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of Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Center back then, etc. 

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photo by Lisa Law


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Loring Palmer on Suzuki and LSD

from 11-24-2000 phone notes

 At the old Sokoji on Bush Street, each of us would bow to Shunryu Suzuki after service was over. One morning in 1965 after these bows, Loring recalls with help from his brother John, Suzuki pulled him and John aside and asked if they’d come in to his office. They waited till everyone had gone and then he asked them what is it with all these young people with long hair coming here? Why are doing it? Why are they interested in Zen? What can you tell me about this? Is it because of LSD? A lot of them are mentioning LSD. Yes, it’s at least somewhat because of the LSD they answered him but we can’ tell you why. If you want to try some, that will answer your question.  So he said, OK, he’d try it.

So Loring went home and packaged up two 250 micrograms of Owsley’s Sunshine in a red 3x5 Chinese coin envelope and took it over to Sokoji and handed it to Suzuki who said, “Thank you very much.”

.After that Loring kept anticipating Suzuki pulling him aside again and telling him how the LSD was but nothing happened and then, after a couple of weeks, at John’s urging, they asked him one morning after everyone was gone if he’d tried the gift Loring had given him and he said, yes he had. Loring asked him then what was it like? What happened? Suzuki said, “Baroom! Baroom! Baroom!” and then “Clang! Clang! Clang!” using his hands to show stirring in the saying “Okusan in kitchen, banging on pots” and steering like driving a car, maybe for car sounds out on Bush Street.

I didn’t believe him but John did, completely. But for me, I think it would have been within character for him to have lied about it.  

DC: I tend to agree with Loring.


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