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Excerpts from Shunryu Suzuki lectures - 2014-5
[laughs] = Suzuki laughs [laughter] = students laugh

On Attracting New Members

Maybe, we should not, you know, try to be successful. We should be concentrated in our effort rather than work towards people. Of course, we should not reject people, but we should not invite many people unnecessarily. So once someone come, we should try best effort to show our way, if possible, not by mouth, but by our actual practice.


This is an aspect of being in Zen Center that I appreciated. There was no idea of attracting new members. I want to put the word "attracting" up there to make the phrase "rather than work towards attracting people" which is to me what he meant, but maybe for a book, not here. Guests at Tassajara would ask me why no one tried to convert them and sometimes I said Zen had an old "go away" tradition. But of course there were ways that people were attracted. All the fund-raising to pay for Tassajara was like a national advertising campaign. In the early years there were some notices that zazen was available at Sokoji. There was a number in the phone book, at least eventually - some people report there wasn't but I found the address in the phone book in 66. I remember telling a bus driver to tell me where to get off. Yes - and that was coming from the Icelandic Airlines office in downtown SF to see about cheaply flying to Europe on my way to India to find a guru whom I had the image of sitting with in a cave. I'd been looking for a place to practice in California and none had attracted me. Then I remembered, oh yes, some people had mentioned the Zen Center in that old synagogue in Japantown. I'd bought some grass across the street once and wondered about it. And the low key, neither friendly nor unfriendly attitude of people when I got to Sokoji didn't distract from what attracted me - what they were doing and how they did it. - DC

From 70-05-05. For more go to this entry on the Suzuki lecture archive found on Shunryu Suzuki dot com. - Edited by DC, posted 1-15-15