Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

1904 – 1971 CE

In completely in harmony with Lao Tzu, Suzuki Roshi’s teachings, possibly more than almost anyone else – and without saying so – brought a clear understanding of the Tao Te Ching into our modern world. In Japan, he had to deal with the rigidity and aggressiveness of his war time country. He came to San Francisco in 1959 and flourished during the height of the counter-culture influencing poets, artists, religious leaders (like Alan Watts and Chogyam Trungpa), and founded the first Zen Buddhist monastery in the West.

Sources

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Quotes by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (69 quotes)

“Only when you give up everything can you see a true teacher. Even the name of Buddhism is already a dirty spot on our practice. It is not teaching. The character and effort of our teachers is our teaching.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Chapters: 1. The Unnamed

Themes: Buddhism

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“As long as you are concerned about what you do, this is dualistic… If you are not concerned about what you do… When you sit, you will sit. When you eat, you will eat. That is all… your mind pervades your whole body.”

Chapters: 23. Nothing and Not

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“As long as you think, ‘I must attain something special,’ you are actually not doing anything. When you give up, when you no longer want something… then you do something.”

Chapters: 40. Returning

Themes: Desire

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“Buddha is always helping you. But usually we refuse Buddha’s offer. For instance,sometimes you ask for something special. This means that you are refusing to accept the treasures you already have.”

Chapters: 20. Unconventional Mind

Themes: Mistakes

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“But Zen can be dangerous to innocent minds…that may easily see Zen as something good or special by which they can gain something. This attitude can lead to trouble.”

from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Chapters: 68. Joining Heaven & Earth

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“Each existence depends on something else. Strictly speaking, there are just many names for one existence… We have nowhere to escape… That is why we emphasize everyday life rather than some particular state of mind. We should find the reality in each moment, and in each phenomenon.”

Chapters: 34. An Unmoored Boat

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“effort in our practice should be directed from achievement to non-achievement”

Chapters: 30. No War

Themes: Success

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“From emptiness, everything comes out. One whole body of water, or one whole mind, is emptiness. When we reach this understanding we find true meaning to our life.”

Chapters: 2. The Wordless Teachings
4. The Father of All Things

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“I cared more about the fundamental way of thinking that causes war. This is why I didn’t like the nationalists in Japan. Their view was very one-sided and unrealistic… They created tremendous problems.”

Chapters: 69. No Enemy

Themes: War Nationalism

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“If I give you an answer, you’ll think you understand.”

Chapters: 21. Following Empty Heart

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“If it’s not a paradox, it’s not the truth.”

Chapters: 22. Heaven's Door
78. Water

Themes: Paradox

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“In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire… burn yourself completely… Zen activity is activity which is completely burned out, with nothing remaining but ashes.”

Chapters: 27. No Trace

Themes: No Trace

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“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Chapters: 12. This Over That

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“Instead of only criticizing your culture, you should devote your mind and body to practicing this simple way. Then society and culture will grow out of you.”

Chapters: 54. Planting Well

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“Life is like stepping onto a boat that is about to sail out to sea and sink.”

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Mitsu asked if he could tell her in a few words what Buddhism was all about… ‘Accept what is as it is and help it to be its best.”

from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Chapters: 16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

Themes: Buddhism

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“Moment after moment we should renew our life, we should not stick to old ideas of what life is, or what our way of life is… If we always stick to old ideas and always repeat the same thing over and over again, then we are confined in our old way of life.”

Chapters: 49. No Set Mind

Themes: Non-Thought

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“Moment after moment, everyone comes out from nothingness. This is the true joy of life… activity which is based on nothingness… Without nothingness, there is no naturalness – no true being.”

Chapters: 37. Nameless Simplicity

Themes: Emptiness Wu Wei

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“No matter what the situation, you cannot neglect Buddha, because you yourself are Buddha… Usually when someone believes in a particular religion, his attitude becomes more and more a sharp angle pointing away from himself… in our way the point of the sharp angle is always towards ourselves.”

Chapters: 47. Effortless Success

Themes: Buddhism

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“Our life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact we have no fear of death anymore,nor actual difficulty in our life… When you can sit with your whole body and mind, and with the oneness of your mind and body under the control of the universal mind, you can easily attain this kind of right understanding.”

Chapters: 39. Oneness

Themes: Oneness

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“Relative mind is the mind which sets itself in relation to other things, thus limiting itself. It is this small mind which creates gaining ideas and leaves traces of itself.”

Chapters: 58. Goals Without Means

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“So to be a human being is to be a Buddha… the most important thing is to express your true nature in the simplest, most adequate way and to appreciate it in the smallest existence.”

Chapters: 35. The Power of Goodness

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“The moment you meet a teacher, you should leave the teacher, and you should be independent.”

Chapters: 8. Like Water
19. All Methods Become Obstacles

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“The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas… Then eventually you will resume your own true nature. This is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.”

Chapters: 45. Complete Perfection

Themes: Wu Wei

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“The secret of Soto Zen is just three words: not always so… If you understand thing in this way, without being caught by words or rules, without too much of a preconceived idea, then you can actually do something.”

Chapters: 72. Helpful Fear

Themes: Moral Freedom

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“There is no problem. When you say ‘I am a human being,’ that is just another name for buddha – human being-buddha.”

Chapters: 64. Ordinary Mind

Themes: Problems

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“To do something without thinking is the most important point in understanding ourselves… when you just do something, and when your mind is just acting as it is, that is how you catch your mind in the true sense.”

from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Chapters: 29. Not Doing

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“We have to believe in something that has no form and no color – something that exists before all forms and colors appear… By enlightenment I mean believing in nothing.”

Chapters: 14. Finding and Following the Formless Form
11. Appreciating Emptiness

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“We shouldn’t see some as sharp and others as dull. By treating all children without discrimination, we enable them to see all beings as equal.”

Chapters: 20. Unconventional Mind
42. Children of the Way

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“When we ask what Buddha nature is, it vanishes; but when we just practice zazen, we have full understanding of it… When you give up trying to understand it, true understanding is always there.”

Chapters: 81. Journey Without Goal

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“When we have no thought of achievement, no thought of self, we are true”

Chapters: 3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

Themes: Non-Thought

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“When you are fooled by something else,the damage will not be so big. But when you are fooled by yourself, it is fatal.”

from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Chapters: 33. Know Yourself

Themes: Know Yourself

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“When you do something, just to do it should be your purpose”

Chapters: 28. Turning Back

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“When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.”

Chapters: 43. No Effort, No Trace

Themes: No Trace

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“Whenever Dogen-zenji dipped water from the river, he used only half a dipperful, returning the rest to the river again… when we are one with the water, we intuitively do it in Dogen’s way.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

Themes: Water

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“Wherever you go, you will find your teacher.”

Chapters: 25. The Mother of All Things

Themes: Teachers

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“You may think that if there is no purpose or no goal in our practice, we will not know what to do… The way to practice without having any goal is to limit your activity to what you can do just now, in this moment… just concentrate on the activity which we do in each moment.”

Chapters: 26. The Still Rule the Restless

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“That is the 'eye of wisdom' - to appreciate things and people 'as they are' and live our lives fully in the universe that is 'as it is.'”

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“when we don't understand anything, then our mind is very great, very wide”

Themes: Paradox Mind

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“Emptiness is the garden where you can't see anything. It is the mother of all.”

Chapters: 6. The Source

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“Dreamer! Dreamer! What are you dreaming about?”

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

Themes: Dream

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“Be like a child who draws things whether they are good or bad.”

from Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Chapters: 20. Unconventional Mind

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“The secret of Soto Zen is just two words: not always so”

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Themes: Impermanence

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“When you try to do something, you lose it because you are concentrated on one out of 1000 hands - you lose 999.”

Chapters: 57. Wu Wei

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“The true purpose of Zen is to see things as they are and to let everything go as it goes.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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“The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Control

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“To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Control

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“Try not to achieve anything special. You already have everything in your own pure quality.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Desire

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“The true wisdom of life is that in each step of the way, the other shore is actually reached.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Wisdom

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“We should forget, day by day, what we have done; this is true non-attachment. And we should do something new.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Forget

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“If we are aware that what we do or what we create is really the gift of the 'big I,' we will not create problems for ourselves or for others.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Egolessness

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“Even in wrong practice, when you realize it and continue, there is right practice.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Mistakes

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“Don’t create problems which are extra. Just the problems you already have are enough.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Less is More

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“Because emptiness has no limit and no beginning, we can believe in it… If you really understand this, tears will flow.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Belief Emptiness

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“Open yourself and give up everything”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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“The cause of conflict is some fixed or one-sided idea… there is not particular way in true practice. You should find your own way”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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“Limit your activity to what you can do just now.. when you sit, just sit; when you eat, just eat.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Here and Now

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“Meditation practice is just medicine… sometimes it’s necessary but you should not mistake medicine for food.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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“When we forget ourselves, we are the true activity of reality itself and there is no problem whatsoever in this world.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Memory

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“Once you are in the middle of delusion, there is no end to delusion. You will be involved in deluded ideas one after another.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Delusion

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“When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings. There is your true self.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: True Self

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“Cultivate your own spirit, don's go seeking for something outside of yourself.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Conformity

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“When your practice is calm and ordinary, everyday life itself is enlightenment.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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“There is no connection between I myself yesterday and I myself in this moment; there is no connection whatsoever.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Egolessness Time

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“Forget everything and discover something quite new and different moment after moment... As long as we have some definite idea about or some hope in the future, we cannot be serious with the moment that exists right now.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Memory Hope

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“In love there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing. We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Hate

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“Because you lose yourself, your problem will be a problem for you. If you do not lose yourself, then even though you have difficulty, there is actually no problem whatsoever.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Problems

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“Big mind is something you have, not something to seek for... there is no Hinayana way or Mahayana way. Only because you seek to gain something through rigid formal practice does it become a problem”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Themes: Pluralism

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“One who thinks he is a good father is not a good father; one who thinks he is a good husband is not a good husband. One who thinks he is one of the worst husbands may be a good one if he is always trying to be a good one with single-hearted effort.”

from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

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