October 2nd, 1971, Serial No. 00060

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During this session, I would like to explain about the Four Noble Truths, which is a basic concept in Buddhism, which explains the cause of suffering and the way of deliverance, therefore. This is the first doctrine taught by Shakyamuni Buddha after enlightenment. The Four Noble Truths are All Existence is Suffering, The Cause of Suffering is Illusion


and Ignorance, Nirvana is the realm free from suffering, the means for the attainment of nirvana is the practice of the Eightfold Noble Path. The Four Noble Truths, the first two, the first two relate to the world of the world of enlightenment, the All Existence, what the All Existence is suffering is a result


of human affairs, what the cause of suffering is illusion and ignorance is a cause of suffering. Anyway, these two relate to the world of human affairs, worldly affairs. The, this doctrine of the Four Noble Truths was mentioned by Shakyamuni Buddha after enlightenment, after enlightenment. Why is it Shakyamuni Buddha must teach us in that way as to what the human


being are. After his enlightenment, why is it Shakyamuni Buddha teaches us the All Existence is suffering and the cause of suffering is illusion and ignorance. After his enlightenment, this is very important, not before his enlightenment, after his enlightenment he taught in that way. Many students ask me why we have to suffer, why we have to, we have to fall into difficulties. The, if Buddhism says, Shakyamuni Buddha mentioned about the human being


according to the suffering, according to the principle, the truth, which the All Existence is suffering. Probably you may say Buddhism is pessimism or you may say I don't like the Buddhism because it makes me pensive or melancholy. But whatever you feel, very often you have to ask, you have to ask to yourself or to others, to teacher, why is it we have to fall into the difficulty or why we have to suffer? This is


a really solemn reality which everything is confronted with. Even though you don't like, you don't like the suffering, but this is, you cannot escape from the solemn reality and fact which all of us come face to face with it. That's why you have to ask why. But it doesn't mean, but it doesn't mean that you should get rid of suffering, you should hate


suffering. The Shakyamuni Buddha doesn't say in that way. As long as you cannot escape from the solemn reality and fact which all human beings come face to face with it, wherever you may go, you are right in the middle of the suffering, you know. If so, we have to, we have to, we have to understand, we have to have a new understanding of this solemn reality which everybody is confronted with it, with this suffering. From the deep, from the deep understanding,


from the deep level of seeing into the depths of human life, you have to see it again and again. This is very important. That's why Shakyamuni Buddha always says all existence is suffering. Very often, he shows, he shows it again and again in front of you. All existence is suffering, all existence is suffering, you know. Show it. Nevertheless, nevertheless, we cannot, we cannot believe it, we cannot receive it. Straightforwardly, it's pretty hard. Why?


Uh, it makes, it makes no difference whether you feel pensive or melancholy from the principle doctrine of the suffering mentioned by the Shakyamuni Buddha. That's okay. but if you cannot, if you cannot get rid of it, immediately something should be done, should be done. This is very important. Something should be done. If you don't want, if you don't want to do something,


you will go astray, forest, forever, forever. Even though you scream very often, you know, on the street, on the market street, at the White House, in front of President Nixon, nobody helps you. So, you must do something by yourself. Uh, so, if it is a soul reality which all human beings are confronted with it,


we have to realize what is a cause, what is a cause of suffering. Uh, the Obaku Zen master says to his disciples, we are a man. We are men. Uh, like a, uh, like a belt made by a thick skin, a thick skin which is called Vigatoi or Stubbornness.


Now, we are a man like a belt made by a thick skin which is called Vigatoi or Stubbornness. The more you practice again and again, the more you find this strength, uh, this strong quality of stubbornness or Vigatoi, whatever you do. the teacher said


throw away all thoughts running through your head in the practice of Zazen. Every time, very often, day in day out, uh, from 20,000, 25,000, 100 years ago by Shakyamuni Buddha, by many patriarchs, by Dogons, but actually look at yourself. It's pretty hard. You say, yes, I will, but actually many thoughts coming up.


So, the more you practice, the more you find this fact, which everybody come face to face with this quality, strong quality of stubbornness or Vigatoi. Please stretch your back, please stretch your neck, please stretch your head, open your eyes. This is very, very simple, very easy to follow these instructions. Please stretch your back, please straighten your head, please open your eyes, but you can't.


Hmm? Then sometimes I correct your back, I correct your head. In a minute, your head slowly hanging down, your back is getting round. And then next moment, I again, I come back to you and correct again. The moment when I leave your place, your head is hanging down. The instruction is very simple, very easy to follow.


But actually you can't. Why? Why? Try to ask to yourself. You say, oh, I am an old man, so my body is very skinny. I can't. This is one of the excuses, you know. If someone says, oh, my back is, this is my, this is a type of my back. Round, getting round. Sometimes I push hard, but it doesn't move. But this is also one of the excuses you can make. But very often I have done, I have corrected one of the students


who have, who have had very stiff upper back, like this. Very round. I corrected, I've corrected again and again. Then he came, he came to, he came to the doctor and, why don't you correct your back first? But he said always, I can't, I can't to get rid of my thoughts. I think so. He, he, he does that often like this. This person is willing to invite your thoughts. Please come in. Then there is no better way to get rid of your thoughts than to correct, to correct your posture.


First, this is first. Because right now, right here, you have to, you have to settle yourself on the self in the best, under the best condition, physically and spiritually. Not, not to the matter of, not to the matter of discussing tomorrow, not, not to the matter of discussing the something which will happen in a minute. I don't think so. Question is right now. Then I push very often. Then recently, his back is very straightened, like this. Pretty good, you know.


Now, why you make some complaint, whatever, I can't, or whatever, whatever kind of complaint, even though it seems good. Complaint is complaint, you know. Excuse is excuse. You know, this is just born, stubbornness. So I don't force you, I don't force you to follow the difficult principles, difficult principles. Then I often said, at least during Zazen, why don't you straighten your back? Why don't you straighten your head? Why don't you close your mouth? Why don't you keep your tongue in, under the best condition?


Why don't you regulate your breath? That's all, you know. It's not so difficult. Whoever you are, Japanese or American, or old or young, of course it should take time for old, old man to correct, to break him of his bad habits. Of course, what he has acquired since his birth, of course. But it doesn't mean, it doesn't mean it's impossible to correct. You could do if you would. For this, the question is,


a man who has a man like a belt made by a thick skin, which is called stubbornness. This stubbornness makes appearance every time, anytime, everywhere, whatever you do. The other day, I conducted, I practiced in Tashkala with students during the session, one week session. After that, one of students told me,


that this is a student who had, who has practiced for, I think, four years or five years, since the opening of the Tashkala monastery. So sometimes, he himself believed that I have made good practice in my practice. Then one day, during the session, he sat on a chair in a quiet place, at the quiet place.


At that time, Blue Jay, you know the bird, Blue Jay, Blue Jay? Blue Jay came up, came up to him, very close, very close, closely. Then at that time, he thought, well, I am getting saint. I'm getting saint because a bird showed the feeling of being intimate with me. Then, wow, he was very delighted in looking at Blue Jay. Wow, oh boy.


Then, I think three feet ahead, Blue Jay came, Blue Jay came very closely, mostly three feet ahead. At that time, he found something right beneath, right beneath his feet. There was dog food. Dog food. So Blue Jay wanted to eat this dog food. Not to, it was not a reason why he wanted to become a good friend with this guy. But at that time, he thought, well, I am getting saint.


Then he found dog food under his foot. Then he was very angry with this Blue Jay. Get out! Where is saint? Where is saint? You know? Immediately, he said, get out! This is also one of, this is also stubbornness or bigotry, which you have. When you attain enlightenment, when you have, when you practice Zazen for long years. The Yoka Zenji, Yoka Daishi said,


that a self-centered charity brings the joy of heaven itself. But it is like a shooting an arrow at the sky. The self-centered charity brings the joy of heaven itself. But it is like a shooting an arrow at the sky. Maybe your stubbornness, your bigotry, make you joy so much. If you have a posture in relax during Zazen, you feel enjoy, you enjoy yourself to do Zazen.


So, whatever we do is not much of value, suffering or pleasure. So, whatever you feel, pleasure or suffering, is not much of value. Sawaki Zen Master said to student, he gave us a very interesting story.


One day, one night, the robbery, robber, robbery, a thief, he sneaked in one of the big stores to steal something. So, the thief, he sneaked in quietly and looking out for money, opening drawers. At that time, one of the sons woke up and listened to some sound, opening drawer,


cracking, then he got up, he got up immediately and checked out, checked in, all house. That time he found the thief was about to get lots of money in his hand. Then he screamed, thief, you run away, the thief will run away immediately. But at that time, the Sawaki Zen Master says he should, he should stop chasing after him, after robbery. But this guy chased after the robbery in order to catch him.


Then, on the street, the son got to the robbery, he caught, he caught the robbery, immediately, at last, but his father was very anxious about his son, what, what is, what will, what would happen, because he chased, he was chasing after the robbery. Then, the father also chased after the robbery and his son. Then the father found the awful scene, which the son and robbery fighting, while fighting with each other, and also robbery had the knife with in his hand.


So he was very surprised at this scene. Then he brought, he caught, he took the big rope, rug, and gave a big, big blow to the robber's head, it was, it seemed good, then he fell down, you know, but this blow was so strong that at the same time he gave a big blow to also his son's head too, you know. Then the robbery died, dead, the robbery passed away from the giving big blow


by the big rope, and also his son died too, you know, that's terrible. And also after that, the policeman came and checked out how much he, he, he stealed, but he didn't, he didn't, he didn't take any money. You know, whatever we do, whatever we do in this world, particularly under the level of, under the level, in the domain of the stubbornness of bigotry, saying he is lovely, he took a lot of money from me, he had to chase after, chase after,


and also at last he had to die. But actually originally his father was very anxious about his son, what's the matter, what would happen, the alarm came. He tried to take good care of his son anyway, and also he tried to, he tried to take good care of the robbery too, in order to wake him up by putting the, putting him in jail, maybe so, anyway, but as a result, this kindness, this kindness killed the robbery and also his son too.


this is the same, the same things, the same things happened in our daily life very often. So, whatever they are, kindness, whatever kind of conception, ideas, good or bad, or delusion or enlightenment, they are not so much of value. If you see into the depth of your life, when seeing yourself from the depth of tranquility, that's why Yōka Daishi said,


self-centered charity brings the joy of heaven itself, but it is like shooting an arrow at the sky. Maybe this son and this father, they never aimed, there would be a proper mark, he believed, but there is no proper marks, which he had to aim. At last, he had to shoot an arrow at the sky, that's all. And then this arrow,


sooner or later, this arrow will come back to yourself. If you try to let the balloon be in the high air, you think your stubbornness, your bigotry, try to believe that this balloon will stay with being in the high air forever, but sooner or later, this balloon will be broken and come back, fall into the ground.


So, I still ask to myself why I have to practice Zazen. Actually, in terms of my position as a priest, I cannot get rid of the Seishin and Zazen, but nevertheless, I have to ask to myself why. So, always says, well, Zazen is pretty good for me. Zazen makes me stable.


But sometimes, Zazen makes me crazy because I cannot find a definite answer to be good. Zazen is really evasive. It's pretty hard to understand what it is. But it is said that hard work will bring you to luck in the future. See, that's why during Zazen, I feel pain.


During Zazen, it's pretty hard to stay with pain. But at that time, I said to myself, well, our work will bring you to lucky. Go ahead, stay with your pain like this. And sometimes, something said to me, well, if you do Zazen very hard, you will become Zen master. You will become a good teacher of Zen Buddhism. But always, there's always something there. If the moment you ask why, what do you practice?


Always, it is something like merit. Created by the stubbornness, created by the bigotry. But uh But whatever you feel, you expect from Zazen, the moment, every time when you ask yourself why, the merit is


like shooting the arrow at the sky. That's all. That's why Dogen then says, why don't you throw away any ideas, good or bad, and just do Zazen without expecting any merits. This you should understand again and again, this point.


Otherwise, you cannot have a new understanding of the sole reality that all existence is suffering. Well, Zazen is really simple to follow. It seems to waste time. It seems to be nonsense. Just do it. But Shakyamuni Buddha and many Patriarchs and Dogen can explain why, how important Zazen


this practice is. In terms of philosophy, in terms of psychology, they can't explain. This practice has a profound background, how important it is. But if you explain it, philosophically, psychology, it will become complicated. So, before you try to understand, and also it will take so long to understand completely how important it is in terms of philosophy, philosophical aspect, psychological aspect, and so on.


Because everybody has different knowledge, different level of the knowledge, human faculty. But practical practice, actual practice, just do it, is very simple, which everyone can do immediately, right now. So, Dogen then says, as long as you are right on the cushion, small cushion, why don't you throw away any idea of good and bad first, and straighten your back and head.


Settle yourself and self under the best condition, physically and spiritually. This is beginner's practice, and the goal of the practice which everyone must undertake, undergo. Then, the Shakyamuni Buddha says, the cause of suffering is illusion and ignorance. What is ignorance? There is no ground, no ground which you define. You can't define this as ignorance.


There is no ground which you can't put the definition of the ignorance, saying this is ignorance. I don't think so. Ignorance is ignorance which you cannot have a new understanding of yourself. This is ignorance. When you have, when you can have a new understanding of yourself, there is no ignorance. Buddhism doesn't, Shakyamuni Buddha doesn't, doesn't say to escape from delusion and enlightenment.


He doesn't say, we should, we should escape from a delusion and attain enlightenment. We should see, we should see the delusion and enlightenment from the depth of our heart. Of understanding in life. Again, what makes you, what makes your ignorance get on? It is as our Zen master says, a man, a man like a, like a belt made by a thick skin, which is called stubbornness, big tie.


Not only you, but also Shakyamuni Buddha and many patriarchs and Dogen, and Shinran, any religious founders, continued, made every possible effort to practice practice hard in order to see this quality of stubbornness or big tie. In order to get rid of this stubbornness, they all have practiced very hard.


If you read a Zmonkey written by Dogen, a primary sort of Zen Buddhism, you will find how hard Dogen practiced in order to get rid of this stubbornness. The suffering, what the all existence is suffering is not merely principles, it is truth. What it is truth, it is true is not to escape, not to get out of it.


If so, we have to do something. We have to see it from the depth of understanding in life. Thank you.