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about Crooked Cucumber and whatever. June 1999 

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6/29/99--from Charlie Musselwhite. [I met Charlie Musselwhite, the great blues musician who lives here in Sonoma County, when we were both on Sedge Thompson's West Coast Live (must link to their website and Charlie's). It turned out that not only was I a true fan of his earthy, mellow music, but, as I was surprised to learn, he and his wife had both read Thank You and OK! I traded him a Crooked Cucumber for one of his new CD's, "Continental Drifter." It's gotten a lot of play in our house. Check him out at

Dear David, I've been meaning and meaning and meaning to write, but my plans just kept being ambushed by life. But now, here I am. So - how are you? I hope these few lines reach you in fine fettle. Since I'm the slow reader here, and my wife Henrietta is the fast reader, I let her have first chance at new books that come in the house. Well, she LOVES Crooked Cucumber. We both read all the time, but I've never seen her react to any book the way she has to Crooked Cucumber. As she kept reading it, she kept telling me how much she was enjoying it, and I kept waiting for my turn to read it, and guess what?, now that she's about finished it, she's announced that she has to read it all over again. This is a new one on me. I gave her your email address so maybe she's already written you. I don't know if you watch TV, but if you do, I'll be on Emeril's Monday show on the Food Network. Also I'll be on CNN's World Beat show on July 24th at 9pm and July 25th at 12:30 PM. Are you doing your book tour? I'm still doing my CD tour and looking forward to things slowing down. I hope one of these days we can get together for a visit. With fond regards, Charlie Musselwhite


6/29/99--from Shohaku Okumura [Shohaku Okumura, Zen priest, teacher, and scholar, who's been teaching Zen in America for over a decade. With the help of Zen priest and editor Jisho Carey Warner (who has helped me considerably with both my books and who has the Stone Creek Zendo here in Sebastopol), Shohaku edited and translated the lectures of his teacher, Uchiyama-roshi, in a fine book named Opening the Hand of Thought (Penguin). I'll put other books he's worked on here later. We're all glad to have him here in America.--DC]

I moved into San Francisco Zen Center last Saturday. I have little bit settled down. People here are very kind, friendly and helpful. I feel very conformable to be a part of this community. It is wonderful for me to sit with sincere practitioners in the Zendo where Suzuki Roshi sat. Having read "Crooked Cucumber", I feel deep connection with Suzuki Roshi, Katagiri Roshi and their students. We are in the same stream of boundless Dharma. I am going to Japan tomorrow and staying there until July 13th. I hope to visit you after that. I am going to visit Uchiyama Roshi's grave at Nokein in Uji near Kyoto. I hope you are in good health and things are going well with you. Gassho, Shohaku Okumura


6/23/99--from Holly Hammond [Holly's editing and copyediting were indispensable in making Crooked Cucumber. The t-shirt she refers to is the "Thank You & OK!" on front and "Zen Failure" on back t-shirt. They may be available here again if I start up a STORE to help support the site, an idea in the works.--DC]

Dear David, Thanks for the beautiful t-shirt. I thought you had forgotten, and you probably had, but most people don't bother to remember again. Thanks for that. Everyone I talk to loves the book; I'm so glad to have played a small part in getting it out. I hope you're having fun touring and talking; I imagine you are. The website looks good. Holly ===================

6/26/99 From: D Luce Kostriken [an old friend and frequent guest at Tassajara who's been practicing for decades in various ways. We'll get her interview here in time.--DC]-- Enjoying the Website; happy to do an interview later; it continues to amaze me,the depth of my roots in Buddhism, and Suzuki Roshi's impact in my life,still evolving, although I certainly was not a "Zennie"; remember that story???


6/28/99--From Lawrence Hettinger. Subject: Hello!--Just finished reading Crooked Cucumber and I thought it was extremely well done. I sent in my "review" to so maybe it will be up on that site in a few days. ... Thanks for the marvelous book - I hope you're at work on a new one! :)


6/28/99--From: Rita Becker--  Larry (Hettinger) needs another job.....but he does a great job of promoting your books! I'm looking forward to the new one. Hope you are well and happy!


4/9/99--from Jerry Stueber, St. Paul, Minnesota -- Hi David, I just finished Crooked Cucumber and wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Having read and re-read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind over the years, it was very enlightening to get a sense of the man behind the philosophy. Getting a clear picture of the "crooked cucumber", warts and all, has been of great value to me as a student of Zen -- I'm sure many others feel the same way. Thanks again.


6/18/99--Jill Coghlan [from a longer email message she wrote--DC]

I very much enjoyed hearing you talk in NYC, and have greatly enjoyed your book on Suzuki-roshi. Many thanks for taking the time to create such a loving book. It obviously took much thoughtfulness and focus. Congratulations!


5/28/99-- from Roger Thomson, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL-- Dear David,   Perhaps you remember me: I'm Koshin Ogui's  psychologist friend, and we met   at your talk at Transitions Bookplace in Chicago.  I just finished reading Crooked Cucumber. It took  me a long time to  start, but once I did I couldn't put it down. I  also couldn't stop crying  at the end! You really write in a way that is very  engaging, very  involving. I felt the same thing about Thank You   and OK - your writing let  me feel like I was living the experiences you were   writing about. It was  very important to me to have such a personal picture of Suzuki Roshi. He  became a living ancestor in a vivid way as I read  your biography.  With much gratitude,  Roger  

[Dear Roger, Thanks for the message. I appreciate your comments greatly. We had a good evening didn't we? I noticed that Koshin Ogui-sensei has a book out. I must get it. It's called Zen Shin Talks by Sensei Ogui (Zen Shin Publications). --DC]


6/16/99--From: Carol Raymond [Dear friend in Portland, author of two cookbooks for schoolkids' lunches I believe (get them here). I'm interested in doing lots of what she talks about here as time permits.--DC]

Here's an idea for connecting your book around the web. First do a <> internet search. It will tell you where your book is presently scattered around on the web. Key in: Crooked Cucumber David Chadwick. You'll be surprised. Next, do a search of books or ideas like yours and see where they are. Those places might want to add your book too. If you haven't done a dogpile search, you'll have fun. Love, Carole

6/24/99--from Dan Kaplan in San Francisco.

David--Gathered from your last e-mail that you are traveling or something. Anyway, always enjoyed the writing of Van De Wetering.[Dan has just finished Van De Wetering's new book, Afterzen: Experiences of a Zen Student Out on His Ear--DC] Was moved by his early books on Zen as I believe it was the first time I read that when you sit and practice, your legs hurt. No amount of DT Suzuki, Alan Watts etc ever alluded to that. Too bad what happened in Maine- Nowick's community.  I was reading recently in a book called The Art of Twentieth Century  Zen (a kind of coffee table book with text and art that Japanese Zen never really placed much value on things psychological. You know as long as I've been around, it never really came home to me in that way- it certainly explains a lot in terms of the various "scandals" in American Buddhist groups. I think we talked about this a bit when we had lunch; how a lot of Americans look for someone who walks on water as a Zen Teacher and who are also concerned with things psychological. It would seem that one hallmark of American Zen practice is the addition of the psychological component to practice. Do you think this so , in your experience?

Anyway, have started to read some of Van De Wetering's mystery books. (I think he wrote 13).

[Hi. I'm in NYC typing away and getting ready for bed. I think what you say is true about the psychological component, but I'm not sure what to say about it. I'd like to hear what others say though. -DC]

Reply from Dan Kaplan to my reply to him:

Hi, David. Thanks for your reply. As for the psychological component of life and Zen practice, I suppose a person could make the argument that it is we Americans who make a big thing out of psychology and that it is unimportant in terms of Zen practice. I wonder what others would say as well. I know that too many people I know think of Zen AS therapy. But I also know that it is next to impossible to NOT bring your personal psychology etc to practice, so it seems that as more American teachers are also trained as psychologists, these issues start to be addressed > to a point, but I know,for instance, that people like John Tarrant refer people to therapists and don't just take up the issues in the dokusan room.

Hot and sticky; New York City.  Will be making a trip back to New Rochelle (about 30 minutes north of NYC) in September to see my mother, who is 80. Hope you're having fun in the city and not too bothered by the humidity. I know that coming from Texas, you know what humidity is! Later, Dan

Yes--even though John is himself a therapist. Good idea for sure. You know, I know what you mean. In the old days we thought sitting was the solution for everything. Suzuki didn't know what to do about people's psychological problems. A lot of our American strange behavior was new to him I'm sure. He tended to accept anyone no matter how wigged out. We had some pretty crazy folks back there in those days. We came to feel in time that if people had exceptional problems that we often weren't qualified to deal with them--really, it got down to, if they couldn't change their own behavior or deal with their own demons, the Zen community and teachers couldn't either.

At Tassajara everyone loved our Mechanic E.L.Hazelwood, but slowtalking, soft-spoken, often folkly wise E.L., from a tiny town near Wichita Falls Texas (like the town in "The Last Picture Show," was some sort of schizophrenic or whatever and just couldn't keep it together for long. He had many productive and lucid months at Tassajara, but more and more he could be seen in his work clothes wandering the road during zazen, and then in his robes standing auspiciously on a hillside during work. One day he took me way up the hillside behind the bathes and showed me a pyramid he'd made of concrete. He lifted it up--it was hollow and below it were carefully placed symbolic items--a mirror, a tiny doll, a bright stone. He looked at me and smiled.

He got so bad at times that he was force-fed Thorozene which he said was like having cement poured in his head. When Tatsugami-roshi came from Japan to lead his first practice period there, he asked who that guy was and he was told that's E.L. He can't cope or adjust but he's part of our family (or whatever), and Tatsugami said "get him out of here" and E.L. was driven to the city that afternoon. Suzuki couldn't reject anyone. And we weren't helping E.L. He started burning himself in the kitchen, would be found rolling in gutters, broke his back jumping out of a building. After Suzuki died and Baker took over, he sent him to Green Gulch Farm. Things would work out for a while but then E.L. would flip out again. He was getting Aide to the Totally Disabled. My favorite thing he did was to take his check once and instead of turning it over to the treasurer, he flew to Rio. Finally one day he killed himself--pills I think but I can't remember how.

Anyway, not that everyone who could use a little therapy is as whacked out as E.L., but it's just to point out that we couldn't take care of him with a 60 to 1 ratio. Still he was with us and not in an institution with people who didn't care--and I wouldn't accept an argument that he wouldn't have been able to kill himself there. When I heard I just said, "Well, E.L., you'd had all you could take. Farewell dear buddy." -DC


6/23/99-- Hello, David - I just finished "Crooked Cucumber" about 15 minutes ago, saw the web link on the book jacket, and came here to commune a little longer with Hojo-san.  It's been a long time since I read a book that affected me so deeply.  I started sniffling at some point about halfway through and was crying outright by the end. Not so much out of sadness as by some deeper feeling aroused by a man who could be both so ordinary and at the same time so great.  I never met Suzuki Roshi, but was a guest student at Zen Center and Green Gulch a few years after his death, and have since sat with Bill Kwong, Yvonne, Arnie Kotler and others; I'm now a student of Thich Nhat Hanh's. Believe me, this is a great book, and I think will eventually be recognized as a spiritual classic as important as Suzuki's own. No little of this is due to your own skill at telling the story, matching anecdotes with quotes, and doing the kind of research needed to make the story breathe.  I hope your next book will find a subject as great as this one.

Ten thousand gasshos,

John Thomas

[Thanks for the very kind note. It's a great encouragement. The next book may also be on Suzuki-roshi--a much less ambitious collection of stories or a collection of interviews. I'm just concentrating on the web site, keeping fit, not overworking, and seeing what comes up. Take Care-David]


6/23/99-- [I love meeting old Suzuki-roshi students who I've been out of touch with for decades. Here's a note from one.--DC}

Dear David,

What a beautiful piece of work your new book is! I've been laughing and crying as I go through it. I hear you'll be in Manchester, VT 6/25. It would be nice to get together if possible. Please let me know details.

Best, Mark `

See Mark Abrams letter with Suzuki stories


6/22/99-- Dear David - We met this spring in Minneapolis at the Minneapolis. Zen Center. while you were on your book tour.  I was the woman who wanted to sing your Dharma songs. Recently I was on a trip to London and Mike Port lent me Crooked Cucumber.  Thank you thank you for this beautiful, graceful, sweet and inspiring book.  Katagiri was my teacher from 1975 until his death and Suzuki-roshi was like the great uncle I had never met.  Now I feel that I have met him-warts and all.  It stirred up the taste of Zen that Katagiri left me with-so deep and touching.  I wept and I felt again fresh the connection with my primary teacher.  A blessing on your head. 

With gassho,  Marilyn Habermas-Scher


6/22/99-- Just wanted to thank you for writing Crooked Cucumber.  I find myself endlessly inspired by such masters as Suzuki and all the little stories that surround them.  I'm on page 343 and I haven't finished yet but your book seems to get more and more interesting .  At times I find myself sobbing  as pages bring up memories from my own teacher.  Anyway the copy I'm reading came from the library but I think I'm going to buy a copy for my own collection.   I'm  also really impressed with the detail and the amount of research it must have taken.  Thank you again for a wonderful book.

Roy (Pranay) Goldman


6/15/99-- (Received 4/8/99) Dear Mr. Chadwick - Thanks for your quick response regarding my book contest entry! I also wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for writing "Crooked Cucumber." I found the book quite by mistake. I was browsing in the bookstore on my 55th birthday when I saw the back of a shaved head staring at me (I'm not sure how the back of a head can stare at you). I reached for the book, saw what it was about, turned it around, and immediately kissed Roshi. I didn't even know the man but he has been a constant companion in my life since the 60's. Living in the Bay area from '65 to '72, I was studying Indian music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. Music was my meditation (Ali Akbar Khan said that the "easiest way to find God was through music - this was good enough for me), but Zen and Roshi were my foundation - he told me of "form and emptiness" and how to sit "without gaining idea." When I left the area in '72 among the Zen I took with me was "Zen Mind Beginner's Mind," which I have referred to countless times over the past 30 years.

Back to your book. It was very comforting, revealing, and insightful to read about Roshi the man, the human - beyond the legend of great spiritual leader (which he is). It has given me a boost of strength and courage to keep going in my own spiritual quest - beyond the great beyond: To be human and be open to the wonders of each moment.  - PS: Also enjoying "Thank You and OK"

Thanks again, Will Wright

[I'm going to start putting email I received during my booksigning tour--in reverse chronological order. I will send those in from the road as I have time.  In time there'll be a subpage for them.--DC]


6/15/99--All messages and articles concerning Rick Fields (who died on June 6) have been moved to a new page.


6/15/99--David-Why don't you put search capability on your website. As it gets a bigger and bigger database it will certainly come in handy. Check this out with your advisors. As ever, Colleen Sumser

[Good idea. I'll look into it. Also I'm going to increase the links so that one can choose better what to look at.]


6/15/99-- from Bob Halpern

Hi David,

Putting the two Hoitsu originals on your site was a wonderful read. For those of us who have already read the book it provides powerful underscoring of some of the book's most moving and memorable points. So my devious brain wonders if the mind-blowing surprise of the murder, which you retold so wonderfully, is, in any way, spoiled for those who visit your site before reading the book. I hope you consider this my typical mole hill into a mountain syndrome.

[I don't care. But, if we decide such a thing, we can always change the site. I've noticed that I never remember trailers that tell all when I see the movie. This website is an archive, overgrown with weeds, not a book.--DC]

I've spoken with a few old-time Rinpoche students here who are thrilled through and through. A number of them told me they are on their second reading. And I have never seen a book get this kind of grass roots support amongst the local Shambhala Centre crowd.

[I love them all. They may walk across my back to cross a mudpuddle.--DC]

Hugs,  Bob


6/15/99--from Bernd Bender, translating Crooked Cucumber into German.

Dear David--thank you so much for clarifying my questions! Another question came up today and I want to ask it. It is a question that deals with cultural difference, always the trickiest aspect of translating I feel. In chapter nine, p. 139, you use the term "Highschool" for the first time: "The women sat at the large, low table with the children: Yasuko, seventeen and in her next to last year of high school..." In the chapters before, the terms for schooling you used were, let's say, more like the British terms, like Shunryu went to a Grammar School. I want to convey this change in German. Is my suspicion correct that you did this because after the war the school system, among so many things, was "Americanized"? And is it true that the system before the war was more like the European system with three types of schools, primary school, secondary and Grammar School? If this is the case, I would like to use German terms for the schools before the war and leave the American terms, with which most Germans are familiar, for the time after the war. What do you think? Thanks so much for your help in all this! Greetings, Bernd

[Hi Bernd. Don't hesitate to ask me questions. You're right about the schools. I just didn't want to get into the differences. I can't compare it to the German or European system because I don't understand that. (And I think over here "primary" and "grammar" school have the same meaning--the first six or so years--so I didn't understand what you meant--don't worry, I don't have to) I have a note on it somewhere. I'll look for it--an old one from Fred Harriman. After the war it became like America. Before the war, off the top of my head, the first six years approximately were like elementary school here and then there were various options depending on if one went into a trade or went for higher schooling (which most kids didn't do--Suzuki did cause he was a monk). There was upper-elementary which could be two or so years and/or then something like middle school but it was really more like high school and then high school which was really more like junior college and then college which was more like upper college. I avoided confusing the reader and was quite inexact about it though I may have said something or other about it here or there. Anyway, I have some notes that Fred sent me on all that but what I just said is the gist.]


6/15/99--[A letter from Batina whom I met at a Sufi Camp when she fell into a creek in the pitch black. She makes it sound as if I was a lot of help, but another fellow named Tim and I thought her scream when she fell was from way up the mountain and was adults playing with each other. It was another guy who walked by and heard her down below face down in the creek calling for help. He ran to Tim and  me and got my flashlight and Tim and I helped from that point.--DC]

hi David,

this is Batina from cazadero responding to your request for an update on my arm. the lc typing due to my mehitabel reduction to one functional arm. for the same reason, this will be brief.

first: it turns out the arm was broken. no cast at present because the fracture is so close to the shoulder however it is being observed for recovery--huh? I know what I mean. second: thanks for concern and support. you made a difference to my morale on Saturday morning.

third: (I have no idea why I'm counting.) Monday the 7th was my birthday. my sweet husband purchased a copy of your book as my birthday gift. I was touched. I am now within sad pages of the end of the book. (could you write a bit faster please!)

the book was very evocative for me on several counts. first of all, it was so well written, you achieved a transparency as an author while faithfully and lovingly conveying your material in a very zenlike (if I may use the word) essence. I was, to use, I guess, a cliche, transported, especially to the early years in Japan. there was something so tender, precious, to be given this keyhole into a life and an era no longer extant, to witness Suzuki roshi's unknowing struggle to birth the latest incarnation of a unique and vital methodology of spirit. then (see, I'm avoiding a second set of numbers), the precious transportation of this cargo here, and, far from lastly, your faithfulness in reporting the full range of s. roshi.

I learned at least equally from his flaws; how a being whose very essence was awareness of the fabric of Now! could daily sit in a room with his young children and ignore their buddha nature. this actually gave me some redemption regarding my serious flaws as a parent. I loved that his wife's complaints regarding him were no different than mine regarding my husband. I loved that he got angry. and this in between loving his pure delightful soul as evinced in his very bright eyes and all the other evidence of him i.e., his results, and as captured in your love gift book.

I love the description of him and Trungpa's first meeting, that there was someone out here who was big enough to get Trungpa wholly, and that Trungpa got that he was got, and got back. (you know what I mean, right?) so deep gassho for all of the above.

as you may imagine, I don't break bones and toss myself into helplessness (one-fingered typing aside) very often. actually, the last time and pretty much in the same vicinity was 52 years ago. there have been inner events leading up to this circumstance. had I been more skillful, likely I would have avoided the exact deed. I spent some few moments being bitter with myself over this, however, that was a waste of time so I looked within for some of the lessons. they are unfolding and worthy (for me) of consideration.

I would say it was not coincidence that your book dropped into my hands at this moment in my process. in my checkered spiritual past, I have spent some time with you Buddhists including a half year at a Tibetan/Zen monastery in my home town, Montreal, in the 70s. I always thought Zen would be the practice I eventually returned to in my predotage (the actual dotage being a bit late, I presume); the simplicity of it all, the just sitting, that is.

one consequence of having spent the last couple of days with s. roshi (through your auspices) has reflected in my environment. which had been demonstrating the inner maelstrom I've been going through. I looked up from the book at one moment and had a vision of the "bare bones" of my room shining through the chaos and today, single-handedly (literally) restored that vision, to my delight.

having not yet read your previous book, I don't understand the sense in which you are a Zen "failure" although I know, of course, you are not. I think I basically recognized you when you arrived at cazadero. you were coming up the steps to enter the meeting hall and I had just stepped out. my psyche somehow took note of you and I remember wondering why, I guess now I know, or sort of know.

I guess I am curious (and willing to check out book 1) for the story. what I really wonder, I guess, is whether you still do formal sitting, do you do it with frequency, regularity (I would guess not, according to what you told me of your lifestyle when we spoke at cazadero), with others, with the old group, a different group.

as you may imagine, these are not quite idle questions, rather a comparison of what comes out of these intense involvements, do they run their course, just get burned up, or are we in the west spoiled rotten with our spiritual smorgasbord, although, hey, who could resist. if all of these Q's are answered in da book, please ignore, otherwise, I'd love to hear what you have to say about all this as I grapple with some of it myself.

I must say, your writing has restimulated an appetite in me to revisit greengulch this summer, especially if they are still serving up Zen and yummy lunches on Sundays. well I can imagine you wondering, egads, the girl does go on! what would she accomplish with two fingers!?

David, it was truly a pleasure to have encountered you. your book is a jewel and a delight. you are a heartful writer of the first order and, I believe, on the evidence of your website, about to become a cultural phenomenon! I wish you many blessings, much success.

well, by now (4:16 am) you are either waking up or going to sleep!

fond wishes, Batina



[When Ron Leyva wrote me on 6/9 I wrote him back about a story he once told me. Here's how that part of our communication went]:

The Ron who's last name is like yours that I remember told me the best ghost story I ever heard and he was part Amer-Indian I think.  Is that you? Dark complexion. Nice guy.-- David

Dear David--I think I'm the "ghost-story Ron," though the ghost story was real. Memory doesn't serve me too well any more but one early morning when I had zendo duty - remember?: sleep in the zendo, get up early to clean and run around with the wake-up bell - I was startled to look out the window to full light. There, ascending the steps toward the big bell was a glowing, robed figure - to my mind at the time, Suzuki Roshi - who, when he turned to look at me brought the return of darkness. It seemed at the time like he was checking up on me to see if I was doing it right. Is that the "ghost-story Ron" you remember? However, I'm Mexican, not Indian.

[Cool. Yeah, I remember you real well. I'll tell you the story just as you told me back in the late sixties or early seventies. When was it? You came up to me on the road at Tassajara and said you'd like to talk to me, that you had something you had to tell and you'd decided to tell me. So we stepped aside and stood there under the oak tree by the bridge. First you asked if I thought of you as the type of person to make things up, to imagine things. I agreed not. I remember you saying you were a matter of fact guy and me agreeing to that. "Well, something happened last night that is pretty hard to believe," you said, or something close. You said that you were jikido that day, the person who cleans the zendo (meditation hall) and who sleeps in it the night before, sets out the kerosene lanterns in the morning. You said that you awoke in the zendo because there was light outside and you immediately thought that you'd overslept and that someone else was putting out the lanterns for you. You jumped out of your sleeping bag, threw on your robe and went outside. But you didn't see any lit lamps. What you saw, you said, was a beautiful, shining light, oval in shape, hovering in the air in front of  the giant oak and the densho bell. You said that you perceived it as a being, with a benign presence. You mentioned nothing of Suzuki-roshi, human form, walking, or any message. You said it just hovered there and you stood there and watched it. And you said that the surrounding area was illuminated, that you noted that--you could see the bricks, stones, wood, leaves, bell,  and other details in the immediate vicinity clearly. Then, you said, the glow of this presence finally started to fade, and did so slowly until you found yourself standing in pitch darkness. "Oh my god!" I said, "What did you do?" You said that it wasn't time to get up yet so you went back to sleep. I remember you also said that you knew it wasn't a dream, that it was as real "as you and me standing here talking right now." You got up the next morning, put out the lanterns, did your job, and didn't mention it to anyone till you told me. I would have been telling everyone. You were not that type of guy. You were quiet, solid. I remember you well. I also remember you have Indian blood. We talked about that. There were a few other other-worldly stories like that from Tassajara and I noted that most of them happened to people with some Indian blood.--DC]

[End of ghost story--but Ron has more for the archive.--DC]

Anyway, I'll be happy to make nice copies of my picture for your archives. Just give me a little time - it probably won't happen in the next couple of days. I'll need an address to send them to. In looking through my pictures - I've got lots of pictures - I found several you might be interested in. I found a picture I got from Marian Derby of Roshi putting on a white head-covering with Japanese characters on it. A color postcard Tommy Dorsey gave me of himself in full-drag regalia with the "crew" at Finocchio's. Lots of pictures of Soen Roshi - in particular, several from the '68? 4th-of-July sesshin in Ojai led by Yasutani Roshi with backup from Soen, Tai-San, Maezumi and Yasutani's son. Also, pics of the last Senzaki memorial Soen held at Senzaki's gravesite before Soen's death. If there's anything in particular you'd be interested in, please let me know and I'll make copies for you-- Ron

[I gave Ron this address for sending copies of photos or photos to be copied by us and returned to him:]

Bill Redican, Archivist [only part time as of 2002]
Zen Center
300 Page Street
San Francisco CA 94102


6/11/99--Letter from Bernd Bender, translator of Crooked Cucumber into German. Included are my answers to him.

Dear David,  I hope that you are well and enjoying the success of your book! I read the Herald Tribune review recently, congratulations!  I am deeply engrossed in the German translation; after all, it is not only a big book but long. I try to have the patience of a snail, slowly transforming every sentence of yours into a German one. May I just for the sake of it, send you the first sentence of "Krumme Gurke" as the working title is: "Heftiger Wind fegte über grüne Hügel und peitschte den Regen gegen die Tore von Shoganji, einem unbedeutenden Provinztempel, als Yone Suzuki am 18. Mai 1904 einen Sohn zur Welt brachte."

As you know, I am also cutting the text by app. 10%. I would like to tell you that this works very well in my eyes. Nothing substantial is being lost. I like to work on the translation and hope that a good German version will come out at the end. I have two questions which only you can answer: 

1. on page 24 you relate the mamushi-episode and write: "So-on had taken the tabi off his feet..." Maybe I don't understand the logic of this, but to me it would make more sense if what he took off had been his zori. Walking barefoot, there wouldn't have been any protection - and then the rest of the episode would make sense to me - and I don't understand how socks could have been such a protection. This is only a small detail but I want to get it right. So, did he really take his tabi off, or maybe his zori?

[So-on and hardly any Japanese would have walked barefoot. Maybe some do but I don't know about them--but not him. The thing is that Mamushi are small with small mouths and teeth and tabi actually offer some protection. The other thing is that they're another culture and often their stories sorta don't seem to make as much sense to us as to them (and vice versa of course). Tabi might offer some help like I said or they may not. There may be an old folk saying, "Wear tabi to avoid the bite of vipers." But regardless of all that, the main point is proper form and vertical relations. It is improper form to dress up or down of ones superior or master. It doesn't matter if it makes sense. But tell the story so that it works for you in German even if you have to change something. (but don't have them barefoot--they mostly don't even go barefoot in houses--they wear slippers.) The important thing is to convey the spirit, the feeling. We don't really know what happened. Even if I tell what happened yesterday I'll get it wrong. Or even what's happening right now.] 

2. on page 121, writing about the Takakusa-juku you say: "It was considered to be part of the New Life after the War Movement." Maybe my English fails me in this passage, but I do not understand why these terms are capitalized. Are they some standard expression like for example "New Deal". Also, the term War Movement is very peculiar to me; why didn't you simply write "the war"? If you can help me to understand this phrase, I can hopefully find a more adequate German translation than the one I have now.

[Oh--interesting--I never thought of it that way. Japanese give names to things, especially groups. If a group of Japanese workers get together in a bar every Friday night they might name it. Fred Harriman, a translator of Japanese who has helped me, could give you the Japanese and explain the nature of this movement. My impression is that it was a nationwide effort or movement after the war which might have had some sort of government support. Maybe I should have called it the New-Life-After-the-war Movement. It might have had a president or it might have just been something that was happening that everyone called that. Do you see? Oh now I see--I went to the book and found it spelled like you did it. That's wrong. The "after" should be capitalized. It's all one thing--like a club name. Thanks for pointing that out.] 

That's all from me for now, I hope it's okay to contact you with my questions regarding the translation. They won't be many - I hope - I'm in chapter eight of the first part now and the two questions I send are all I have for now.  With best regards,  Bernd

[Great to hear from you. I'm happy all is going well. Keep in touch with my errata page on my web site. I have complete confidence in your opinion of the 10%--more would be fine. It's in your hands. I'm going to post most of your letter on my web site--tell me if there's any problem with that. Was the Herald Tribune review from the Washington Post? Good to hear from you.--David]


[6/9/99--Today, one thing I've been doing is taking out "archive" and replacing it with "archives." As I understand it, the word has no singular. Didn't get to 'em all.--DC]

6/9/99--Dear David, I finished your books and find them both excellent. My only complaint is that I wish the American portion of the Suzuki bio was about twice as long. It seems to me that there remains a lot of interesting material from that period. But perhaps that would be better covered in some later book (and/or your website) either as assorted anecdotes, transcripts, etc. supplementing your bio or as part of a more general history of the SF Zen Center as such (including post-Suzuki developments). Cheers, Ken Knabb

[Hi there. Thanks for the kind note. I will try to cover more Suzuki ground but not the post Suzuki stuff in the way you might mean. I'm more interested in what happened to people personally than in SFZC history at that point. And I just don't want to deal with it. But, I am trying to figure out what to do next and a number of people have made suggestions like yours, specifically for more Suzuki stories. I'm also thinking that a book of selected and edited interviews with folks who knew Suzuki might be a good thing to do. So I plan to feel all this out on the website. Thanks and yoroshiku onegaishimasu (please be good to me--sort of--with a hint of keep helping me in this regard)--DC].

6/9/99--Subject Errata--Dear David, I am happy to see that you spelled errata with an extra "r". Are you trying to keep us alert (without Zen-sticks) ? Sandor Burstein, San Francisco. [Oh! Caught in the act. I couldn't help it.--DC]

6/9/99--To whom it may concern:   Please forward this information to Shunryu Suzuki.  We have some items going for auction June 26th @ 5 PM. at our Gallery in upstate New York.  I thought they might be of interest to him. We have acquired Tibetan articles we believe are from the estate of Joseph F. Rock, the first outsider into the Muli Kingdom, with an ancient temple banner w/wax seal on back, prayer wheel, drum, carvings, vases and a copy of the 1931 National Geographic magazine with Joseph F. Rocks expedition story.  These articles may have been acquired from the 1923 or 1930 expedition.    Thank you for you help in this matter.   Denise Rifenburg Marquis' Auctions PO Box 9 Earlville, NY 13332 email: 315-691-4634  

[Might as well give the fellow a free ad. I sent an answer that just said "Will do." Obviously a Buddhist spam.]

6/9/99--Dear David, I doubt that you'll remember me as my practice has been for the most part several hundred miles south of yours. We did cross paths a couple of times though in the late 60's and early 70's. I spent a glorious summer with you folks at Tassajara in the late 60's and then attended the training period with Tatsugami Roshi when Peter Schneider was head monk. I was "that guy from San Diego." You and I spent more time talking about sex and drugs than Zen, but I guess that's ok. I believe I last saw you at Suzuki Roshi's funeral.
Your love song to Suzuki Roshi was one of the finest and certainly the warmest Zen book that I've ever read. Thank you very much.
    My practice began with Yasutani Roshi in the mid 60's and continued with Soen Roshi until his death in '84. I've continued with mostly a solitary practice occasionally studying with Maezumi Roshi and Charlotte Joko Beck since. It's been pretty uneventful, but remains the very center of my life. I too consider myself a "Zen Failure" but at the same time count myself as being extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to participate in the events of the last 33 years of Zen in America.
    I found a group picture with Suzuki Roshi that you might not have. A picture of him with Soen Roshi, Dan Welsh and his pregnant wife, with Edo Roshi, Yvonne and Roshi's wife, taken at the San Juan Bautista sesshin just prior to his death. If you don't have it, let me know, and if my wife will show me how, I'll scan it and send it to you as an email attachment.
What a treat to be able to read a wonderful book about times I remember and people I knew. Thanks again. Love, Ron Leyva.

[I wrote Ron a long response, several of them. I of course love to get messages from old Suzuki students and I'm really interested in getting photos for our photo archives. I like to make high quality photo copies of them and get the best one to the Suzuki Archives at the SFZC. There's also a photographer named Bill Schwob in Emeryville (who helped me a great deal with Crooked Cucumber) who I like to give copies to of any photos I get--until SFZC has figured out where to keep multiple copies, etc. Anyway, I asked Ron if he'd share any memories he has with me for the oral history. If I remember him right, he's got some good ones.--DC]

6/8/99--Hey Groovy Guy. Just reviewed the recent changes in the website, and I must say it is looking good. Especially enjoyed the Readers Comments. Easy to move around in too. A small observation I searched for "David Chadwick" using some funky-ass search engine and it did NOT refer me to I wonder if you can add "David Chadwick" as a descriptor (or whatever it is called) for your site to help search engines find it. And while I think of it, in the Bibliography frame, it should be "Rodmell (not Rodmill) Press" for Reb's Warm Smiles from Cold Mountain. I could not help but notice, by the way, how gratifyingly small the Errata section is .... so far, at least.-- Bill Redican, SFZC [only part time as of 2002].

[Thanks Bill. Bill helped to copyedit and proof Crooked Cucumber. He did a great job but nobody gets them all. I just found one in the Milagro Beanfield War at the beginning of part II--a type right there. It was like "on" for "one" or something like that. There are some more mistakes in CC I haven't posted. It's hard for me to get around to things. . Today I've got jury duty. But I'll get this changed in the bibliography (of the website, not the book--it's okay). I'm also adding an archives update that Bill just wrote. See the Archives Project Update 6\7\99 page.--DC]

6/7/99---- Rick Fields dies in San Francisco. Farewell Rick.


6/7/99--Dear David, A friend saw "Crooked Cucumber" and for some reason, sent it to me. I must say I am exceedingly grateful to him! It's been a long time since we have seen you; Beth and I have many happy memories of Tassajara days. We had no idea that you had embarked upon this project. Wow! What a lot of research and hard work must have gone into this remarkable book. I have done some professional book reviewing and was never before tempted to report that I couldn't put a book down. Your love for Suzuki-roshi is obvious and heartwarming; but what was even more striking is the superb quality of your writing. The style, clarity, and flow of your words is admirable. We hope you write more. Warmly, Sandor Burstein, San Francisco.

6/7/99--A remembrance:   Just before Christmas, 1970 my daily routine was spiced up by at least 500 youngsters who, in Macy's toy department, took turns sitting on Santa's lap.  When somebody suggested to Bob "the ham" Halpern that I put on my Santa costume and visit the children at Page Street, how could I refuse?   As the children took their turns, I noticed a little fellow dressed in brown who had come down from his apartment to join the festivities in the dining room.  Seeing such an adorable little fellow, I unhesitatingly invited him to take advantage of his chance to sit on Santa's lap and say what he wanted for Christmas.  When he took his seat, as lightly as any of the children had, I felt the excitement that filled him and radiated from him.  Inspired to do my part even better than ever, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  He put his mouth close to my ear and, as his excitement went over the top, he whispered "I know who you are!". he seemed as happy as if he had just received a perfect Christmas present so I felt no need to ask him again what he wanted and giving him a grateful hug I helped him off my lap.   Love, Bob     

6/7/99-- Hi, David. Do you remember where SR said, "I am waiting for the island they tell me is moving slowly from Los Angeles to San Francisco?" I thought it was ZMBM but at first glance I don't see it. Thanks! Lew Richmond, Mill Valley CA.

[We're checking on this now with Bill Redican at SFZC. If anyone else knows please tell us.--DC]

6/4/99--Dear David, Thanks for a wonderful book. I am sorry that I never met Suzuki Roshi. What a great teacher. What a complex man. Take care. Ken Hebson, Vermont

6/4/99--Subject: You don't write, you don't call, is there any hope for us all?

    David, I'm so glad to see that your book signing odyssey didn't kill you.  I had a few nightmares about nightly feasts attacking you all over North America. As for that book you wrote recently -- it's one of the best ever written in English, which really isn't that big of a deal because there are many languages in which books have been written over the centuries.  That's why I avoid getting carried away when I recommend it, especially when speaking with anyone who looks like they prefer Swahili or Croatian literature.

    As for the question of 70 or 71 [regarding when Trungpa Rimpoche came to Tassajara--see below], I apologize for  remembering neither correctly nor carefully when we talked about those dates. I agree with Duncan about the correct year; and I agree also about how unbelievable it is that so much happened a few with Roshi and Rimpoche in such a short time.  And, of course, I also hope Britton manages to find the misplaced sandwich, or was it the misplaced pool?   My love to Elin and Clay,

6/3/99--Hi David.
    On the cuke homepage, under "What's New" 5/28/99, text link on "errata" sends you to the Interviews page.
    I hope the book is doing well for you. I have encouraged many others to buy your book, and even my mother, who really has no interest in Zen or Buddhism, read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have reread the entire book twice, and have reread portions many more times than that. It is a testament to your skill and talent as a writer. I am a co-moderator on the UZendo list now, and I hope to add your book to our list of Recommended Reading when we redo the list later this month. Was just checking up on your site. I'm really glad to see more stuff going up Please keep up the good work!
    In the Dharma, Jamie Avera, Houston.

[Oops. There I go again. Thanks a lot.--DC]

6/3/99--[Concerning Trungpa Rimpoche at Tassajara dates from yesterdays errata note]: "--but, Duncan Campbell pointed out to me when he interviewed me in Boulder in early March, that Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche came to Tassajara for the first time in the spring of 1971, not 1970. He was there. I was too but I got the dates mixed up. I just couldn't believe that so much happened between Suzuki and Trungpa in such a short time."
    I was at Tassajara for a few weeks when Rimpoche first visited and remember meeting him for the first time when we shared Tibetan Barley bread sandwiches at lunch by the pool ( he didn't care for it and gave me his; I'll see if I can find it -- it must be here someplace ). I think it was in June of 1970. What do you think?
    Britton Pyland, Berkeley CA

[Oh gosh. Yeah, I thought Trungpa came in 1970 but Duncan assured me I was wrong and he seemed to know what he was talking about. Think about it--ask someone else. We'll get to the bottom of this. I sure don't want to change it to '71 in the book if it's wrong and I have to change it back again.--DC]

6/2/99--Hi David: Glad to see that you have made it back after your epic journey. You may want to know that your link to New Dimensions radio is broken. It should be <  You have something else in there that makes the link slightly funky (and therefore broken). In case you are wondering who I am, I live at City Center - we met briefly at your book signing at City Center (I was the tall, bearded Texan). I have been working with Bill Redican on the Suzuki Roshi archives lately, helping with the transcribing. It's been good fun. Hope you're well! bye, Joe Galewsky, San Francisco

[Thanks. I shoulda tried it. Keep up the good work. -- DC]

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