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On Shoes Outside the Door:
Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center
by Michael Downing

Counterpoint Press; ISBN: 1582431132; (October 16, 2001)

3/29/03 I've heard lots of comments on Shoes Outside the Door by many people and herein are only a few of them. Some who were there like the book and some don't and some are in between. Recently an older student, who wasn't around much in the Baker days, told me he thought Shoes was "balanced and fair." When Downing did a reading here in Sebastopol, a woman commented that she had gone to Green Gulch for years and listened to Baker Roshi's lectures and she felt she'd gotten a lot out of them and was very grateful to him. Grahame Petchey said he thought that the book was accurate as far as he knew, at least in so far as it pertained to him. Baker's a very controversial figure among the older SFZC students who knew him, and Downing's take on it all was not outside of the range of this opinion. So Shoes is now just part of this perennial controversy. - DC 

Lucy (Bennett) Calhoun's 2020 letter to the SFZC leadership setting the record straight

Lucy's 1993 cuke interview

More Comments on Shoes by DC

Taigen Dan Leighton's comments on Shoes

A note from Rick Levine to Michael Downing 

A letter from Dan Kaplan referring to Shoes.

3/29/03 A brief comment on Shoes by Swanzie Isaacson 

Maggie Kress on Shoes

12-20-07 - Zen Center and Tassajara Stories and beyond by Rick Wicks has some extremely positive comments on Shoes. These comments start here, toward the end.


3/29/03 Review of Shoes by Frederick Crews in the New York Review of Books [I thought I had a link at one point but I don't know where it is now - DC]

Letter from DC to the New York Review of Books on the review of Shoes by Frederick Crews in the March 28th edition of the NYRB that they didn't print though I sure thought they should have. A friend told me I wasn't nasty enough to get it printed.

 3/29/03 Comments on one particularly gooey part of the Crews Review by DC and three women who were there.

A brief comment by Rick Levine on the Crews review

I have further comments from myself and others and spent a lot of time writing all sorts of comments on the Crews review which I thought leaped gleefully into exaggerated condemnation in regards to Richard Baker - this guy really had it out for him - but it was taking so much time and I felt I needed to put more time into it before I posted it and I started looking at it like one of those letters one should sit on before sending and I didn't want to open the proverbial can of worms more than it already is and I really need to be doing other things so for now I'm leaving this item where it stands with the comments that are listed above. 4/1/02 - DC - 

3/29/03 I added some further comments. - DC


Check out this article on the  Myth of the Zen Roshi , by Stuart Lachs based somewhat on Shoes Outside the Door but also his own experience - from Dark Zen at -  wherein people's silly assumptions about transmission and the SFZC and Suzuki and Baker get bopped about. There are some inaccuracies and stuff I disagree with that I'll try to get to and I hate to see people's feelings get hurt but this bit of axe grinding and bubble bursting is to me good for the health of Zen institutions and the path of us poor pathetic practitioners of Zen and whatever. And give us some feedback - Contact Me  here at if you feel so inclined. [from What's New of 12/09/02]

Also see Lach's The Zen Master in America

Since so much of the Lachs' article had to do with transmission, I put together some things that Shunryu Suzuki had to say about transmission. I'll do more on this too. - DC

DC reply to Stuart Lach's comments on about Suzuki, Baker, ZMBM, war and peace and his reply to DC then some DC replies back.

Comments by Andrew Main on Lachs and DC discussion

Letter from Stuart Lachs commenting on DC's comments

Stuart Lachs cuke page

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