Interview with Teah Strozer

Teah Strozer link page


First thought, best thought,

Teah Strozer
with DC, no date - nineties probably

Suzuki Roshi embodied what I'd read in books about Zen masters. I'd read about people who were free and spontaneous and here was this person actually being that way. I felt safe with him and I felt deeply known and accepted to that depth. When he talked to me I just wanted to be with him. I was with Maezumi in LA and Suzuki Roshi would come down - I met him there in ‘68 or ‘69 and I'd come up to the city to have dokusan with him. I'd call first and say I'd like to see Suzuki Roshi and whoever was on the phone would say he was too busy and I would suggest that they ask him if it would be alright and always he would say yes and I'd go up and see him. I was enormously neurotic. I'm amazed he'd spend time with me the way he did. I'd tell him about some problem I had and no matter what it was it would fall away. It wouldn't seem like a problem anymore and I'd sit with him then in that space that was peaceful and accepting. It helped me a lot. He changed my whole life for sure.

At Tassajara there was a rule against music but I was there in the summer of '71 and Bruce McAllister and I would go down creek and play music. I'd play the flute and Suzuki Roshi was open to that. Once Bruce and I were playing improvisational Jazz at a beach by a tree going down stream - it’s not like that now - and Suzuki Roshi came by with a group on a day off on the way to the narrows and they said we shouldn’t be playing music and he said no no I want to hear and he sat down and listened to us.

I went to dokusan with him at Tassajara and I asked him about bowing - I didn't understand why we did it and in the middle of the session he got up and came to the side of me at an angle and started bowing to the floor repeatedly - not to me or to the alter - he was just showing me bowing. It's been with me ever since. Every time I bow or think of something he did, it was an example to me of how to completely do something, completely be there.

I remember him standing at the door and bowing (while standing) to us as we'd leave the zendo at Sokoji and Page Street.

There were the glass Marley mugs all over Tassajara and I was dishwasher and I could have spent all my time picking them up and I didn’t know what to do about it so I went to Suzuki Roshi and asked him what should I do and he said, "First thought, best thought, sometimes you pick one up and sometimes you don’t."

There's a note at the bottom of this short interview that says that two minutes of it were lost which indicates to me it was done on the phone. Also she ended it by saying "Once I was serving him and Okusan tea at Tassajara and my brother and - I’ll tell you that one later.". So I hope to get more from her. - DC