Is Right Here
Editorís Introduction to the Japanese translation
Japanese translation - Zen wa Ima Koko
Editorís Introduction to the Japanese translation of Zen Is Right Here
Greetings to my fellow sentient beings in Japan whose people and country are dear to me. It is a great honor for Zen Is Right Here to become available in Japanese.
In addition to what the introduction in this book tells about Shunryu Suzuki, he was born in 1904 in Shoganji, a small temple on a hilltop in what is now Hiratsuka. He went to study with So-on Suzuki, a disciple of his father, when he was twelve at Zounin in Mori. In 1926 he began study at Komazawa Daigakurin (now Daigaku). Among his inspiring professors there, he mentioned the eminent Shobogenzo scholar, Sokuo Eto who emphasized direct experience over intellectual understanding, and the schoolís president, Nukariya Kaiten, who became his academic advisor. Suzukiís life was also greatly influenced by an English teacher at Komazawa named Nona Ransom, a British Quaker woman who had also taught Chinese and Japanese royalty. Suzuki became her live-in houseboy and friend and through this relationship realized that Westerners too could understand Buddhism. He spent a few years at the head Soto training temples of Eiheiji and Sojiji and then became the priest at Zounin so that his master So-on could focus on Rinsoin in Yaizu. In 1934 So-on died and Suzuki became the priest at Rinsoin. In 1959 he went to San Francisco, leaving Rinsoin in the care of his eldest son, Hoitsu, who is the priest there to this day.
In 1966 I began practicing with Shunryu Suzuki and was ordained by him as a priest in 1971 shortly before he died. In 1988 I moved to Japan where I lived for four wonderful years studying both Soto and Rinzai Zen and teaching English. In 1994 I published Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan. Following that were two books on my original Zen teacher including this one. Since then Iíve worked on preserving Suzukiís legacy. The results of this effort can be found on three websites: cuke.com, emphasizing the oral and written history; shunryusuzuki.com with the entire archive of his lecture transcripts, audio, video, and photos; and zmbm.net which includes the afterword I wrote for the 40th anniversary issue of Zen Mind, Beginnerís Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice. Shunryu Suzuki is best known for this book. There are two other edited collections of his lectures: Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness and Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen.
Zen Is Right Here was originally published in 2001 by Broadway Books under the title To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki. In 2007 Shambhala, the largest publisher of Buddhist books in the West, republished it under the current title. It has been translated into a few other languages, but none make me happier than to see it come out in Japanese.
Suzuki Roshi, as we called him, communicated quite well in English, promoted peaceful harmonious living, believed in the equality of women, encouraged seeking alternatives to militarism, spoke early on about international co-operation, thought that Japan and America had a lot to learn from each other and that we should concentrate on what is the best each has to offer. He taught Zen Buddhist practice and understanding as he had learned and encouraged us to absorb more about traditional Japanese culture, art, and crafts. Taizan Maezumi, a Japanese Zen priest who founded the LA Zen Center and the White Plum Sangha said that the most unusual thing about Suzuki was the strong relationship with his wife Mitsu. Maezumi said that the most important point about Suzuki was that although a number of priests, including him, had tried to get Zen practice going in America, nothing really caught on until Suzuki came. I would add that key to Suzukiís achievements was his recognition of his own limits and faults, continual effort to improve his practice and character, his lack of ethnocentricity, his ability to be open to and learn from his students, and his gift to make others feel accepted, understood, and empowered.
I encourage you to visit one of the SFZCís centers including Green Gulch Farm, north of San Francisco which was founded by Suzukiís American successor Richard Baker the year after Suzukiís passing, fulfilling Suzukiís desire that we also have a place where we grow vegetables as well as practice Zen and take care of guests. Years ago, a Soto Zen priest whom I was showing around the farm, said to me, ďSuzuki Roshi is not appreciated in Japan yet, but he will be in time, for he brought something that was ours to your country and successfully planted it there.Ē
May we continue to share our best with each other.