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about Crooked Cucumber and whatever. July 1999

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7/31/99--from Tom White on Whidbey Island: David, David, I'm just sitting here giggling and smirking with joy from having read some of your web site. It's like the joy of a new birth . Its so you and such a fine contribution to everyone. Thanks!! I just love the Henry Millerness of it..........yeysssssss. I looked up your site to write you a note about "Crooked Cucumber". After your visit in Feb I read it slowly and now I'm reading a page or two each morning on the pot, sort of like my granny's starting her day with those little inspirational pamphlets. You and Suzuki are so different , and so alike. Great book and another gift to life and to us all.. Do you think that the detractors of you and all this archive stuff would have us all give up feeling seeing touching.....etc??

[There aren't really any serious detractors. But naturally some people have other points of view: are more strictly into mind to mind transmission or don't like computers. But they're forgiving of our playing around online this way. And we forgive them for they know not what they do.--DC]

7/30/99--from David Sunseri: I wanted to thank you for your wonderful book about Suzuki-roshi.
I like many others was one of those ragged crazed hippies that used to sit at Sokoji years ago. And roshi was always so kind and warm to me.
The rumor in the Haight at that time was that there was an enlightened Zen master at Sokoji, so my friends and I would drop acid or get stoned on who knows what and go over and check out Suzuki,just to see what a "real" enlightened being looked like! Even though we would stare at him, trying to see some "magic" in him, he always treated us with great patience. I also lived at Zen Center on occasion, but usually was asked to leave because I was a little too non-conformist.
    What I remember most about roshi was when I heard him say that everyone (including we hippies) who came to sit with him were precious to him. I never forgot that.
    Thanks again for writing a wonderful book and also for your website. I was sorry to hear about Dan Harvey, but Lew's recent sickness blew me away. Thanks for keeping people updated.

7/30/99--I am a webmaster in the xxx field. I was looking for a site i lost and came across your page. Like i said i do this everyday and for some reason i felt obligated to read your site. Well let me tell you it has inspired me a little. I survived a brain tumor operation and used my type of inner healing/dealing process through the ordeal. Well i just wanted to drop you a note saying nice job on the page my friend. Sincerely ; Benjamin Higgins

PS. I do have a quick question for you. How do you feel about the usage of marijuana for the relief of "stress" and for medical use?

[Hi Benjamin. Thanks for the comments. I'm glad you survived your operation. See Digressions for my rampaging answer to your question about marijuana.]

7/30/99--from Swanzie, Susan Isaacson: Dear David, I will just have to read your book on Suzuki Roshi now so that I can write to your neat web site! [Excellent idea.] This is so much your thing- to be the connecter among people-how appropriate that your web site is functioning as such among its other functions. So now that there's the net, do you spend less (less than the 24 hours per day that I remember) on the phone- as in David get off the phone!? [Yes, now I only spend 23 hours a day on the phone.]

I have a few Suzuki Roshi stories I would love to share. Let me know when you catch up with all your input and I'll send you. Or maybe even before you catch up. [How about sending them now. When did you come? When were you born, where? Are they your stories? Date, place, details. Would love to hear whatever you've got.]

I would love it if you managed a web site solely for Zen Center past present and future peoples just as a place to connect, catch up, catch on, jump off, etc. It would be very you The Connector.

[I could set up a BBS (bulletin board system) on my site which is just for old ZC people--with no editing or monitoring--that would be too time consuming. That would make it a truly free place to meet. It would even be sort of placeless, could be contacted from anywhere and the host could change in time. It's a good idea. I'm not set up to do that now but will be as soon as I can get the loot. Need $200 to $400 for that. I'm so in debt from all this that I've agreed with Elin not to spend anything unnecessary till I have new income. Swanzie, how I love ya, how I love ya, my dear ole Swanzie.]

7/28/99--Here are some new Reader's Comments:

7/27/99--From Kai: Hey David! Remember when you used to dry your sox over the mesquite at Greens when I was the grill cook? I have of course read Crooked Cucumber and given copies away to friends. When I had a sitting group in Chicago years ago I gave each member a copy of Thank You and O.K. I figured it was about time to admit to being a fan of yours. I like your writing so much. :)

7/27/99, from Andrew Main: I would say that, despite the carping of some, you have done a tremendous service for those, like me, who never did and never will meet Suzuki. I have always learned most about other times, places and states of being by reading about the lives of people, getting a feeling for their own character and experience. I get more out of reading a life of the Buddha than from a dry exposition of Buddhist philosophy. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter, but it just isn't my primary mode of learning. Actually, many of the quotes in the book refer to the fact of teaching being a personal thing, a transmission of being. Suzuki was what he taught, which is really why he made such a tremendous impression on so many--and will continue to enlighten and encourage many who weren't even born when he died, thanks in no small part to your labor of love. [And thanks to you Andrew for the new errata--see  Errata.--DC]

7/27/99, from: Pinkydude7: This [see prior note] is for High-School, and I'm 13 years old.

7/27/99--Here are some new Reader's Comments:

7/26/99 from Pinkydude7: Hey, I'm doing a project on Shunryu Suzuki, so if you have any information on the great Zen-master please send it to me, it would be GREATLY appreciated. On the subject of Zen, the site you created is great, very informational, but the Suzuki archives link is a bit confusing...Thanks for your effort.

[I wrote back that there was a book he could buy named Crooked Cucumber that told about Suzuki and that he could look over it and the web site and if he had any specific questions after that, that I'd be glad to answer them.--DC] He then wrote:

I have a question about using you web-site in a project, can i quote it? I'm not sure whether that's citation or not, but I just want to know if I can use your web-site for my studies, and quote it a few times for my project.

[Sure. But the book is what I came up with. The source interviews etc. contain various contradictions, mistaken memories or slips of the tongue. The book should be your source. But I don't care what you do. Do whatever you want. Just mention what I said. One thing I realized because of your first note is that I have to re-label the Archive sections of my site as Archive Project or something like that. Of course, the way it looks now, just saying "archive," one might well think that there were archives therein, whereas the whole site is the archive. There are really two wings of the archive: the lectures which is what the SFZC is doing and which that section pertains to, and the Oral History and life of Suzuki which I am doing. Right now my website is just growing in a messy way, but I plan to keep organizing it so that it works as well as can be as an archive centering around the event of Shunryu Suzuki's life and times in Japan and America. "Citation" just means quote. So you should run what you do through me and I will quickly indicate how I feel about the veracity of each quote or whatever. But if you don't, I really won't care.--DC]

7/26/99--from Jamie Avera, webmaster supremo: Someone started a thread about your book on the UZendo list today, an after a couple of messages I sent the msg. below. I hope you don't mind.

Greetings My Dear Zendo friends, I'm glad to see folks talking about this book. In case you didn't know, there is a website associated with the book , so if you can't get enough, head over to The site is run by David Chadwick, and aims to be a repository for a wide range of information relating to Suzuki-roshi, including original interviews with Roshi and students, friends, acquaintances, transcripts of his lectures, photos, and much more. David is especially trying to compile the oral history of Suzuki-roshi, drawing on sources from east and west. As of now there are about 16 original interviews on the site, including talks with Jakusho Kwong-roshi, Allen Ginsberg, Elsie Mitchell, Jean Ross, and Hoitsu Suzuki, with about 300 still in the can, waiting their turn. You can also read the original lecture on which the first chapter of _Zen Mind, Beginners Mind_ is based (with more to come.) The site will be a constantly growing entity, relying heavily on input from readers and former students to give it direction and content. New material is added almost every day, and eventually this thing will grow to significant proportions. We're putting new material up as soon as it is prepared. And for you frame-haters out there, next week the site will get a spanking-new redesign (by your truly ) Lest you think this message is some thinly veiled form of SPAM, for now there is no advertising on the site (except for the book), and all work is being done on a volunteer basis. David loves to hear from readers, so if you really liked the book, or have a comment, or both, you can drop him a line at dchad3(at)sonic(dot)net [add the number "2" after the dchad to get to DC directly. This avoids spam] If you are a Suzuki-roshi student, or know one, or have stories to tell about him, I would encourage you to write to David at the address above. And to everyone else---please go buy the book. For you Katagiri-roshi fans out there, you might check out David's other book _Thank You and OK_ .

7/25/99--from Hans-Georg Brede: I'll be out of town and therefore will unfortunately miss your talk next Saturday at Genjo-ji. Since I won't be able to do it in person, this is just to tell you that I loved "Thank you and OK". It's a page turner - I read it in two sittings flying to and from Germany. Great writing, good cultural info, fine entertainment, helpful bits of dharma talk. I'd love to hear you comment in greater detail on the relevance of the "monastic" living with a family, away from an actual organized temple. How does such "monastic" practice differ from "lay" practice? The bug story in the beginning still has me wiping tears of laughter from my eyes. Gassho, Hans.

[and then the next day he wrote:] I was genuine in my question, which I would have asked you had I seen you in person: "I'd love to hear you comment in greater detail on the relevance of the "monastic" living with a family, away from an actual organized temple. How does such "monastic" practice differ from "lay" practice?" Seriously, now, folks: Do you know of any good pieces on the above question? There are so many of Suzuki Roshi's ordained disciples living domestic lives - what do you think about that issue? Kwong Roshi ordained the first two "priests"/"monks" last year, neither of whom are living in a monastery or hermitage. I am trying to wrap my head around this one - there's some strong statements throughout Buddhist teachings, there's some personal fantasies ... Any thoughts?

[There's a time in the lives of some of us to live a monastic life. Some do it briefly and others will continue it in one form or another all their lives. It's for each of us to figure out what path we wish to take. For me, staying too long in a monastery is like staying in college too long, a problem I never had, but it's a useful analogy. Our tradition is not one that encourages us, usually, to stay in practice centers forever. But as for you, follow your heart and not what you think the proper form is. Good luck--DC]

7/25/99--from MK: What's The Wisteria Tangle? (See Van de Wetering book description on Amazon)? Also I believe you spell Janwillem's name wrongly in your blurb.

[Wisteria Tangle must be a book by Walter Nowick on koans. I didn't know about it.--DC]

7/24/99--from Kelly Chadwick: Hi dad. Just finished Crooked Cucumber. You did a very impressive job constructing that book- pulling everything together into a cohesive and interesting story. It was great to read it and finally have a clearer picture of my heritage.

7/23/99--Some messages sent recently to

7/22/99--from Dan Gourley: (from David's Digressions) "But my idea is to have on the site some of the record of what's happening, what decisions are being made, while it's getting going. So this is a type of diary too. What should I call it? Author Comments?--too high falutin. Chadwickian Ramblings?--too cute and self-effacing. David's digressions?--not quite. Could be David's Comments and Digressions. I would like to be able to mouthe off about anything, but also keep it mainly to the point. Okay, I'll make it the later." it's your website. if you call it simply "Digressions" the "David's" will be implied, thus getting your ego off the hook. ) [OK-It's done.--DC]

errata on the story about me in the book don't change a thing. the details were mostly wrong but the point was dead on. [That's the story about Suzuki-roshi getting angry in the zendo and whacking Dan with his stick and saying "spineless! You're all spineless!" and  "If I told you the truth I'd be left here sitting by myself listening to the sound of your cars driving up the road." I was there and remember it well, but of course I don't doubt that I may have details wrong. We must get the story from Dan.--DC]

I am very sorry to hear about lew. i recall once when i had brought some kentucky fried and a coca cola in from a town trip and was eating it on the next day off, down at the swimming pool where, since it was late fall, i thought no one would be. lew was shuso and chose that time to come down to do some reading. i was extremely embarrassed but offered him some of the chicken. he laughed, then considered the offer, but decided not to take me up on it. [Thanks for that story Dan.--DC]

read the email from Dan with his version of Suzuki's anger in the zendo and a link to the story and DC comment.

7/21/99--from Miriam Bobkoff in Santa Fe: My landlady's old friend who has been teaching something-or-other in Japan for 30 years, is now back in this country. She jumped right out of the porch swing when she heard I was Baker-roshi's disciple, because however many decades ago she was good friends with Jean Ross, but they lost touch when Jean left Japan; and she wants to know what became of Jean. Updates even years or decades old better than none, if you have any. Her own teacher was Peg Kennett, she says. I'll write again when I find out her name, we were talking over my landlady's fence but actually haven't yet been introduced. She seems a bit lost and anxious to connect with the familiar, so I'll probably see more of her. She mentioned that she'd seen Crooked Cucumber in the airport and had been paging madly through it, so I loaned her mine.

Anyway hi. (On my own account I wanted to thank you for showing me who Della was; when I was young and stupid and a new student, she was this friendly older lady there at Page Street whom I couldn't understand how she fit in, and (blush) had little patience for. Always good to be reminded of all the extraordinary people I haven't recognized when I've had the opportunity to know them.) (Probably am doing the same thing toward someone else now, my patience and discernment haven't improved noticeably.)

[I sent Miriam a copy of an article I wrote about Jean Ross for the Wind Bell. It's the unedited version. I'll post it under Interviews cause I don't know where else to put it. That seems like the best place. Of course, I have more on Jean that I'll try to get together and on the site in the future. She was a real woman Buddhist  trailblazer, and one of Suzuki-roshi's first disciples. It's a sad story though.--DC]

7/21/99--Dear Mr. Chadwick: I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your Crooked Cucumber.  I picked it up at a bookstore two weeks ago, began reading it, and couldn't put it down!  I especially liked the roshi's remark in regard to D. T. Suzuki, "That's the big Suzuki; I'm the small Suzuki!"  His sayings at the beginning of each section were also helpful.  I believe you've done a wonderful job on informing the public of not only who the roshi was and what he taught but how rich life can be as we understand how he lived and still lives in our heart. Thank you for writing the book.  I'll read it again and again.   Sincerely,   Dr. Akira Otani, Senior Staff Psychologist, University of Maryland Counseling Center.

7/20/99--from ZC archivist Bill Redican. Here's the name as he spells it: Donn DeAngelo. On p. 421 it is spelled Don deAngelo. THANKS for coming on Sunday. [to the Green Gulch group talk by Suzuki-roshi disciples to benefit the Shunryu Suzuki Archive (voluntary donations). It was a great day. Raised about $1700! --Bill

7/19/99--from Chris Miller. - Dear David, Great to see you--and everyone--at the Suzuki Roshi archive meeting at Green Gulch yesterday. Perhaps I can help with the date of Trungpa's visit to Tassajara. I was there most of the time from summer 1970 until April 1972. When Trungpa came to Tassajara I was a doan, which means it had to be spring of 1971.

Incidentally, during one of Suzuki Roshi's last visits to Tassajara in 1971, he gave a very intense short talk in which he stood up from sitting on his zafu and even paced around a bit on the platform beside the altar. All I can remember is he paused and said with great conviction, "I want disciples who will follow me through life and death!" Yours in the Dharma, Chris

7/19/99 from Angelik Adzich, professor of Taoism at DePaul University [and who knows more about Buddhism than most people. She arranged for me to give a talk there while I was on my booksigning tour and was a quite gracious hostess.--DC]: I've read your book, and I like it very much. Suzuki-roshi's personality comes through the pages in a very direct, gentle, and touching way. I only can admire how you evidently strove to keep your own person as much as possible out of the way. On the other hand, it struck me how Suzuki-roshi became Suzuki-roshi precisely through his American students. That crooked cucumber really did change a lot in America! [Absolutely.--DC]

7/21/99--Thanks to Richard Speel and to Jack Elias for pointing out the bad links.--DC

7/7/99--From Anne Reynolds, Prairie Zen Center, Champaign IL Ordinary Mind School of Zen--I "realize" that hope isn't a very Zen word but it was certainly my frame of mind when I started looking for this site. I read your Thank you etc. book about 4 years ago and laughed and enjoyed enormously everything in it. So when my brother in law gave me Crooked Cucumber about someone I have revered from afar and it turned out to be by you I was very happy. Am even happier to have the chance to tell you so. Looks like from your letter section I'm not the only one and I'm not surprised and that's groovy. I haven't finished the book yet but it is really inspiring me to get back with zazen more consistently; I am in the 10 year slump. Are you starting a new book?

[Whatever book I'm starting will take shape on this site. I see some in the works of my imagination.--DC]

7/7/99--A message from Susan Jion Postal of the Empty Hand Zendo, Rye, NY.

7/8/99--From David Bolton in North Carolina.

In 1977 I was a freshman in Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian St. University in Boone, NC when I bought a used copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Since then it has been my constant companion, just opening it up and reading. I never knew anything about Shunryu Suzuki, nor anyone who knew anything about him, so for the last 22 years, he has been an intimate and personal teacher to me that I can now connect with others about! Thank-you!!!

In your book, the many life conversations that Shunryu presenced has allowed me to confirm and complete many things for myself, my family and the clients I work with as a psychotherapist in sex offender treatment, and as a blues guitar player. When your communication about Shunryu's life and work came into view, it provided a powerful clearing for me to practice and develop these conversations with myself and with others. So many things have been coming together and shifting my awareness since reading Crooked Cucumber-my training and commitments with Landmark Education Corporation and it's parallels with Zen and ontology, integrating my Christian background with my love for Buddhism. Mostly, though, learning that love isn't the point, but rather the foundation. Shunryu was committed to transforming his life and those around him-it's our job now to continue the transmission. Thank-you for your partnership and your commitment to this work! If there are people that contact you from the North Carolina area, they are welcome to contact me at David Bolton, 620 S. Elm St. Suite 371, Greensboro, NC 27406   (336-370-0655).

[Of course, in North Carolina there is the Chapel Hill Zen Center which has a blurb in the Links section of this site.--DC]

2/12/99--Subject: Greetings from a friend at <>

Hi, David -- congrats on the new book. We miss you on the WELL; why not come back for a little while and join the discussion about Crooked Cucumber?--Paul Maxwell

[This is a February note from an email friend on my old buddy network the Well. How do I link to them? I want to go visit you Wellites. I miss you. Love--DC]

7/14/99--a message from Judith Smith

7/15/99--from Jan Van de Perre--Dear Sir, David, Congratulations with the new Site "Crooked Cucumber", dedicated to Suzuki Roshi... i am looking forward to reading more about this special and compassionate Master. Has Suzuki Roshi ever written or given talks about the "Shobogenzo" of the great Dogen? In his "Zen-Mind ...." he only alludes shortly about it, calling it the Mount Everest in Zen literature.. (am i right in this?)

[I don't know. I can't remember that line but I'll try to look it up at some point. But Suzuki did speak about the Shobogenzo. We'll have to wait till Bill Redican is further along in his archiving work to have better access to it, but you can send him email at and he might be able to give you a better answer on this. Tell me what he says.--DC]

Sorry, no ideas for the contest... Thanks in advance. i would like to encourage you to further your work in this field.

[Thanks. It's just what I needed. Onward ho!--DC]

7/16/99--A message from Jim Lowrey Re: Trungpa - an alcoholic?

7/16/99--A note from an old friend in Texas--

hi d just visited your web site again. its getting better and better. i really like interviews. keep trucking.--j

7/17/99--From Barton Stone in my neck of the woods--Hi David! Finally got a chance to check out yr website. What a great idea! I'm honored to be included. Come again to the Sufi Dance. Bring Elin. They always have a staffed kid corner, too. love, Barton

7/4/99--Subject Eureka! Hey David, I just found the link you're looking for. It is I found it through which is a search engine from Stanford. Peace, Rich (RS)

[That's it. I checked it. It's the official recommended site to get your Alan Watts materials. Check it out. (I'm a little prejudiced toward Electronic University because Mark Watts, who runs it, did and still does the excellent tape archiving work of Suzuki-roshi lecture tapes for the SFZC.)--DC]

7/4/99--from Lawrence Hettinger. 

Two quick things I wanted to share about having read Crooked Cucumber.

I'm now sitting zazen with my eyes half-open, I guess like you're s'posed to. I always resisted the idea, but now I kind of like it. Just one of those weird behavioral quirks that sometimes grab you after reading a book - this one came after reading yours.

Also, I have a new interest in reading Watts' and Trungpa's thoughts on Buddhism now. Frankly, I had always kind of had it in for those two as sort of drunk philanderers who couldn't possibly now much I'd want to hear about. Reading about Suzuki's reaction to them, and more importantly I think their reaction to him, I have a somewhat different view now. Different enough to make me want to see what they have/had to say.

[Larry--Interesting. But don't think you have to give up your ideas entirely about them. It's a matter of seeing the whole person, or having a balanced view, or seeing in context. Watt's was historically important, a crucial wizard with words who opened doors for us all. Over and over people tell me of their first interest in Buddhism, Zen, or just breaking out of their old ways of thinking came from him--they tell me of coming home from high school or work to listen to him on the radio or see him on TV. If you search for his name on the internet you'll find a lot of stuff. I'd particularly like to link to his son Mark's web site if he has one. He called his business Electronic University. I haven't found anything on the net I can identify as Mark's yet.*  Watts is still good to read and many people are still avid Watts readers, but to many others he is more of a springboard than a long term destination. Trungpa And thanks for the great review on]

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