Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Thursday, December 19, 1968

Roshi: The Japanese congregation expects us to eventually leave. Right now they want us to stay--for financial reasons and because of the affiliation with the priests.

Roshi: Most of the members of the Japanese congregation are old and their viewpoint is not so broad. Though some of them are very enthusiastic about the Zen Center students.

Roshi: If we have a kind of monastery instead of apartments--a good idea. Some kind of school system. Even when Yamada Roshi was here, Roshi had this idea. Where anyone can study Buddhism. We can exchange students.
“My old idea”: we would have a monastery but people other than the monks could study too.

Who would be in charge--Sumi Roshi, Suzuki Roshi, Zen Center Board, Soto Sect Headquarters?
Must make some plan--long range for the development of Zen in America. But we must not be hasty in doing so. Now Roshi has a great deal of responsibility. No set rules for future yet. Roshi wants to discuss frankly--way of doing things. We’ll do things from that in his name. More and more set up rules. IT IS NECESSARY TO DISCUSS THIS KIND OF THING MORE. If many teachers and many students of those teachers, and teacher/disciple relationships develop, then there will be no problem. But right now Roshi and his disciples including in Zen Center--disciples have a great deal of responsibility as officers, etc., no rules now--and that is difficult.

As long as Roshi was invited by Sokoji he must not leave many problems/confusion. So it is important to have a good successor. To leave to his successor some freedom. And not to leave his successor problems. (That is his successor at Sokoji for the Japanese congregation.)

Zen Center may want more freedom in using space. May want to feel more that the space we live in is our own. People complain that Zen Center is cold. That is not because of Zen Center but because of the building. Okusan is very strict, because if she is not, the Japanese congregation will complain about us. We could manage young people better and more easily if we had our own space.

We would have freer space use if we were renting living space for students and space for other activities from Sokoji. If we set up some kind of school arrangement, that would be more understandable to the Japanese congregation--they would understand that things like band practice can’t go on in the temple.

Roshi: They will not agree [to the idea of Zen Center buying Sokoji and renting space to the Japanese congregation]. Their feeling is very attached to this building/property.

Roshi: [We are trying to develop] a monastic school: improve the system we have. Set up more rules to organize students, when they can enter, etc.
grades--three probably--one year each
school system for full time students, room for part-time students also. Training priests--one of the "subjects."

Roshi: no [Sokoji would not be interested in developing a school]. But they would want me to do it, to take their idea. Some of the younger people may want to help. Mrs. Iweida would help us.

Roshi: I don’t mean a school in the usual sense. Just use the word to make the Japanese feel better. Really talking about a monastic situation with something to work on.

Roshi: “My idea is exactly the same [about branch zendos]. My hope that they become separate groups when they are strong enough, have more teachers.” Expenses etc. should be discussed each time. I want to help people who want to sit.

Roshi: Mel, as a zen center member helping people in Berkeley area to sit, not in terms of helping Berkeley Zen Center. The Board is not responsible for the affiliate zendos. I hope that the time will come when we must help them when they organize themselves to be branch of Zen Center. If possible count the kind of activity of helping now as Zen Center.

Best to have zendos become branches, formally, get closer to Zen Center-Roshi. But, now the zendos are separate, Board has no responsibility, and only members are personally affiliated, must become practicing members usually of Zen Center and participate, to train later at Tassajara.

Source: Board Meeting Notes
Excerpted by Peter Ford, June, 2020.


File name: 68-12-19-bn: untitled

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