Suzuki Stories

Memories of Shunryu Suzuki

There are Suzuki stories elsewhere on this site, mainly in the interviews

There are more at Brief Memories of Shunryu Suzuki

Go to Excerpts from Crooked Cucumber for even more stories about Suzuki

Lectures and quotes and excerpts

ZC Stories including Tassajara Stories

Outtakes from Zen Is Right Here and Zen Is Right Now - includes many memories of something Suzuki said in a lecture

Groups of stories or Groups telling stories

Outtakes from To Shine One Corner of the World

Haiku Zendo Chronicles, Part I - a long out of print 1973 publication of the Los Altos Zendo.  - Part I is history of Haiku Zendo

Haiku Zendo chronicles, Part II - memories of Suzuki


Ed Brown - Excerpts from Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings

Shunryu Suzuki in Thank You and OK

Shunryu Suzuki and the Beats

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche 
on Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

Meeting with an ordinary monk - Kaz Tanahashi

Henry Schaeffer with Sam Bercholz: Rinpoche and Roshi

Three stories from Daniel Abdal-Havy Moore.

March 2000 letter from Nick Phillips about Suzuki's last words to Katagiri.

Memories of Suzuki-roshi by Rick Fields (from October '75 New Age Journal)

From translator (Norwegian) Gordon Geist who's American

Two letters from Ken Spiker.

Zen is Right Here, Shambhala, fall 2007 - vignettes on Suzuki by DC

Shunryu and choosing the worst vegetables

Shunryu Suzuki had a radiation belt.

Suzuki Explosive Answer page

Remembering a Man of Wisdom byLewis Richmond

Beverly Armstrong (Horowitz)

Mary Quagliata

A Kishizawa Story

on this famous enso



9-05-14 - Remembering Suzuki Roshi - A talk given by Rev. Edward Brown, Rev. Peter Schneider, and Rev. Les Kaye in honor of the 50th anniversary of Suzuki Roshi's arrival in America, on Saturday, May 23, 2009, at City Center. (from the SFZC site)

- What's with them using the "Rev." ??? I searched the site and don't find that usual. Some people like Myo Lehey use it. It was used along with sensei for Shunryu Suzuki until Alan Watts' letter of 1966 said it wasn't right and that we should use "roshi" for him. Go to that story from Crooked Cucumber on the Alan Watts page.

6-06-13 - Philip Whalen overheard dis of Suzuki Shunryu - from Tensho David Schneider

2-12-13 - Shunryu Suzuki memories from SFZC Alumni retreat of April 2012

11-19-12 - Lloyd Kahn remembers Phillip Wilson which ends with a neat story about Shunryu Suzuki.

This is the subject of my book of sayings by Suzuki Roshi, formerly a Broadway book called To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki 

which was re-published by Shambhala in October '07 as Zen Is Right Here, Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, Author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Woah, that's a mouthful.
Here are a few examples.-DC

A young woman asked Suzuki-roshi in a Sokoji talk "Roshi, sometimes when I'm trying to decide what I should do, I ask myself, 'in this case, what would Roshi do?' Should I continue that practice?"  Suzuki answered "Then should I ask myself, 'What would Roshi do?'"

Bob Halpern


During the question and answer period after a lecture, someone said to Suzuki-roshi, "Here I sit near the end of this session energized and thinking, there is a lot of power in this practice."  Suzuki replied, "Don't use it."

From Jack Van Allen (in the green text he sent it in)


At a question session with Suzuki-roshi at Sokoji, a young man asked, "What should a Zen practitioner do with his spare time?"

Suzuki at first looked perplexed and repeated the phrase, "spare time?" He then began to smile and repeated again "spare time" and then began to laugh uproariously.

Edward Van Tassel (Off the internet)


As Suzuki was walking out of the building to meet his ride to Los Altos, a woman, at the top of the steps, called out to the driver, "You be careful now; we don't want to lose our treasure!"

Suzuki turned, halfway down the steps, made a loud SMACK! with his hands, and called out, "No more!" He threw his head back and laughed and continued to laugh as the car drove off.

Mark Abrams


A student remembers:

I had dokusan with Suzuki-roshi during sesshin I felt lost and far from home at that point in my life, and I asked him if Big Mind was lost in the dark too. He said, "No, not lost in the dark; working in the dark!" and he moved his arms about, demonstrating. He said it was like the many-armed statue of Avalokiteshvara, and he made the statue come to life for a moment.

Frank Anderton

1/27/03 - Tony Patchell's Zen dreams.

3/25/02 - Dennis Samson told me this story he remembered that Suzuki mentioned once in a lecture. I remember it too so I embellish on what Dennis told me. This happened when Suzuki was quite young, early teens I think. 

He was out working with his master, Gyokujun So-on on a bitterly cold winter day. They were cutting firewood. Suzuki's mind was wandering and he didn't notice as So-on pulled back the thin steel blade of his saw so that it bent into a U shape and let it snap onto the unsuspecting face of poor little Crooked Cucumber. It was an extremely painful bit of shocking feedback that Suzuki would never forget.

I wanted to use that story in Crooked Cucumber and even wrote it up, but I wasn't sure if I'd heard it from Suzuki or Dainin Katagiri, his assistant teacher at Zen Center so I set it aside. It really points out the marked difference between what was permissible back then in Japan and in America today where it would be written up in Buddhist magazines and the general media as an example of abusiveness. Anyway, I'm glad teachers can't do that here now. Maybe we're limiting the scope of eye-opening teaching options but I think it just wouldn't work here. - DC

3/12/02 - from Dennis SamsonOnce Suzuki Roshi was asked by someone, "How much ego do you need?" and that Suzuki said, "Just enough so that you don't step in front of a bus."

4-06-09 - Joan Halifax, teacher at Upaya ZC, with a story about Shunryu Suzuki and an interesting take on it all. A few tiny things are off - Sokoji wasn't a Victorian and I don't think he would have smiled when answering Okusan (Mrs. Suzuki). Thanks to Madeleine.

10-28-10 - Two stories from Mike Dosho Port's blog.