Shunryu Suzuki Excerpts from Board Meetings

Reverend Suzuki said that Dr. Burns would give a lecture on Psychiatry and Zen on Wednesday February 6 and Wednesday March 6th.

Reverend Suzuki requested that we do not accept new membership in Zen Center while he is in Japan. Associate membership will remain open and anyone may join us in sitting. Reverend Suzuki also requested that any newcomers to the temple be directed to either Betty Warren, Bill Kwong, Grahame Petchey, or Richard Baker for instruction.

Reverend Suzuki spoke about the meeting planned by Bishop Yamada in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, August 16 and 17th. This meeting is for all members of Soto Zen Buddhism in the United States and will be concerned with the future development of the Soto Zen Way. The meeting will stress the importance of sitting in Zazen for all Soto members, Japanese and American.

Reverend Susuki said that a good translator would be present to translate all speeches into English or Japanese.

Reverend Suzuki told us a little about Middlebar, and the plans of Mr. MacDonough to build a monastery there.

[regarding future sesshins] Reverend Suzuki felt that everyone should offer at least some money, that is, that there should be some standard minimum charge (of, say, one or two dollars). In addition there should be a bulletin board notice explaining the entire cost of the sesshin and indicating amounts to be paid by those who can afford to do so, in order to help towards covering the sesshin expenses.

Reverend Suzuki said that when he gets an assistant priest here to help him, he will perhaps be able to develop more areas such as the tea ceremony practice and calligraphy.

Reverend Suzuki said that there would be no Sunday services in English on Sept. 15th and 22nd. On the former date we all should come at 9 am to participate in a general hall--cleaning initiated by Rev. Suzuki with prime regard to the edification and instruction of a group of young boys connected with the temple, but not as yet active participants.

Reverend Suzuki told us that Archbishop Takashina is coming on Thursday, October 17th at 12 o'clock noon. He will hold a service for World Peace and a special ceremony for the ancestors buried here at 7:30 pm that evening at the Sokoji Temple.

Reverend Suzuki agreed to try and provide an English

translator for the Archbishop's speech, or to translate himself.

Reverend MacDonough wants the Archbishop to visit his property at Middlebar. But first, Reverend Suzuki felt, it should be made clear

  1. the title to the land,
  2. the suggested organization of the monastery which Rev. MacDonough proposes to build and
  3. the name of the organization.

It is particularly important that the title to the land be sure and clear before the Archbishop’s visit. [After some discussion of the complex problems involved, Richard Baker agreed to call Rev. MacDonough today, in an attempt to clarify the situation.] Reverend Suzuki said we should help Rev. MacDonough all we can.

Reverend Suzuki felt that each of us could pay a dollar a month each, as the Japanese congregation is doing [toward funding a new temple].

(Phillip Wilson asked if somehow some of the responsibilities bearing upon Reverend Suzuki, especially during critical times, could not be shifted upon our shoulders. Phillip reported that it is not at all unusual for Reverend Suzuki to stay up until twelve or one o'clock at night in order to finish his work for the day, and that it does not seem right that he should get sick from overwork. Phillip suggested that he be ordered to refrain from coming to early morning zazen. It seemed apparent that such an injunction would present insuperable problems of enforcement.) Reverend Susuki said that we could not directly assume any of his jobs, for they nearly all require his personal attention, but that he hoped that for next year, an assistant priest would be coming to help him. (Trudy Dixon suggested that perhaps at particularly busy times he should not give us Wednesday evening lectures; instead we could meet among ourselves at those times and discuss the stories in the Blue Cliff Records. Nothing definite was decided upon, but it is sure that the problem is kept in the minds of all those present.)

In reply to his letter [for information on becoming a Buddhist], we sent him Reverend Suzuki's advice to begin practicing meditation on his own in order to become accustomed to the posture, to continue reading and studying Buddhism, and to concentrate on what he is presently engaged in. If ever he finds the opportunity to come to San Francisco, we will be glad to welcome him at the Sokoji Temple.

Reverend Suzuki reported on the prospective new temple. He said that next April the city will give information on places available to build the temple, and until then not much can be done except to collect money.

Reverend Suzuki said it was a good idea if he [Bishop Yamada] can come….If he came at such a time, he could lead the ceremonies for the Japanese congregation too, which, as Reverend Suzuki pointed out would please them very much.  

Reverend Suzuki said that he [Rev. Katagiri] will now be living in this area and would like to help us from time to time, but that at the moment he needs some financial help….Reverend Suzuki said he would have to consult further with Bishop Yamada to see if Reverend Katagiri could stay on here as an assistant.

He [Reverend Suzuki] said that if they [members of the Japanese congregation] contributed $10.00 a year, then they were considered members and could vote.

This meeting was called by Reverend Suzuki in order to announce that Reverend Katagiri would definitely be joining Sokoji Temple as an assistant priest.

Reverend Suzuki suggested that he be notified to contact Mr Hirano, who is in charge of the auditorium and arrange a date [for a music program at Sokoji].

Reverend Suzuki said that there should be more consultation with Reverend Price before deciding what to do about this service [Wesak at Shin Temple].

Reverend Suzuki said that it was all right if you had to leave early, and that it would be best to leave it [starting time for morning service] as it is for a little while longer at least.

Reverend Suzuki said that this [strain of kitchen work] was quite usual, and that was why in monasteries in Japan, only the most sincere students were put on kitchen duty. He said that for sesshins which include a Sunday, it may be better to prepare some simple meal in advance, as often the Japanese group uses the kitchen on that day.

Reverend Suzuki announced a Soto Zen Conference for L.A., Monterey and S.F. to be held at Asilomar, California, on June 6th and 7th to which we should all plan to attend if possible. The cost would be $13.00/day for room (would hold two) and food.

Reverend Suzuki and Philip Wilson agreed to go and talk to Reverend Price more fully about his plans [for a Wesak Ceremony].

Reverend Suzuki said that because of the 30th anniversary for Sokoji temple, we would have to change the date of the week sesshin.

Reverend Suzuki next brought up the subject of a letter from Reverend MacDonough, who is to get the estate of Middlebar, and is building a monastery there. He needs $1,035. 00 and wants to have several Sokoji members on the Board of Trustees….Reverend Suzuki said that he will consult with Bishop Yamada; it is less a matter of the money, than of the responsibility, because Reverend MacDonough is a Soto Priest.  

Reverend Suzuki said that if in the future we are able to use the northwest corner of the balcony for a library-sitting room, then it could be used for discussions too.

Rev. Suzuki felt that clothing should be clean and tidy [for sesshin]....Reverend Suzuki said. that he and Reverend Katagiri had discussed the possibility of some kind of skirt to be available for either women or men who might need them.  

[about a newspaper story] As to the former question Reverend Suzuki said that the President of the University was also a Zen master; that the other gentleman was the Dean, and the third a priest….Reverend Suzuki said that it was almost impossible to have correct information printed because of the great liability for misunderstanding. He said that publicity is important, but that we should not discuss it too much, and if it comes out wrong, we can only ignore it; whatever  they say, they say; what is important is always to preserve the constant right way….Reverend Suzuki said that it was almost impossible to guard against it; each time there is some mistake, so if we concern ourselves about it too much it may just be a waste of time….Reverend Suzuki said that it may be better just to keep silent!  

Reverend Suzuki, in answer to a question From Betty, said that the week-sesshin, to run from Aug. 10-15th would be from 5:45 a.m. until 7 p.m., except for those sleeping there, in which case it would end at 9:00 p.m.

Rev. Suzuki suggested as another way of raising money the possibility of Z.C. sponsoring a movie benefit, but he also felt that the primary concern of ZC was not to raise more money but to study more Buddhism. That was where our time and effort should go. If we lack money, it is better rather than trying to raise more, to cut off expenses. The traditional way is to add more water to the rice gruel.

...and notice by Reverend Suzuki of his forthcoming trip to Boston to visit Elsie Mitchell in Cambridge.

Reverend Suzuki suggested a Japanese carpenter, Okada, who might be able to do it [work on library corner of balcony], or at least might be willing to look at the job and make an estimate of what it would involve….Reverend Suzuki said he would get in touch with him.

As Reverend Suzuki had no objection, Irene and Jean said that they would work something out [for a storage place for sitting clothes].

Rev. Suzuki said he did not ask Mr. Okada the Japanese carpenter about doing the work for the library yet, as he is waiting to ask George, which he will do after we have the fundraising movie, to be shown the last week in Nov.

Reverend Suzuki reported that he had talked to a carpenter and that it is not so expensive to open a window for the library on the balcony after all. The cost would be about $60.00, and it could be done in one day….Rev. S. said we could use the bookcase downstairs instead of making one.

Reverend Suzuki said that it might be best to have a separate building for Zen Center.

Reverend Suzuki said that we could use the zendo for this purpose [a party for Phillip Wilson and Mrs. Suzuki, before leaving for Japan].

Reverend Suzuki said that construction work will come to around $77.00 [for library project].

Reverend Suzuki asked for the contribution of a conservatively colored carpet for the library.

Reverend Suzuki replied that he was not committed to any special answer [whether Zen Center members are expected to become members of Sokoji]. He explained that while some people were interested in having this matter clarified, he himself felt indifferent to it.

Reverend Suzuki stated that he at first had the idea that Zen Center as an organization should be separate from the Japanese congregation and that Zen Center ultimately have its own temple. He now feels that the groups understand each other sufficiently so that we can all cooperate together within the same temple.

Reverend Suzuki told us that the Japanese congregation is hoping to have a new, three floor temple. The first floor would have offices for rent, which would insure an income. The second and third floors would house rooms for tea ceremony, flower arranging and other classes, and a zendo. However, the present temple may be used for a long time since the chance to buy property has not developed as expected. Also, this present temple is not to be demolished as was originally thought. Reverend Suzuki believes that we can maintain this temple well if everyone helps out.

Reverend Suzuki stressed that the basic need is to develop good students who can go out and help found other zen centers and help people in other places to practice zazen and learn about Buddhism. He emphasized that we should not become attached to this, or any other, building.

Either week is agreeable with Reverend Suzuki [for August sesshin].

Reverend Suzuki thought that this would be a good time to start putting advertisements of our activities into the Saturday papers. There was considerable telephone response to the story appearing in the magazine San Francisco and Reverend Suzuki felt that this interest should be followed through with some ads. The members tentatively considered the form of notice to be used, but nothing was decided upon. Reverend Suzuki said that Bishop Yamada had contributed $100.00 for advertising purposes, which should take care of a few ads.

Reverend Suzuki informed us that the Cambridge Buddhist Association of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sent Zen Center a gift of $100.00.

Reverend Suzuki showed a letter from Reverend Eugene Wagner regarding a special celebration of Buddha's birthday to be held in Golden Gate Park Oriental Gardens on May 9th….either Reverend Suzuki or Reverend Katagiri would take part in this celebration.  

Reverend Suzuki reported on a communication he had received regarding a possible sesshin at Big Sur between January 30th, 1966, and February 4th, 1966.

Reverend Suzuki reminded the group of the Wesak Service at the Unitarian Church on May 16th.

Reverend Suzuki asked for $50 of the total sum [$1,000 contribution] to be sent to Eiheiji along with Hazel Reed's ashes, which would be enshrined there.

Reverend Suzuki discussed the possibility of Zen Center purchasing the house which is for sale on Laguna Street.

Reverend Suzuki discussed the coming of various Soto and Rinzai Zen dignitaries on June 19th for the World Federalists Conference.

Reverend Suzuki announced that Zen Master Rosen Takashina would be visiting San Francisco on September 2nd.

Reverend Suzuki said that one of the Japanese members of the congregation has proposed the purchase of the building adjacent to the one now owned on the northeast corner of Laguna and Bush. It is not certain whether the Japanese congregation is able to buy this building. Reverend Suzuki pointed out the advantages of having a corner house.

Reverend Suzuki gave a summary of his recent trip to Massachusetts: Main purpose was to see property at Belmont where Schalks propose to build Buddhist temple. Property located 3½ hours by bus from Braddlebury. It would take many years to build building. Group of people, a mixture of Buddhists and those interested in Zen Buddhism, need help in terms of working with them in studying. The area has possibilities many people like Soto way for its "humanistic" flavor. Reverend Suzuki felt that Soto School should have center there, though nothing to be done immediately.

Reverend Suzuki reported that, in returning, he felt the atmosphere in our Zendo to be pretty good, but that there was need for more effective drum and bell.

Rev. Suzuki felt that those in charge of movies would not mind our revisions [to adapt Sokoji main hall for zazen].

On matter of drums and bells, Rev. Suzuki advised that drum would cost about $370.00 with $30.00 additional shipping cost.

In regard to revising main hall for zazen purposes, Rev. Suzuki reported that basic revision would be needed;...

With regard to Professor Masunaga., who is working on translation of Shobo Genz it was suggested by Rev. Suzuki that we send $20.00 per month in support of the translator, who in turn will send a lecture (in English) each month. So voted.

In regard to purchase of a drum, Reverend Suzuki advised that he was consulting with a friend in Japan to assure good quality. Purchase should take place in January.

In regard to revision of Sokoji Temple for increased meditation space, Reverend Suzuki advised small revisions rather than drastic one; possibly opening 2nd balcony and revising 1st balcony by lowering it. Said Japanese congregation plans 3 story building, the first floor a store, 2nd floor for meditation, 3rd floor would be living quarters for the priests. In revising Sokoji, which can probably be occupied for 5 years, student help should be used. Subject to be re-considered at next meeting.

Reverend Suzuki gave us a brief account of his trip to the east coast. He concluded by telling us that Mrs. Shalk will lead the weekly zazen group in Vermont until they have some leader...

Rev. Suzuki explained his plan of building a monastery, a spiritual center for the various Soto Zen groups in America. Both he and Dick felt that we might not get such an opportunity to buy equally advantageous land, and shouldn't miss this chance. Before we could build monastery, we would build a small building for sitting for fifty or so people.

Rev. Suzuki would like young priests to come from Japan to study with us on this land.

The land is in parcels of 160 acres, three parcels, available for sale in smaller portions. It is surrounded by Los Padres National Forest, and the landscape was more beautiful than Rev. Suzuki had hoped, with each turn in the road bringing a new view of high mountains and canyons.

[More talk about buying land near Tassajara.] It was asked how important isolation really was for a Zendo and Rev. Suzuki explained how one environment, no matter how carefully planned, is influenced by its surroundings. Someone might build a structure that would change the feeling we had created in the atmosphere.

Rev. Suzuki said that the building in the mountains is for the future, not yet for everyday use. Spiritually it is necessary. He found that in the east they want to have Zen Center like us. And there will be no deeper meaning, no larger scale. Just localized centers with no possibility of getting together. Some place is necessary to sit with people without idea of San Francisco or Monterey or Northampton Zen Center.  

Rev. Suzuki agreed. We should not be narrow minded. No one in the northeast will be very interested in supporting Zen Center, but they will help with the land in the mountains. They will feel it is theirs, too.

Rev. Suzuki asked that if anyone has some idea for a sitting place for twenty-five people, please suggest it as a place for Yasutani's sesshin.

Reverend Suzuki said perhaps just one bowl of food, and tea, and Betty added that we could pass fruit or cookies [about problem of serving meals in zendo].

Rev. Suzuki wants to invite Bishop Sumi for a few days of the sesshin.

Rev. Suzuki suggested one zazen and lecture after an evening meal.

The benefit movie for Sokoji is not so bad after all, says Rev. Suzuki.

Reverend Suzuki will go and see the drum when he is in Japan.  Someone asked who was buying Reverend Suzuki’s ticket [to Japan], and Dick asked Reverend Suzuki. The answer: Reverend Suzuki himself.

Roshi: it is almost definite that Sokoji congregation will remodel rather than move. The Main Hall will stay the same. There is to be a 2nd and 3rd floor with 11 apartments and some additional quarters for  priests. The basement is to be developed for parking. The current entry hall is to be a kind of kitchen. We could use the main hall for our zendo. The Sokoji congregation would use folding chairs in the Main Hall for their use. Now is the time to ask if we can practice here. We should try to make a decision early so that the Japanese  congregation can discuss our proposal and the Board should discuss Zen Center's future plans.

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: he [a new priest] wants to stay here. As long as he works for us and we want him, we will support him. He is coming as a teacher and as an assistant priest. "He will be the priest who propagates the Soto way--staying at Tassajara.” He speaks pretty good English.

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.

If a student comes from New York and applies for membership, what kind of membership--students of more than a year with Tai-san can have zendo privileges but be annual members pledge should be what is appropriate while they are practicing here.

Too many students to bow to the floor for service. Roshi has suggested that we take out the front two rows, spread mats, have service in the Main Hall. That would be a good way to find out if Sokoji congregation  wants us here. Because they will never give us a yes or no answer.

Roshi: because Jean cannot attend the entire periods she has refused [to be Shuso]. My idea--someone like Dan can take her place while she is away. She had a very good reputation at Eiheiji. Even though most of the teachers have changed there, she is still known. She practiced there long enough and sincerely enough. In our school nuns are treated uncertainly.

  1. I want us to improve the way of treating nuns/women students.
  2. Jean is at Monterey--we can help her and she can help us. An advantage for Zen Center for her to be there. She should be a teacher. I don’t want to follow just formality. In the future we will have different kinds of students. I want to have some system.
  3. Jean’s family situation is uncertain. I want her to do it now when she can do it. I haven't discussed fully our schedule. We can make plans now.

Sokoji: Roshi agreed with the committee idea including Paul Discoe.

Roshi :  yesterday a visitor from Japan came. A very reliable designer of religious objects. He talked with Roshi about Paul. The man is willing to accept Paul as a student/helper. Roshi has a friend now head of Waseda University. He has an apartment where Paul can stay. There is someone who can interpret for Paul Also a few young men who speak English.

Branch Zendos: Roshi: more trouble for Zen Center to have Berkeley zendo part of Zen Center. But for now maybe better.

Roshi: the Branch zendos think that I tossed them out. Actually it is up to them to become a part. That will happen when there are more, stronger students. I want them to come closer when they are ready. (Not an exact quote)

Roshi: a good idea. [SF zazen schedule]

Roshi: service--we do not bow to the floor. Let's take out the 1st two rows of benches and have service downstairs in the Main Hall. I will ask at Sokoji meeting tomorrow.
all in favor start after sesshin.
Roshi: try to keep Katagi informed about what we are working on.

Roshi: talk to Katagiri [about students' roles in services].

Roshi: if I read the minutes and disagree with something I will say so. I don't think that we should give our mailing list so easily. People have given us names often because of the special relationship they have with us.

Roshi: I will read the minutes of the meetings I am not attending and if there is something with which I disagree I will bring it up.

Roshi: right now--there is no need to sign. If something happens and there is a need, you have that feeling, then I will sign. Being here to help you establish American Zen--I am not forcing something. I am not sticking to the Japanese way. Most of the time I don't have a special idea about how things should be. If I have some feeling about how things should be and find I am right I will discuss it and ask you to discuss it. The advantage to my signing the minutes is that I would have to be more careful if I am signing my name to them. Claude has proposed my signing maybe because he is thinking of the future. Right now maybe too formal.

Roshi: Japanese members will discuss what they will do. Some of their ideas are:

1) building a new building on Buchanan--the place is not wide enough so they will have to have some other income property.

2) if too expensive build temple only

3) stay here and mend the building

4) floor in the 2nd floor over the Main Hall (Roshi's idea)

It is time to ask “Do you want Zen Center to stay here?”
Discuss with Kawashiri: if he says, we’ll think about it. We'll discuss it--then we must wait. Do not ask about service in the Main Hall now. Silas will try to speak to Kawashiri this week to ask if Sokoji wants Zen Center to remain here. If they want us to leave, we have to ask them if we can stay one or two years. We cannot do anything unless we know.

Roshi: [to Jean] you should be shuso because that was our plan. As I don’t know the circumstances at Tassajara and with Jean I stick to that idea. If you can give me some informations I may change my idea.

Roshi: it is all right to have no shuso for this training period.

Roshi: we need more [students for stick and service].

Roshi: better to have greeting 2nd period. No student should make the greeting….
Roshi: we can try it [women carry the stick].
Peter: doesn't work at Tassajara.
Roshi: ask the women if they want to do it.

Roshi: he might like to. I'll ask him [to play at a fundraising concert]

Roshi: [about concert idea] if Lou Harrison is a sincere person we should join him.

Roshi: we should help him [Dick Baker] as a student studying in Japan. Whatever is necessary to study in Japan. If the expense is for other reasons I don't know. I want Dick for one or two years to devote himself to personal study. Then he can act as a kind of ambassador to Japan. We may ask him to help us. In that case we should help him-- with directly related expenses.

Roshi: Dick is not an employee. We sent him to Japan because of his potentiality. We think he will be a good priest/or Zen Buddhist. That is the main reason. Tassajara wants to support someone like him. Not because he will help Tassajara, because we want to help Zen in America--and he will help Zen in America. Of course in the future he will help to support Tassajara at the same time. Develop our way. Also he will help to develop Tassajara. Eventually he will understand it in that way. Right now we are involved in problems with Tassajara. Most important thing is Tassajara now. We are liable to lose this point.

Roshi: I want him [Dick Baker] to devote himself to his study. Not do Zen Center business as much as possible, right now.

Roshi: now he [Alan] is much better. Trouble, if we call it scholarship. In some cases we call it pay. If we give some scholarship, it means we acknowledge someone's practice.

Roshi: in the Japanese way you treat your whole life as a Zen student.

Roshi: If Paul tries hard before he becomes an officer, his practice may be more sincere. Not involved in pride.

Roshi: emphasize that our situation is such that we need him to work. Make clear why we are asking him. I did not ask him to go to Tassajara--a misunderstanding.

Roshi: Re the Bakery--Alan said that he was testing the idea for Zen Center to start a bakery. Not proper for Alan to have a bakery in that way--without license. Not good. O.K. to do it but in the proper way. Office is the front gate to Zen Center. I worry about Alan being there above the office. He plays records--has visitors. I feel some kind of responsibility for Alan. I told him kitchen work is important. What I meant was that it is important practice not that if he didn’t cook we couldn’t eat. We must be careful not to make another Alan with Roovain.

Important to be very clear with Roovain.  

General members-- sit for 3 months before applying for General membership.

Roshi: It is very difficult to understand new students. There are too many. I cannot be so kind to them. So their first feeling about Zen Center will not be so good. So definitely we must make this point clear. It is necessary that they understand why the 3 month waiting period.

Seeing students.

Roshi: It is necessary for Katagiri and Ryogen to have a chance to discuss things with the Board and officers.

Roshi: I want you to see people more--see new students more.

We priests must meet with each other about rituals. I want you to watch the students and to give us (the priests) information about them.

Roshi: why not have you help Ryogen or Katagiri when they give instructions--then afterward you and the priests can talk about the students.

I must concentrate more on the practicing members.

Ryogen Sensei- as he is studying English he should stay in S.F.

Roshi: it is too early for Ryogen to take charge of the zendo. If

he does that he wants to have an assistant--a student.

Roshi: that's why I want you to ask them [about Zen Center being at Sokoji].

Roshi: we must have meetings to build up the setting. At Tassajara and San Francisco too. By setting I mean what kind of officers are necessary, what will be our way, how much we should accommodate our way to Rinzai or some other approach, how to run Tassajara. This kind of thing is not yet established. Better that it isn't. It is too early. We need broader view, deeper experience. By continuous meeting something will be resolved, come out. Since I am Soto Priest I have some idea of what I would like.

Roshi: yes--it is a mistake [to call unsui a priest].

Roshi: up to now we had a Bishop who was taking care of such things. Now we are thinking of having a [an American] headquarters here--for keeping records. Head will have more freedom. Better that way--because it is very difficult for Japanese headquarters to understand American problems.

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: [asked about needing a place for him to live] Do you want to stay? If we are staying, we need my wife. Japanese Congregation doesn’t expect you to move out immediately. Possibility of Katagiri Sensei taking Roshi’s place. If Roshi is at Tassajara, Okusan would be at Tassajara too. But she wants her home in S.F. too.

Roshi: think we should stay in S. F. We want a Zendo for 100 to 150, not more than that.

[This statement by Roshi is difficult to decipher due to poor scan quality]

Roshi: What we should do to meet our needs first, then make more future plans and discuss with them. I think that you will get BART plans--look for some suitable locations. Take Roshi to see some of them. Try to begin to get some feeling for areas which will be spiritually appropriate.

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.

[Board Meeting July 16, 1969, 10:20 am]

Roshi: ask him to come back to the city. [about a cook/student at Tassajara]

Roshi: accepted as a student for the summer. [Roovain ben Yuhmin]

Roshi: she [Marian Derby] wanted to be concentrated on Tassajara practice for a while. Big change has happened for her. So very difficult for her to have normal state of mind.

Roshi: I know it [not coming to board meetings] is not right. She does too--just for this time.

Roshi: we will try to have some special [Japanese language] class for the older students.

Roshi: Katagiri will arrange a training class for the older students, and we will discuss priest activity and how to do it.

Roshi: I don’t mind the number of students that we have. If we start out with a smaller number they may like that. Then more students will want to move in.

...Roshi: who will move there?

[list of names]

Roshi: our schedule--we can not make much change in it. People who work will find it much easier to work if they stay there. If students want to stay in the building to talk or meet or study they can because we will be in our own building.

We will have main hall and zazen hall. We will have more rituals, what we are doing here is maybe too difficult. It will be easier in the new building--we can have a better way--as we do in Japan. Looks better. Easier to do. We have to order drum and bell.

We don’t need such a big dining room or living room. Divide them up to use other ways, e.g. a library.

A back-door way would be to start with maybe 15 students, and use the rest as a hostel.

Roshi: If possible I want him to come the evening of Oct. 8th. [Bishop Yamada]

Roshi: we must have some purification ceremony of the new building by Bishop Yamada. We should all go to the building for some kind of simple ceremony. We should prepare some gong, offering, and candles, perhaps at lunch time. We can post a sign up sheet with announcements, and send announcements to the branch zendos.

Roshi: This is a Zen Temple, so that there must be zazen here [at Sokoji after Zen Center moves]. If someone personally wants to come here that is up to him. Maybe just continue morning zazen as I did long ago. That is up to Katagiri Sensei. Some old people who find it difficult to come before breakfast can perhaps come here after breakfast. If you come to sit here that is your personal thing. You will not come as a Zen Center member. I cannot say to Zen Center members that they cannot sit here at Sokoji.

Roshi: that will be up to Katagiri Sensei or the new priest to decide [about students sitting at Sokoji], after discussion with the Japanese members. We have no position to state policy about Sokoji after we leave.

Roshi: the more I think about Katagiri Sensei, the more difficult it will be for him.

Roshi: the last time Marian said to me, “I want to stay at Tassajara practicing, so I cannot go to the meeting this time.” I didn’t think that she meant forever or for many times. If you have some personal reasons for this time that’s O.K. I will discuss with her more about it.

Roshi: Mel asked me the other day if Berkeley could have sesshin. I said no. You can’t have sesshin without a teacher, and right now we are pretty busy. And if you have sesshin then the other zendos will want sesshin too. To have everyday thing is difficult. That is why one priest goes to sit with them. To help them to sit. If something like a one day sesshin, then the students can come here.

Roshi: We need one [another priest]. Especially if Chino Sensei is not coming back--at least for a while.

Berkeley wants to do what Zen Center is doing. Using oryoki--for laymen practice--that is not my idea. For some people that will be too much. Activity we have here is more fundamental, more priest-like--here in S.F. and at Tassajara. I want them to practice something more freely, more American way, more usual way. In the new building--more priestly activity or more laymen activity? Maybe mixed. But maybe more toward [missing end of text on scan?]

Roshi: for the new zendo let’s start with easy way. One morning period 5:30-6:45 a.m. Purpose of city zendo is to work in the city. If students work too hard they cannot sit so well.

One evening period 5:30 p.m.

Roshi: If I don’t get up for the 1st period, I don’t feel so good. Then let us try 2 periods in the evening. One before dinner and one before bed.

Roshi: have one period in the morning and one period before dinner and one period before bed. People can then have a choice of which period they can sit in the evening.

Alternative idea--one night, e.g. Thursday, 2 evening periods after dinner.

Roshi and Katagiri Sensei: no cats [at the new building].

Roshi: if it [give talk to California State Psychologist Association] is only for 1½ hours then someone can try.

Roshi: I think that if it's not a heavy responsibility--someone could do it [give talks].

re-adjourned at 6:3O a.m. November 2-- all present including Roshi.

Roshi: I want to give Katagiri a wider choice.

Roshi: That he [Katagiri] expressed the idea of going East is a way of saying “What are you going to do with me?” I don't want to say you should stay here or you should go. I want him to make up his own mind. I am quite sure that if you expressed strong feeling he might stay.

Roshi: you are officers--but you do not have such good understanding of our way. That is alright--I want you to be yourselves--more straight forward so I don't mind that.

Roshi: why don't you make a committee to discuss with him [Katagiri] salary, etc.

Roshi: Being in charge of the city zendo. The city will become the main office for Zen Center. For him [Katagiri]--to explore education and how to do things. The office in the city will be the main office, and for Tassajara too.

Roshi: and then Katagiri would be in charge of the city zendo.

Roshi: I think it is almost impossible for him to live in the building. I want to put this problem aside until we know more from Katagiri. We want to invite Peggy Kennett and Lloyd Reynolds to visit ZMC.

[discussion about inviting lecturers, and clothing/robes]

Roshi: In some way you are too free. Each school should be respected as a separate school. If I go to a Rinzai temple I observe their rules so as not to disturb them.

Roshi: What we are doing is trying to start with a clean white page.

Re: the subject of wearing robes in the zendo in the city. By not prescribing what students wear we can find out what the students want.

Roshi: to talk about sexual things--before we talk about it we should try to experience it more in terms of our practice, personally. When we discuss something we must have some confidence in our experience. It is better to have discussions about some of these things with a group like this.

Roshi: now only if someone has direct responsibility for zazen will they sit on the altar.

Roshi: We are talking about zendo practice. Officers will be appointed by this kind of meeting. Seating will be by function. When function ceases--retire positions.

Roshi: Maybe Headquarters will send us some money because Machido Sensei saw Page Street building, and he told me to write some letter about it. He is also investigating a bell for Tassajara.

Roshi: Machida asked what is our priest situation here. There is a priest whom 2 families want to adopt. And he is, in his difficulty by staying in Japan, interested in coming here. I said yes--if he comes by his own expense we will support him some way. If we send him a ticket then we must discuss. [revised in 69-11-01,2B]

Roshi: Dick can see him in Japan. If he speaks good English and is a good man then we can pay his way to U.S. The original priest who was going to come decided to stay and study more.

Roshi: in our practice at Page St. Zen Center right now--we can recite the sutra in the downstairs zendo. Students from outside may sit there. The next step will be for students inside to sit on the main floor zendo, and then for all of the students to go downstairs for chanting. We want to start the main floor zendo next year. Maybe something will happen.

Eating with oryoki: maybe not every day. The experience with the Los Altos group has been that they are more and more enthusiastic about eating with oryoki. Esalen Institute when I went with Dick, people were enthusiastic. Some feeling in it which is very important. Two hands--feeling of using hands is very important in developing. So then I started to be interested in using oryoki. We could have oryoki for each person. Use it as a symbol of practice. Use maybe once a week now. As there are more students coming back from Tassajara more students will be interested in using oryoki. Dick will look into buying Soto oryoki bowls for us to use here in SF and at ZMC, 200-300 sets.

Suzuki Roshi: his (Tatsugami) point: it was easy for Japanese and Chinese to understand Buddhism because of similar culture, language, and background. For Buddhism to cross the Pacific is not so easy. Because it is difficult, if we could understand Buddhism--the meaning will be greater. At the same time we will have a greater difficulty than the Chinese or Japanese to understand Buddhism. He doesn't give up because he acknowledges our sincerity in studying Buddhism. We will not give up. He feels quite sure about what we, as Americans, will understand of Buddhism--but not so easy. I have the same feeling. The more I stay here the more I see how difficult it is to understand "right understanding of Buddhism"--for you a great difficulty to accept it. Dogen’s teaching. If it is too difficult then you may give up and take easy way. Then you will not understand real truth of Buddhism.

Dogen’s teaching--making best effort in each moment, express your spirit in each moment, and take care of things in each moment--point of Dogen’s way. Not to achieve something immediately--not to be a kind of perfectionist. “If we do it, what we do must be perfect,” is not Dogen’s way. We have to express Dogen’s way. And this point can be easily lost. If Buddhism doesn't taste so good --we will want ice cream or wine. Dogen's way to appreciate ice cream if it is given to us--whether we feel good or bad. Make best effort and take care of everything as much as possible and be satisfied with what is given to us.

Why Tatsugami Roshi is so strict with instruction has to do with making best effort. Looks like Dogen's teaching was to give instruction in great complicated detail--not Dogen's way. How we can make best effort in each moment is Dogen’s teaching--nature of his teaching is in everyday life. Not verbal teaching, not even in Shobogenzo. His kindness in making effort in everyday life is why he wrote so much.

His instructions may be not for American people--but for Japanese people whose culture he knew so well. Understand his intention in giving his instructions. He acted as a priest and as a Japanese. Maybe very difficult practice for you--way of treating things is quite different. Japanese things are very fragile. American things are very strong. So training of Dogen was given, developed Buddhism. (Which came first Dogen or Japanese Culture?) Way of treating things as Japanese people do--I feel almost desperate. If you give up though Buddhism will not develop in this country. But if Buddhism does develop here something great will happen in America. Giving some new element which you didn't have. If so--something maybe wonderful will happen.

Students from Esalen who stayed at Tassajara for one week--described the experience they had--oryoki etc.--I was amazed. Maybe not so difficult. For you, give up peripheral idea, practice hard--then some big event will happen. Not a matter of translating Shobogenzo--how to hit han, how to sit zazen.

Tatsugami will help us--continue with his guidance. Tatsugami says he should explain why we do this. Point will be how you understand his instruction. We’ve got to find out real practice in everyday practice, otherwise zazen doesn't mean anything. We’ll just end up with a zazen boom.

Peter is sitting with one leg down on altar. That is real memmitsu no kafu. How to take care of his zazen. How we express Dogen’s spirit is the point.

For you no danger of being caught by form. In Japan easy to follow Dogen’s form. So if someone is living without effort, that's not the spirit of Dogen’s way, spirit of Buddhism. Making best effort is the spirit.

SFZC Page St. Rokuchiji (officers) meeting minutes 1971


Roshi asked the Rokuchiji and the Zen Center officers to explore ways of assigning seats in the Zendo. Silas, Yvonne, Reb, and Craig will discuss this problem in committee.