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A Few vignettes along Tim's path
20-04-09 - Tim sent the following
about his time with Suzuki, Katagiri, and ZC
1. He asked me to start a group in Palo
Alto which I did in the fall of 1964 at some graduates students
house—After morning zazen, he wanted us to do cleaning in the
downstairs of the house—We balked and I said “we have to go to
He said “of course you do. We can just
start earlier (than 5:50) so you wont miss class.
2. In about 1966 one morning he asked me to take him to Mrs. so and
sos house in Hillsborough, who he wanted to visit. We got to the
front gate of a mansion and he said “ you stay in the car” but he
came back in 5 minutes, grinning from ear to ear. He said, as he
got into the car with his black traveling clothes “ wrong Mrs. so
and so….She thought I was there to wash her windows…too bad I didn't
bring my squeejie.” He laughed uprroariously……….
All the Japanese I knew when I was a kid in Palo Alto did manual
labor for a living…we had a Japanese cleaning woman
ourselves———because they had all lost their business and their jobs
during the war when they were sent to internment camps—Suzuki was
the ifrst “professional’ Japanese I met.
3. I asked the Palo Alto group to make a contribution to him one
morning——When I gave it to him, he tried to get me to keep it for
all my work.
4. Once I ran into him on the sidewalk in San Francisco——He opened
his shopping bag and said, “Look at all the good vegatables I got
free, only one day old” and he beamed
5. One day I had an enlightenment experience at Tassajara—That
night in a dream he came to me and said, “better not to talk to
people about this—The next day in a one to one he said the same
thing, adding, 'Some people are too clever to have an experience
6. A day or two later I came to see him and he said “You have
attained so-called enlightenment. Now it is time to take care of
those” pointing to my sandals by the door which were covered in mud.
7. Once he called me into his room and said my mother had called
him and he wanted to visit her (he never did). He said “I think
that she is surprised that her ugly ducking has turned into a swan.
I beamed and he said, “Or maybe she is surprised that the swan has
turned into an ugly duckling."
8. At the end of the summer of 67 Maezumi approached me—He said,
“You had a great awakening——I have had many of those awakenings.
If you come to practice with me, you will have many, many more”. A
few days later Suzuki took me aside after zazen and said “You have a
great treasure within you. Someone may try to take it from you. Dont
let anyone take it from you”
9. When I was planning on going to Japan to practice, he told me I
should go to Eiheiji. But I kept checking out lots of different
options, trying to find what I thought was the ideal one for me, not
wanting to go to Eheijii because I wanted more sitting and less
ritual. I was having breakfast with him one morning at Sokoji and
he pointed to a line of raku pottery cups on the wall. He said “If
you try to find the best one, you will not appreciate any of them”.
So, I decided to stay in the US and practice with him.
10. My Catholic grandmother was interested in meeting him, so we had
them both over to dinner. Linda cooked and we had a little kitten.
The kitten was fascinated by his black travelling robes and kept
batting at them. He batted back at the kitten and they went back
and forth for a few minutes, playing together. The next morning my
grandmother and I talked on the phone—She said, "Thank you and Linda
for inviting me to meet your teacher———my, did he play with that
kitten! You did say he was a priest, didnt you dear?” I guess
Catholic priests didnt do that kind of thing.
11. Not too long after his death, I had just finished a retreat that
Katagiri led in Minneapolis and was staying by myself in the zendo—I
looked over to the wall and saw Suzuki Roshi's picture on the cover
of Zen Mind Beginners Mind———He stepped out of his picture into the
room which all of a sudden filled with a brilliant light—Without
acutally saying anything he beckoned me to move to Minneapolis and
practice with Katagiri. After that I was in a bliss state for
several days and when I went back to our home in far northern
Minnesota I told Linda about my experience and she agreed that we
could move with our two young children to Minneapolis.
12. I asked him to write a letter to my draft board to support
my C.O. request in 1965. He said “you write the letter and give
it to me” I did and he copied what i wrote in longhand,
adding only one word to my version—He added “strict” to the
following senence “Tim is a strict Buddhist
practitioner”. I had given him my birth certificate along with
my draft of the letter——but he lost my birth certificate.
13. He joked about his absentmindedness. Once he told me that
the reading glasses he was using he got at Woolworth’s because
he kept losing his prescription glasses. Another time I couldnt
find my glasses and I asked them if he had seen them around
Sokoji. He went up to his third floor living quarters and I
heard rummaging around. then he came down with my
glasses——saying in kind of a jolly manner “I thought they were
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