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About the Book           

About Suzuki Roshi    

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

A letter from Dan Kaplan

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Dear David

I just read with joy your interview with Mark Gripman. I never knew him, but you said a few things in the end i wanted to comment on to you.

In terms of Baker roshi (and no, I don't call him Dick as I never knew him that way) and the book Shoes Outside the Door: I was gratified to read what you had to say that also echoed my thoughts when , reluctantly, I read the book at the behest of Barry Eisenberg. When I wrote you that no one in the book came out looking good, would have been more accurately a reflection of my thoughts is that all the folks who are quoted in the book dissed Baker roshi pretty well, and somehow took no responsibility for enabling what happened when they were on the board or council. Felt weird to me and not at all appropriate for folks that now call themselves teachers. Secondly, I , of course, had my own beefs with Baker roshi, but never for a minute did I not give him 100% (maybe too much credit?) for Zen Center being around at all, let alone as successfully as it was, and is. Although I didn't really know many of the close students of Suzuki roshi like Peter Schneider et al, I always had the sense, when I would ask myself why, of why Suzuki roshi tapped Baker roshi to succeed him. Not just because of practice considerations, but because with his organizational and people skills, Baker roshi was best equipped to see that Zen Center survived Suzuki roshi. So although I had problems with some of the materialistic excesses etc of BR, I also knew that Suzuki roshi had the right guy for the task.

You are right, in terms of the final book , that there are still a couple of barbs and judgments in there by the author, but not as many as I would have expected. He pretty much let the interviewees speak for themselves and tell their story.

You, know, David, i really appreciate you and your radical honesty. It's an encouragement to others. Thanks, and OK!! Ha! Ha!

Was just at a 7 day sesshin . 'Afterwards, I was talking with someone who had spent time visiting Maezumi's group years ago. She was staying with a woman who at that time was Maezumi's top woman priest. Turns out, it was summer time, and she walked out into the common room to get something to see Maezumi and this woman priest walking around in the nude.

I am grateful to Baker roshi as my first teacher and the one who , despite my impetuousness, helped me get on track in terms of what Zen practice was about. Although there were one or two times he pulled power trips on me, he generally was very kind to me and encouraging of my practice.

Hope you are well. Keep up the great work you do.



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