Right Attitude, Negative and Positive – Shunryu Suzuki
“The more you understand our thinking, the more you find it difficult to talk about it. The purpose of my talking is to give you some idea of our way, but actually, it is not something to talk about, but something to practice. The best way is just to practice without saying anything. When we talk about our way, there is apt to be some misunderstanding, because the true way always has at least two sides, the negative and the positive. When we talk about the negative side, the positive side is missing, and when we talk about the positive side, the negative side is missing. We cannot speak in a positive and a negative way at the same time. So we do not know what to say. It is almost impossible to talk about Buddhism. So not to say anything, just to practice it, is the best way. Showing one finger or drawing a round circle may be the way, or simply to bow.
“If we understand this point, we will understand how to talk about Buddhism, and we will have perfect communication. To talk about something will be one of our practices, and to listen to the talk will also be practice. When we practice zazen we just practice zazen, without any gaining idea. When we talk about something we just talk about something, just the positive or the negative side, without trying to express some intellectual, one-sided idea. And we listen without trying to figure out some intellectual understanding, without trying to understand from just a one-sided view. This is how we talk about our teaching and how we listen to a talk.
“Dogen-zenji said, ‘When you say something to someone, he may not accept it, but do not try to make him understand it intellectually. Do not argue with him; just listen to his objections until he himself finds something wrong with them.’ This is very interesting. Try not to force your idea on someone, but rather think about it with him. If you feel you have won the discussion, that also is the wrong attitude. Try not to win in the argument; just listen to it; but it is also wrong to behave as if you had lost. Usually when we say something, we are apt to try to sell our teaching or force our idea. But between Zen students there is no special purpose in speaking or in listening. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we talk; that is all. It is like a greeting: “Good morning!” Through this kind of communication we can develop our way.”
Source: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki, p. 90, 91
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