About the Author, David Chadwick

"Years of expensive Zen training gone to waste" - Zentatsu Richard Baker Roshi

DC home base

December, 2020, updated bio info. The photo is 2020 too. That's one of my favorite places to work - on our front porch. - dc

Born Feb. 9, 1945 in Fort Worth Texas.

From message in Early 2020 Cuke Archives Presentation

Back in 1966, at the age of 21, I rang the bell of Sokoji, a Soto Zen temple and the original home of the San Francisco Zen Center. I marvel now at how fortunate I was to have walked through that doorway, met Shunryu Suzuki, Dainin Katagiri, and all the inspiring fellow students, friends, and teachers through the years that followed.

In 2013 my mother died in her 99th year. I was with her the last few months, an inspiring experience. Later that year, my wife and mate of sixteen years, Katrinka McKay, and I left for Asia where we knew our limited resources would stretch much further. We settled in Bali. We live around good people, meditate, do yoga, swim, walk a lot, don't own a vehicle, and have a small footprint. She helps people with substance abuse problems. I'm just as in touch with family, friends, and fellow-travelers of the way as before, and I find our simple life conducive to focusing on work.

More info below.

This page was created back in December of 1998 when this site was new as was the book, Crooked Cucumber.

Even though the core of all this is preserving the legacy of Shunryu Suzuki, I don't think about him much or think about practicing his way and so forth. To me the essential step of spiritual practice is to drop belief and forget teachings. Just taking the next step, the next breath, and doing my duty. - DC

Bios below - most recent on top

11-22-18 - Have to submit a photo and bio for the Grand Slam poetry final here in Bali on Dec. 1, 2018. They want less than 100 words. First did 218:

Born Fort Worth, Texas, 1945. Dropped out of first year of college and worked with in civil rights and left wing student movements. After living in Mexico for a year, went to San Francisco in 1966. Got involved with the Zen Center and studied with Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. We started the first Zen Buddhist monastery outside of Asia, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. [There were some Theravada and Tibetan monks in cloistered situations before Tassajara but nothing available to the public that I know of.]

Suzuki ordained me as a priest before he died in 1971. Lived in Japan 1988 to 1992. Spent a couple of months in Bali with wife and baby in 1992. Wrote a book about my experiences in Japan studying Zen and just being there: Thank you and OK! An American Zen Failure in Japan - 1994. Then a biography of my Zen teacher: Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki. A few other books have followed. Moved to Bali in 2013 with fourth wife, Katrinka McKay. Have two sons from previous marriages. Here I continue work on websites and books mainly focusing on the Zen Buddhist community I've been involved with. Have written and produced a lot of songs. Most the poetry I've written was done in high school. Both poems I've recited for the poetry slams are the words from songs I've written here. Cuke.com is the portal to it all.

Got it down to 91 words

Born Fort Worth, Texas, US, 1945. Little college. Civil rights, left wing student movements 1964. Mexico 1965. San Francisco 1966 - Zen Center. Disciple of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. First Buddhist monastery outside Asia, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Zen priest 1971. Nuclear Freeze movement. Japan Zen, teaching English 1988 - 1992. Done books, songs, websites. Bali 2013 with fourth wife, Katrinka McKay. Have two sons from previous marriages. Continue with websites, books, mainly focusing on the Zen Buddhist community and teachers I've been involved with. www.cuke.com is door to all.

dc-cc2.JPG (21534 bytes)From the jacket of the hardback of Crooked Cucumber
[Click on photo to see official Broadway Books promo photo of DC--from the jacket sleeve.]

David Chadwick began practicing with Shunryu Suzuki in 1966 at the age of twenty-one and was ordained by him in 1971. He is the author of Thank You And OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan (1994), which chronicles his years in Japan. He lives with his wife and son in Sonoma County, California. 

More up to date sort of Biographical Info on David Chadwick

I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. As a teenager I was always busy with tennis, bridge, music, drama, poetry, reading and being wild with my friends. I went to college for half a year, briefly did some civil rights work in Mississippi and worked with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in Ann Arbor and Chicago, hitchhiked around the country, hung out in New York, Washington DC, and New Orleans, and then went to Mexico and Latin America for a year and a half where I attended some more college and studied anthropology, mainly smoked pot. Back in the States, I joined the westward hippie migration to San Francisco in 1966 and did more psychedelics. In October of that year I started practicing Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi who ordained me as a priest in 1971 just before he died. I continued my studies with Zentatsu Baker Roshi, helped the Zen Center develop its centers and businesses, from Tassajara Springs in the mountains near Carmel Valley, its guest season, kitchen and dining room, to the city center on Page Street, Green Gulch Farm, the Green Gulch Green Grocer, the world famous Greens Restaurant, The Neighborhood Foundation and its recycling center in the city. During this time I got married to Dianne Goldschlag and we had a son named Kelly (1973). Later, I lived with Elizabeth Tuomi (RIP), a teacher, musician, and editor, in Bolinas (where she had a tiny open zendo) for nine years while maintaining a residence near Dianne (now Daya) and Kelly and the City Center or Green Gulch farm. I've continued my Buddhist (and other) studies, written and produced many songs, worked for environmental and peace groups including the 1980 Nuclear Freeze movement and Gov. Jerry Brown's California Conservation Corps. In 1988 I went to Japan, Elin Schweickart came over, we married, had a great time and a son, Clay (1991), some of which I tell about in my first book, Thank You and OK!. Elin and I stayed together till 2001. For over twenty years I’ve mainly worked on writing and preserving the legacy of Shunryu Suzuki whose biography, Crooked Cucumber, I wrote. My three Zen websites are the main repository of this work but I am aiming at several other books. Cuke.com is an extensive oral history, shunryusuzuki.com presents the archive of Suzuki’s lectures, audio, transcripts, film, and photos. ZMBM.com is for the popular book of his lectures Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (wrote 40th anniversary edition afterward). I am currently working with volunteers mainly online to develop and improve this archive.

Kelly is an avid amateur and mycologist and after years in the wine biz in Spokane WA has a tree trimming bizm Spirit Pruners. Clay is into gardening and drumming in Sebastopol, CA. I've been with partner Katrinka McKay since May, 2004, lived in Zen teacher John Tarrant's barn in Santa Rosa, CA, for nine years and then we were in San Rafael, CA. Now we're in Asia. See Saunters.

.--DC, updated 3-13-14

Author bio from Thank You and OK! (which Kirkus Reviews called, "vivid, light-hearted, and unselfconsciously profound"--now in it's 6th printing) - that was 1999. Now it's a Shambhala book. - dc 11-01-12

David Chadwick, a Texas raised wanderer, college dropout, bumbling social activist and hobbyhorse musician, began his formal Zen study under Shunryu Suzuki-roshi in 1966 at the age of twenty-one. Many years later, Suzuki's successor, Zentatsu Richard Baker-roshi, shaking his head, said of Chadwick: "Years of expensive Zen training gone to waste." In 1988 friends and supporters underwrote Chadwick's journey to Japan so he could begin an open-ended period of voluntary exile and remedial education. In Japan he practiced more Zen, got married, studied Japanese language and culture, taught English and messed around. With his wife Elin, toddler Clay, and visiting older son, Kelly. Chadwick now lives in Northern California where he reads, writes, walks, and continues to dabble in Buddhism and related matters..

2002 - Elin and I got a divorce in August 2001. Now she lives about twelve minutes away and Clay gets plenty of both of us. She's teaching kindergarten in Santa Rosa and lives right next door to the school. Clay's just finishing up the fifth grade and is doing well in school and great with music which he has a real talent for. He's been playing clarinet and saxophone in the excellent school band and practices the guitar at his homes. Kelly is 28 now and is flying high as a wine salesman and continues his involvement with mushrooms as a mycologist and selling edible ones on the side to restaurants and, though he's resigned as president of the Spokane Mycology Society (or whatever it's called) he still goes to meetings, organizes forays, and teaches an occasional class. - DC, 5/02 


If you have questions you would like to ask David Chadwick about his book, Crooked Cucumber, please e-mail

photo by Robert Schilling