Shunryu Suzuki Transcript

Tuesday, July 15, 1969

Roshi: If someone is going East--to see Mrs. Carlson, I want to go with them to see her. I don’t have enough information to know re: Mr. Johnson, very subtle thing if Dick should or should not see Carlson and/or Johnson. I will discuss with him. Point we should be very careful with--we should not be involved in fundraising only. Mr. Johnson is supporting us because we are doing something here. We are liable to be caught by business-like fundraising. Johnson is not just a businessman. He has eyes to see something. Even if Dick doesn’t go to Boston--if he writes to him or calls him when he is here in S.F. that will be enough. Then if Johnson says come and see me, Dick can then decide what to do. I don’t understand what he is doing for Esalen. But I trust him. So even though I don’t understand why he is coming--it is O.K. He is ambitious. Maybe he wants to extend our way. I am old and I must rely on all of you--not just Dick. How much money we want, and whether you have pretty good confidence in gaining contributions is the most important point. Without relying just on Carlson and Johnson. Johnson is important to us, so we have to be careful.

Roshi: The point is our confidence to go our own way. That is alright. If we are not successful that is alright. If we are successful all the better. I don’t think that we can establish the foundation of Buddhism so quickly. Should not be so concerned with things which happen right now. If we have confidence, if we stick to Tassajara too much, may be better not to achieve any goal.

Roshi: I have told the Japanese Congregation that I will resign. Zen Center is new big group. This building is not big enough so they must move out. I have responsibility to Zen Center, so I must go with them. Japanese understand that responsibility. Right now they are discussing about my resignation--rather than about Zen Center moving in--upside down.

Roshi: form a committee to discuss with the Japanese the possibility of using this Zendo. We cannot move out immediately. But we must find out if the Japanese would be willing to meet our needs. A kind of new situation. I am resigning. Have to make a clear understanding about that. Have an actual agreement in detail. How much will Zen Center pay? They are very much concerned about costume--long hair. If we put more emphasis on policy in accepting students, more restriction, or rules, while we are staying here, I hope situation will make a big change. I never have said to the Japanese congregation that I will tell students to cut their hair. But the feeling is there. The wave was created long before we had Zen housing. Many people who do not belong to Sokoji who do not want to see Zen develop in America, identified the hippies who used to live across the street--as Zen students. Sokoji members are a minority in the Japanese community--so they have a very difficult time. Difficulty between people who are from same prefecture--there is much criticism. I don’t want to be so political. The best policy is to announce that I am leaving Sokoji temple to work with Zen Center--to establish Zen in America firmly. In that way Sokoji members can have some pride in the temple. Actually it is too late to change their feeling. Rumor was spread. If we change our system--and announce….

Before--I did not say anything about Zen Center. I knew if I talked about Zen Center the feeling they would have would be difficult--and people out of Sokoji, would have been jealous. Many possibilities. Kawashiri and Hagiwara understood exactly what we were doing.

Roshi: Even though you say we will tell them to cut their hair--it doesn’t mean that you should tell students to cut their hair. The Japanese don’t see it. We are pretty good. We can tell Kawashiri or Hagiwara that we will be strict with students about hair length. Most of the feeling they have is that I am too tough. I don’t understand Japanese people’s feeling. Since I resigned I think that their feeling changed a lot. If you go and discuss with them, I think that you will be amazed. One of the links of my idea is to have a Japanese newspaper man visit Tassajara. It will help with their feeling. The problem is very deep, but silly. I am pretending giving up. I haven’t really. Sometime when you give up something it will help. To improve the good feeling--between Japanese and American Zen community.

Roshi expressed his interest to study and travel as a zen student.
Roshi: that is not just problem of tangaryo during guest season--but the whole thing. Guest season we need more advanced students.

Roshi: we should try to convince students of why we have tangaryo. After you do it, you can see meaning, but before it is very difficult to see it. Perhaps we need a ??? in summer.

Roshi: What is his [Loring Palmer’s] understanding about tangaryo? If he doesn’t understand it, can’t be in “charge” of tangaryo. We can't find the value of tangaryo before we do it, without some experience of deeper practice. No one wants to stay in a monastery life. When they can find out meaning of life, they will begin to seek out other situations. The system can be changed if necessary, but tangaryo itself is important.

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


File name: 69-07-15-bn: untitled

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