Mind: Informal Talks on
Zen Meditation and
Practice - by Shunryu
More careless errors revealed after forty-five years.
Thanks again to Victor Sergeyev, Secretary,
PH Ligatma, publisher of ZMBM in Russian, for
That's Gyokujun So-on Suzuki, Shunryu's master
who figures in one of the errors through no fault of
ZMBM: some misstatements.
he was thirty — Actually thirty
was thirty-one. — Actually thirty.
NIRVANA, THE WATERFALL
I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some
huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet
high. — Actually 1,430.
It was 1,340 feet high! — Actually 1,430.
DC note: Suzuki was often fuzzy with
details. So were a few other people. The waterfall
height is an understandable and common sort of switch.
Seems to be he was just being approximate with the
Kishizawa age, but if he had it in his head that he was
thirty-one when Gyokujun So-on died, I'd say he was
being approximate, using the traditional way they
calculated age, or we have the wrong year for So-on's
death. If Shunryu (So-on was a Suzuki too,) was thirty
by western counting, he would have been thirty-one by
Japanese traditional counting. In that system a newborn
is one and becomes two on the following traditional New
Year's day which is in February. (I wonder did they
really call someone's age two on their second day of
life outside the womb if they were born the day before
their New Years?) The new year has officially been
January 1st in Japan since 1873 and the western way of
counting became law in 1902. One might assume that old
way of counting age would be forgotten by Shunryu's
time, but I used to experience older Japanese using the
traditional system. I remember asking which way they
were doing it. According to my records, So-on died May
3, 1934. Suzuki was born on May 18, 1904. So it seems
Shunryu Suzuki was thirty. Errata noted.
Ah - but just checked with the original lectures (on shunryusuzuki.com) and look what Shunryu actually said in 66-02-24 which became Zen and Excitement: "My master passed away when I was thirty three." I bet the change to thirty-one is one he himself indicated later. There was nowhere for anyone else working on the book to check and they probably weren't doing checking like that anyway.
See list with links of All Contributions ZMBM from Victor Sergeyev with Gvido Trepsa.