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Shunryu Suzuki Jan. '98 Disciple Meeting - VII

Index, Cast of Characters, and Notes

Part VII

Tape 2A (side A) has been erased at this point.

Tape resumes, after a minute of humming.

DC note: I don’t know what the above notes mean because it reads like nothing’s missing, like it starts right where we left off on the other side. I’m pretty sure Yvonne is commenting on what I’d said at the end of the last part. She was Suzuki’s secretary and part care-taker and was as privy to what he thought as anyone.

YR: That is very clear. He talked about that a lot.

DC: Look what came out of that. At the same time I do feel that his recognition of Dick is very clear. That's another thing that I think needs to be an ongoing discussion.

RB: He never told me this. What you told Ananda. What he did say to me is he worked with Bill and he wanted Bill to receive transmission. He asked me to do it if I could. But he asked me to work with Noiri‑roshi. And to go study with Noiri‑roshi if possible. I went to Noiri‑roshi's temple and I didn't think it was really going to be possible. He also said to me ‑‑ going back to Yvonne's question ‑‑ one of his main criticisms of Japan was the way transmission was connected with being able to do ceremonies and be head of the temple. He thought it should be separate. He liked in some ways the Rinzai way of doing it, where inka is separate from [running the temple]. . . etc. Many times he said to me ‑‑ and he was disturbed that he had to give Hoichi transmission in this rather shortened way. And he said to me that he thought transmission should take several years, it should be done very carefully, we should study how to do it, and do it a new way in America. One of the problems was connecting it to being a priest and doing ceremonies. Because they're not the same. Being head of a temple is not the same as receiving transmission. So I came back with the feeling that I had to find a way, and study with you guys, how to do transmission in a way that fit in with Suzuki Roshi's view that it shouldn't be done until there was real mutual understanding.

??: So you get the transmission but you don't have to do all the work. [I think this person means the work of being head of a temple]

RB: The work of learning how to be a priest should be a separate training from transmission. And he also said to me in relation to that ‑‑ going back ‑‑ now I'm responding more to Yvonne's question ‑‑ he said a number of times, if we go back to when he was first in America, he kept having ‑‑ I don't know who was here at the time ‑‑ I always lived in the fear that he was going to go back to Japan. You never knew. Cause the Japanese congregation at Rinso‑in was putting pressure on him to go back. His son was too young to take the temple. He said to me a number of times that his son was too young, and so forth. But finally he tried to put another person in place, but the congregation wouldn't accept it. They would only accept his son even though his son was young, so he did that.

DC: Hoitsu said he never studied with his father at all.

RB: Suzuki Roshi felt he didn't like that. He wanted to do it differently in America.

DC: But Hoitsu spent three years at Eiheiji and that's a lot of time. He's got a great temperament.

RB: I'm not criticizing Hoichi. I'm just saying what Suzuki Roshi said to me about the custom in Japan of giving transmission so easily. One of the things he also said to me was that he thought maybe we should be more like Rinzai ‑‑ instead of one big school, many separate schools, depending on lineage. And that when you are on your own you kind of start your own school. He very definitely said to me a number of times, we do not want to be part of the Soto‑shu institution. He may have spoken differently to different people, depending on their temperaments and interests. He was very clear to that, and one example of that was when I did receive transmission he said now the custom is to register you with Eiheiji. He said, I will not register you with Eiheiji. I do not want you to get your authority from them. And he said, you're supposed to now go be king of Eiheiji for a day was the expression he used. He said, I think you should just go to the White House and wave your wits[?].

DC: But he did try to register his priests with the Soto‑shu and he failed, a number of times [according to Ananda]. One reason he couldn't register you is you didn't complete your training at Eiheiji.

RB: In the very beginning he said, we're not going to register you.

DC: I think he kept vacillating on this Soto…


End Side A Tape 2A

Side B.

DC: vacillating on this Sotoshu thing.

MW: He asked me to compile a list of people that he had ordained and said he wanted to register them in Eiheiji. He was supposed to take care of that.

RB: I don't remember that but it maybe the case. I don't doubt at all that he went back and forth. I know he was very critical of Yasutani‑roshi for openly breaking with Sotoshu. He didn't think you should openly break with Sotoshu. But he also said to me a number of times he wanted to be a priest, or teach Buddhism, before Zen broke into Soto and Rinzai and other schools. And he wanted to, like Dogen, just be a Zen priest.

MW: Or just be a Buddhist. I was criticized for being a Zen priest. I remember Katagiri Roshi one time, we were coming back from Tassajara and going to Jean Ross's house. And he turned to me and said, "It's not Zen. It's just Buddhism." And I said I didn't say it was. He was very positively trying to tell me something. Suzuki Roshi also talked about that. It's just Buddhism. Dogen's pre‑Zen. Not to divide it up into schools.

LR: I'd like to interject a note of procedure in terms of lunch. Stopping and having lunch.

BK: One more question. Dave, what was behind that emotion that was coming out when you were talking about transmission. Did I misread it?

DC: I get emotional. I get emotional in advertisements on TV. I get emotional when I speak in groups. I don't like it. I would much rather write things.

BK: What's behind it? Some feeling about something.

DC: I just think it's a very important area of discussion for us to talk about. I'm not very interested in analyzing myself. I'd rather analyze what I was saying. Which is that I feel ‑‑ I can't prove this, it's just what I think ‑‑ that Suzuki Roshi wanted not only to install Dick as his absolute number one disciple as the abbot of the temples he had created. But he wanted to give other priests transmission. He also ‑‑ he told me personally he wanted us to go out and start Zen Centers. He told me he wanted me to go to Texas and start a Zen Center. I said I wasn't very interested in doing that. I thought I needed to stay and study more. I think he wanted people to keep studying, with Dick and other teachers, and each other, and to have transmission, and to have temples, and to spread things out. That didn't make sense to me. So it's something I didn't pay attention to until years later when I started looking at it. I never thought about Suzuki Roshi… [I know what I was going to say – as preparing me to be a teacher. I got ordained just to do something with him. Pretty dumb.

RA: Do we want to talk about this more? Steve's waiting ‑‑

We can talk about it after lunch. During lunch too.

MW: Except that during lunch we're not going to have a formal ‑‑

LR: I have a couple of points before we break for lunch. I would like personally to make sure when we come back from lunch that we give ‑‑ not everybody has really spoken. Steve, and Ed, and Jane and Bill. Not everybody has said a lot, which always happens in a meeting. I hope that we make a little space for the people that might not speak up so we can hear from them as well. The other point I'd like to bring up is ‑‑ Ananda's not here today. I would like to take a little time to consider his situation. I have my own thoughts about it, but my general sense is ‑‑ what I saw was a fairly serious situation that he's let us in on a little bit. I'm not sure if the reason he didn't come is because he didn't feel that we responded in a way that he was hoping, or if he just felt like he overexposed himself, or maybe just didn't feel like coming, or whatever. I think we might spend a little time ‑‑ maybe somebody should call him, or there should be some follow‑up, or expression of concern.

DC  note: At the beginning of the first meeting on the first day, Ananda had talked about how all his life he’s been practicing and sitting and chanting and nothing ever happened, no enlightenment, no visions, no nothing. Well, it started happening he said. I’ve spent a lot of time with him before his first stroke and till he died so some of what I say may be from another time, but I think it was then that he said that the first sign he had that things had changed was that his dog started talking to him. And then he said he started to have out of body experiences, and saw all the visions he’d heard about and was Christ on the cross, and demons and angels and so forth. I believe he left at the break and made that call that he couldn’t come back. I don’t know if it was before this of after, but his wife Vera, who was very devoted to him and who’s not into all this stuff, at some point had to have him taken away, I believe against his will and he was in some institution for a while.

RA: I'll call him during lunch and we can talk about it this afternoon.

PW:  [Maybe Phillip says here he talked to Ananda at] dinner, and I told him a bunch of my mistakes. And my screwed visions. Mentioned that Kennett‑roshi had written a book on all of her kenshos. Then wrote another book when she had more so it had all of them. She had said that when you do have kenshos that involve visions, exterior or interior, it can throw you ‑‑ a little strange to the people around you, unless you have people who love you and can understand that. Even in makyo ‑‑ or whatever that is ‑‑ so . . . at least you'll be surrounded by people who love you and the sangha can be good for that. It may not be good for much else, but you can get some loving ‑‑ oh there goes Claude. Let's wrap him up and give him some hot tea or something. So I did mention that to him. Then I talked to him about some unusual experiences with lay people in parking lots. Last night he seemed very relaxed.

RB: This probably should be edited out of the tape if we're going to distribute the tape to Ananda.

(break) (laughter)


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