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

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Edited transcription

May 22, 1965

Dear Mrs. Mitchell,

Thank you very much for your letter. I am very sorry to hear that Fujimoto Roshi's* eyes are so bad. If his eyes were not so bad he would have his own sesshin at his temple, Shorinji.

When I was at his temple, the year before last year, Yasutani Roshi* was having sesshin near his temple. I remember his [Fujimoto's] noble attitude when Inoue-san* told me about Yasutani Roshi's sesshin in his presence.

I think Osho-san* is very kind to tell you about Fujimoto Roshi. If you were not unwell, best thing for you and for Fujimoto Roshi would be to go and see him as soon as possible and take good care of him staying at his temple as long as you can and if he attends Yasutani Roshi's sesshin, you attend the sesshin, if he does not you do not. This is the way should be and the way which is understood by every one of Buddhists.

But if you go and see him and attend Yasutani Roshi's sesshin, whether Fujimoto Roshi agrees with it or not, that may not be right, because in that case you look like coming over all the way from America to attend Yasutani Roshi's sesshin. I think this is one of the reasons why Inoue-san did not answer to your letter.

Perhaps, we may not know how much Fujimoto Roshi love you as his disciple. Each time he writes to me he refers to you. As my conclusion about your inquiry, why don't you write both Fujimoto Roshi and Osho that you can not come because you do not feel well, and looking forward to make a trip to visit Japan.

Please give my best regards to Mr. Mitchell and members of CBA and Don's toe.*

With Gassho,

Rev. Shunryu Suzuki

P.S. I have many things to write.

My wife is leaving S.F. April 8.*

2. Philip Wilson is leaving S.F. for Eiheiji to stay one year there.*

* Yasutani Roshi is also mentioned in the article on Elsie. He was one of the Zen priests most active in teaching Westerners and is known for his dramatic style and emphasis on sesshin and attaining kensho through concentration on koans.

* Osho - actually looks like Oihio but that doesn't sound right. Anyway, Elsie doesn't know who this is and can't remember what this part of the letter is about. She thinks it may be based on a misunderstanding by Suzuki of something she had communicated to him by letter or phone. For her to attend sesshin with Yasutani, her teacher Fujimoto's junior dharma brother, would have probably been seen by Suzuki as being improper unless done just right. But all she remembers from that time about Yasutani is that fanatical students of his tried to dominate the CBA, trying to impose "their kind of atmosphere" on it. She did have some contact with Yasutani later on though. He has dharma heirs in America today that do not reflect the fanaticism of the students that Elsie ran into at the CBA. There were fanatics everywhere back then - including at the SFZC.

* Elsie says she thinks that Don cut his toe on a sharp rock at the beach in Cape Cod. 

* Mrs. Suzuki was going to Japan for a visit.

* Philip Wilson, one of the first ordained as a priest by Suzuki, did stay at Eiheiji for a year.

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