Suzuki Stories Interviews Brief Memories Groups People Index
Shunryu Suzuki Stories - Suzuki Stories Index
MEMORIES OF SUZUKI Roshi FROM WIND BELL AND DC FILES
Letters on Suzuki Index - with more on these letters
Peter Bailey had been type-setting and doing graphics and layout for the SFZC for years when I first came. He was the guy who did the final work with the Wind Bells and the brochures. Later he moved into the City Center. He also did a lot of work for me for my mad projects. I always knew where he hid his booze. I'll find more on him later, maybe there's an article in the Wind Bell. Not sure when he died, maybe when I was in Japan - 88-92. This is all I have from Peter. Maybe we'll come up with more later. - dc
I had passed Suzuki Roshi a few times with polite introductions exchanged while we were going up or down the Sokoji staircase in opposite directions. So I was a little nervous when I went to my first meeting with him (and Dick Baker, who arrived later) to confer about the Wind Bell. I walked into the old wooden Bush Street temple, surprised that the door was open, called out and slowly climbed the narrow staircase. Called out again. No answer. Wondering as I went, I continued down the hall, thinking "Nobody home". Finally I found an open door to a room where a small man was sitting behind a desk, his fingers laced behind his head. With a wide grin he said, "This must be the place." He had just exercised a new American phrase, and we both laughed.
Hearing the tape of this [?] lecture, I was struck not so much by the meaning of the words of Suzuki Roshi as by the way in which they were spoken. There was rhythm, deliberately unrolling, a slowness, and pauses with throat clearing, chuckles, breath adjustments, but rarely a search for "the right word," just letting Japanese and English exist in his mind as large space, perhaps Big Mind, in order that we could hear it ourselves.
It was as if I were a typesetter in a print shop, and could pluck each letter from its case while I listened, instead of checking back and forth from original manuscript to metal lock‑up. Suzuki Roshi gave heartfelt time for each phrase of each meaning to rise up into our consciousness. Slowly and wonderingly that typesetter in me exclaimed to himself, "Hah, these seemingly halting phrases themselves form a natural length of line, and the slow pace and silences of his speech help me to choose, right while I'm setting it, the proper amount of space surrounding each line, so that they reveal one after the other the true meaning."
And as the pages compose themselves, the typesetter sees complete the as yet unfinished book and in his jargon mutters, "Ah, this type 'sits well' upon the page."
It is a pun Suzuki Roshi would have laughed and laughed at immediately, or else he would have raised his high eyebrow higher, placed his hands on his knees, and said, "Type sits on the page well or not so good; we sit in the zendo well or not so good. Thank you very much.
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