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Interview with Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore


2/9/2000 - From Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore:

I'd forgotten Stan(ley) White's last name (and never thought of him as "Stan" since I knew him as Sebastian...) [See interview with Stanley White. Daniel hadn't recognized Stanley's name in the Sources list at the back of CC] Funny, when I first met him, with my then-wife Gail Varsi (didn't she sit for a time as well, after we were apart?) People have mentioned her and maybe that she sat.

Stanley was standing on street corners in North Beach, basically panhandling, with his gorgeous long face, hangdog enough to make anyone then reach deep in their pockets. Yet, I think he came from a rather high-class Boston family! I saw him once at Tassajara (visiting there with Allen Ginsberg, reading poems, sitting). Where does he live now? And yes, he actually did love to tell stories, and with a real knack.

[Stan is the priest at the Taos Zendo, lives in a little cabin, visits folks in hospitals once a week (at least he used to - I don't think he's well enough to do that now - DC), and is great to go talk to although he said that I was one of the only people who ever visited him. He's still there and we correspond.]

And when I read the list in the back of CC, Loring Palmer's name really zinged out at me... again, someone I know I know, but can't remember the exact moving photos of his being... those were really the "early days." Though I knew Mel Weitsman when he painted lovely brown paintings living with Ruth Weiss in San Francisco, and was interested in Zen, but not yet practicing.

I would like to send you a book of poems of mine City Lights co-published called The Ramadan Sonnets, written one Ramadan (1986), poems of each day more or less, but I would like to strike a deal, if possible. An exchange with your book of your "Thank You and OK!: An American Zen Failure in Japan" which A) sounds wonderful, and B) has a really great cover (by the look of it on the Web site). (Plus I love the story from Dave Haselwood with Suzuki's answer: "Fail once, fail twice, and then go deeper...") Mine's a paperback too, classy, but paperback. I've thought about a book of spiritual seekers' "failures" and how there really is no such thing...

My time with Sensei Suzuki was extremely formative. And lives forever in a pocket of my path as a usable treasure trove. When I had the Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley we always sat before rehearsing, and even did a couple of all-day sesshins, though I was in no way any more capable to lead one than the next person, except in a zeal for meditation. And at the performances themselves, always at night at an outdoor amphitheater in North Berkeley (did you ever see one?) we would have the entire audience, after a rather cathartic explosion of sound and voices and color, etc., sit for even 15 minutes in meditative silence, all based on my experiences at the Zendo in San Francisco. Maybe everyone was kind of stoned (heh-heh), but they did sit in silence and with great respect for a very longish-seeming time.

[Yes I saw it and I loved it. It was a colorful part of the SF 60s scene.-DC]

I'll write 'em up and send 'em along... even as I sit here thinking, recollections are beginning to brim.

Thanks for contacting me. And again for your work.

Interview with Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

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