Suzuki-rōshi Archives Project
Status Report: January 2002
by Bill Redican
Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi (1905–1971) was the founder of San Francisco Zen Center and one of the principal teachers to have introduced Zen to the United States. The purpose of this project has been to prepare a strictly verbatim transcript of each of the audiotaped lectures left by Suzuki-rōshi. Thus far, newly discovered lectures have been transcribed for the first time; previously transcribed lectures have been meticulously compared to the original tape and made strictly verbatim and editorially consistent. Annotations, translations of Japanese and Sanskrit terms, and cross-references were added where needed for future readers and editors.
The following specific tasks have been accomplished:
· The deteriorating original lecture tapes, all of which were near the end of their expected life span, were preserved on archival reel-to-reel tape with a projected life span of 50 years.
· Verbatim lectures were prepared for the first book by Suzuki-rōshi since Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. It was published by UC Press as Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandōkai.
· 35 verbatim transcripts for Not Always So, the successor volume to ZMBM, were prepared and submitted to the editor. It is due for release in June 2002.
· Three original lectures from Suzuki-rōshi's Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind—long thought lost—was re-engineered for release to the public.
· The archives of Suzuki-rōshi photographs is being cataloged and digitally scanned.
For all years (1962–1971), the final total of available lectures is approximately 337. Of these, 279 have been completed or are in their final stage of editing.
Work remaining to be done (estimated time for the archivist, 3 months):
· 35 tapes with audio problems (speed distortion, loud hiss or hum) have been identified for restoration. 10 of these are being processed now and are expected to be audible enough for transcription. The remaining 25 will need more extensive restoration, possibly with a computerized program. We should be able to transform incomprehensible lectures at least to a condition in which Suzuki-rōshi's voice can be understood enough to be transcribed for the first time.
· 23 lectures on the Lotus Sūtra require initial transcribing or editing.
· Two of Suzuki-rōshi's early students, Richard Baker and Yvonne Rand, have extensive collections of lecture tapes by Suzuki-rōshi (probably first-generation copies). They have kindly offered to allow us to look through these collections (intact since the 1970's) for missing and previously unknown tapes. This task should be a collaboration between the archivist and David Chadwick, who knows both of these teachers well and who has worked with the archivist throughout this project. One set is in New Mexico, the other in Marin County.
[DC note 12-05-17 - This archive has now been greatly expanded but the bulk of it passed through Bill Redican's careful and valuable process. Went through many of Baker's tapes six years ago or so and found one to enter. Yvonne has never come accross anything. But both do have voluminous archives and could have tapes with unique content.]