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about Crooked Cucumber and whatever. August 1999

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8/28/99--Jan, can't get through to you on either email address you sent and I copied them to the "To:" place.--DC

8/28/99--Two messages I just got, both from Canada. My return message on both were returned as undeliverable. I have messages for both. Also, look at Errata for more in the dialogue on Trungpa Rinpoche.

Dear David, Greetings from Canada. I am fairly 'new' to Buddhism and got drawn to the Japanese esoteric tradition of Tendai-shu. I was fortunate and blessed to find an American who had trained in this tradition, in Japan, for 5 years and meet him. He has given me a Gongyo to do and coming to Three Treasures was for me 'returning home'..

I came across your book about Suzuki Roshi at the library and am going through a difficult time right now in my life--a place of 'transition.' Although I am so unfamiliar with Zen your book on Suzuki Roshi has brought me moments of tears, moments of laughter and the wonderful journey of a wonderful, remarkable human being who you and many others had the privilege of knowing in this lifetime. I asked my own Teacher, who is from San Francisco, if he had ever met Suzuki Roshi and he said 'yes' and he was also at his funeral (I'm near the end of the book but haven't got to that part yet)..

Teachers indeed are great gifts. The fact that we find them and they guide and nudge us along in practice. I wanted to say I especially how I enjoy the words in the different type and how Suzuki Roshi seemed to have that way of transmitting so much of the Dharma and not always maybe in words. There is a point where things are beyond words and form!

I also wanted to say that I think at a local book store in the city where I live there is a copy of 'Street Zen'. I can check if that person is interested that had written you.

 For all of us who never knew Suzuki Roshi you have given us a great gift. Arigato gozaimasu!

In Gassho, Joanne Myoren Bobier

[Hi. Like I said above, my response to you didn't work. Thanks a lot for your message and kind words. I say this a lot in notes--I don't know what else to say. It helps to encourage me to keep going. I'd love to know if your teacher has any memories to add to the oral history. Any impressions of Suzuki-roshi, Zen Center at the time, the funeral, his path and teaching. Whatever. Thanks. DC]


Dear David, i know your book has already received very much positive critical acclaim, but after finishing your book i can only agree with those people and say that it made me cry and made me laugh.... and i felt sorry never to have met Suzuki-roshi.....

Reading the book is meeting Suzuki-roshi and coming close to his life that was extraordinary. It is also a very beautiful book, with nice typesetting and photographs etc..

Thanks for giving us "Crooked Cucumber" ! Take care


[And thanks to you for your message. As I said above, I tried to respond to you but it didn't work. Try again and I'll send you my answer to the private part of your message.--DC]

8/26/99--A few recent messages:

8/17/99--Hi, David, I want to thank you for your beautiful, inspiring and important book. You taught me a lot about Suzuki-roshi, Zen Center and Soto Zen. I realized that I am part of Suzuki-roshi's lineage in a much deeper way than I knew. You have given us all a great gift. Sincerely, Stephen Colgan

8/22/99--from Barbara from Alameda Buddhist Community. Really want to thank you for writing this book. We have an infant practice group here in Alameda, and have red "Zen Mind, ..." out loud. Your beautifully written book rounds out the picture of a very real person, with flaws and strengths just like all of us, who managed to live in mindfulness. Living "awake" is the greatest teacher of all. Thanks. I'm going to add a copy to our library. 

[Send me info on your group and I'll post it.--DC]

8/24/99--from Bob Halpern - Dear David, Welcome back to the other part of California. I hope you didn't drown at the narrows and I hope you didn't fall off that big rock you were sitting on when the bell rang so close, I'm sorry to say, to your ear. Thank you for the great gift of Marian Derby's transcriptions. Like yourself, I was so lucky to have driven Roshi to some of his Los Altos talks. I've always loved Zen Mind Beginner's Mind -- and now thanks to Marian, and you, and Jamie too I've got something to love at least as much. [At this point in the message Bob had comments on my description of Trungpa Rinpoche in Crooked Cucumber. See  Errata  because that's where this discussion has been going on.--DC]

8/25/99--More on Interesting and non paranoid Y2K messages.

8/14/1999--From Tony Doggett in Arlington VA: I just finished "Crooked Cucumber" and enjoyed it immensely. I was in tears at the end, but now I am delighted to find your web page. The reason I was "in tears" at the end of your book was at the passing of Suzuki Roshi, which I found very sad. What a quirky, lovable, old Zen dog he was. I would love to learn more about him and keep close to his "lineage," if it exists in anything approaching the same form and spirit he had. I have been drawn to Buddhism since my high school years in the 1960s, which I spent in Bangkok, Thailand. While in the region I had the great fortune to visit the Zen temples and gardens of Kyoto, which I remember as if it were yesterday. I'll check your schedule to see when and if you plan to be in the Washington DC area. In the meantime, kudos for a masterful work. I read "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" just a few months ago, and your book brought Suzuki-Roshi alive for me in a way that's hard to describe. I am very grateful. All the best to you in future pursuits.

8/13/99--a message from Minnesota: A quick note to tell you how much I love your books -- my tattered old copy of Thank You and OK with its dog-eared and highlighted pages, and my pristine but well-read Crooked Cucumber. The website is fun and interesting, too.

I was very disappointed to miss your readings when you were in St. Paul this Spring. They coincided with the tail end of a 7-day sesshin, and although I did consider "going over the wall" for the reading at the Hungry Mind Bookstore (thinking that sneaking out of sesshin for that would very much be in the spirit of Thank You and OK), decided to be a good girl instead. But my friend Beth did go, carrying her books AND mine, told you my sad story, and you wrote the most wonderful inscription in Thank You and OK: "We meet in these pages." Sent me up onto a little bliss cloud on Day 6 when she dropped them off at the zendo for me. (I know, a truly good girl would not have peeked at the flyleaf until sesshin was over. So sue me.) Bows, Rosemary Taylor

8/12/99--Here are some new messages.

8/10/99--Comments on CC  from reader, Joan Tollifson

8/9/99--Interesting and non paranoid Y2K messages

8/7/99--From "John Light, Monterey, CA: On Monday I arrived at Tassajara and found "Crooked Cucumber". On Thursday night, after zazen, straining under the flickering light, I finished the final pages. The experience of the week has been so remarkable, and the weather too. There were four perfect, clear, mild days; and then came Friday with billowing dark clouds and cool wild breezes, even sprinkles. It was not at all like August in the Ventana, but more like the emotional journey I took reading this buddha story.

I never met Suzuki-Roshi, yet now he is so very alive to me as he is in your loving words. I voraciously return to "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" (and your web site) yearning for more from our teacher. You have helped bring my part time flailing practice full circle after over 30 years. I enter my 50th year with mind anew and an exhilaration I cannot repress. You have given as a priest should and I thankfully gassho.

8/01/99--from MK (my agent of change): The new design is ok but the photo on the front page doesn't look good on my screen--dark and contrasty, changes the expression of his mouth. I know it needs to load quickly. The ones inside are the same. Has something changed? I like the community aspect of the site & still think the interviews are important. [How dare you criticize this site. On the other hand, will work on this. That's one of the great things about a web site--can be always in progress.--DC]

8/6/99-- message from Jerry Halpern, March 21, 1999 in which he makes some interesting comments about Crooked Cucumber and the missing Los Altos tapes.

8/4/99--Here are some new Reader's Comments:

8/3/99--from Bill Redican (SFZC archivist): Hey David-- Did you see the new Shambhala Sun? The cover will blow you away. The issue has the first Sandokai lecture plus some of Mel's introduction. Of course, THEY LEFT OFF THE FIRST WORD OF THE BOOK TITLE ("Branching"), so it was cited as "Streams Flow in the Darkness." Can't win them all.

BIG review of Crooked Cucumber by David Schneider (p. 71). Plus don't miss the lists of "Spiritual Books of the Century (p. 21), in which Pema Chodron selects CC as one her top ten. This in a list of "the ten most important spiritual books of the twentieth century." Not bad, buddy. 

8/3/99--from Gaetano Maida: David, I caught a glimpse of you on Sunday [at the memorial for Rick Fields] and I'm sorry I didn't get to at least say hello. I hope the day went well for you. I'm finally free now to finish Crooked Cucumber; I'm about halfway through and I congratulate you on your effort it's an outstanding work that is compelling, inspiring, fascinating and fun all at once. What an enormous, ambitious undertaking! You've got the stuff and you deliver the goods, thank you (and _okay_)!

[Hi. Thanks. Elin and I had to leave after 2.5 hours of testimonials because she had a rehearsal of her madrigal group. It was all very touching. We'll all miss Rick.--DC]

8/3/99--From Arthur Saarinen Lexington, MA: Hello, Just finished reading Crooked Cucumber, what a great book! I lived on the Farm in Tennessee which was a more psychedelic based zen/christian teaching family community that came out of San Francisco in the 60's. Suzuki-roshi seemed to play a prominent role in the influence of the teachings that Stephen Gaskin gave. anyways..... I think Suzuki-roshi is looking at the first Human-Be In in San Francisco. Take care David!

8/3/99--from Clay Thurmond: Thank you for writing _Crooked Cucumber_; it has helped to respark my intermittent, solo Zen practice. I still have my original $2.50 copy of _Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind_! I intend to circulate your book around some of my friends before donating it to the local library. I noticed that you referenced _Street Zen_ in your bibliography, but didn't notice any reference to Issan Dorsey in _Cucumber. Any particular reason? I have tried to learn about Dorsey, but alas, there is little I've found on the Web and _Street Zen_ seems to be out of print. Keep up the good work, glad to see your book going paperback, the interactive website, etc. namaste.

[Thanks for writing. Good to hear. I didn't not mention Issan for any particular reason. I just couldn't fit everyone in. There are many important people who didn't get in. Also, there's the book on him so I felt less pressure. And I only told a little tiny bit of the story in my book--a slice of the cucumber. But hopefully in the coming year or two I'll get together what I can on him and include it in the archive here. I think it's terrible that Street Zen is out of print and have it in mind to try to do something about it. Unfortunately I just don't have time to do everything I want to do. I keep praying for help. I actually have help but so much of what I want to do is in my own head that I would need someone working with me to actualize a lot of it. If the proposal I'm working on pans out, maybe I'll get to it all. I write notes of things to do that fill pages that I don't even get the time to look back on. No problem though. I'm having fun. Take care.--DC]

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