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
Creative Harmonics (her website)
Rowena Pattee (Kryder)
As I entered the building on Bush Street, a bright‑eyed monk appeared and bowing, asked what was my wish. This was Katagiri‑sensei at that time. I asked if there was a sumi‑e ink master here? and he laughed and called in Japanese behind the curtains. At which time Suzuki Roshi appeared and bowing, looked at me quizzically. I showed him my sumi‑e ink paintings . . .or photos of . . . and he asked me to sit down, ordering tea from Katagiri‑sensei. Immediately I felt a refreshing rush of clarity in the presence of Suzuki Roshi. Like a refreshing clear mountain stream, his giggles and words and silence filled me with emptiness. He pointed to certain paintings and giggled, and we talked for over an hour, over green tea. I learned that the sumi‑e ink teacher had left, but that I was welcome. He invited me to exhibit the sumi‑e ink paintings at the Zen temple, and I left feeling that everything in my life was new and fresh. It was an unforgettable, instantaneous awakening.
One time I asked him if he did not feel any pressure and difficulty with all the various ragged students who came off the street seeking enlightenment. He said, "I am very grateful for them. I will do all I can for them." He was so light and happy when he said it.
My children remember Suzuki Roshi very well. Although my youngest son was only three years old when we stayed at Tassajara in 1969, he remembers the orange Suzuki Roshi gave him. He still speaks of the "Man who gave me the orange" with joy in his eyes. One time, when this son fell from a ladder and hit his head against a rock, creating bloody gushes, and a mild concussion, I ran to him, and while I was picking him up he said: "I want to see Suzuki, the man who gave me the orange."
Years later, the spring before Suzuki Roshi's passing on, a group of Oregon students and I arranged a small sesshin beginning with a lecture at Reed College. There were hundreds of people at the lecture and Suzuki Roshi said that night that he felt very happy, felt that Portland was to be a place for Zen. The next day he had a gall‑bladder attack that was so severe that he could scarcely sit, appeared green, and motioned for me to take him to my home to rest. Reb Anderson continued to conduct the sesshin, while Suzuki Roshi and I drove back to my home. He was amazingly cheerful despite what must have been very severe pains. My small son was at home and because he loved our white cat, Muff, greeted Suzuki Roshi with the cat. Suzuki Roshi, despite his painful condition, laughed while he took the cat in his arms. Muff appeared to suddenly go limp with the utmost relaxation in Suzuki Roshi's arms.
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