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

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photo by Lisa Law


 


Sheridan Adams (formerly Ericson)


This incident took place in 1965 or 1966. Suzuki Roshi invited his students to accompany him on a visit to the Buddhist Church of San Francisco which is part of the Buddhist Churches of America - the Jodo Shinshu or Pure Land branch of Buddhism. (I think I have this right.)

We (many of us in our 20's) seated ourselves on the wooden pews in the church sanctuary. Although there were Buddhist images and objects in the sanctuary, we were comparing the atmosphere to that of the simple zendo at Sokoji. Where are the zafus? Why are these hymn-like books sitting in the rack on the back of the pew in front of us?

As one of the priests from the church was talking to us about Shin Buddhism, some of us were chuckling amongst ourselves. We, who had begun to learn about Zen and Buddhist maybe a year ago, thought we knew all about "real Buddhism," and this wasn't it.

We had no idea we were being observed. At the beginning of zazen the next morning Suzuki Roshi began walking around the zendo with his stick which was highly unusual. We had acted rudely out of ignorance and arrogance, and he was furious. Roshi hit each student with his stick and shouted, "You think you know everything about Buddhism. You know nothing!" He was right.


We're awaiting more from Sheridan whom we recently heard from in response to the Early Tassajara Alumni Reunion. - DC


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