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About Suzuki Roshi
Reb Anderson in Crooked Cucumber
Chapter 17, One and Many, p355
From Richard's ordination in 1967 to the fall of 1970, Suzuki had ordained nine students as priests. Mel Weitsman, the head of the Berkeley Zen Center, was ordained in 1969. Bill Kwong and Silas Hoadley received their robes early in 1970. Silas had given up his importing business and was involved full-time with Zen Center. Peter Schneider and Dan Welch took their vows together in 1970; Paul Discoe the builder and Reb Anderson came later that year. Reb was the newest of the bunch, exceedingly concentrated and devoted to Suzuki. Suzuki had also ordained a young couple early in 1970, before they went to Japan to study in monasteriesRon and Joyce Browning. And on New Year's Day of 1971 he was going to ordain a longtime IBM employee named Les Kaye at the Los Altos zendo.
Chapter 18, The Driver, p364
On March 12 Suzuki flew to Portland to visit a group associated with Zen Center. Okusan worried about his health and asked Reb Anderson to accompany him. Reb had studied with Suzuki since 1968, when he had driven up to the front door of Sokoji in a grey Cadillac hearse to visit his best childhood chum, Bob Halpern. Reb had been a championship heavyweight Golden Gloves boxer and had studied psychology, philosophy, and math at the University of Minnesota. Then he met Suzuki and through steadiness and persistence became a close disciple. He was ordained as a priest just two years later. In this short time Reb had already read more about Bud-dhism than most students ever would. He was a zealous practitioner who would sometimes sit zazen all night alone. He wanted to be near Suzuki, and since he was so concentrated and consistent in his efforts, he often was.
Suzuki gave a lecture on the evening of the first day in Portland. Late the next morning, as Reb was carrying the stick, he saw Suzuki bent over on his cushion. Reb went up to him, and Suzuki said, "I have a terrible pain." He was immediately taken back to the house where they were staying. The next morning he was still sick and coughing up bitter bile. Suzuki managed to endure the flight back to San Francisco, and Yvonne and Okusan met him with a wheelchair. Though he could hardly walk, he refused it, stubbornly and uncharacteristically saying, "No, I am a Zen master."
Back at Page Street, Reb knew things were really bad when Suzuki took off his robe and just let it drop to the floor, something he had never done in front of Reb, who was always watching and copying his teacher.
For the ride to the hospital Suzuki had to be carried to the car. The doctor quickly discovered it was his gallbladder, and before long he was in surgery.
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