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

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Edited transcription

Dec. 1st, 1965

Dear Mrs. Mitchell,

Excuse me for not writing you sooner. I am so sorry that I did not say thank you when I received one hundred dollars and so many things I left.

Each time we received the things from you, Rev. Katagiri, Michiko* and my wife laughed at me especially when we found something like a white banner in the registered package.

Michiko writes us very often. She said in one of her letters that she was very happy to have another mother in Cambridge now. And we are very grateful for your most kind considerations for her.

We heard that you are spending this Christmas at John's home town and Don is also going home and that you have kindly suggested her to have New Year at San Francisco. But Michiko says she would rather like to stay at your home if that is not inconvenient for you.

Rev. Katagiri's wife, Tomoe-san, and her boy Yasuhiko have come. They moved in the house across the street. Yasuhiko calls me Hojo san, not Ojii-san.* 

Fujimoto Roshi gave me a very good letter asking about your health. He is quite well and active now.

Please give my best regard to John and say hello to Don and Michiko.

With gassho,

Rev Shunryu Suzuki


Mrs. Shalk (sic - Schalk) is coming to San Francisco. She will stay across the street for two weeks in the first part of January.

*Michiko was the daughter of a friend of Suzuki's wife. She stayed with the Mitchells for one year. She and Suzuki should have realized that the Mitchells didn't really want her to stay so long. Suzuki had told Elsie that Michiko would join them in zazen and would cook and clean. She didn't. She wouldn't take a job at a museum that a Japanese friend (Horioka) offered her, saying that she should stay with Elsie. She didn't learn English well enough to communicate well. She ran up huge phone bills with calls to her brothers in Japan. She wouldn't go out. When the Mitchells got her a TV and a bicycle the situation improved. One of her brothers got sick and she returned to Japan and when Suzuki asked if she could return Elsie eventually politely refused.  When the SFZC  acquired its residential practice centers, there was always room for the Suzukis to offer Michiko. She came and stayed after Suzuki's death at the City Center and at Tassajara. This was a less isolating and more demanding environment for her. She got along well with people, regularly attended zazen, and was an industrious worker. Maybe she just needed time to adjust to a new culture and surely what she learned in her year in Cambridge helped her when she came back to America. 

* Hojo is the abbot of a temple. Ojii-san is grandfather.

Note the use of PTO - "please turn over" at the bottom of the first page on the original. 

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