- Shunryu Suzuki Index  - WHAT'S NEW - table of contents

Richard Baker in the SFZC Wind Bells

1988 - 1998         

1963 - 1971  1972 - 1973  1974 - 1979  1983 - 1987  1988 - 1998  1999 - 2012

All Wind Bells Index
Richard Baker main page

Spring 1988


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Dharma Transmission 
Five senior members of Zen Center received Dharma Transmission from Abbots 
Tenshin Anderson and Sojun Weitsrnan in February and March. The ceremonies 
took place at Tassajara with the assistance of Hoitsu Suzuki-roshi who came from 
Japan, and Kobun Chino-roshi, who came from New Mexico. The five who 
received Dharma Transmission are all long-time students of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi 
who have been practicing at Zen Center since (he 1960's or earlier. They are: Paul 
Discoe, Jerome Petersen and Katherine •nuanas, who received transmission from 
Tenshin Anderson, and Blanche Hartman, who received transmission from Sojun 
Weitsman. Ananda Dalenberg, who has been practicing Zen for thirty-six years, 
became a of Tenshin Anderson. 
The week-long ceremonies were the culmination of more than one year of studying 
together specific materials related 10 the transmission process: i.e., the transmis- 
Sinn fascicles of Dogen Zenji and the documents of transmission which each can- 
didate traditionally copies. Each student also received a brown robe and bowing 
cloth, and a set of bowls. 
The actual processs of Dharma Transmission occurs over many years of study 
between teacher and disciple. Thc final ceremony expresses the mutual recognition 
of their relationship and the studcnft readiness to become a holder and transmit- 
ter of the lineage. 
The concluding week begins with Menju, a re—enactment of Dogen Zenjik first 
meeting with his teacher in China, Nyöjö Tendo, at which time Nyöjö said: "The 
Dharma gate of fat.•e-to-face transmission from Buddha to Buddha, Ancestor to 
Ancestor, has now been realized." Underlying the study and the whole transmis- 
Sion ceremony was the fundamental principle that "All Buddhas in the three 
worlds appear in this world only because of the One Great Matter of Causes and 
Conditions. This One Great Matter is the wish (vow) to cause sentient beings to he 
exposed to and awakened with wisdom" 
The final events take place late at night: the transmission of the on the 
fifth night, and actual culmination of Dharma Transmission on the sixth night. 
The question of the meaning of Dharma Transmission is one the community has 
been asking for many years. Until these recent ceremonies, the only persons at Zen 
Center who had gone through the Dharma Transmission ceremony were 
Baker-roshi, and Tenshin Anderson. Three disciples of Shunryu Suzuki went to 
Japan after his death to reoeive transmission from his son, Hoitsu Suzuki: 
Jakusho Kwong, Abbot of Sonoma Zen Center: Sojun Weitsman, Abbot of 
Berkeley and Co-Abbot of San Francisco Zen center, and Keido Les Kaye, 
teacher at Mountain View Zen Center. 
The question of Dharma Transmission may be answered personally, institutionally, 
formally, etc. Each experience of this deep meeting between successor and 
successor remains his/ her own, to be understood in the living of it. In institutional



Early History  of Zen Center
p29-40 - PDF



Spring 1989


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A Study Curriculum for Zen Center 
Suzuk-roshi encouraged us to study the teachings of Buddhism. He invited 
Edward Conze, the leading western scholar on the prajna Paramita, as well 
as Other Buddhist Scholars to teach at Zen Center. Former Abbot Zentatsu 
Baker followed up on this by forming the Mountain Gate Study Center. 
Abbot Tenshin Anderson was the first director of the Study Center and he 
himself studied with several Buddhist teachers at U C. Berkeley.



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Former Abbot Richard 
On April 17 and 18, a number of Zen Center Board members, and current 
Abbots Reb Anderson and Mel Weitsman, met informally with former 
Abbot Richard Baker. The meetings seemed to indicate that the former 
Abbot was interested in renewing his relationship with Zen Center. Former 
Abbot Baker made many contributions to Zen Center, and to Buddhism in 
America, during his time in office from 1971 to 1983. He resigned in Decem- 
ber of 1983 after serious questions were raised about his personal conduct. 
His letter Of resignation as Abbot and Chief Priest was reprinted in the 
Spring, 1984, Wind Bell. He has not had an institutional relationship with 
Zen Center since that time. 
Recently, in letters to members of Zen Center, and in an article in the San 
Francisco Chronicle Of May 30, the former Abbot has claimed that he is still 
Chief Priest of Zen Center. In addition, it has come to fight that, without the 
knowledge or approval of the Zen Center Board, he has attempted to change 
the Articles of Incorporation of Zen Center which are on file in Sacramento 
so that he would have unchallenged authority as Chief Priest. Despite this 
attempt, the State of California recognizes the current Articles with Abbot 
Reb Anderson as Chief Priest. The Attorney for the Secretary of State has 
asked that former Abbot Richard Baker either prove or withdraw his claims.




Fall 1990


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In October Of 19M, he left Zen Center to help his teacher, Zentatsu Bak& 
Roshi. In 1986, he began to teach and run the Hartford Street 72n Center in 
the middle of the Castro district. In 1987, moved by the suffering and dying 
all around him, he founded the Main-i Hospice (maitri is Sanskrit for 
"friendliness"). He was diagnosed with disabling ARC in 1988. In an inter- 
view he gave last year he said, have AIDS is to be alive." He was a 
living/ dying example of hospice/ Zen practice.



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l*un's funeral was held at 300 Page Street on September 16, 1990. Betwæn three 
and four hundrd people throngd the 'uddha Hall, front hall, and courtyard. The 
ceremony was by Abbot Zentatsu Baker, Of Crestone Zol Mountain Reträt, 
assisted by Abbots Sojun Weitsman and Tenshin Anderson. Kobun Chino-roshi, 
oversaw the ceremony, which marked the first time that Zentgtsu Baker-mshi, has 
led g religious function at Zen Center in many years. The funeral was a moving 
expression of Issan 's wide and loving heart.


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Peter Bailey 
We regret that this is the first issue of the Wind Bell in twenty-five years not 
designed and laid out by Peter Bailey. Peter, who is suffering from arthritis 
and various gastro-in testinal imbalances, is recuperating at 300 Page Street. 
Peter began designing the Wind Bell in 1965 with Richard Baker, the editor at 
that time. In 1983, he joined the Editorial Board. Much Of the distinctive 100k 
of the Wind Bell, and of Zen Center's pamphlets and fliers over the years, is 
owing to Peter's free and open style. We wish him a quick and complete 
recovery. City Center Head Cook Rosalie Curtis is substituting for Peter on 
this issue. 


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Hojo said to his American students, "It's all yours; American Zen is all 
yours," and I feel exactly that way. I have taught tea ceremony at Zen Cen- 
ter, but Zen Center has its own life and ies beyond my opinion. Here at Zen 
Center we see new all the time. I feel that I am friends with the many 
people here even though I often don't know their names. People are coming 
from all over the world; lately we see more Asian people. When I see 
Tenshin-san and Mel-san, I ask them to take good care of Zen Center, that's 
all. And when I see Fak&san, I also say please take care. It is wonderful 
that people come from various countries looking for the Way.

P22 - - from Seventy-seven Years of My Life by Mitsu Suzuki


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Former abbot Zentatsu Richard with Okusan




Spring 1992


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Robin Coonen 
For me, growing up at Green Gulch was like having a huge family. At any 
given time there were at least twenty to whom I could go to ask ad- 
vice or opinions. Not only did this give me a sense of assurance, it gave me a 
range of values and ideas to choose from. While all of my friends outside of 
Green Gulch adopted only the values Of their parents, I had a broad range of 
values to think over and to decide which to accept as my own. 
Bathing babies in the courtyard fountain 
Unfortunately, this did not last. The closest I can come to pin-pointing a 
time for the change was when Baker Roshi, a man whose advice had been 
very helpful at times, left. A division formed between the people of Zen 
Center. Some were "for" and some were "against" him; the discontented 
left. It seemed to me that one day I came home and I didn't know anyone. 
My vast source of information was depleted at what seemed like a drastic 
rate. From then on things continued to change. The search for a new abbot 
began, producing controversy yet again. Little things which mattered so 
much changed: the main office was locked after certain hours, I was no 
longer allowed to roam freely, I had to be quiet so as not to "disturb" the 
guests, Tassajara bread could be found on supermarket shelves, and Greens 
became trendy. 


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Green Gulch is still a very beautiful place. I have gone back and walked 
through it and been asked if I needed any assistance finding my way 
around. When I do go back, though, I try to look at it as a place I have never 
been before, simply a lovely place to walk where I may perhaps see a few of 
the people I knew in my childhood. I would only be searching in vain if I 
looked for the place of my childhood memories. Green Gulch, like every- 
thing else, must grow and modernize in this world of ours.



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In '87 my mother and I drove into the heart of the U.S.: Spokane, Washing- 
ton, our new home. J realized as we drove in on Division Street in our or- 
ange '76 VW bus, all horizons endless rows of McDonalds, Ford dealer- 
ships, supermarkets, and Arvys, that all of those mesengers passing 
through our monastery were not brainwashed pawns after all. They were 
terrified victims of an alien world. After a vague year of smeared together 
days like the macha in my bowl, I began to grasp my surroundings and 
found them to be not all that bad. The only problem was I had been, during 
my many years in and around Richard Bakers empire, rendered incapable 
Of living harmoniously in the "real world. " Slowly it became clear that the 
reality which shaped my childhood was rather unusual, and I would never 
be able to function in this world using the basic assumptions others took for 
granted: nothing is actually wrong, that as long as you're not honest about 
who you are everything will be okay, that one can say whatever one likes as 
long as it is not dangerous to the structure of our society, pop tops are better 
than pull tabs, dandruff is worse than cancer, and so on.

P31 - part of Kelly Chadwick's piece on growing up at ZC



Fall 1992


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Soon after Suzuki Roshi died, Della was invited by Richard bak& to move 
to Page Street. after, she retired from teaching, at the highest teaching 
level thanks to years of outside study. Immediately she volunteered to work 
in the Zen Center offices, helping with fund-raising letters and working 
with the accreditation committee. She continued to befriend Okusan, assist- 
ing her with transportation and attending special tea ceremonies. For many 
years, she and Betty Warren have accompanied Okusan on her yearly trips 
to Tassajara.

P6 - from a piece on Dell Goertz (note "roshi" used with Suzuki and not with Baker, an unconscious omission I'd imaging but a slight nevertheless. That's why I avoid using the honorific title roshi except when quoting others. And by now in 2017 whom would one use it for and whom not? - dc



Spring 1993


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History of Zen Center 
During the series of community meetings we had last fall I was struck by 
how little was known of Zen Center's history by those new to the commu- 
nity. Thus the following article, abbreviated and inadequate as it may be. 
—Michael Wenger 
There are several beginnings to the San Francisco Zen Center. Besides 
Buddha's enlightenment 2500 years ago and the immigration of Asian Bud- 
dhism in the 18(MJs, there were the Beat poets and artists who prepared the 
way. Pioneers Of American Buddhism like Alan Watts and those who con- 
tinue to this day—Gary Snyder, Phillip Whalen and Ananda Dalenberg— 
were manifestations of and co-creators of an environment friendly to Bud- 
dhism. Still, May 23, 1959 was the day that Shunryu Suzuki arrived in San 
Francisco at Sokoji Temple on Bush Street in Japantovvn to serve the local 
Japanese Soto Zen congregation. At first only a few western students 
came—young people, school teachers, and painters. He emphasized way- 
seeking mind, a big open altitude, and zazen, seated meditation. Little by 
little, by word of mouth, people came to study with Suzuki Roshi. In Au- 
gust 1962 Zen Center was formally incorporated with the state Of California. 
By 1966 Zen Center had grown into a stable practicmg community, and 
Suzuki Roshi felt that the time was right to look for some land for a retrea*t 
center. Tass,ajara was purchased in 1967 and named Zenshinji (Zen Mind/ 
Heart Temple). It became the first training temple outside of Asia and stu- 
dents arrived in great numbers. 
In 1969, with the growth of Zen Center and the ensuing tensions between 
the Japanese congregation and the young American "hippie" practitioners, 
Zen Center moved from Sokoji to its own facility at 300 Page Street, close to 
San Francisco Civic Center. Suzuki Roshi named it Hoshinji—Begi 
Mind Temple. In 1970 Suzuki Roshi's book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was 
published and became the largest selling bcx)k on Zen in English. The Tassa- 
jarg Brend Book, written by Ed Brown, was published in the same year; it be- 
came a perennial Bay Area best seller and contributed to the renaissance of 
homemade bread. Ed later followed in 1973 with Tassajara Cooking and in 
1985 with The Taseujarn Recipe Book. 
Suzuki Roshi's health began to weaken and in November of 1971 he gave 
Dharma Transmission to Richard Baker and named him as his successor. 
Suzuki Roshi died at Beginners' Mind Temple in December 1971, during a 
sesshin. Before his death Suzuki Roshi suggested the idea of a farm practice 
place. In 1972 Richard Baker (now) Roshi was instrumental in orchestrating 
Zen Center's purchase of Green Gulch Farm—Green Dragon Temple—near 
Muir Beach. With this Zen Center had three main practice places. 


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Under Baker Roshi's leadership Zen Center continued to grow, with a large 
resident population (in the mid-1970s over 50 people lived at Tassajara and 
the City Center respectively and 40 or so people lived at Green Gulch) and a 
large non-resident following. Zen Centers self-support base at the time con- 
sisted mostly of the Tassajara guest season and student fees and donations. 
In 1975 the Green Gulch Green Grocer was opened. In 1976 the Tassajara 
Bakery was founded and in 1979 Greens restaurant was opened as well as 
other businesses—Alaya Stitchery, Cole Valley Graphics, and the Whole 
Earth Access bookstore. 
The mid- and late '70s and early 'SOS were a time Of great growth and activ- 
it-v. A Buddhist study center was created at City Center. Most of the Japa- 
nese chants and ceremonies were translated into English. National and in- 
ternational figures (Governor Jerry Brown, Gregory Bateson, the Dalai 
Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Yamada Mumon Roshi, Joan Baez, Erick Frickson, 
Huey Newton, and Linda Ronstadt, to name a few) visited and spent time 
at Zen Center. 
By Apfil 1983 however, many problems which had been in the background 
came to the fore. Abbot Richard Baker, who had spearheaded much of the 
growth of Zen Center, became the focus of questioning and controversy 
when it was learned he was having a sexual relationship with a married 
resident woman student. Many issues rose to the surface. At the time of 
Suzuki Roshi's death Richard Baker was the first among many students 
who had studied several years with Suzuki Roshi. Many of them left; Rich- 
ard Baker distanced himself more and more from his peers and then from 
the rest Of the community. He delegated few decisions, his life-style and 
compensation had become increasingly luxurious compared to the rest of 
the community, and he was less and less available to Lhe students. The ensu- 
ing uproar in the community and his resignation was a painful time and led 
to a deep re-examination of Zen Center. 
Small discussion groups were formed and met for almost a year, discussing 
what had happened, exploring feelings, and looking to the future. This cul- 
minated in a community-wide two-day meeting in March 1984. 
In December of 1983 Richard Baker resigned as Abbot. A group of senior 
Zen Center practitioners began to design a new governing structure, led by 
an elected Board (previously the Board had been appointed by the Abbot). 
In 1984 Katagiri Roshi, who had helped Suzuki Roshi run Zen Center and 
had left to start the Minnesota Zen Center soon after Richard Baker became 
Abbot, returned to become Abbot for a year. 
In the fall of 1984 the first election of the Zen Center Board was held, with 
potential members drawn from those who had been members for 5 years or 
more and elected by those who had been members for at least 3 years. In 


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January of 1985 Tenshin Anderson was installed as the new abbot of Zen 
Center for a four-year term with a renewable second three-year term. 
From 1983 to 1985 the population of Zen Center decreased. change was 
felt very strongly in the businesses. There were fewer students working in 
them, and they needed more expertise. Wages also needed to be raised, and 
the tax laws had changed. In 1985 Everyday Inc., a separate corporation 
which was a licensee of Zen Center, was set up to run the restaurant, bakery 
and the grocery. (Earlier the managers of Alaya had purchased that busi- 
ness.) Tassajara Bakery's expansion into the wholesale market was begun in 
1987 and proved to be a mistake, leading to its 1992 sale to Just Desserts. Ev- 
eryday still runs Greens, which continues to be a successful, highly rated 
vegetarian restaurant. The restaurant has produced "171b' Greens Cook Book 
and has just published a second cookbook, Fields of Greens. 
In the spring of 1987 Abbot Tenshin Anderson was held up at knife point in 
the Page Street neighborhood; he was arrested for brandishing a fire arm 
after chasing his attacker into a public housing prokct. Tenshin was re- 
quired to do thirty hours of comrnunity service and took a six month leave 
of absence from teaching and administrative responsibilities. While the 
Abbot's remorse was quite evident and accepted by the community, the in- 
cident led to further discussion of religious leadership. Abbot Tenshin and 
the Zen Center Board asked Sojun Mel Weitsman, abbot of the Berkeley Zen 
Center and an early student of Suzuki Roshi, to join Tenshin as abbot. Thus 
Zen Center's two-abbot system began. 
In the spring of 1987 Zen Center funded and began what became the Zen 
Hospice Project, consisting of a volunteer training and placement program 
and a small hospice at 273 Page Street. 
Today Zen Center is a dynamic institution with three main residential cen- 
ters, several related sitting groups, a study center, and a large non-residen- 
tial practicing community. Tassajara is the most monastic of the centeus with 
two three-month practice periods and a four-month guest season. The City 
Center, in the middle of San Francisco, has residents, a large public zendo, a 
library and a Buddhist study center. Green Gulch has a farm and garden a 
guest and conference facility, as well as the central meditation and retreat 
programs for both residents and non-residents. 
In the 33 years since Suzuki Roshi came to America the San Francisca Zen 
Center has gone through many changes and American adaptations. We feel 
the Buddhist spirit as embodied by Suzuki Roshi has taken root and re- 
mains alive today. 


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Tony read an early mtole Earth Catalog containing a letter from Peter 
Schneider about eating With oryoki at Tassajara, about it being ecological, an 
example of how to recycle. They moved back to Califomia with their dog, 
Dylan, planning to go to Tassajara as soon as possible. They stayed with 
friends in the Sierras and came down to Page Street. "The minute we 
walked in the door, the director of Zen Center told us that there was no way 
we could possibly practice Zen as long as we owned a dog. Darlene started 
to cry and I got really angry." They went back to the Sierras and started 
fund raising 10 establish their own zendo in the foothills. But they kept com- 
ing down evely other month for sesshin and gradually got drawn into Zen 
Center. They went to Tassafira in the fall of 972, Dylan in tow by penms- 
sion of Abbot Richard Baker.


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During this period, Tony was seeing a Jungian analyst. As Tony was leaving 
Green Gulch, Richard Baker had said, "American men in their late thirties or 
early forties reach a point where either they have to grow or they just die, 
although their body may go on living. You're at that point. You either 
change or die." Richard Baker made an appointment with a Jungian recom- 
mended by Joseph Wheelwright, saying that Tony would like Jungian 
therapy because "it has a lot of drama in it." Tony took to heart Baker 
Roshi's admonishment, but he wasn't interested in therapy. He agreed to go 
One time, and to his surprise he and the therapist hit it off; they worked to- 
gether every week for four years. Very quickly this work and Zen practice 
became all of a piece. "1 was presented with koans right and left, from my 
dreams." Over that four-year period something like the shift Richard Baker 
had been talking about took place. "Basically I relaxed a little bit and be- 
came more generous."

 - from an article on Tony Patchell



Summer 1994


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For awhile after I left home I lived in a commune in Chicago, and people there 
kept telling me I should do meditation. "Ihe reason you are unhappy is because 
you need to meditate." I was kind of dumb, I really didn't pick up the quest, but 
someone handed me a copy of The Three Pillars of Zen. I appreciate those friends 
who just kept nudging me in this peculiar direction. I came to Zen Center just 
after Suzuki Roshi died. It was a very interesting time. I really formed a deep love 
for Richard Baker; he was a wonderful teacher for me until he got too busy. And 

From a lecture by Steve Weintraub



Winter 1995


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That summer Zen Center was looking at Tassajara as a possible site for a 
rnor1LsLery. Dick Baker had discovered Tassajara and taken Suzuki Roshi there. 
In early fall a large group of Zen Center people also went to check it out. My 
first husband and my children accompanied me on that weekend. In very close 
order I met Suzuki Roshi, heard him lecture, and went to Tassajara. Katagiri 
ROShi Was helping Snzuki Roshi then, so I met both Suzuki Roshi and KatagiTi 
Roshi basically al the same time. The following spring I started working part- 
time as the secretary for Zen Center while still Leaching high school tnalh. 
Almost immediately I felt very dedicated to Snzuki Roshi. I took his mail to 
him every day. He would ask me to read it to him, and then tell me what to 
answer back. I became his secretary, taking him to appointments, driving him 
to and from Tassajara, and participating in meetings, that sort of thing. I also 
shared an office at Sokoji Wilh Kalagiri Roshi. From the beginning my relation- 
ship with Katagiri was very collegial and never really changed. We were always 
good friends. His affirming way was helpful for me. 
Then Zen Center began to fimdraise for Tassajara. J plunged into the middle 
of it all. There was an active membership of abont forty people and an annual 
budget of $4,000. To buy Tassajara for $300,000 was like saying, "Let's fly to the 
moon." Every week a group of us would meet in my living room and think of 
ways to raise money. The next week we'd come together and talk about what 
we'd done. We were inexperienced and felt our way along. This turned out to be 


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very effective, especially sine over half of the money raised for the purchase of 
Tassajara came from people who sent donations of $25 or less. 'Ihe main energy 
behind all Of this was Richard Baker, assisted by many quiet individuals doing 
background, worker-bee activities. The buying of Tassajara becarne a reality 
through benefits of Indian music, and a huge "Zenefit" by many rock and roll 
bands, including the Family Dog, Jefferson Starship and the Grateful Dead. 
There were poetry readings and art shows, showcasing the Beat Poets and Artists 
of the era who had a strong Interest in Zen Center. It was a very intense, lively, 
diverse and exciting time—deeply satisfying.


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A newly ordained priest in the Zen tradition is known in Japanese as unsui 
literally "cloud water," which is poetically descriptive of the one who 'leaves 
home' and is without attachments, like clouds or water. During the ordination, 
the new disciples have their heads shaved by their teacher and receive a new 
name. They arc also given Buddha's robes and bowls and the precepts, as well 
as the kechimyaku, or "spiritual blood line," a document which traces their 
lineage from their present teacher back through all our ancestors to 
Shaky-am uni Buddha. 
One of the robes which the new ordinands receive is an Okesa which they have 
sewn themselves. Ln Sanskrit this is known as the uttarasangha robe. Abbot 
Tenshin Rcb Anderson explains that uttara means "covers"—"the robe that 
covers the sangha" or "the sangha which covers the person." The first Ordinands 
at Zen Center were given okesas made in Japan. fren we began sewing our own, 
although the first okesas sewn at Zen Center were largely sewn by the wives and 
girlfriends of ordinands. When bakei Roshi became abbot of Zen Center, he 
invited Joshin-san to teach us the traditional way of sewing rakusus and okesas.



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crnt CENTER 
On Saturday, November 12, 
1994, the City Center, Beginner's 
Mind Temple, celebrated its 
twenty-fifth anniversary with 
day-long activities, which began 
with the dedication of a new 
wheelchair access ramp to the 
main floor of the building. 
Previously those in wheelchairs 
were able to enter the downstairs 
meditation hall, but faced a 
barrier of numerous steps for 
main floor entry. Daniel Barnes 
and Judy Smith delighted 
onlookers by wheeling right up 
the ramp and into the world of 
Zen Center. 
Sometimes we're slow making these small steps to accommodate one another, 
perhaps due to our own handicaps, but once the steps are taken everyone 
benefits from the growth in camaraderie. It only took twenty-live years! 
A morning lecture by Abbot Sojun Weitsman was followed by a joyous 
ceremony in which participants were pelted with flower petals. After lunch 
movie of Suzuki Roshi were shown reminding us of his marvelous vitality and 
beginner's mind. The movies were shown again in the late afternoon, followed 
by dinner, music, and a variety of personal reminiscences which fondly recalled 
Suzuki Roshi, Baker Roshi, Issan Dorsey, and Suzuki Sensei, who lived in the 
building for twenty-four years and in many ways personally embodied the spirit 
of Zen, caring for the kaisando, leaching tea ceremony, and graciously hosting 
informal gatherings for tea in her small kitchen. 
Commemorative I'-shirts with the calligraphy for beginner's mind are still 



Summer 1995


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Others offering congrarulations included Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi, 
abbot of Rinso-in and Shunrvu Suzuki's son: Zen Center President 
Michael Wenger; David Chadwick, who read a statement from former 
Zen Center Abbot Zentatsu Richard Zenshin Philip Whalen 
from the Hartford Street Zen Center; Lon Parsons from Minnesota Zen 
Meditation Center; and Kathie Fischer. the wife of lhc new abbot.

P21 - article on Zoketsu Norman Fischer's Mt. Seat Ceremony to be abbot of the SFZC



Winter 1996


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after all, time was short, didn't knaw how short, and I didn't exactly fee 
anxious about t, but I beear ta fee motivated in a way was new to 
me. truly felt that had absorbed some of her spirit. felt it physical!y in 
my eyes, my hands and my heart. Time is short. could no longer make 
any mistake about While her leaving was a terrble loss, it was also an 
incredible gift. 
Pay by then had moved out to California and was living at Green 
Gulch, Lots of families ard kids were there. he said. Thai sounded ike 
a gooe place to bring up Arna. wound up speaking to Karin got-ding, 
Raker Rosh and Ed Brown, who was president of Zer Center at thal lime. 
They invited mc out. My vounger s•ster Deborah and I drovc out from 
Boston in the van with Anna buckied into a lawn chair between us. This 
was October of 977. (Deborah stayed for awhile, returned East, and 
eventua:ly came oat here to live. A few years ago Joanne her family 
did. too.) As any single parent knows too well, it's pretty nard TD be the 
on;y one who's æsponsible for both the yesses and the noes. Creen Gulch 
was an excellent situation in that regard. There was pienty of attention and 
concern for all the kids and child caring was a community job. Michael 
Savver actually was th'e full-lime child care person. He operatec out of 
a tipi at the foot oi Spring Valley 
Next we went to Tassa,ara, along with fifteen other children and 
assorted parents That exper:ment lasted three years. VVe had adjusted 
sitting schedules for parents. separate noisy mea;s for kids, a childwatch 
dunng zazen hours where a Dt- parents wou d patrol the grounds 
listering for cries and wh mpers. Extensive childcare, of course, and even 
tually a tiny school! Norman was one of Anna's first-grade teachers- one 
on one. Emila was too. That's where mel Sukey. She taught Anna to read. 
I fell 'n love again. 
We three moved up to the city iived next door to. and slarted work- 
ine for Zen Center—myself al I.he Baker-y ard Sukey at A aya St;tchery, 
which at -hat time was making sitting cushions. Right before we were 
to get married in 1983, Baker Roshi resigned in a long and perfiaps still- 
draw-.-out saga of impropriety and rrvsunderstand•ng. Reb married us 
in April, Amidst the h gh ane pajnful emoton or that time, our wedding 
seemed blessed by the communty with good wishes for success. Our iife 
was pretty stable for the next ten years, but I think it safe to say that i'd 
become a litte disillusioned with teachers. 
During ths time, t studied music, played in a band and began to write 
songs. I a'so became more concerned with the or te bakery 
business, eventually becom ng manager at the production laci'ity and ther 
at the retail site at Cole Street. Soon I had no more time for music. 

From piece by Mick Sopko



Summer 1996


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The Roshis—Hoitsu Suzuki, Zentatsu gala, Tenshin Anderson, 
Sojun Weitsman, Zoketsu Fischer, Tetsugen Glassman, Jakusho Kwong— 
and the long silent line Of illuminated patriarchs, with one voice, one 
gesture of regard, invited Our first Abbess to join the dance. And she 
said, "Certainly."

P10 - from a piece on Blanche Hartman's Mt. Seat Ceremony


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Zentatsu Roshi

P19 with photos of people who came to Blanche's ceremony


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The Daniel E. Koshland Community Park is also being renovated. In 
1976, largely due to the efforts of former abbot Richard Baker and many 
Zen students, this park was built and won a prestigious architectural 
award. Over the years however, it fell into misuse; play structures were 
burned, and it became a harbor for violence and crime. In the process of 
reclaiming this park the neighborhood has come together again. A 
wonderful celebration was held last July, attended by over 300 people, 
many from the housing development. Mayoral candidates Roberta 
Achtenberg and Willie Brown attended, and everyone feasted on the 
delights of food and beverages from twenty different sponsors, including 
the Marriott Hotel, Greens restaurant and the San Francisco Giants. The 
Walden House All-stars played calypso music, while young and old 

From article by Barbara Lubanski Wenger on Koshland Park



Winter 1997


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Hekizan Tom Girardot 
Hekizan Tom Girardot, a 
priest al Zen Center, died June 29 
at Seton Medical Center of a heart 
attack following emergency can- 
cer surgery three-and-a-half weeks 
earlier. He was 65 years old. 
A native of San Francisco, 
he worked as a cab driver and jazz 
musician, coming to Zen practice 
like so many others in the late 
1960s. He was ordained by 
Richard Roshi in 1980 and 
in 1984 was Shuso or Head Monk 
for the fall practice period at City 
Center. For two years before his 
illness, he served as Ino in charge 
of the meditation hall. 
Hekizan also studied tea cer- 
emonv with Mitzu Suzuki Sensei 
Of the Omoto Senke school and became a teacher of tea. He was active 
with the Hayes Valley Community and the Religious Witness with 
Homeless People and served on the Task Force on the Central Freeway. 
The following statement by Abbot Sojun Weitsman was offered at 
Hekizan's memorial service.



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Suzuki Roshi had many fine disciples, of whom he ordained fifteen. 
I felt that each one of his disciples embodied some quality of Suzuki 
Roshi. He brought out in each one of his disciples some outstanding 
quality which reflected a quality of himself. My dream was that when 
Suzuki Roshi died, we would be like one body. And together we would 
propagate and develop his teaching. Not preserve like a pickle, but take 
care of his teaching and develop his teaching, closely allied and mutu 
ally supporting each other through his inspiration. 
But, as it happened, after he died, a lot of the students and priests 
bake' Roshi, who had received dharma 
were scattered. His first successor, 
transmission, continued his teacher's tradition; but it was difficult for 
many of Suzuki Roshi's disciples because they didn't feel included.

P10 - from a lecture by Mel Weitsman


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I first came to Tassajara in May of 1966. I had been a Zen student in 
San Francisco already, and my friend Alan Winter went an a Zen Center 
ski trip and heard about Tassajara from Dick So he came and got a 
job here and told me I could get a job here too, which I did, as the dish- 



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I first came to Tassajara in May of 1966. I had been a Zen student in 
San Francisco already, and my friend Alan Winter went an a Zen Center 
ski trip and heard about Tassajara from Dick So he came and got a 
job here and told me I could get a job here too, which I did, as the dish- 
The kitchen was where the pit is now; where the student eating area 
is now was the bar; where the kitchen is now was the dining room, and 
where the dish shed is was the staff dining room. So it was quite a bit 
different, and speaking of running up bills, you could go into the bar 
and have a Carta Blanca or Dos Equis, and your bar bill would Just come 
off your paycheck at the end of the month. 
As the dishwasher I couldn't understand why the cooks drank so 
much and why they got angry and upset at times, although actually all 
in all they were quite even-tempered. Halfway through the summer one 
of the cooks quit, and I was offered the job, and within a day or two I 
was screaming at people. And they started having meetings about what 
to do about Ed. 
Suzuki Roshi and other people from Zen Center carne down two or 
three times that summer. We all sat zazen together in cabin 3B, which 
isn't here any longer. It was quite powerful. Afterwards Suzuki Roshi 
said we were carrying water and gathering wood. Sure enough, here We 
are. We did not know then that we could buy Tassajara. That fall Zen 
Center had a thousand dollars in the bank and an annual budget of 
about six thousand dollars, but we had a fundraising drive and in two 
months we raised $25,000 for the down payment on Tassjara. Baker 
Roshi was a central person in this effort, but many people devoted 
themselves to accomplishing this goal.

P13 - from a lecture by Ed Brown


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A Place to Center 
in Austria 
by Vanja Palmers 
Puregg is the name of a small 
farm in the Austrian Alps, located 
at 1,300 m. (approx. 4,000 feet ) 
In the 16th century, it was the 
highest year-round lived-in resi- 
dence in all of the archdiocese of 
Salzburg. Thus have I heard. 
Today, Puregg is a year-round 
meditation center that is officially 
Silence," reflecting the open spirit 
of our sitting practice and the 
backgrounds of its founders: 
Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B. 
and myself, Vanja Palmers. 
Brother David is a Benedictine 
monk with a longstanding relationship with Buddhism, 
Zen, and the Zen Center of San Francisco, while I grew up as a Catholic, 
lived at the Zen Center for ten years, was ordained by Zentatsu Richard 
Bale Roshi and received Dharma Transmission from Kobun Chino 




Summer 1997


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On Forgiveness: A Retreat with Richard Baker 
by Abbot Zoketsu Norman Fischer 
For a long time I have felt that there was more work to do in our 
sangha regarding the traumatic events Of 1983 and beyond, when revela- 
Lions about love affairs and abuse of power by our then-abbot Zentatsu 
Richard Baker Roshi came out. I am sure that many of us, both those 
who have remained students at Zen Center since then, and those who 
have not, have come to some healing, have understood, in whatever way 
we could, what happened. But I do not think the story is finished. 
There's a phrase that appears in the sutra dedication in Dharma groups 
associated with Robert Aitken Roshi: "May sangha relations become 
complete." I think a true sangha never gives up the work of forgiveness 
and understanding when there has been a breach. Instead, out of our 
faith in the practice, and in the absolute rightness of compassion, we 
keep making the effort to forgive, even if that effort takes a lifetime and 
Today I feel very much as if all the painful difficulties Zentatsu Baker 
and our sangha have had together are fruitful ones. We have learned 
about betrayal and disappointment, we have learned about self-decep- 
tion, and we have learned lessons about student-teacher relationships 
that we had no idea we would ever need to learn. I'm not sure that these 
lessons are yet clear to us; certainly they are not entirely clear to me, and 
I see that experience can warp us as well as deepen us. But as long as any 
of us lives, and beyond that I am sure, we will remain students of what 
has happened to us. 
When Zentatsu came to Zen Center for Abbot Zenkei Blanche 
Hartman's installation ceremony last year, I felt that finally, after four- 
teen years, there was an opening for the work of forgiveness to go for- 
ward. And so, with the consent of the Zen Center Board and Elder's 
Council, Layla Paul Rosenblum and myself (Layla and Paul 
are both Zen Center priests who now live, work and practice outside Zen 
Center) organized a retreat to bring together thirty-five students from 
the 1970s and early with Zentatsu Baker. purpose of the re- 
treat was to promote deeper understanding and forgiveness, to actually


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listen to ourselves and each other in a deeper way, so that we could more 
fully understand and appreciate what had happened. It was not an effort 
to make peace or becorne friends again. I think one can never hold that 
as a goal. The path to friendship call never be plotted out. One tries hard 
to understand, and if friendship comes from that, that is extra. The 
retreat was held April 16-18 at the Shadows, a retreat center in Nicasjo. 
Together with Gary Friedman, a Zen Center member and friend and 
mediator, who facilitated the retreat, we worked out a format that was 
designed to promote deep listening with fairness and compassion. Our 
sessions were about three hours long throughout the weekend and each 
session began and ended with informal 7.a7.en. TT1ere were small group 
discussions followed by large group discussions. Each segment of discus- 
sions during the weekend was based on a focusing question: "What is 
your spiritual practice now?" "How did the practice that we did together 
in the seventies and early eighties at Zen Center inform that practice and 
what stands out most?" "What was useful and positive about the prac- 
tice of those days?" "What was not useful or was counter productive?" 
With these questions the weekend became a group meditation on what 
the past had been and how it was still alive for us today. We used a 
mindfulness bell to keep our words calm and kind. 
The experience was truly extraordinary; much more than I had 
dared hope for. Each of the thirty-five people in attendance went deeply 
into the heart. Each expressed himself or herself beautifully and with 
accuracy and courage, and each made a heroic effort to actually try to 
hear, without judgment, what the others were saying. There was power- 
ful anger sometimes, but it was contained; there were many tears and 
regrets and many apologies; there was much love and appreciation. In 
the breaks between sessions people huddled together or walked among 
the redwoods, talking and trying to understand more clearly what had 
been said and fell. 
It seemed to me that finally, after so may years, the forces that had 
split us apart as a sangha were becoming clear. With all of us together, 
sharing the many separate pieces of a single fabric of a story, we had a 
chance to see with greater clarity who each of us was and how the past 
had unfolded. It was the first time, I believe, that we had been able to be 
with Zentatsu Baker in a calm and neutral space, a space almost free of 
fear and defensiveness, and devoted to forgiveness. In that space, I think, 
all of us were able to learn, to go beyond whatever frozen places we had 
found to hide in to escape the reality of the past. 
In her short essay on forgiveness Joko Beck writes, "In our culture 
the term 'forgiveness' is a very loaded word. The idea 'to forgive' usually 
implies that there is some form of magnanimous acceptance of another, 


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During the annual Tassajara family work weekend this April, these folks 
stacked wood and cleared the wood pile area in the flats. Front row from left: 
Matthew Ramos, Alex Zapulac, D. W. Ram, Zack Jordan, Gina Earle and Sam 
van der Sterre ; Second row: John Schultz, Tim Sampson, Terry Sutton, Nathan 
Wenger and Michael Wenger. 
even though the other did wrong. This understanding of forgiveness 
is not what forgiveness practice is about; forgiveness is primarily about 
seeing through our own emotional reactions — seeing what stands in the 
way of real forgiveness. Real forgiveness has to entail experiencing first 
our own pain, then the pain of the person to be forgiven; and it is from 
this understanding that the barriers, the separation, between the two 
beings can dissolve." 
Joko goes on to delineate three stages in the process of forgiveness. 
First, to see how hard our own hearts are, how really unwilling we are 
to forgive. Being honest about this will bring us to the second stage, the 
immediate awareness of all the emotional reactivity within us toward 
the person we are unable to forgive. And coming from a thorough 
practice of the second stage is the third, the stage of actual forgiveness 
of the person, which is not the same as condoning the person's actions.


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Forgiveness, Joko teaches us, means being able to truly understand the 
other person with sympathy, being able to see that the actions they have 
taken have come from their own pain and suffering. 
In this retreat I think we all came a long way in the direction of 
forgiveness, and it was a relief and an inspiration to do so. I came away 
with a tremendous appreciation and admiration for everyone present, 
especially Zentatsu, who listened with a great effort to many difficult 
words, and with increased faith that our practice is real and deep. The 
hurt and sorrow that we have all experienced through the years is not 
something that we can escape from easily, or should escape from easily. 
This retreat did not by any means repair all the damage that has been 
done. Much more work will need to be accomplished in the future, on 
an individual and group basis, to further the forgiveness process. But 
I feel very confident now that much more will be done, and that the 
process Of understanding will continue. I feel very strongly that those 
Of us who were closely touched by the hard times Of the past have a 
responsibility, not only for ourselves but for new sangha members of the 
present and future, to continue this process. And we need to understand 
this not only as the story of the Zen Center sangha, but as the world's 
story. If a Buddhist sangha, a group of people dedicated to compassion 
and understanding, is not willing to try to heal its own wounds and deal 
with its difficult past with clarity, trying to prevent further harm in the 
future, does it make sense to hope that others with even more difficult 
conditions will be able to do their work? 
A Tassajara resident trying to decide whether to do zazen or kinhin 



Spring Summer 1998


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What We've Learned 
A Dharma talk delivered September 7, 1997 at Green Gulch Farm 
on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the temple 
Zoketsu Norman Fischer 
ODAY IS A PUBLIC OCCASION and my job is to say something to 
commemorate Green Gulch's twenty-fifth anniversary. 
Twenty-five years ago this zendo was a funky barn and Green Gulch 
was a one-family ranch with a muddy road and a few ramshackle build- 
ings. It was a lonely and a damp place but we were very excited to take 
it on and to try to experiment with it. What would it become? How 
would we practice here? Over the years we tried many experiments and 
a lot of them didn't work out. But of course there is no such thing as a 
failed experiment, and today Green Gulch is a pretty well-known and 
well-established place and it is anything but lonely. There are usually 
about forty-five or so students in residence and on any given day per- 
haps twenty or more guests and guest students. There are well devel- 
oped ongoing traditions of farming and gardening and formal Zen 
practice and there are many, many programs for people to come and 
access the Zen life offered here. There is a magnificent Japanese tea 
house and a program of tea events and lessons. In fact, sometimes it 
feels as if there is so much going on it is hard to understand it or keep 
up with it. But it's interesting that the unifying vision for Green Gulch 
really hasn't changed at all in twenty-five years. It's expressed very 
clearly and simply in the poem Richard Baker Roshi wrote for the Japa- 
nese bell that was cast for us in Japan in 1975. You can go out to the 
bell and read the poem for yourself: 
By this Japanese bell 
The sky-headed sea-tailed 
Green Gulch dragon 
Stirs the fine mists and rains 
Of right Dharma 
For East and West 
Farming and greeting guests 
The pre-voice of this old bell 
Is not hindered by the wind 


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In twenty-five years we've done a tremendous amount of physical 
work on this place, planting trees and building soil, putting up fences, 
putting in water and sewage systems, renovating old buildings and 
building new ones, although most of us still live in the same ram- 
shackle run down houses that we inherited from George Wheelwright. 
Building new houses is something we have to do in the next twenty- 
five years—and I am sure much sooner—so that Green Gulch can sur- 
vive into the next generation. Not because survival is a necessity, but 
because there is still a lot more work to do to develop practice and to 
help repair the world. There's no end to the job of caretaking a temple 
like this, and it's good that there's no end. The journey and the effort 
is its own reward. We learn a lot every day, and we all develop in our 
understanding of the Path and of ourselves through the work we do 
toward helping Green Gulch to survive and flourish. I hope we can all 
continue to participate in this journey for a while longer. 
Twenty-five years seems like a long time in a way and so much has 
happened. I do not know how manv thousands of people in that time 
have been to Green Gulch, for a day or for ten years, and have given of 
their lives here. People we have forgotten and many, many people we 
will never forget. But twenty-five vears is also a pretty short time. You 
blink your eyes a few times and twenty-five years are gone. To the 
woolly mammoths and ancient peoples that used to live here twenty- 
five years is a short time. A little while ago Green Gulch was part of the 
ocean. If someone were to come here in thirty or sixty years it's likely 
that not a one of us sitting here now would be around. You can close 
your eyes and imagine that—all these seats filled with different people, 
most of them not yet born. This happens very quickly, like a lightning 
flash, like a dream. Truly time is a strange phenomenon. 
Human beings mark and measure time and so we are given to anni- 
versaries. What's good about an anniversary like ours today is that it 
gives us a chance to reflect on where we are now, to see how the present 
depends on and comes from the past. Whenever vou look at the present 
like that you see its depth and il always brings up a powerful feeling 
of gratitude. So on behalf of all of us I want to express gratitude for 
twenty-five years in this beautiful valley. Except for some of the plants 
and animals here we are all visitors and lucky to have been able to stay 
here so long, So gratitude to the natives for tolerating us—to the land 
itself for supporting our activity, and to the sky and water for sustaining 
us. Gratitude to George Wheelwright for helping us to get Green Gulch 
and for loving it enough to want us to have it, And to Yvonne Rand and 
Richard Baker and Huey Johnson and other Zen Center students, teach- 
ers and friends who were instrumental in securing Green Gulch for us. 

Excerpt from a lecture by Norman



1988 - 1998

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