Shunryu Suzuki Stories

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Sent by Lloyd Kahn

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Phillip Wilson Main Page

This is mainly about Phillip Wilson but there's a nifty Suzuki story at the end. Thanks to Jonathan Green in Kentucky for connecting me with Lloyd Kahn on this story. - dc

In 1954, [Richard] Zanuck and I and Phil Wilson drove a 20th Century Fox Ford convertible down to Mazatlan. Zanuck and I were looking for surf, and Phil came along.

Phil was an extremely powerful guy, and the Mexicans had never seen anybody like him. Kids would come up to him on the street and ask to feel his muscles. One kid in some small town said to him, Carlos Atlas! It was a pretty good time in Phil's life, he was comfortable with himself, and he was great with all the locals. A lot of laughs and good vibes.

It was Easter week and one afternoon we went into a Mazatlan waterfront bar where there was a Norteņo band and a lot of nautical people, everyone drinking and having a good time on a sunny afternoon. We got a beer and, of course, everyone in the room noticed Phil. Pretty soon a pretty drunk guy came over and challenged Phil to arm wrestle. Phil, who had never lost an arm wrestling match, was brilliant. All the people in the room were around the table. They locked hands and Phil started pushing the guy's arm down; he got about halfway there, then got a worried look on his face, and wham! - the Mexican slammed Phil's arm down. The place went wild. They bought us beers all afternoon.

A year before that, Phil got knifed in the abdomen in a fight in Palm Springs; the local guys were pissed because Zanuck had a local girl as girlfriend, there was a party, the heaviest dude challenged Phil, and when it was obvious he was outclassed (out powered), someone threw him a knife.

There's a very interesting account of Phil meeting Neal Cassady (complete with pseudonyms) in Spit in the Ocean #6, in an article titled the day after, written by Kesey.

Phil took me to the Zen Center in the early '60s. It was very small then, but there was Suzuki Roshi. Phil told me that one morning he went to Zazen after taking acid. After the session was over, he bowed to Suzuki Roshi, who looked at him and said, I like to get my enlightenment bit by bit.