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Shunryu Suzuki Calligraphy etc
 

Shunryu Suzuki's Enso
famous is some circles.

There was some discussion about this image being mistakenly mirrored because upper right clockwise is the normal way they're done, but according to Richard Baker that's the way Suzuki drew it. He remembers talking to Suzuki about it being different, from left to right. He told me that at the SFZC 50th reunion in August after the Saturday event when Steve Stucky was showing some memorabilia, one of which was a fundraising brochure or poster - raising money that eventually went to purchase Tassaajara - with the enso on it. I pointed out the left to right direction of the brush stroke and mentioned that some of us had wondered if the often used image was actually a reverse, a mirror of the original. That's when Baker told Steve and me about his discussion with Suzuki about this in the fall of 1966. I thought it would forever remain a mystery.

I remember when Suzuki made it. He didn't do a lot of calligraphy but that day he sat on the floor in his office with a lot of white sheets of sumi paper on the table and floor, blackened brush in hand doing one after another. When he'd decided on one it was printed up on separate sheets and a bunch of us were there looking at them and taking one. I got him to sign one. Have no idea where it is now.

Also, contacted Chisan at Sogenji in Okayama, Japan who asked Shodo Harada Roshi about it and he said it has been and will be done every which way - no rules. - dc


10-19-12 - Another comment on this left to right enso from a cuke reader and Zen friend.

Some years ago, I went to a talk of Kaz's [Kakuaki Tanahashi] in Berkeley. 
At the end of the talk he had everyone come
up, one by one, and draw an enso which he patted dry and then gave
them. I still have mine.

I was interested in what I drew only because when I went back to my
seat, the person sitting in the chair next to me pointed out that I
had drawn it from left to right. And they were supposed to be drawn
from right to left. Naturally, I felt bad about this. I had done it
wrong.

Over the years, whenever there was a discussion about I enso, I perked
up and made sure I listened well or read it thoroughly. Once I came
across a discussion between Aitken-Roshi and Kaz about the enso which
is drawn from left to right. I no longer remember where I read it
(sorry) but this is what I remember:

The person who draws an enso from left to right is a person who learns
the hard way.

That's what I remember from reading their discussion.

It's certainly true for me. If indeed, Suzuki-Roshi did draw it
originally from left to right then is it also true of him? Don't know,
didn't know him.
(name withheld)
DC comment: Interesting. I wrote back that Suzuki Roshi spoke of 
himself as a slow learner, a slow horse.

More on this enso here