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Brief Memories
of Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Center back then, etc. 

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photo by Lisa Law

Joanna Bull cuke page

Joanna Bull
August 25, 1997

Suzuki Roshi showed me the nature of mind.

I’m profoundly grateful to him.

At our last meeting his face disappeared into nothing - in 71 - in dokusan. I was at the end of my time there and I expressed great gratitude and thanked him for the teachings and as he smiled at me benevolently his face broke up into pieces.

I was older - 32 - and didn’t need to be close to him. He kept saying just follow the practice so I stayed out of the political and social stuff and stayed to the deeper dharmic level. I was content with that.

I’m into Tibetan Buddhism now. I’m with Sogyal Rimpoche and I tell him I had two root teachers who showed me the nature of mind. Suzuki Roshi’s picture is on my table with him. Sogyal said the Zen students who sat prepared the US wonderfully for his tantric practice.

When I left Tassajara I really didn’t like the political climate there and I continued to sit for ten years and visited a lot of teachers and didn’t find a teacher like him till I went to a Sogyal lecture on Suzuki Roshi and I saw that Zen and Dzogchen were really the same. I had been spoiled by the gently falling rain of Suzuki Roshi but I could take Sogyal’s different way. Still Suzuki Roshi could crack your head open at the proper moment and because of that I could study with Sogyal. He referred to Suzuki Roshi through the years as one of the most revered masters who have inspired him.

Joanna Bull is a founder of Gilda's Club along with Gene Wilder and Joel Siegel, named for Gilda Radner. Joanna was Radner's cancer psychotherapist during the comedienne's fatal illness.

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