Shunryu Suzuki Stories

10-28-10 - From Mike Dosho Port's blog, Wild Fox Zen come two Suzuki stories. Mike is a dharma heir of Dainin Katagiri.

First, from this talk (at the end) comes the following story about Shunryu Suzuki.

One day when Katagiri Roshi was at San Francisco Zen Center with Suzuki Roshi they were standing together at tea time. A man that Katagiri Roshi called “hippy man,” came up with tea cup in hand and asked Suzuki Roshi, "What is the universe?”

Suzuki Roshi said, “Please look in your cup.”

Immediately the hippy threw the cup on the floor, shattering it.

Suzuki Roshi quietly said, "Poor cup.”

And in this talk (near the beginning) there's another one.

So its like this story that from a guy who I'll call George. George is a real American Zen guy whom I like a lot. I heard George tell this story over ten years ago so the details may have gotten twisted in my twisted mind but I'll do my best.

In the late 1960's George had just finished his divinity degree from Yale and was hungry for some religious experience. George heard that there was a Zen master in San Francisco so he drove across the county to Tassajara to meet the man.

George had to do a one-day sitting before being admitted to the monastery and meeting with Suzuki Roshi. George had never sat for a second so a full day of getting up only to pee had his mind whirling.

At the end of the day he was ushered into Suzuki Roshi's cabin. Suzuki offered him tea and said, "What is your name?"

George took it like, "What is it that thus comes?"

His mind was launched into a swirl. He knew Zen through D.T. Suzuki and "knew" that there was no self. How could no self have a name? What could he say that wasn't a lie? What was his true name? Nothing came to mind. But saying nothing didn't seem to respond to the Roshi's question so he felt that he had to say something, but what?

After a long, awkward pause, George gasped out, "George."

"Hi," said Suzuki Roshi, "my name's Suzuki."