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Yehudah Alan Winter
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YA Winter's cuke podcast transcript and subsequent emails
Podcast audio at his main page

This podcast transcription was done by Mac Whisper, an AI App. DC went over it making corrections so that it's somewhat presentable. The transcript does not indicate which one of us is talking but each new paragraph indicates a change to the other person. It's usually pretty obvious who's talking by what's being said. I leave in where I say yeah because they help to break it up. There are surely many places that need fixing. - dc

DC intro

Today's guest is Yehuda Alan-Winter, who was a very early Tassajara student. In fact, the first person from the Zen Center realm to live at Tassajara before we bought it. And you're going to hear about that, his relationship with Edward Brown, and his work with YourPersonalCeremony.com. That's really interesting. He and his wife do personal ceremonies, they do weddings, and I'm not sure what all, but you can check it out. And you can hear about compassionate listening and the work he has done with compassionate listening with Israelis and Palestinians in Africa, here in Indonesia, in Java. He's done a lot of interesting things. We're going to give him a call and talk to him as soon as we've had our pause to meditate.  So, when you hear the bell, hit pause if you wish, and meditate or whatever for as long as you wish, and when you're through, hit unpause. and we'll hit the bell and we'll all be back together at the same time and we'll give that call to Yehuda Alan Winter.


[ring]  Hey, David. 

Hi, Alan. How are you doing?  I'm doing well.

Your voice hasn't changed. (Laughter) 

So all gravelly.   

 So where are you right now?

 I'm on the coast of the United States. I'm on the north coast of Oregon, a little town called Manzanita. It's been raining since 10 o'clock this morning, mostly pretty hard. But we're in a room that's surrounded by windows. It's not like being at home in a pouring rain where we don't get to look out on the forest. and watch the wind and hear the rain falling on all the skylights and the roof. So, it's nice.


Been raining here too.

 Which is good. A little warmer there though. I would imagine.

 It's not very warm, but it's not, you know, I'm in a T-shirt,  


 It's warmer here than Portland.

It's probably in the low 50s. Ah. I mean, Not quite 50 in Portland.

 Hmm. So, what are you up to these days?

Well, quite a number of things. The Zen community of Oregon has co-designed a program called awakening to whiteness. And I'm not sure who they did it in sync with. I'm sure they've gotten a lot of material from different sources. But once a I'm going to go through a couple of things. I'm going to talk about the assignment of readings and documentaries and podcasts and stuff that focus on racism and ending racism. And this particular one this month was focused on Buddhist the -- I'm not sure if you can see it, but the Buddhists fall into the holier than thou category of what they term "spiritual bypass" of personal racism. So that's one thing. I mean, it's not a huge commitment, but we're really glad when we get a chance to meet in our group of four other people and talk about our reactions to, you know, there's stuff to focus on, but there's also the material that we're trying to absorb. So that's one thing. And also on Sundays I've been doing two 30-minute sessions of meditation followed by a lecture I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not, but it's -- what's her name? Bays.

Oh Jan Bay?

I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not, but they have their own style of combining Soto and Rinzai, so it's a little different.  


 Yeah, they did a period called "ango."

Yeah, that means practice period.

Yeah, yeah, continuous practice. So they studied a piece of Dogan's on collective -- on continuous practice. I didn't participate in that, but I did participate in a thing on the five precepts. a different focus than we had as where it was, we were just sitting, you know, Shikantaza. –


Yeah, they're looking at, I can't remember the term offhand, but more changing our mindset, you know, so they focus a little more consciously on, You know, not koans, though they mention koans, but a little more of how our minds work to distract us and such, rather than just focusing on breathing. Wow, you're really engaged there, that's good. But you've also got the Compassionate Listening Organ. We haven't taught. I mean, it's gone online since COVID happened. About five years ago, Joni and I went on a delegation to Israel and Palestine. We did the teaching on that. We were just becoming facilitators back then formally, and we offered to do that, compensation for a little reduction in the cost. And I don't take -- we don't take credit for it, but out of that group, I think at least five more people became facilitators, and it seemed to be a turning point for the Compassionate the project, which is the main organization, which because of the perfectionism of the founder and the person who sort of controlled it, I think it became much more difficult, shall we say, to break into the system. And so it stayed very, very small for -- I mean, I've been connected to them for over 20 years. And I think that's what I'm really proud of. connected to them for over 20 years now. What is compassionate listening and where does it come from and who is the founder? Leah Greene, she was part of the Earthstewards Network but she had spent quite a bit of time and was a young person in Israel and was fluent both in Hebrew and in Arabic. And she got very concerned about the oppression of Palestinians. And so as she worked with the Earthstewards, she founded a different organization. Her name is not coming back to me at the moment. As part of the earth stewards, and she started guiding people to Israel for these delegations. But she noticed that the people who were going on it were convinced, you know, long ago that of the injustice on the Israeli side, but they weren't seeing the responsibilities of the Palestinians, so they ended up arguing with the settlers and anybody who disagreed with them, rather than trying to, you know, be more open-minded. So she heard about a a woman who was living in Santa Barbara, Jean Knutson Hoffman, who is no longer on this plane, but she -- because Jean had started something called compassionate listening. And Leah asked her to tell her, to teach her about it, and she said, well, when is your next delegation? and she told her it was coming up. And so she said, "Just bring me with you and I will teach everyone." And so that was the beginning of the transition to the Compassionate Listening Project from what it had been before. So I went on one of the very first ones after that and we were still having a lot of trouble because nobody had been trained previously in compassionate listening. before they went on it. And the little bit of time that was spent by the more experienced people, just, you know, it just wasn't enough, shall we say. So I always complained about that to them. And I got started in the facilitation program early on, but I had some really basic disagreements with some of the main person who was teaching it. She did come out with an early book on the subject and some guidance and what have you. But it borrows from Joanna Macy's work and other people sitting in the fire. I can't remember the guy's name who wrote that. –

Can you say what it is? I mean, I hear the term compassionate listening, but can you describe it? –

Okay. Yeah, in some ways it's similar to Marshall Rosenberg's work, but it's less head centered and more heart centered and really teaches how to just listen silently and to respond with rather open-ended questions. And we're actually reflective listening is sometimes, like you know, you talk, tell me more about such and such, and something that touched the listener very deeply was the place in your heart rather than in your head was a place to help the individual who was speaking to deepen what they were saying and really feel listened to by someone who they could regard as a more neutral person rather than just speaking to other people, speaking to the choir as the expression goes. And it led to a lot of deeper processing by people and gave some openings because I'm sure you know or assume the conversation between Israelis and Palestinians is more or less non-existent anymore. And I think that's a really important point. I think that everybody is just careful and defensive and such. So they started leading delegations around doing compassionate listening with the speakers and getting a wider range of And, you know, some very valuable things came from it. Not enough to bring peace to that place. -  


 But, you know, Joni and I taught it in Java when we were there with, there's a little community called Peace Place in Paki, Eastern Java. And they're part of the Friends Peace Network that is all over the world. We did some of it in Rwanda and Uganda, also with Friends Peace Team over there in Rwanda. And we did a little bit when we were in India. And it's a very universal issue where people don't really listen for very long when someone is speaking, but they start accumulating how they disagree with that person. So as soon as the person pauses, they chime in with, you know, something more argumentative rather than, um, you know, more acknowledging of what the person said, And I think that's a really important thing. And I think that's a really important thing. And I think that's a really important thing. So it's a way of kind of learning to speak and listen from the heart. And bring more -- see the commonality. If you really listen deeply to people and we teach different And then the -- let's see. The major points, you know, the -- not the morals. Values. You know, the values that people share are usually pretty universal. You know, like I lost a family member in this conflict. like they were shot in the back, you know, in a demonstration. And I'm never going to forgive the people who are responsible for this. But, you know, there's another side to it, you know, the fear and mistrust from both sides that once you can -- once people can see, you know, another viewpoint, And you can see the commonality. Oh, I love family as well You know and that you know, whatever happened to you Would I would have the same feelings about it. So Hmm.  


 Hmm. Yeah, there's a really good book. I could I can send you the Online an online copy of it if you want sure Sure. You know, you can learn compassionate listening just from this book. You don't have to go to class.

Do you remember any other examples? You mentioned somebody saying, "I had a family member shot in the back." Like in the Israeli-Palestinian situation, do you remember any particular events or conversations sessions or exchanges? Anything that showed any opening up from someone? Any benefit from the compassionate listening?

A lot of them are just from people's presence with each other. Being able to respond, like I was saying, with a reflective comment about how something moved you that they said. The acknowledgement can be so powerful to someone very much mired in their belief system the guilt of the other person or the position of themselves as a victim and the other person as a perpetrator. Usually in most situations, you will have one side that is more being victimized than the other. But I can certainly understand that a way to get through to the stronger side that might be victimizing the others would be to listen to them and not argue with them.

So did you find when you went there with groups that it was more rewarding, a better experience when you did it with compassionate listening?

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, a thousand percent for sure. Yeah,  


A lot of People have been very influenced by it. Yeah, well, that's good. I know there's a lot of people who have tried to help in that situation, Israel, Palestine, and Pakistan, India is another one that's gone on forever. It's really never cooled off. And just people seem so intransigent. Has there been any effort? Oh, gosh, man, that would be hard in Palestine. No, in Pakistan, India? Yeah, I don't know that there's been, I mean, I don't know of, well, one of the main people in the Compassion of the Steam Project has worked a lot in Kashmir. Well, there you go. That's right to heart. Yeah,  


 But right within India, just between Muslim and Hindu. Oh,  


While we were there, you know, this new premier came in or president or whatever he calls himself. And started passing all these laws very prejudicial against Muslims.

I have some very close friends here that are descended from Pakistani Hindus that lost their homes and had to leave at partition when Muslims just took over their homes. They run a natural food store here and husband and wife and they're both from the Pakistani Hindu diaspora. A number of which went to Java, you know, but they came here and I haven't talked to the wife, but the husband's very supportive of Modi. And they're really nice people. You know, I didn't say anything, but I had more of an impression like what you said about what's happening over there. All right, now let me ask you something else. You have a thing called Personal Ceremony. Yeah, your personal ceremony, yourpersonalceremony.com. Can you say what that is?

OK, so in 1975, I heard about the Universal Life Church, and that they were offering to make people ministers if they sent them a dollar. - Isn't that great? - Being who I am, I didn't believe it. So I sent them a postcard saying, "Are you guys for real?" And by return mail, I got my minister's certificate, So it didn't even cost me a dollar. Of course now you can do it on the internet and you can even become a Bishop if you pay them a little money. Anyway. - I love it. I love it. - Right after that, someone told me they were getting married and I said, "Oh, well, I'm a minister, I can perform the ceremony." So I did that and then I sent in the certificate And then the county called me up and said, "You have to register with us." So I went down to the county headquarters, this is down in Josephine County in Grants Pass, and paid my $3.75 or whatever to get registered. And then different opportunities came up for me to perform weddings, including I got Ann involved. She would play flute for part of the ceremony. And I got into doing customized ceremonies based on people's religious background, ethnic background, and what have you. And since Joni and I have gotten together, we've done a lot of-- She's done a lot of Hindu-Jewish, Christian-Jewish, Hindu-Christian weddings and got into elopements, which we use our backyard or our living room or dining room for. That's terrific. especially during COVID, I think she's done over 25 ceremonies, so-called elopements, just because they're not, you know, there's no big party afterwards. They're often day of person calling or, you know, within a week or something. the witnesses from the surrounding neighborhood. So, you know, we do -- I don't do very many anymore because Joni is much better at getting reviews and posting stuff on Facebook and such. So -- but we're still doing 30 or 40 between us every year. And, you know, we charge like 200 bucks for an elopement[?]. We give a fighting scale for a more formal wedding where we work with a couple to design a ceremony. And people, you know, people, you know, that used to be all I did was writing my own book. And I think that's what I did. And I think that used to be all I did was writing ceremonies with people, and now it's more of the elopement style. Just financially it's more affordable and what have you. Not very many people are -- you know, I mean during the, what, 2008 and afterwards people couldn't afford to have a big $50,000 wedding. Anyway, so that's what your personal ceremony is about. - That is really interesting. Have you ever done a Muslim Jewish? - I did one a long time ago. In Israel, they go to Cyprus. - Oh. - Same thing in Israel. - Oh, I'm sure there'd be a lot over there. Hey, so didn't you have a profession, something you did for a living other than that? - Oh yeah,  


 I moved up to Portland to go to nursing school. -  


 - I became a nurse in mid 80s. And that's what I've done ever since. What are you doing there? - What am I doing? I'm heating up some coffee. - Aha, I'm drinking some tea. So you were a nurse, what sort of nurse? - I did a lot of different kinds of nursing and taught toward the end of my career, I taught nursing. And for the last several years, I've been doing, I've been retired, but in the fall, I've been doing flu vaccination clinics. - Oh, really? That's wonderful. - Yeah, so I can make a few grand and so I don't have to spend as much on my retirement and keep my skills and my license alive. when I've signed up with a couple of companies who may give me a job doing it when the COVID shots become more public. - Oh  


 So yeah, as a still a practicing nurse, then cool. You've been involved, how has the COVID-19 virus affected your life and your nursing life? Yeah, well, Joni was a little leery of me doing flu vaccinations this fall, but I did for a couple a month, you know, wore a mask. And most of the clinics were with government agencies, so they were all pretty careful people. You know, they wore masks as well. I even got I'm not sure if I didn't change my gloves or wear my gloves. I got a complaint. So I got a couple of complaints filed about me. You know,  


That was that was always interesting. There are only two roads into this little town where we're staying And both of them have these portable signs, electrified signs saying, Manzanita masks are required to Manzanita. I've never seen anything like it. But on the beach, when we were walking on the beach, nobody was wearing a mask.

- We don't wear masks when we walk on the beach. But we take them to the beach, We have to walk there. There are there are local security that we walk past going to the beach and basically, they're just taking parking money. And parking money like 15 cents or for a car, you know, our quarters. And so, so, hey, Alan, I want to move back a little further to where we know each other from. And we know each other from, of course, the San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, that might be where we met, most likely, or Sokoji. And you -- can we go further back? Where were you born?

  I was born in Chicago. 

Oh, no kidding.

 When I was 10, my parents had a house built in Skokie, in the suburbs outside of Chicago. And so I went, finished grammar school and high school in Skokie. So Chicago area, but after high school, I really never went back except to visit my parents briefly.

Did you go to college?

Well, I started in Antioch. I finished my first year. I didn't do very well and I was ready to stretch my legs. So that's when I, Ed Brown and I were both at Antioch and we bought a car together and I always wanted to spend time in the Lake of the Woods area of Canada, Ontario. And I don't know how it happened, but Ed and I bought this car together and we got camping gear and we rented a canoe in Kenora, Ontario, and spent six weeks canoeing and camping and fishing and doing yoga. And while we were there, his brother Dwight was sending him letters with koans in them and one of the books I had taken with me was Heinrich Zimmer's Philosophies of India and I was determined to find one of those religions that spoke to me and follow it and  as it would come together, I ended up, well, after Kenora and I drove to the West Coast and as you probably know, Ed's from San Rafael.   


 - And I started living in San Francisco, But I ended up going to New York for several months. And when I returned to San Francisco, Ed was living in a little two-bedroom apartment right off of Fillmore. Yeah, Byington?? Street. It's one block long. And I knew I was close to Sokoji and I decided I would start sitting meditation there. So you already knew about it? You already knew about it?  


This was probably 1965. I'm going to go back to the book.?? longer period of meditation on Saturday mornings. And I was out carousing with some friends of mine in San Francisco, and we were out all night long. And I said, "Hey, let's go to the Zen, you know, to Sokoji and do meditation. It's time to go do meditation." I don't know And he said, well, I'm going to go to the gym. And I think by the time the meditation session was over, my friends had left and I was the only one there, or the only of the group that I came with. So I liked it. There are actually some parallels between Zen and Judaism. I hadn't totally gone into I hadn't totally rejected Judaism, but I hadn't really related to it. I mean, I had options in San Francisco. Shlomo Carlebach had his free form synagogue in San Francisco, not far from where we were either. But it just really appealed to me. But I had a hard time waking up at the time to go sit. And so Ed would wake me up and then he got the Chronicle every morning. So he would read the Chronicle while I went and sat Zazen. And at a certain point, I don't know if it was weeks or months later, it was probably weeks, he said, "You know, I'm waking up every morning for you to go to meditation. I think I will go with you." And so some weeks or months after I started, Ed started sitting as well. And I started going to a vocational school, John O'Connell vocational in the Mission. And I was learning carpentry skills. And one weekend, I think it was, I went up to Tahoe with Dick Baker and some other folks. And I didn't ski, wasn't my thing. The woman I was living with, I think, skied. So she was off skiing. So Dick went to me and he said, you know, there's this place called Tassajara and we're thinking about buying land there for a monastery. Why don't you go down there and apply for a job as a carpenter and kind of scout the area out. And when people come down from Zen Center, so it was the Horse Pasture was what they were looking at buying. And they come down, you can lead hikes there. So there's a picture of me, I think with Kobun Chino hiking into the horse pasture with a group of folks from Zen Center. And Ed came down.

  Wait, wait, wait. Kobun Chino did not come before we bought. Kobun Chino didn't come until June of '67.

 All right. Okay. Okay. So I was the very first person from Zen Center to actually live there. And this is probably at least a year before we decided to buy the hot springs itself. That was decided after I spent a summer there working. So it must have been Roshi then who came. I just know I led a small group there. It was early on. –

So you did get a job at Tasajara with the Becks. How did you get it? How did you go about getting it? –

Well, I went down there to apply for a job and they hired me because there weren't very many people who wanted to live down there in an isolated location like that. for as little money as they were offering. So what did you do? And I did carpentry. I did carpentry maintenance. I worked with Bill Parker. Oh  


He and Kathy were down there. And you know, but I did all kinds of things, you know, maintenance stuff. But I had some primitive carpentry skills from finishing about a semester of carpentry program at John O'Connell, but enough to get hired. So that was the summer of '66? Yeah, yeah, that was, I was 21 that fall.

Uh huh. I was 21 that spring. No, that winter, February. So did you work in the kitchen any?

No, Ed came down-- after I got the job, we were still living together on Byington. And after I got the job, I came back up. I don't remember what the gap was between me and hired and going down there. But I think Ed might have driven me down. And he applied. He wanted to learn how to cook. And there were two gay guys who were the cooks there. And they hired him as a cook. So he came back up to San Francisco and got his stuff and came down there. And we set up a little zendo in my room. Maybe we shared a room. I can't remember one of the one of the old pine cabins, not pine, one of the one of the one of the old cabins down toward the swimming pool.

Oh, yeah, those were redwood.

Redwood, right, right. I was thinking of the pine rooms. Yeah, because the pine rooms were very nice guest rooms.

Right, right, exactly.

Anyway, I set up a little I bought a little I think I might have had a Buddha that I bought in New York, which I still have. Small metal Buddha from Thailand, I think originally. And I bought a little bell and we would sit at Zazen every morning. We were the first Zen students to meditate at Tassajara as far as we knew.

Oh, definitely you were. Yeah, it was from Zen Center. That I never heard of. And I was like, "Oh, I'm going to go to the horse pasture." And I was like, "Oh, I'm going to go to the horse pasture." ??

And Suzuki Roshi came down. He came down to visit. And that's when we hiked to the horse pasture. I got a day off or something and hiked. And that's when he was sitting in the staff kitchen. prepared him a brown rice lunch, and there were hamburgers on the table, and Suzuki Roshi very perfunctorily pushed away the plate of brown rice and took a hamburger in his hands and started munching down as Jim Cook practically was one of them was the bartender look like he was going to pass out because he was watching this Zen priest eating meat.

Yeah,  Yeah. Quite humorous. I know Ed was there working in the kitchen but anyway. Well, yeah, that's classic. Classic.  


 And when in Rome, there was the Romans, right? ??

Yeah, but he was, you know, he didn't get hamburgers at the temple. He didn't get hamburgers when he went out to eat in Japan town, which... Probably not. not. And he liked it. And people didn't realize that Japanese priests mainly are not vegetarian. Some of them are. I was with one teacher who was over there. Well, a lot of people don't know that Zen priests marry even. That's maybe a little more common knowledge. Well, in Japan, some in Tibet, I just had a Myanmar monk over here with an American who's practiced in Myanmar and they're in a monastery in Java. And the American is vegetarian, but the Myanmar monk will eat chicken. Buddha wasn't a vegetarian, you know, as long as it was served to him. So that's neat. So you're there at Tasajara. I, you know, I never knew how. And that's one thing I wanted to talk to you about was how Ed got there. So basically it was that Richard Baker suggested you go down, you went down and Ed followed. And I know that Richard liked Ed and there was a time when I was there that Ed was living in their in their house, in their apartment.

Oh, really?

I can remember that. And Richard always sort of supported and promoted Ed. It was my I mean, he recognized, you know what Paul Disco says about him, says he's an intuitive genius in seeing what people are good at and, you know, seeing where people are at. and recognizing somebody who might have a talent for something. So I wonder if he suggested to Ed that he go join you.

Could very well have been. You'll have to get that from Ed, though.

Yeah, well, but also the fact of him driving you down, seeing the place and wanting to learn to cook, yeah, that seems, that makes perfect sense. So, yeah, that was, well, what was Tassajara like there when you were there that summer?

Well, that was the summer that Beck tried to draw more people down there by having all these famous photographers do seminars down there. So Ansel Adams, I remember for sure, Ansel Adams and Cole Porter??, I think, it was not Cole Porter, I think Elliot Porter's son maybe, I don't know, there were several different photographers. Morley bear. Morley bear. Morley bear. Yeah, that sounds right. Right. You know, Ann Stackpole I married, you know, her father knew all these people because he was a big highfalutin photographer for Life magazine for a number of years. Oh, really?  


 So he knew all these folks. So I, you know, I I mean, it was, you know, my one comment, my memory of Ansel Adams is, hang on a second, was that, you know, all these young women were drawn around him and there was this old fart and he just appeared to be a real womanizer. And that was my impression of Ansel, the famous Ansel Adams.

Yes, I can understand that. He came to Green's restaurant when I was the maître d' there. Oh, really? I remember him coming there. I can't remember if it was more than once. Ah, well that's interesting. So you were down there then. But you were there just in the summer.

Right, right. Yeah, I actually quit. I don't know. I can't remember exactly when But I --  


 I just -- I couldn't handle working with Beck. I mean, he was really, really a schmuck. And I know he endeared himself to many people, but I don't think anybody who worked for him really liked him.

Oh, yeah, I never experienced that side of him. What I experienced from him later on when he come down is how much he knew about Tassajara and about the creek and about the natural setting and about the history. I learned a lot from him. He would look at particular stones, big boulders in the creek and talk about if they'd moved. He really had an eye for the details there. The only person who had that level of knowledge about everything in our group was Paul Disco, who had the same sort of awareness. But Beck was a math teacher, so that's a pretty impressive combination. So when you left there, I mean, I know you came back. Did you leave, go back to live? And wait a minute, you said something. You said you were living with a woman. You said when Dick drove you to Nevada or whatever, you went to Tahoe to talk to you to suggest, on that trip he suggests you go to Tassajara, you mentioned that you were living with a woman at that time, but you also said you were still living with Ed. Was there a woman living with you all?

I'm not sure. You know, I may have moved out by then. And got in an apartment. Yeah, I think -- yeah, I can't remember when I moved out of this place. But I met this woman. I thought I should learn -- I was planning on moving to Marin County. I was in the college of Marin, and I was in the Spanish class at maybe the college of Marin. I can't remember where. I met this Canadian woman there. And we just started seeing each other, and she ended up moving in. I don't know if I had already rented this place or we rented it together, but it was on Bush Street. apartment building connected, I think, to another apartment building just a couple blocks down from Sokoji. And there was a Japanese guy in the other apartment building who was a tea master. A tea master. I went to at least one tea ceremony with him and Ed came with me and for some reason we were waiting for him and sitting in full or half lotus or half an hour. I don't know how long it was. Ed passed out. It was more than Ed could handle. I think he finally showed up and we did the tea ceremony with him. That was a memory.

And how did you like the tea ceremony? You know, I think it was a bit over.?? I don't think he did quite the way it should have been done. I don't think it was necessary to make us sit in an uncomfortable position for as long as we did. I think I've done maybe one or two tea ceremonies since then that that were much more, maybe they were more commercial. I don't know. I have no idea why this was such a long-drawn-out affair. –

Yeah, that's not normal. That's not normal.

Yeah, it didn't make me wanna be a learn tea ceremony anyway. Yeah, I went to Tassajara to work that summer. Marjorie kept the apartment and—

Who's Marjorie? –

It's a great, well Marjorie was the woman I was living with. –


Yeah. And we never really got back together then after that. –

Hmm. And did you, what, you lived somewhere? –

Well, I lived, okay, so I mean, I was down at Tassajara And gosh, this is interesting. Just think about this. I came back up to, it's kind of a jumble right now because in my mind, trying to figure it all out. - Oh, I understand. - I did eventually, yeah, you know, we're talking 50 plus years ago. –

You're doing good.

I did, yeah, I did. I got, I had a friend, let me think. Okay, so I met another woman at Tassajara who was working down there. And she and I ended up living together in Jamesburg sometime later. - Oh. - She was pregnant. She was pregnant when she came down to Tassajara. Name was Penny. And she, let's see. Oh, when I came up to San Francisco, I think I lived with, at some point anyway, I lived with her in Berkeley. No, that was later. That was later. I'm not sure what I'm saying. Anyway, I'll write my autobiography. I've got all these dates. I mean, not much before that. But Penny was pregnant Maybe when she came back up from Tassajara, we slept together. She wanted to have sex. I was nervous about it. I said, "Are you sure? You're nine months pregnant. Sure it's okay to have sex?" I said, "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, don't worry about it." And sure enough, she ended up having the baby that night. –

Well, that's one way to bring on labor is to have sex. Elin and I did that because she was two weeks late. And also our midwife in Japan told her, told us right from the first you should have sex a lot have sex that as much as you can while you're pregnant really good for you and the baby. Yeah, wasn't that great? Thank you, midwife.

So well, that's interesting. So I took her to French Hospital, the only hospital in San Francisco that did natural childbirth. And I'd never been to any, you know, birthing classes. And I don't think Penny had either, but she might have read, anyway, she had to, she did know that she wanted to have a natural childbirth. And of course we got, we were very attached after that experience. Oh  


 And, and I can't remember all of the, what, what followed, but we ended up moving in together and I rented a house    onthe Lambert property in Jamesburg. I'm going to go back to the house.


A little house there. And that was -- oh, God. I might be getting some years switched around because now I'm remembering that people coming from Zen Center Is that right? On the way to Tassajara. That's really interesting.

I don't remember that. And I started living at Tassajara in like March of '67 right after we bought it, but I didn't leave, you know. But then I was going in and out for various things. And I don't remember you living out there. How long did you live there? I'd stop by Lambert's. - Yeah,  


 I'm just trying to get this all. 'Cause I, for a period of time, I lived in some of the apartments across from Sokoji. I had hurt my back, lifting pots at Tassajara after, God, this is after I became, after I started living in Tassajara. So I'll have to get all these years in order. –

It doesn't matter. I can see. So you were in San Francisco, you were living in Jamesburg. At some point, Penny moved on because- -

Yeah, yeah, we split up,  

- And you were at Tassajara quite a bit. - Yeah, I was at Tassajara that one summer, the last summer the Becks had it. And then I, yeah, and then it was a while later when I came and lived at Jamesburg. I only had lived in Jamesburg for a few months and then Bill, as I recall, Bill Lambert wanted to give Rod the house to live in. And so I moved to an adobe house in the Cachagua Valley with Penny. No kidding. So with Penny. Wow. Eventually it was a property owned by Crocker, this big banker in San Francisco. Some of the banks have his name attached to it.

Cachagua, that's right, you know, next door to Jamesburg, but you came in as a student in Tassajara. I mean, you were at one point you were the head cook, right? Or you were working in the kitchen?

Yeah, no, I was. Yeah,  


So I, there was a time when I got my merchant seaman's papers. Oh my god, went on one voyage. And when I came back, I got off the ship. And Ed has invited me to come work with him and Suzuki Roshi, maybe I can't remember, but when I talked with Suzuki Roshi, he said, "You come down here now, Ed, your friend Ed needs you. [LAUGHTER] I understand. I decided, yeah, you probably do. So that's when I came down as a student at Tassajara. And that was-- I mean, Ed would sometimes I was hired as a chief baker. Yeah, that was early on. Yeah, that was in the first round of students before , you know, Kobun Chino I think had come down there by that time. But I was hired as a chief baker. time. But yeah, I can't remember. But that was when people were not shaving their heads, you know, that early, early time. Maybe the first year or so. of Tassajara. But I was thinking about, yeah, so I, I cut a deal with Roshi. I said, well, if you want me to come down there, then I'm not gonna pay anything to be down there. - Yeah, right. And he consented to that. He wanted to keep Ed from going off the deep end and he thought I could be the one that did it. And I suppose I was because eventually he came out of his cabin. But I mean, I said, I was in next to Ed, he was the first one off the, first one in the line of meditators. He had the first cushion, I had the second cushion. And that was when he would shake.

Oh, about that period. He shook for years. I sat next to him. I sat next to him. And I thought he was going to kill himself shaking. I thought he was going to bash his head against the stones in the wall. He would shake violently sometimes.

Yeah, right. Right. Yeah, I don't know if you know anything about, it's called co-counseling. Yeah, sure. Re-evaluation co-counseling. Yeah, well, in co-counseling, shaking is all about fear, you know, and it's a way of shaking off fear. I did co-counseling for several years, and whenever I met anybody who shook, and I never met anybody that shook as much as Ed did, but Ed's whole adoption, or not adoption, his time as an orphan, basically, when he was in an orphanage for a period of time. Well,  

Yeah.And first, first, his mother died. Father put him and his brother in an orphanage, and then he and his brother were separated. That was that it was the separation that did him in. Well, both the one to blow there.



Yeah, so, you know, I sort of have always looked at that. At least once I became aware, you know, since I get co-counseling, I put two and two together. I said, oh, Ed did this. This was his way of shaking off all of the trauma.  


 ≫ That happened in his life.  

Yeah.  What do you remember about Suzuki Roshi?

I think I've written some things to you. Oh  


You know, I mean, I remember when I had the job of cleaning the tubs. So it was my turn to clean tubs or whatever. And Suzuki Roshi came in and used one of the private tubs. And when I came in there to straighten up, it was a horrible mess. I can't remember the specifics of why I judged it as that, but I was like shocked, you know, because I had this, you know, image still, still of Zen master, of Japanese Zen masters anyway, of having everything, you know, in perfect alignment, you know. So naturally they would leave everything as neat as a pin when they left. I think on some level, purposefully or not, I was learning the humanity of a teacher, not to put people on pedestals, which I'm certainly guilty of. I think that is a good thing. That is one vivid memory I have of him. I remember once driving up to San Francisco. He was in the back seat. And Tim Buckley was driving in that black Volvo And looking in the back seat and as headlights shown on Roshi's face, I could see how careworn he looked. And that was also a revealing moment for me. But, you know, he could be concerned with worldly things, I guess, I'll look at that. Anyway, I'm putting Makana candles in the menorah right now when she's making dinner.

So you were a student at the university of Oregon, right?

Yeah, I was a student at the university of Oregon.  ??


So at some point, you -- how long were you around Zen Center? When did you go to Oregon? Okay, so this second summer, I was a Zen student down there. Anne and I started a relationship at that point. And I bought a pickup truck. I left Tassajara. I was in the summer and fall. And I bought a pickup truck and built a camper on the back of it. And Ann and I were going to drive up to Canada because I heard you could, you know, get free land up there. And I had for years wanted to homestead. I was part of, you know, I knew I wanted to be part of the Back to the Land movement. So we were ready to take off, and that's when Ed and Meg decided they were going to get married. And I offered to bake the cake, the wedding cake, for Ed. So my last trip down before I went up to Canada was to bake their wedding cake. I was there at their wedding.  


 That was 1970 in, uh, oh God, I don't know, May, June, something like that.  



Beginning of the guest season there, I think, or just before it.  


And then, then we drove up to Canada. You're right. I don't remember. I don't remember guests. You're right. So it was probably before. Good Lord, it was April, huh? Because the guest season would start May 1st. Oh, really? Okay.  


That was a bash.

That was the biggest bash in Tassajara history.

 Oh, really?

Oh, yeah, definitely. Well, I mean, the Zen Center Tassajara history.  


Yeah, right. Yeah, it was an outlier. And then after that, so you made that wedding cake. Well, that was good. And after that, you went to Canada?

Yeah, we were up in Canada for the, oh God. We settled in Nelson, outside of Nelson, BC. And I got a job as a baker up there, but the winter was not a pleasant one. I figure we counted, we had 13 feet of snow that winter. And I decided to come back to the States. And I ran into Bill and Kathy Parker up there in Canada. –

No kidding. –

Yeah, I don't know. I can't remember why he was there and he was probably looking, thinking about moving up there as well. But I got a letter from them at some point while we were up in Nelson. And they had stopped in Williams, Oregon, in southern Oregon. And they stayed somewhere. I can't remember, but they went, actually they stopped at these people's home who are real old timers in Williams. And the woman talked about, was talking about the history of the place, which of course Bill was always interested in stuff like that. And she said that there was a sign over the gate at one time saying the Stackpole place. So I think they did some research on it. And then they wrote us. And they told Ann that this was a place that her great grandparents had homesteaded. and that they were living on. And we just thought this was really an interesting coincidence. So when we decided to come back to the States, we went out to Williams and through a bunch of circumstances we ended up living on and eventually buying a piece of property less than a mile from that homestead.

Oh, wow. Hey.  


 I just remembered, weren't you doing baking at Page Street after we bought the building?  




 Weren't you the first person to sell bread or something like that? Didn't you have some sort of commercial thing going?

Yeah, on a very small basis. I called it fresh bread Fred.??

That's funny.

I remember, I think it was Charlotte Silver thought that it was Ed who was doing the baking and called Ed Fred for a long time. Oh, that's funny. Anyway,  


 That's funny. Yeah, I had a little operation going on there.

Uh-huh. You're probably going to have to go to dinner in a little bit.

Yeah, Joni just put a plate in front of me.

Well, let me ask you, there's one thing. I always write you and call you, actually, I don't know how to pronounce it, or I don't remember because it's always just writing it, but Yehuda. –

Yeah, perfect. –

So Yehuda, Yehuda Alan-Winter. How did you come to get the name Yehuda?

When I started going to Hebrew school, I think my parents couldn't afford to pay for it, but there was an Orthodox synagogue near where we lived in Chicago, and they offered a free Hebrew school. But when I entered there, they said, "You don't have a Hebrew name. We're going to give you name. I don't know if they chose Yehuda because the English equivalent is Judah. And my middle name was Jay. I don't know if that -- I have no idea how I got that -- how I was given that name, but a few years ago when I decided to take it on. It's a long time now. It may have been for that reason, but I'm pretty sure it was at that Hebrew school.

 That's cool.

It goes way back.

It's really neat. Now, listen, you should eat your dinner. Right? Shouldn't we say -- shouldn't we part? Temporarily.  


Well, I really appreciate all that. It's really interesting. And I really appreciate the direction your life has taken always. You know, respecting your roots and respecting the wisdom you've run into and being a sort of Bodhisattva figuring out how to help others and benefit others as much as possible.

That's really a sweet thing to say.

Well, you deserve it. And hey, maybe someday we'll meet again. I might make it to Oregon.

I hope so. So it's been a while. I've seen you here. Yeah, well, Katrinka’s son lives in Bandon. And she goes there every year. And I haven't left here.

When was that time you were in Portland at the bookstore?

Remember the year of that signings were in Portland, I'd say '94, '99, 2000 and 2001.

Well, okay, so it could have been any of those.

Yeah, at Powell's. I did one at a smaller bookstore, but Powell's is the great one. It's one of the greatest bookstores. It's a remarkable bookstore.

Yeah, well the one you were at that I went to was their smallest store, not the big one on Burnside.

 Oh yeah,  


 That's what I was thinking. I said that was one that was smaller. Oh, but that's part of Powell's too, huh? The other one? Yeah,  


The one on Hartman.

And Powell's is still going?

Oh yeah, all of them. They have a couple more.

That's great. I love it. A bookstore that puts new and used books together.

Yes. That's unique.

Okay, well enjoy your dinner and thanks a lot. And it's a pleasure for communicating with you through the years.

Likewise, David.


OK, thanks so much for inviting me to. To participate in your history. Yeah, well thanks a lot for being. Part of my history.

Mm hmm OK, alright, stay in touch.

Yeah OK, you too bye bye.


So, thanks a lot Yehuda Alan Winter. That was great. Really appreciate your being our guest today. And I've appreciated being your friend for half a century. Although we only come together now and then, mainly in cyberspace, entirely in cyberspace in recent decades, or a couple of decades, or a decade and a half. You know, Alan told me something once that I want to add here. I wish I had asked him about it, but I didn't think of it. And that is, remember, he and Ed Brown were at Antioch together and they bought a car and went to Canada and camped out in the wilderness, he said, for six weeks. Now he did mention that they were getting mail, so they had some place they could check in with. I didn't really get the details of that exactly where or anything. I remember long ago, Alan told me that he and Ed were there in the wilderness, just the two of them, nobody else, and that they had some disagreement. And that Alan, I don't like to use curse words in the podcast because it can, well, I don't like to use curse words in general in, well, actually in my conversation or in writing our podcast. And one good reason not to is like, there's some platforms that, you know, if there's one bad word, then everything on the entire platform has to be for 18 years or older, some, you know, various things like that. So he said, "F you," to Edward in the heat of the moment. And he said, "Edwin, you said F-you to me. There's no one else around here. There's just you and me. So when you said F-you, you meant me. I'm not going to talk to you." And I swear, Alan said that like, I don't know. I mean, I have that sort of memory, like he said for like two weeks or something. Maybe it wasn't that long. He said the longest time and just wouldn't talk to him. That was it. There they were in the wilderness.

Subsequent emails


I wasn’t there when Dick brought the Roshi down in April as I think I was within a month of completing the Carpentry class, so maybe May. I’m almost positive that the hamburger story was during the summer after the guest season started. I do remember that being “our man at Tass” and guiding folks to the Horse Pasture was a suggestion by someone. Not sure but it probably happened during the summer when I was working down there. Seems unlikely that Yvonne came down the Tony Trail which comes in from the south when she went for a hike to the Horse Pasture which is north of Tassajara. I don’t remember who was on the hike.


Looking at the picture, I felt sure it was Roshi in the white headband, possibly me in the front and Silas Hoadley bare chested coming up behind us. Definitely looks like the Horse Pasture. Interesting that the initial report said there was lots of water in that parcel. That might have been true in the winter (especially a running creek), but not in the summer. I figured that was the best reason to buy the Hot Springs not to mention the road access and buildings. I’d suggest paying some money to get the pictures clearer. Seems possible with today’s technology. I just found that issue of the Wind Bell and they are indeed very dark! The pictures I have I think are all after I became a monk, but I haven’t had time to look for them. Hopefully they’ll be dated with the year.

Yes, Bill and Kathy Parker were there. Jim and Laurie…not sure I remember them but I think I do. I had a long term relationship with Bill and Kathy. (I ran into them in British Columbia when I had a flat tire and went into a gas station. There they were! I said, I’ll only believe it’s you if you pull out a hydraulic jack to lift my truck. Sure enough, he had one. They were up there hunting for land as I was. Later they sent us a letter after they discovered the homestead in the Williams Valley of Southern Oregon that belonged to Anne Stackpole's (sister of Kathy Bunnell) great grandparents. Bill’s dog later killed mine when they were staying on my property in Williams and, being the old traditional guy he was, he felt I MUST have a grudge against him for the rest of my life. Later they moved to acreage near Ashland and Kathy became the head of the box office at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I use to visit her there when I went south to visit Ashland.)

        Ed did stay all summer, but I left early. Beck was quite the taskmaster and we never got along. He worked me hard and paid me poorly and I finally quit. I got together with Penny who had worked there and, after she had her baby (not mine) we got Bill Lambert to rent us cabin at Jamesburg. Ken Kline and his wife lived in the other one. They later moved to San Luis Obispo. 

        As I wrote you earlier, monks coming thru Jamesburg would occasionally sleep on our floor until Bill had us move to Cachagua.



When I read the stuff about all the water there I suspect Bob Beck and Dick hype. I like Dick, but he had an angle there which was making the best case he could and that's the sort of thing he does. To me it was wishful thinking. I would rather hear what fire lookout Fred Tuttle and that ranger who knew the trails - starts with P, two vowels, like Pulsi or Punsi - had to say. Might be water underground. Dick gets so many details wrong. He usually pads numbers as in the road is 20 miles. People called it 15 but a few years ago I found it to be officially 14.1 miles. Now I see 17.1 but that's surely from the Carmel Valley Road where Tassajara Road starts (since I got the county to change that stretch from Cachagua Road which made Lambert angry. And now I see Jamesburg is 13.8 miles from Tassajara. And it says it takes over a day to hike there from Big Sur. I remember Dick Price walking in from Esalen arriving at 1pm, taking a bath, chatting for a while, noshing on some of his trail mix, and walking back - round trip in a day. It took me all day.

We don't have those photos, just the Wind Bells. We've also got an expert photo restorer who'll do anything like that for free so if they were used I'd send them to him.

That's all interesting about Bill and Kathy. Jim and Laurie moved to New Mexico and Dan kept in touch now and then.

 I can imagine Bob was hard to work under. What about Anna?



Nice that he came to me in a dream. Wish I remember more about the interaction. I got in touch with him years ago when I was visiting a friend in Port Townsend. You may have been the one who gave me his location and phone number. Pretty sure Niels had already died. Silas was a very kind, generous man. He hired me when I was living in S.F. and I remember the import stuff we packed. Pretty sure Stan was working for him, probably running the office. I have a glass that reminds me of the stuff he imported and that I packed or unpacked on those work days. (My lunch was always a tunafish sandwich on Orowheat Wheatberry bread and I bought a Dos Qquis to go with it. So I must have been over 21! So 1966-67?) Dementia, huh! Great that you had a clear conversation with him so close to the end. That happens when we least expect it.


I don’t think I liked Anna any more than I liked Bob. My memory is that she was pretty hard hearted. But who knows the stress they were under!!! That last summer they did a series of well known photographers doing workshops. Ansel Adams was one and I was rather repulsed at how he came on to the women who were a third his age. He seemed rather full of himself, but it’s hard not to be when you’re the second name after John Muir when folks talk about Yosemite. One of the Porters was there as well. Morley Baer maybe? But they weren’t that well attended. I don’t think it was a big success. After all, that was the year he decided to sell the hot springs! I don’t remember the number of guests. It was the wilderness and people like getting wasted  so the bar was a big draw and Jim Cook was the perfect bartender. 

        I don’t remember the trail system that well, but it sounds like they must have gone down Tassajara creek and turned up Willow Creek and eventually got on the Tony Trail. So they probably turned the wrong way when they came down from the Horse Pasture. That Tony Trail is a steep one especially coming up from Tassajara. I about killed myself on it as I was inexperienced and was carrying too much weight. Yvonne was VERY lucky to have gotten on it. 

        I took 2 days each time I hiked to Big Sur. Why not enjoy the scenery!?! The first time I got a ride up to Chew’s Ridge and hiked thru Miller Canyon. That was a gorgeous place! Headwaters of the Carmel River, I believe. Had quite the experience there.

         I remember Fred Tuttle and his wife. He talked about how he could go all day during the hot summer without drinking any water. Later, I found out that’ll do in your kidneys. Wonder how he faired.

        Dick…can’t say we parted amicably, but that might have been that I was pissed that he got transmission after abusing his position as a “holy man.” But we all have feet of clay. As they say, the brighter the light the longer the shadow. Reb Zalman, of blessed memory, was my second guru. He did a lot of good in the world, but he had his weaknesses as did his buddy Reb Shlomo. As I age, I look at all these figures differently, forgiving them AND myself as I go along. 

        Quite the hodge lodge of out-takes, for you to do whatever with. Thx for letting me relive some of this stuff, David. Quite a labor of love for you, I bet!



They were trying to sell it before then. I have adds to that effect in A Brief History of Tassajara. It was too much for them though they survived. [Anna said they were always ready but when Bob and Dick were negotiating, Bob wasn't willing to sell till December. I spent a lot of time with Bob after we had it and he knew so much about everything including showing me a small boulder in the creek and saying he didn't think the creek would ever be strong enough to move it but it had. I met Jim Cook back then but I don't remember him except maybe sort of tall and thin and funny. A little bit hicky Is that right? Morely Baer was there that summer.


I wasn't clear enough about the Yvonne story. There was no they that got lost. It was just her. The group you were with took the correct trail from the Horse Pasture trail that follows that little creek that empties into Tassajara Creek before the Narrows. Yvonne missed that turnoff and walked by herself all the way on the Horse Pasture trail to where it meets Willow Creek which had merged with Tassajara Creek a short distance upcreek.  She was darn lucky. You're right. The Tony trail is the steepest trail in the whole national forest as ranger told me. I just remembered his name - Putsy.

You worked in the kitchen too and learned to bake bread there too, right?

And do you remember how many on staff? I think Bob gave me the idea they often ran it with eight people.



Yes that describes Jim. I can picture him even now. 

No I learned to bake at the Marine Cooks and Stewaeds Union school from a French pastry chef. Never worked in the kitchen. That was Ed’s ambition at Tass. 

8 sounds about right. 

Did Dick make a great offer to us for the hot springs or what was the deciding factor?

Bob changed his mind. Anna surely insisted. She was 9 months pregnant in December and they needed money and it was so exhausting to run it for them.