of Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Center back then, etc.
photo by Lisa Law
I gave Nanao a copy of To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments with Shunryu Suzuki and of course signed it. It's a good book to give foreigners because it's all little vignettes. I told him how I still interviewed people for the oral history of the Suzuki days and that I'd write up something on our conversation and put it on my web site. And I asked him if he'd ever met Suzuki.
Nanao said, "Yes. I met him two times. Both times were at the Zen Center on Page Street in San Francisco. The first time Richard Baker took me. He introduced us. I said 'hi' and he said 'hi.'
"Yes. Everyone else was speaking English and we could too. And hi is not so difficult English."
"Suzuki Roshi loved to say 'hi,'" I said. "He said it a lot. I think it always had a little bit of the Japanese 'hai' in it - you know, yes in Japanese. There was always a lot of hai yes and hi hello and they were mixed together and had a sort of positive 'gambate,' go-for-it, encouraging sort of feeling.
"Yes," he said, and repeated the word a few times. And then, "Hello - we will do it!"
"So you said 'hi' and then?"
"That's all. Just hi. It was enough. I could see his great spirit and he could see me. And the second time I met him was when he was dying. Gary Snyder took me and we visited him. And we had exactly the same conversation we'd had before. Just 'hi' and 'hi' and we bowed our heads a little."
"So you and Suzuki Roshi had two meetings over the years and the sum total of what you said to each other in both meetings was four words - actually, one word four times?"
"Yes. It was just right. I am so happy to have met him. He was a great teacher for America."