannot say “I am a good person. My practice is perfect.” Of course you are perfect – from the beginning. But it is not necessary for you to say that you are perfect. You are perfect even though you don’t realise you are perfect. That is why we say we are all Buddha and our Buddha nature is constantly developing. “

From “Not Always So”, by Shunryu Suzuki

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