What is Buddhism?

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
15
8.7k

One Phrase

From the Introduction to
Crooked Cucumber,
The Life and Zen Teachings of
Shunryu Suzuki

By David Chadwick

Buddhism defined in two words.

One night in February of 1968, I sat among fifty black-robed fellow students, mostly young Americans, at Zen Mountain Center, Tassajara Springs, ten miles inland from Big Sur, California, deep in the mountain wilderness. The kerosene lamplight illuminated our breath in the winter air of the unheated room.

Before us the founder of the first Zen Buddhist monastery in the Western Hemisphere, Shunryu Suzuki, had concluded a lecture from his seat on the altar platform. “Thank you very much,” he said softly, with a genuine feeling of gratitude. He took a sip of water, cleared his throat, and looked at his students. “Is there some question?” he asked, just loud enough to be heard above the sound of the creek gushing in the darkness outside.
I bowed, hands together, and caught his eye.
“Hai?” he said, meaning yes.

“Suzuki Roshi, I’ve been listening to your lectures for years,” I said, “and I really love them, and they’re very inspiring, and I know that what you’re talking about is actually very clear and simple. But I must admit I just don’t understand. I love it, but I feel like I could listen to you for a thousand years and still not get it. Could you just please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”

Everyone laughed. He laughed. What a ludicrous question. I don’t think any of us expected him to answer it. He was not a man you could pin down, and he didn’t like to give his students something definite to cling to. He had often said not to have “some idea” of what Buddhism was.

But Suzuki did answer. He looked at me and said,

“Everything changes.”

Then he asked for another question.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 1.0
Hearts 0.0
Comments 10
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
0 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.
15
8.7k

Read The Best Articles of November
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.
CLICK TO SEE WHO WON

elephant journal

Elephant Journal is grassroots media. Dedicated to “bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society, we’re about anything that helps us to live a good life that’s also good for others, and our planet. >>>

Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>>

Elephant’s been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter’s Shorty Awards for #green content…twice. >>>

Get involved:
> Get our curated online magazine, free e-newsletter.
> Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook.
> Write: send article or query.
> Advertise.
> Become an Elephant:

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Apr 4, 2012 1:36pm

Hey not to go off topic but can anyone give me overview of. New York Car Insurance Reform 295 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007 (646) 351-0824 They can be down the block with me. I was wondering if they were a good insurance agency. I need to get hold of coverage, it is regulations you know, but I have to have a good price price plus I want friendly service.

anonymous Oct 12, 2011 4:46pm

Beautiful! I love it. Gracias.

anonymous Oct 3, 2011 10:55pm

[…] Suzuki Roshi here. Video of Suzuki Roshi, here. Waylon Lewis, founder of elephantjournal.com & host of […]

anonymous Jan 28, 2011 3:12pm

[…] attitude—that Jack LaLanne was merely onto something good, something that the likes of Shunryu Suzuki and Pattabhi Jois had come to fully possess and share in all its purity—is one I have today. I […]

anonymous Jan 21, 2011 4:33am

[…] mindfulness does not mean teaching Buddhism. Zen master, Suzuki Roshi, says, “mindfulness is, at the same time, wisdom. It is the readiness of mind that is wisdom. But […]

anonymous Sep 4, 2010 7:43am

Jennifer Lopez is so amazing. I like her films and when she sings. I like her role in the movie The Governess.

anonymous Sep 1, 2010 2:37pm

Wonderful learn, I simply passed this onto a colleague who was in search of this info. I’ve you bookmarked on Digg.

anonymous Aug 31, 2010 8:45am

Everything changes, yet nothing happens!–"Waylon's mom"

anonymous Aug 30, 2010 3:35pm

All in all, I like her. Yes, I think she is dramatic at times, but it seems like everyday communication includes a little showmanship to convery your message. I’ll tell you, she seems to have a great style! I like her!

anonymous Aug 28, 2010 8:56pm

[…] started with this anecdote from David Chadwick’s , which I came across in this Elephant Journal post. One night in February of 1968, I sat among fifty black-robed fellow students, mostly young […]

anonymous Aug 27, 2010 6:53am

Ovid – Metamorphoses, around 10BC:

“Everything changes – nothing dies.”

Seems like someone else had interest in those classics 😉

anonymous Aug 26, 2010 11:25pm

on twitter, I said: "let go"

John Pappas Aug 26, 2010 7:53pm

Just this!

anonymous Aug 26, 2010 6:35pm

how beautiful and true,i picked up “crooked cucumber” today and started to read,thank u

anonymous Aug 26, 2010 6:10pm

Awesome! Thank you for sharing!