Teisho Transcripts

Joshu Roshi Portrait

To download and read the full transcript of Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s teisho’s, click on the date

March 2, 1986

Every person does have a heart/mind. And this does in a sense give rise to one’s being here, one’s manifestation. Without a heart/mind there is no way the self, or one’s personhood could come into being. What we might say is that thing we call the heart/mind is that which possesses character or personality. And so everyone does manifest this heart/mind of this body that has personality. And what Rinzai is doing here is bringing forth the heart/mind that all of us possess. 

March 3, 1986

This lump of red flesh, this heart/mind, manifests the self and initially this is an incomplete self. However, this is difficult here. Although they talk about the lump of red flesh, there is also talk about this one True Person of No Fixed Position. In other words this self, this lump of red flesh, initially looks at the outside and the inside and when it looks at the outside it’s only seeing half of the matter. Because there is a split between the inside and outside you have the Dharma activity of the outside and the Dharma activity of the inside. 

March 4, 1986

Now, one style of teisho is to stand in the place of the Buddha and to give warning to one’s students. The very first stage or style of teisho is to, with kindness, give an explanation of the meaning involved in any given kōan to help people grasp that kōan. In other words, to give a teisho is to stand in the place of the Buddha or a patriarch and give a talk on the essence of any given kōan. Now a third perspective from which to give a teisho is to talk about the historical background of a given kōan, to talk about the historical condition out of which it emerged. 

March 5, 1986

From long ago in Zen temples when people do Zen practice and sanzen, the typical greeting is, “Where have you come from? Or, where have you been?” How should we answer this? This is a question that Buddhism repeatedly asks. All that’s going on here is the manifestation of this self without will and without desire, and the emergence from that self of the self that does have will and desire. Now as I’ve been saying since the first day of this sesshin, this one True Person of No Fixed Position that has no will, no desire, this is what Shakyamuni referred to as the no-self. And what we must do is realize the wisdom that attains to this one True Person of No Fixed Position. Through what type of practice, through what process, can we attain to this one true person without self, the no-self self? 

March 6, 1986

Indeed, for new practitioners of Zen there’s sometimes a kōan: “How do you realize the wind?” All of us experience the wind so anyone can answer it. And the person might be asked, when you experience the wind where is your dwelling place? Where do you exist there? And if people do experience the wind, perhaps they won’t understand this. What emerges right out of this when someone experiences the answer is, when you are there, experiencing and realizing the wind, how do you realize the Buddha? Where is the Buddha? And then the person gets confused again. It’s the same thing but no one understands. Why is this? Well, because the self is always fixated, and tries to answer the question from this fixated standpoint, and surely it cannot. 

March 7, 1986

When we move on to the tenth level, for example, the level of the pine tree, there are certain things that have not evolved to that extent – things like the stone, or grasses. And they are embraced by this level and they do exist in the same world, but they are not there in the same way as the pine tree. And for example, things like dogs and other types of mammals are highly advanced, but they do not come to the level that humans dwell on. And so the human emerges here, with the dog and all of these other things, embraced by it. And so there are distinctions between all these things in the world. They exist at different levels; however, their source is always the same. And you might say things like mosquitoes and other things are obnoxious and you don’t like them, but they are emerging there as your content. All things that are here are the content of the self. And the same principle obtains, whether you’re in the direction of living or dying, of expansion or contraction. And it seems that the monk that asked this question here in the passage of the text does not quite understand this principle. If he indeed understood this principle, we would not expect him to raise this question he does. Indeed for our study we must become this foolish person and ask that silly question. 

March 8, 1986

The function or activity that gives rise to all things is the Dharma or Dharma activity. The teaching that explains the creation and manifestation of all things is the teaching of the Dharma. And it’s said that the person who sees this Dharma, who sees into this Dharma and grasps it, this is a realized or awakened person. And so the Buddha Dharma is the teaching of Buddha. If you attain to the wisdom that sees how all things in the universe are manifested here, you too will be a Buddha.