Thinking of Shunryu Suzuki

Thinking of Shunryu Suzuki February 11, 2020




I notice that it was on this day, the 11th of February, in 1972, that half the great Zen missionary to the West, Shunryu Suzuki‘s ashes were interred at Tassajara, the mountain training center he had founded. Six days later the other half would be interred in Japan.

He is one of the most important of our shared ancestors, we who practice within the Zen ways here in North America.

Here’s a very small sample of his teachings, a few words on breath…

“When we practice zazen (Zen meditation) our mind always follows our breathing. When we inhale, the air comes into the inner world. When we exhale, the air goes out to the outer world. the inner world is limitless, and the outer world is also limitless. We say ‘inner world’ or ‘outer world,’ but actually there is just one whole world. In this limitless world, our throat is like a swinging door. The air comes in and goes out like someone passing through a swinging door. If you think, ‘I breathe,’ the ‘I’ is extra. There is no you to say ‘I.’ What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale. It just moves; that is all. When your mind is pure and calm enough to follow this movement, there is nothing: no ‘I,’ no world, no mind nor body; just a swinging door.”

from Shunryu Suzuki Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

The iconic image of Suzuki Roshi is by Robert Boni. And, at no extra charge a little something from Hozan Alan Senauke, dharma successor to Mel Weitsman, dharma successor to Shunryu Suzuki…

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