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9-10-07 - In response to 9-9-07 Reader's Comment of A thoughtful email received a week ago from Robert Anderson in which he expresses concern about idealizing Shunryu Suzuki.
What I think when I read your letter is that I wish I had some sort of blogging software on this site so people could write in and comment on your comments and so forth. I don't really have any opinions on Suzuki, Zen, and various Western schools of therapy and twelve step programs and, once again, so forth. I like to hear what other people have to say but it's all over my head and not what I think about. If I do think about twelve step, like if I go to an AA or Alanon meeting, which happens every so often, I just watch what happens there. I don't compare it to what Suzuki did. I like twelve step for it's lack of dogma and because it gives people a culture to belong to to help them with their problems. I don't see any particular connection to what Suzuki taught. I think he would have been supportive of anyone who wanted to do that but wouldn't have wanted to be involved. Too much talking for him. Also, for me, even though I talk a lot and don't drink at all any more or do any pot or coffee or cigarettes or credit cards. But if I go to a meeting it's as a guest and I just observe because I really don't want to sit around with a group of people and talk about alcohol or whatever.
I think that most Suzuki students who got into therapy like Steve or Yvonne Rand might be more inclined to say that they're adding an element to their practice that was absent in Suzuki's method. There's a lot of not dealing with personal problems in his life and his tradition. He warned us that students tended to copy their teacher's faults and I think we might have entered that territory in this discussion.
So much comes to mind that I don't want to spend the time right now going into, but one more comment I'll make is that I guess in terms of problems I like the approaches that encourage us to look at them and then to sever them and not dwell on them, who encourage us to enquire into who we are or what we are. I don't think of Suzuki as emphasizing self-enquiry per se, more wake up to things-as-it-is/they-are. But it doesn't really matter to me. Mainly I see him as someone who encouraged others to wake up and who suggested zazen and Zen practice as he'd learned it but that's just a jump start. Then it's up to each of us to find our own way, drawing from any source we wish, mainly finding our own wisdom which is not our own. Nuff for now. Anyone else who wants to comment on any of this please do.
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