Posts Tagged ‘Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’

Easy Way Won’t Help

March 4, 2015

Why Buddha told us the Four Noble Truths is to destroy our easy way of understanding of life, scientific understanding or philosophical understanding. Those understandings are the easy way, you know. Without any effort you can read books [laughs]. Even though you are lying down you can study. Very easy. But it will not help you, actually will not help you.

Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (from David Chadwick’s site about Suzuki Roshi,


Reviews, Dreams, and Departures

September 20, 2013

Contrary to all appearances, I have not forgotten or abandoned this blog. It’s been a funny time. Lately, I’ve been spending many an hour reexamining my views. It’s hard to write about what you believe when you’re in the process of reevaluating it. I wouldn’t say I’ve change any of my positions. If anything, I’ve deepened them. I’m reading a book right now: The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters. What a joke!

I had a dream the other night: I was standing in a park and saw across the way Suzuki Roshi (the Japanese Zen Master and founder of Zen Center here in San Francisco) who was in a yellow pickup truck, which had a cab on the back, like a camper shell, but made of wood. The pickup was on a hill and had a stick shift and Suzuki was having trouble getting it into gear. He kept bashing into the car parked behind him. He finally gave up and I went over to ask him if everything was alright. He shook his head “no.” He said the pickup had been a gift from his students and that the cab on the back was intended to be his studio. But he hadn’t asked for it, didn’t want it, and furthermore, the truck had been paid for out of an account that supplied him with his daily stipend and now it was all used up and he had no money to live on.

I’m leaving for nine days in Hawaii on Monday. Work and play. I’ve never been there and I’m looking forward to it. My intention is to get good and rested and then come back to start the last big push on Street Song.

The Three Views of Existence (Part 2)

December 4, 2011

Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars that you see. You are still one with everything. That is more true than I can say, and more true that you can hear.

Shunryu Suzuki

Of the three fundamental views of existence that I laid out in part 1—creator god, scientific/materialist, and pantheist—I subscribe to the third. (I should add that “pantheism” is short hand for me. It’s a Western term, that is, from the world of Western philosophical speculation, and it undoubtedly has a lot of baggage attached to it that is not real.) I don’t see myself as having sought out this view. At one point in my life I was reading a lot of Taoism and Buddhism to try and stay afloat. I was doing a lot meditation, too, but, again, just to survive. In the midst of this I kept coming across the idea that everything is god, or mind. For a long time I assumed that this was merely a metaphor. Eventually I saw that the people advocating this idea really meant it. The difficult aspect is seeing the material plane as “merely” mind. If you cut me, I will bleed. If I kick a boulder with all my might, it will hurt like hell. The turning point for me came when someone I was reading, someone whose opinion I trusted and valued, stated that the material plane is an illusion, albeit a very thick one. That one statement tied a bunch of others together. The material plane has its own laws, but those laws are one with the spiritual background from which the material plane arises.

I don’t read a lot of science. I try, but I can’t hack the attitude that a lot of scientists adopt. They want to be the go-to guys, the great explainers. But science can never explain existence. It can only probe one layer of it—the material plane. I’ve read enough science to know that as scientists delve deeper into matter, they find that essentially it disappears. It’s a big mystery! But scientists insist that there is a rational order to reality, that through experimentation and research we can eventually understand everything—soberly. But that’s not what the sages say, and I take their word—the word of the real ones—over that of the scientists. The sages say that when you take the journey that leads to an understanding of what existence really is, it astonishes you. It blows your mind. If what you saw didn’t blow your mind, then you didn’t see fundamental reality. And fundamental reality is ineffable, that is, it cannot be put into words. You have to see it for yourself.

I’m not asserting here that I’ve had this vision. I haven’t. Just bits and pieces. So, in a sense, this is a statement of faith. But my journey isn’t over. I think I’m going to continue writing on this subject for some time. There will be a lot more parts. Right now I’m just trying to open up the subject. (There is more on this in The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, in the chapter called “Consciousness Explained”.)

In part 3, I’ll write about the differences between the pantheistic and creator god schools of thought, and how scientific materialism, especially Western science is, in a sense, the outcome of those differences.

By the way, I welcome any comments on this particular subject. Even contentious ones.