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Letters and cards sent by Shunryu Suzuki to Elsie Mitchell - 1964 - 1970


Letters table of contents            Elsie Mitchell main page                              see original                          next

Edited transcription


Dec. 8th, 1967

Dear Mrs. Mitchell,

Did you receive some unusual board?* I sent it to you just as I was leaving San Francisco for Tassajara. We had Sesshin for Buddha's Enlightenment Day - Dec. 8th and now I am coming back to S. F.

Forty-one of our students sat together with Chino Sensei* and me. This is the second sesshin for Tassajara and this time they felt much better than last time but still while they were sitting they must have had many difficulties like pain in their legs and the cold room where there is no fire. Although they had more difficulties than last time, to feel better this time is good progress. Anyway thing are going with joy - we are very grateful for your father's* help in spite of the devaluation of the pound. We are now able to meet the Dec. payment. Dick* told me that we had already received $28,000 when I was leaving S.F. Perhaps we have more now. The Wind Bell* on which Dick and others have been working hard will be soon in your hands. Please thank your husband who is always giving encouragement to me. Dick tells me all about what you have discussed with him.

The board I sent you is one of the five which were given to me by my old friend and it's the most beautiful one of all and that is why I send it to you. I myself think that if you write the name of your association in your own writing, I will carve it and paint it in beautiful Japanese-rock-green (Byakuroku). How about it?

I want to see you very much but I cannot go to the East this time because Tassajara wants me so badly now.

With Gassho,

S. Shunryu


* This board is called a han which means wood or board in Japanese. It's thick, has ropes to be hung up on, and is hit with a mallet to call people to zazen. They didnít want to use it at the Cambridge Buddhist Association so Elsie gave it to another group, probably to Dorothy Schalk in Northampton.

*Kobun Chino had just come from Japan in June of that year to be a priest for the Los Altos group, but went to Tassajara instead because he was desperately needed there. He died tragically with his young daughter this year (2002). More on Kobun Chino.

* Edward Johnson, founder and CEO of Fidelity Management and Research. 

* Richard Baker - who became Suzuki's only dharma heir in America and who became the next abbot of the SFZC following Suzuki's death.

* the SF Zen Center's publication since 1961


Letters table of contents            Elsie Mitchell main page                              see original          next