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What is happening on the cover of this book? What is Suzuki-roshi looking at? 

Good copy of this photo

This contest is over. See the entries below and see what you think, then go to the 

Answer to the contest

.If I've forgotten yours, please resend it to me and I'll include it on this list. Here are the entries -- the last received are on top down to the earliest on the bottom. --DC:


Ross Blum

He's doing anything in particular.

 - posted on the contest page 9-10-13 - 14 years after he sent it.

Ross Blum cuke contest entry PDF with note

Radames Roldan Jr. 

My answer: Things in front of him!


Beslan Djindjolia

I don't know.
But I'm sure he does it very carefully.


Charlie (zenwrench)

He is not looking. 


Matt Wascovich

He probably had some tea and someone played him a piece by John Coltrane. I think he is contemplating the beauty of Trane.


Ken Spiker

Suzuki is looking at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco.



He is looking at one god. This is good god, who loves all!


Mark B.

He's looking at the camera, because he knows we're all looking at him.  It's just his way of bowing at the sight of us all. He's very happy to see us all and to bow, even though there's no camera to take the picture, even though there's no us to bow to, even though there's no Suzuki-Roshi to bow. [Later message:] I'm sorry, I wrote that about the picture at the top of the website. I don't have an answer.



Who is asking?



Shogaku Shunryu Suzuki Roshi looking out at a gate.
Was it half open or closed, or not there at all?



He is looking away from all of us.



Since I have no enlightened answer grasshopper, I can only conclude he is on a spiritual vacation in India visiting the Taj Mahal.



He is looking at his Self.


Bill Anelli

He's looking for the 71 Muni Bus. It should be coming any moment now.


Rich Speel

Here's looking at you, Me. He's looking at himself always. Since all is an illusion, he's looking at nothing. He's looking at what you wrote and on the back he appears to be happy about it. PS There are no winners.


Roy Shotetsu Wyman

Was this picture of Roshi taken when he was walking in front of the original S.F. Zen Center on his way into his mountain seat ceremony?


Roy Carlson

I believe the picture is Suzuki-roshi looking at the old San Francisco Zen Center on Bush Street.


Freedom Heart Rising

The sky. He knows that the sky is Magic!!! Either that, or he is looking inside himself; looking at nothing at all! :)

(I'm America Indian, if you're wondering about the



Maika Yuri Kusama

I'm not sure...thus I heard, he was, sound asleep.



He's looking at the sound of one hand clapping.


Paul Forbess

He's looking at his original face.



What is suzuki-roshi looking at?





Clearly the contraption in the background is the device where Kimono Condoms are tested for resistance to puncture. Your father (or is it Suzuki?) is looking to the right of the device, which means he's checking out the woman in the factory assembly line who quickly rolls the condoms over the pointed phallis to test them. He is admiring her dexterity. His head is shaved, indicating he has been on retreat in a monastary for some period of time. Therefore, given the evidence, it is likely that he is thinking "Hmmmm... I wonder if she'd be interested in a date tonight?"



It looks like a DairyQueen cone to me.


Erik Storlie

Suzuki Roshi is looking at The Tower of Mahavibrapasavanah located in northeastern Tibet. It is locally known as the The Tower of Ill Fortune because of its association in the year 1578 with the suicide of a young nun involved in an improper relationship with a lama.


Will Wright

Suzuki Roshi is most definitely looking at the book, or, actually, reading the book! From his expression on the back cover, he obviously enjoyed it!


Doug Yuill

In the picture on the front cover I think Suzuki-roshi is looking at getting a new start.


Ralph D. McAtee

I met (along with a large audience) Suzuki once and he seemed to be extremely contemplative in all answers, most often closing his eyes. I will say he is looking "inside", or at the inner lining of his eyelids. The background appears to be a Chinese temple.



Guess: He is looking at mu.


Joe Benenate

My entry for the contest: Suzuki is looking at himself.


Britton Pyland

The essential emptiness of all dharmas, as usual.





The Speels

My wife thinks he's looking at the clock tower of the Ferry Building at the foot or head of Market St. in SF, CA. 

I think he's looking at "THIS" as in 'What is This'.


Dr. Akira Otani

My answer is: YOU! Indeed I can hear him

saying, "Look at yourself!"



Suzuki-roshi is looking at a bamboo tree

[I know he isn't, but what the heck]


Laura Hershey

Since your attention is on the cover picture, here's my commment: I just set the book up and enter the picture. Because what I really really like about that picture is that I can take a focus from Suzuki's words in the text, and then just slip into that picture/space with him for a bit of meditation. Because of that picture. It doesn't work when the person is looking at you- that's a different situation altogether. A con-front-ation. But you don't know that until someone turns it around. It's a marvelous effect, and I thought this quite ingenious of you all, to do it this way! Then when you started talking about what Suzuki is looking at, I thought "Maybe they don't know just how effective that picture is? I should tell them." What we are looking at at that point never crossed my mind. Because I like the everything-and-nothing effect that happens quite on its own there.


Janwillem Van de Wetering

I know what the roshi is looking at
he isn't looking at all
and I know what he is thinking
he isn't thinking at all
and I know what he would say
if prodded hard enough


Arthur Saarinen

I think Suzuki-roshi is looking at the first Human-Be In in San Francisco.


John Sumser

On the book cover, Suzuki Roshi is receiving a haircut. The picture was taken by the barber, from behind. The view is what Suzuki saw from his barber's chair.


Joanne Myoren Bobier

I really don't have a clue but my best

guess is some kind of church steeple/mosque tower.


Sean White

I think he's looking at his eyeballs.


Thaxter & Manon

In answer to the question - What is Suzuki-roshi

looking at?& My girlfriend, Manon, says - "ME"

I say "nothing"


John W. Keith

He has his eyes closed in

prayer or contemplation.


Janine Alea

Say there, could it be he is looking at "things, as it is"?


Joseph Benenate


(It seemed the length of the contest was a clue!)


Janine Alea

Another guess for your contest:

He is looking/laughing at you.


Joseph Benenate

He's looking at HIMSELF!

What else is there?



perhaps he is looking at nothing hiding



He's looking in what someone called the empty mirror.


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