“Because we enjoy all aspects of life as an unfolding of big mind, we do not care for any excessive joy. So we have imperturbable composure.”
This transcript of a dharma talk by the Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki is one of my favorites because it is so simple and down to earth. And yet it is food for much deep contemplation. Enjoy!
When you are practicing zazen, do not try to stop your thinking.
Let it stop by itself. If something comes into your mind,
let it come in, and let it go out. It will not stay long. When
you try to stop your thinking, it means you are bothered by
Do not be bothered by anything. It appears as if something
comes from outside your mind, but actually it is only the
waves of your mind, and if you are not bothered by the
waves, gradually they will become calmer and calmer. In
five or at most ten minutes, your mind will be completely
serene and calm. At that time your breathing will become
quite slow, while your pulse will become a little faster.
It will take quite a long time before you find your calm,
serene mind in your practice. Many sensations come, many
thoughts or images arise, but they are just waves of your
own mind. Nothing comes from outside your mind. Usually
we think of our mind as receiving impressions and experiences
from outside, but that is not a true understanding of
our mind. The true understanding is that the mind includes
everything; when you think something comes from outside
it means only that something appears in your mind. Nothing
outside yourself can cause any trouble.
You yourself make the waves in your mind.
If you leave your mind as it is, it
will become calm. This mind is called big mind.
If your mind is related to something outside itself, that
mind is a small mind, a limited mind. If your mind is not
related to anything else, then there is no dualistic understanding
in the activity of your mind. You understand activity as
just waves of your mind. Big mind experiences everything
Do you understand the difference between the
two minds: the mind which includes everything, and the
mind which is related to something? Actually they are the
same thing, but the understanding is different, and your
attitude towards your life will be different according to
which understanding you have.
That everything is included within your mind is the essence
of mind. To experience this is to have religious feeling.
Even though waves arise, the essence of your mind is pure;
it is just like clear water with a few waves. Actually water
always has waves. Waves are the practice of the water. To
speak of waves apart from water or water apart from waves
is a delusion. Water and waves are one. Big mind and small
mind are one. When you understand your mind in this way,
you have some security in your feeling. As your mind does
not expect anything from outside, it is always filled. A mind
with waves in it is not a disturbed mind, but actually an
amplified one. Whatever you experience is an expression
of big mind.
The activity of big mind is to amplify itself through various
experiences. In one sense our experiences coming one by
one are always fresh and new, but in another sense they are
nothing but a continuous or repeated unfolding of the one
big mind. For instance, if you have something good for
breakfast, you will say, “This is good.” “Good” is supplied
as something experienced some time long ago, even though
you may not remember when. With big mind we accept
each of our experiences as if recognizing the face we see in
a mirror as our own. For us there is no fear of losing this
mind. There is nowhere to come or to go; there is no fear
of death, no suffering from old age or sickness.
Because we enjoy all aspects of life as an unfolding of big mind,
we do not care for any excessive joy. So we have imperturbable
composure, and it is with this imperturbable composure of
big mind that we practice zazen.