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Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan
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[DC notes to self and others in brackets]


The kindness, generosity and skill of others have made this book possible.

I am exceedingly indebted to my Zen and non-Zen colleague, friend and tennis-buddy Michael Katz for calling me up in Japan and suggesting that my letters to friends and family could well be the beginnings of a book. I am further indebted to him for buying me a computer, printer and software as a sign of his confidence and then for following up on his initial interest with years of guidance, support and minute attention to the text as it evolved, the title (which he suggested), even the cover—all far beyond the call of duty of an agent.

I am grateful beyond measure to my wife Elin for her constant encouragement, clear judgment and discriminating taste, and for her hard work and endless patience in her wise and merciless editing of and comments on every part of this book at every stage.

A few people read the entire manuscript at one time or another and gave me sound, well-considered advice. Thanks to Jisho Cary Warner for going over it a number of times, making extensive suggestions and comments, and for the copy editing. Thanks to Jane Hirshfield for detailed and carefully chosen comments and to Taigen Dan Leighton for going over the manuscript for some of the historical Buddhist angles. Thanks to David Stanford, my editor at Viking Penguin, for his attentive reading of the manuscript and his valuable suggestions, and to his assistant, Kristine Puopolo, for her worthy recommendations, and thanks to both of them for being so pleasant to work with. Also in this regard, many thanks to Susan Silk, Nonin Chowaney and Jean Leyshon.

I am grateful to many friends, neighbors and teachers in Japan, who were always so generous helping me and my family, answering my questions, forgiving my social blunders. In particular I would like to mention Shōdō Harada Roshi, Daichi-Priscilla Storandt, Hōitsu Suzuki Roshi, Shin Yoshifuku, Kunitomi-san, Nakahara Sensei, Jay Gregg and Kyoko Maeda, Ann Overton, Peter and Jane Schneider, Jake What’s-his-name, Daijō, Fukiko and Kenji Numoto, Teresa Stockwell and Hashimoto-san for the open-ended use of her tatami room overlooking the vegetable garden at the edge of the woods.

Thanks to the staff of the Pondok Impian in Ubud, Bali, for a blissful transitional space between Japan and the States in which to work and play—and thanks to Kutut for bringing tea in the middle of the night.

In Santa Fe (where we lived for a year upon our return), I would like to thank Russell Smith, Jason Flores, Ron Strauch and Melissa White, and Dan Welch for their kind assistance. Thanks to the Santa Fe Public Library and the First Presbyterian Church for the quiet, rich environments in which to work. Thanks to Steve Tipton for the word “hobbyhorse,” to Neil Rubenking for help with software, to Womansword by Kittredge Cherry for the backup on weddings, and to Lois Anne Smith for being such a wonderful English teacher. Thanks to Paul Discoe for the insight, to Philip Whalen for the giraffes, to Brother David Steindl-Rast for falling into heaven, to Jerry Brown for the Latin, and to JALT for the advice on contracts in Japan. Thanks to Helen Tworkov and Carol Tonkinson of Tricycle, the Buddhist Review, and to Laurie Schley and Michael Wenger of the Wind Bell (publication of the San Francisco Zen Center) for publishing excerpts and for skillfully editing them. Eternal thanks to Daya Goldschlag, Liz Tuomi, Susan Chadwick and my son Kelly, who gets extra credit for noticing the “92.” Nine bows to Shunryū Suzuki Roshi, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, Richard Baker Roshi, Kobun Chino Roshi, Yoshimura Sensei, those already mentioned, and many others who have been such great spiritual friends. Thanks so very much to Yvonne Rand, Bill Sterling, Tom Silk and Susan Silk of the Callipeplon Society for sponsoring my sojourn to Japan (with the understanding that I had to write back) and endless gratitude to the sixty folks who responded so generously


[And a million thanks to Jun Mink for being such a great Japanese teacher in 1969 at the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies (now Monterey Inst. of International Studies). I have always felt guilty that I neglected to mention her in the acknowledgments herein. Before I went to Japan, I had been told by a fellow student from that class that she had died. To my delight she showed up at a booksigning in Carmel. I had her sit next to me and insisted she stay so we could talk. I said to her in Japanese that I'd forgotten Japanese. "Nihongo o wasureta." She suggested it would sound more natural if I amended that to "Nihongo o wasurete shimatta" meaning "completely forgotten it." But I have never forgotten her. We had a great five months together. She wanted me to stay for at that point I was her only student, and Shunryu Suzuki, who hadn't wanted me to go to begin with now wanted me to stay for two years - but I had to get back to Tassajara.]