Interviews - Ryuho Yamada
See memorial biographical tribute to Ryuho written by his first wife Shirley Cohen. Search this site for other mentions of Ryuho. More to come soon. - DC
Ryuho in Crooked Cucumber, the last chapter.
Ryuho Yamada died on December 10th, 2003. See memorial. He was the last of the Japanese priests who helped Suzuki to arrive. The only one of them that is still alive is Dr. Kazuo Kato who was at Sokoji when Suzuki arrived and who helped him out in the early years. But last December Ryuho joined Yoshimura *[look for first name], Dainin Katagiri, and Kobun Chino. Ryuho was the monk I called Gyuho in Thank You and OK!* And he was in Crooked Cucumber too. Hit those links to read those passages. I saw a good deal of him through the years and visited him now and then when he had cancer which he had for about five years. On the evening of July 11, 2004, Dennis Samson, my son Clay, and I visited with Ryuho and his last wife, Mayumi, in Berkeley. The three of us had just been at Tassajara for ten days and my intention was for Clay and me to continue down South on our way to Texas. I had also intended to visit Ryuho on the way to Tassajara because he'd been living in the Santa Cruz area or in Carmel for quite some time. But I learned he was in Berkeley when I got down there. I knew I wouldn't be back in California till late February as it was the beginning of a long trip, and I doubted seriously that Ryuho would be alive when I returned, so Clay and I returned to the Bay Area with Dennis and had a last great visit with my dear old friend. He was weak and thin but full of spirit. He said he didn't have long to go and attributed the fact that he'd lasted so long to all the help he'd received from Mayumi, careful attention to diet, Western medicine, Eastern medicine, herbs, and all of the different treatments he'd received such as shiatsu. He was a great soul.
As you can see by reading herein, Ryuho loved psychedelics and other drugs, but mainly psychedelics, entheogens these days. In 2001 after his surgery, he was very weak and seemed to be dying. Michael Stusser and I visited him at Ryan Brandenberg's house in San Rafael where he was recuperating. I went back another time and Ryuho said he'd like to take some LSD. I hadn't had any since early '67 but I knew a lot of young people in Sebastopol so I got him some - five tabs for ten dollars. Gosh, I thought, people still really feel altruistic about this drug. I went back with my Australian friend Francine and gave him the tabs and later he told me that each one had provided him with a powerful experience that he was really grateful for. People make jokes about it, but entheogens deserve better from those who don't support the hysterical War On (some) Drugs. Forgive me for the political aside, but it's truly hideous that people are still persecuted for having or selling LSD or any entheogen. It's nothing but religious persecution.
In the fall of 1993 while I was working on the proposal for a biography of Shunryu Suzuki which became Crooked Cucumber, my agent, Michael Katz was encouraging me to describe Suzuki more physically and intimately. First I called my ex-wife Daya (formerly Dianne) Goldschlag who is a long time body worker, and then I got Ryuho's number from his first wife Shirley and called him. The following is from that conversation.(I can't check up on all these Japanese names so there are surely errors there.) - DC
DC - You're a body worker. Talk about Suzuki Roshi from that point of view please.
RY: I went there in September of 1971. I'd just arrived in America so I knew him there for three months and I'd been giving him moxibustion [The burning of moxa or other substances on the skin to treat diseases or to produce analgesia. - American Heritage Dictionary]. I touched his body directly almost every day because he was so stiff at the time and he was dark yellowish so I thought he'd die soon so I just tried to give him relief. Except for the few days before his death I worked on him. We talked about Buddhism some. He was a very sincere person and a great leader and Zen teacher. He was well-centered and very strict with himself. But his body was weak. He couldn't even turn over his body by himself after awhile - or if he did it took lots of effort. He spoke very slowly and clearly. We communicated quite well and it very casual. I know many Zen masters in Japan and comparing him with them, he's something different, a very light, sharp, strict feeling, very transparent, and his way is very much different from traditional Japanese teachers like Niwa Roshi or Hakusan[?] Noiri Roshi. They are very powerful teachers. Suzuki Roshi's face was very impressive. It was very spacey, and didn't look like a Japanese. I don't know what tribe he was from but his vibration was very different from usual Japanese people. But his wife was very Japanese and his son was very Japanese.
DC: But they're both pretty different too. She's quite eccentric and strong willed for a Japanese woman, totally unintimidated by men, it seems to me, and he's so easy going and humble.
RY: There were always many visitors visiting like Chogyam Trungpa, Alan Watts - he was not so healthy I remember. Suzuki Roshi and Watts talked and enjoyed each other. Shimano Roshi came [Edo].
DC: What happened to the woman you were with in Fukuoka when I visited you, the one who owned the shiatsu studio where you worked?
RY: Kazuko Kuratomi is in Boston studying with Michuo Kushi [the Macrobiotic guru].
I'm with my new wife, Nisa. She's 34. I'm 52.
Interview with Ryuho in Japan - 4\19\94 at Tenkawa Jinja, a Shinto shrine way up in the mountains in Nara Prefecture. It took me hours to get there from Kyoto. It was remote and beautiful. The priest was a retired Yakuza, Japanese Mafia chief, who had given up normal materialistic life to take care of his shrine. Ryuho calls him Guji-san herein. That's his title, the priest of a Shinto shrine. He did a lot of sweeping and was quite friendly and generous. He sat up with Ryuho and me till three in the morning or so. Nisa was with us too. We drank but he didn't. But he smoked a lot. While I was there Ryuho and his wife Nisa took me to a small waterfall where they did takishugyo (waterfall practice), standing under the falls with hands in gassho (palms together) for a long time. - DC
DC: So tell me about coming to America.
RY: It was 1971. I was sent by Shumucho [Soto Zen Headquarters]. They even paid for my ticket. I left on my birthday, the 26th of September. Then I met Suzuki Roshi there. I was invited by him - he'd sent a letter. I had been at Antaiji for a while and had met Dick Baker there. He showed me about Tibetan chanting. I was met at the airport by a French guy and a monk. I brought a zafu and a kyosaku [stick for hitting sleeping sitters]. And all of a sudden I was living in the San Francisco Zen Center. I just offered myself. I felt a new energy there. I'd only been in Japanese monastery before that. I was looking around - there was Hari Krishna and all those things. I thought it was very interesting.
Suzuki Roshi had cancer. He was very sick. His face was so dark. I took care of him with moxibustion and shiatsu every day. I was like his jisha. I couldn't understand what he was saying when Watts and his wife and Trungpa visited and I noticed oh, it's a very interesting thing going on here. I didn't know anything about his image at all. I was very ignorant about that. All I knew was Japanese type Roshi. His wife was around and it was very strange for me. I was a very strict monk. Priests get married in Japan but they don't have so much relationship with their wives and many don't marry. Like Shibuya Roshi, Niwa Roshi, Noiri Roshi, Tanaka Shinkai Roshi - their lineages never did that. Kishizawa didn't marry nor Sawaki Kodo. So this was a new idea for me. The name Roshi is very powerful - sometimes, and sometimes very ridiculous. So at first I couldn't realize Suzuki Roshi's power. And he didn't communicate so much at first. But I was very close to him and eventually we were talking very closely and I started to realize his real power. Wow, this guy's so serious about one thing - to educate American people very clearly. This is the ideal type of Roshi for the new age. The feeling is very strict, distinguished. As soon as I saw him I got that deep feeling of strictness and seriousness.
One day he said to me, Ryuho-san, if you continue to live in America and you want to be a success in America, you have to be majime (serious)."
DC: That's funny, because he frequently told people "don't be so serious." But there are always two sides or more than two and he'd go back and forth. Majime is a sincere seriousness and he was telling us not to be superficially serious, putting ourselves on a bummer serious. So I take it that he told you you should be serious with integrity. That's how I take majime.
RY: That's his point. Yes, that's right. I believed that. That's a point. Because in Japan we can get by with many things in not so serious a way. Like we priests can hang around easily, do anything, drinking sake or anything.
DC: Once you get your temples, nobody checks on you?
RY: Yes, that's right. In that sense Japanese monastery is not so well controlled and the monks are not well educated. He meant in that sense. We can break the rule easily. But in America that kind of way doesn't work. In Japan we can manage in that way but in America everything is very clear. In Japan we do services on Sunday and we do memorial services. To be majime is the only way here, he said. He made it very clear. If you are not majime you will not be appreciated. Then I got the principle of how to act in America. I have to be completely clear and honest. I learned how to be honest in America. That's my teacher - America's mind and it was a very good teacher. In Japan we have to be very vague but in America everything is so clear and open and nothing to hide. Your monks in America are very forthright and very clear in a strict way. It was very strange for me. Over a hundred monks and students and everybody was very interested in his way. That's very unusual in Japan. Everybody respected him so deeply so I couldn't understand for a time.
This guy is almost dying but I see the light of his eyes very strict and powerful. I thought it is this energy that makes it possible for everyone to be such sincere Buddhist here in America. I was so impressed with his purity which I never saw with a Japanese Roshi. I couldn't see his depth so much because my sensitivity wasn't so developed at the time but his strictness and his purity were so impressive. At Antaiji with Uchiyama and Sojiji I experienced that they had mastery of everything - the Shobogenzo and intellectual things very well and I respected them in that way. There was something cunning. I could not get into those Roshi's trip so much. Uchiyama's mind was very open so I learned to open my mind from him. He had the lay way of Zen living. He was engaged. It was very different. But at that time I was into a very strict way, only Dogen and just sitting. My selection was very narrow at that time. So I noted Suzuki Roshi's strictness - it was very clear.
I told Mitsu [Mrs. Suzuki, Okusan] I was very good at shiatsu and moxi and so she asked me to work on Suzuki Roshi. I learned here and there from people in Japan - I had no special training. I tried it on Okusan first so she asked me to do it on Suzuki Roshi. I did it for a couple of hours a day in the afternoon till two days before his death. He appreciated it and would say, "Oh I feel very relaxed, thank you so much." He was a dark yellowish pale. He was always cheerful. It must have been heavy for him but he was always cheerful. I worked on his back in the middle to get to his liver. Actually at that time my shiatsu was not so good but I managed and he appreciated it a lot.
Okusan was a very powerful woman. She was different from many Japanese women. She was willful and would insist on things which is not very popular in Japan. She was very positive and clear and sharp - sometimes she was too heavy. I also really enjoyed her noodles which I often ate with her. And she'd often offer me tea and coffee. I was the only other Japanese in the building and my English was not so good so she taught me how to be here in Zen Center. She said the same thing that he did: If you're serious here you won't have anything to worry about. Majime is serious and enthusiastic - including that feeling - it's very positive and became key for me. In Japan it was taken as a matter of course. But in America it was emphasized and took on a new meaning.
I gave all my time and energy to that at that time and I didn't look at what I was learning and didn't realize it till later. Suzuki Roshi and I chatted some but didn't have dharma talks. It was kind of prohibited by Mitsu. She told me not to talk to him too much.
DC: Suzuki Roshi considered too many serious questions and too much talk about Buddhism a bad habit, something extra.
RY: After his death I went to Tassajara and worked in the kitchen. Katagiri was a really fierce man. How come they all die of cancer? [prescient, makes me groan - DC preparing this for site] Maybe holding in too much, especially Katagiri. But Suzuki Roshi seemed to talk very freely when he wanted to.
I felt that Suzuki Roshi's condition was so bad that he could die anytime - his body was almost not living - low energy. The doctor and Mitsu said he could die anytime too. He got very thin. I saw him stand up or walk once in a while but not so much.
The main difference between Zen Center and Japanese monastery is that male and female were living together.
DC: He didn't care so much if we slept together as long as he didn't see a big problem - he'd look to the spirit but if I started to talk about it he'd say, "Don't tell me."
RY: Another difference is the sensitivity about food. Zen Center food is very delicious and excellent. So good. I enjoyed it everyday. I learned to eat brown rice there.
DC: The fact that Suzuki Roshi accepted brown rice shows how open he was.
RY: That's right. People thought white rice was almost poison.
DC: To me, most of the food fanaticism was gone by then, but I guess we weren't eating much white rice at all. There's more now but not too much as far as I'm concerned.
RY: Suzuki Roshi was not really a formal roshi in Japan. He was just a head priest. (jushoku)
He treated me as a priest, with respect but did not take a higher position at all. Uchiyama Roshi was like that too being from Sawaki's lineage but most Roshi are very hard to even see. They are way beyond. Suzuki Roshi was very here, very casual. He gave me very crisp talking. But the real source was his purity - like a child.
One day I was talking about the downstairs altar at Sokoji, the Buddha statues. [Zen Center had been gone from Sokoji for two years] I don't remember what I said and he got very angry all of a sudden. It was because I was saying something vague about the statues, not so respectful. I'd said the statue was just a piece of wood or something like that. And he got angry right away, so innocent and honest like a child. He was very direct. I noticed he was kind of a short tempered person.
When I worked on him if I started thinking about something he'd notice right away and tell me to concentrate on my work.
Sometimes he'd get angry at his wife and it was very amazing for me when she'd talk back to him. Ah, I'd think - this is just a wife and husband - not a Roshi trip.
Dick Baker's Mountain Seat Ceremony was very funny for me. It's okay to be Suzuki Roshi's successor at Zen Center. But all of a sudden one morning people started calling him Roshi. That was very strange for me. What is a roshi? I wondered and I didn't want to stay so long.
Then I met Evelyn from Long Island, she was a hippie. She came to Tassajara in the summer of '72 [after Suzuki had died] and she shared many new things about hippie feeling and I was so impressed that even these people come to Tassajara to sit and thought, I should learn from them. They were more open and honest than me and I had nothing to teach them so I thought ah this is the teacher for me. The hippie life was ideal for me and so after a year at Tassajara I dropped out and then I saw her at Sokoji in '73. Moriyama [the friendly, nervous young head priest] was out and I was just hanging out so I thought it's time to drop out. Maybe it was spring. I started to live with a hippie rock and roll band near Army and 24th near the top of Potrero Hill with Evelyn. I learned about smoking and taking things and I learned the hippie trip. I was so impressed. This is it I thought. I'd go over to Sakurai's commune. He's in Paris right now. [Sakurai was an abstract (as I remember it) hippie Japanese artist who had a commune named Konyaku near Sokoji on Pine Street (I think).]
DC: I used to go there and play music there.
RY: I drank a lot of cheap wine with him.
RY: You and I went there together with Mike Gilmore.[See his interview]
RY: I had so many psychedelic trips and I loved the natural wide open life style and they didn't eat any junk food - it was all new for me, the first stage of my hippie life. I just lived with her for a couple of weeks.
Moriyama helped me to find a new apartment. I went to Zenshuji [the Soto Zen temple in LA - only for, or almost only for Japanese Americans].
They were looking for a monk and I called a monk at Zenshuji and he accepted me. Yamashita was there. It was summer of 73. I started living there.
But I got a call from Zen Center to help translate Mumon Roshi's lecture [Yamada Mumon, maybe the most respected Rinzai Roshi in Japan, abbot of Myoshinji]. So I did it and I had a very good experience with Mumon Roshi - at that time he was very active. But I stayed in LA for a while but I left because it was a funeral service trip for the Japanese community and not for me so I went back to SF. I went to Berkeley and lived there with Michiko Yoshikawa and I'd go down to Santa Cruz to visit hippie friends or give a lecture on Zen or do Shiatsu. I did workshops. I went to NY with a Japanese hippie. We got together with two girls - two Roshi(?) hippie girls. So I met these girls who'd come back from India and we made a trip together. We slept on the desert in New Mexico and smoked dope every day and took mushrooms and peyote. It took us two weeks to go to NY. We went through Amarillo and Oklahoma and Chapple Hill where I met a magical woman living in the woods and took peyote again and heard Bob Marley's song so clear. Many things happened and we went to New York. I was there for two weeks or so. Then I went to SF with a Polish girl.
Then something happened. I started living with the next one who was my acid teacher and who taught me the meaning of that. I thought I had to keep silent and meditate but for her nothing was a problem so I learned I could do anything. She was my teacher. Whatever I saw that was my mind. That was Buddha's method. When I heard the sutra I knew what it meant. We lived in a Northern California hippie commune and I gave a workshop with everyone naked and I gave shiatsu. They were nice beautiful people. I met new people there.
DC: Please clarify this Roshi thing.
RY: Roshi as a title is used only in Rinzai. In the Soto school it just means an old monk like it literally says. Everybody says Roshi even if they're just a jushoku [head priest]. In Rinzai it's very significant. It means you have inka, enlightenment, permission. American way is Rinzai way I think - not Soto school.
DC: Many people from the Zen Center who've gone to Japan have studied Rinzai Zen there. There haven't been that many, but of those who did go, a lot did Rinzai. I did a little Soto and mostly Rinzai. They don't do that in Japan. But nobody much cares about sectarianism in Zen Center.
DC: It was very funny for me - the Roshi title for Dick.
DC: Dick told us to call Kobun roshi so we did and same with Katagiri. In the Soto sense Suzuki Roshi wasn't a roshi? You said he was just a regular priest. Aren't you using the Rinzai definition when you say that?
RY: Pretty much. We can't say this way or that. It's very vague.
DC: Was calling Suzuki Roshi, Roshi okay?
RY: When they started calling Dick Baker roshi one day it was more Rinzai. We [Soto Zen] might have waited ten years.
DC: After Dick, we stopped using roshi at Zen Center. The word got stinky so I'm glad we stopped it. I really don't like it. [Both Thank You and OK! and Crooked Cucumber have my take on this overused title and misunderstandings that go with it.]
DC: So I was with that woman in 74. The hippie had healing power. That's why I decided to go back to Japan to learn the healing way so I could go back to US with it. So I learned Shiatsu in Tokyo from a Zen Master, Masunaga - for one year. I got something from it. I went went back to Berkeley and started the hippie life again and did workshops for hippies on Shiatsu and I tripped around and collected a whole bunch of samurai kind of energy. A whole bunch of people visited me and I taught them and I went to Sufi workshops and others and then I met a Jewish lady, Shirley and we started living together and I said, ah I need Jewish energy and she said she'd have to check out Japanese energy and I said let's take a trip to Asia and she had money and I brought a lot of stuff and got in so much trouble and so many people got busted and at that time I thought that was my mission as a bodhisattva. This is very good medicine for Japanese I thought. We went to Thailand and I smoked opium.
DC: Me too. I smoked opium in Thailand with natives, or whatever you call them, in the mountains. But I only did it once.
RY: We went back to San Francisco in 75 and I started that nice place on Broadway.
DC: You invited me there but I never went. I regret that. I ran into you and you showed me pictures of your girlfriend, Shirley, naked, and it seemed to be a sort of free-love, LSD, Zen and Nichiren commune.
RY: So many crazy people went there everyday and we chanted Namu Myo [Namu myo renge kyo - homage to the Lotus Sutra, the mantra of Nichiren] and I got money from hippie people - it was the temple of Lotus Flowers - Japanese and Jewish power together. I used too much drugs. I got PCP. It's very heavy. I did it every day. I got crazy - supernormal and then paranormal and abnormal. At the peak Shirley met dharma king - Karmapa and he gave her seven strange small things - very tiny little black balls and he said they were the essence of prayer produced through meditation. She brought them to me in a mental hospital in San Francisco.
I could see so many things and got magic power and was visiting Zen Center with a crazy French hippie girl and they thought I was crazy and I was on the second floor where Suzuki Roshi's statue is and I bowed to Suzuki Roshi and I noticed that the statue was living and I cried and cried and so many tears came and I was chanting and I said this is the living Suzuki Roshi and nobody knows - they're so ignorant and I was going back to my temple driving without my hands going through red lights but I could see from above there was no car coming.
RY: I went to my meditation hall and knew a big earth quake was coming and then the earthquake power went through me and then I passed out and fell down and I don't remember anything and I heard so many heavenly music sounds and dragons singing and I could see people downstairs opening the doors. I could see so many things. I was communicating with a monk in Tibet in the Himalayas who could see everything that was happening on earth and I asked him if you're there existing please give me some evidence that this is real - just something tiny. I asked him to put something on the paper. And then a small hair appeared. That kind of thing happened all the time. Shirley and I were married then. This was 76. I was two times like this.
Suzuki Roshi was living there - I could feel it. I told Shirley and Yoshifuku [Shin Yoshifuku, translator and founder of C+F Communications in Tokyo]. I talked about it with Michael Phillips and Carol Ray. She was living in San Francisco with a princess.
[I, DC, was living in San Rafael at this time and would see Michael Phillip's son at nearby Gerstle Park doing kendo with a group. One of the guys in that class knew Ryuho back there and says that Ryuho almost killed him when he was on PCP.]
I was writing a Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo mandala. I was into the Lotus Sutra. Not Nichren Shu or Shoshu. Nishidatsu, who was a friend of Gandhi and his students…
DC: Oh, the ones who go around chanting for peace.
RY: He's my teacher too. He's 91 or two or three. He was so powerful and devoted and I studied reading Lotus Sutra in Japanese and I saw it was so true. I studied to understand the message logically - the construction - it's very simple but difficult to receive - very complete. And I freaked out.
Dogen's last message was on the Lotus Sutra. He was at a layman's house in Kyoto and before his death, he wrote on the board the last part of the Lotus Sutra 21st chapter - he wrote wherever you go this is Buddha's real practice. And he gave a name to the house - Myo Ho Renge Kyo-an [an is hermitage or temple].
Hinayana is clean up myself. Mahayana is clean up social relationship and extreme Mahayana we call Ikayana - only one vehicle. Same as Avatamsaka Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Lotus sutra for his last eight years. The dharma is hard to grasp but the Lotus Sutra is very simple. So all the time it was coming down to me and all the time I was meditating and chanting the Lotus Sutra. I tried to get out of the hospital but they would grab me and give me a shot and then one doctor came who was a Japanese American Nichiren Shoshu and I was chanting and he came and he showed me a sutra book and I was saying this is everything and we started chanting together very hard and they chant so fast but somehow I could chant much faster than him - eauhhhhhh!!! Why you came here? a doctor asked me. I came here because of my karma that I accumulated. And he was shocked and made a noise and the crazy people clapped. Wow! What you said is right! I was there for two weeks each time. I took the Tibetan pills - five of them and I was up there and I came down from heaven to earth and I could see the dissection of what happened like I'd come down on an elevator and I just woke up and said this is great force - that was '77 or '78. I couldn't say anything but I knew I had to leave the hospital and I asked Shirley to get me out so I went back to the temple [his temple].
So I decided to move to NY but my elder brother got in a car accident and died - he was the jushoku of Chochoji, my father's temple in Beppu. My father was too old. I got a telephone call so I knew it was time for me to go to Japan. I'd learned how to open up my mind in America but now I needed to learn how to concentrated in a more traditional way - I got that message so I went back to my temple with Shirley and became the jushoku.
And then nine years ago a very psychic thing happened again in Japan. One day early in the morning at two or three in the morning I was drinking sake with hippie people in the temple and Guji-san here called me up [Guji is the priest of Tenkawa, the shrine where we were]. I'd been here to visit many times. And he said one lady will call you soon so please receive her message and she called ten minutes later. We talked. I was at that time into Shinto, visiting Ise shrine so I noticed her power. She told me important things so we agreed to meet the next day at Tenkawa and we met here and she didn't say so much. She was like Madam Blavatsky - huge, unique, very strange woman - crazy clear very powerful meditation and her husband is with the Korean emperor family and went to MIT. He was a kind of prince. They lived in NY and they were married. Ah she's with him - he's very clear and they showed me a psychic map and I understood it but she left him for something bigger. He'd come back to Japan because his father's will said that when he was 43 he would come to Japan and meet a lady at a native shrine and he met her there. So Mr. Lee met her. This is off the record [Sorry Ryuho, but I think it's okay now that you're gone.].
I was into their philosophy. They had psychic power. I had cultivated that too. Mr. Lee had left his family in Korea and since they were kings and many people asked him to be the head of the family it was hard for him to go back. So I had to leave the temple like Shakyamuni Buddha left home. I should drop out completely from the funeral service trip I decided. The bust had been a half year earlier. [More on that later - he'd been busted in Kyoto with marijuana, LSD, and cocaine and miraculously got probation]. But nobody cared - no one even talked about that. Big problem in the newspaper [front page all over the country and in magazines] and everything but they don't ask me. I was just giving the service. So I left the temple without taking anything, leaving my parents and I lost everything - my parents and Shirley and all my friends. And I followed Lee and especially his wife.
You know the difference between Omotokyo and Tenrikyo? Omoto is very famous. Very subtle. Most interesting points in history of Japan is Prince Shotoku and Kobo Daishi and Deguchi who founded the Omoto school in the Meiji period. Anyway, his [actually founded by a husband and wife? Same last name.] teaching was very unique. Most religious group focus on better life - if you do that you will get better life or money or whatever but his interest only how to manage the planet - how to do that - Japanese Yamato [original old Japan] feeling - Kojiki stories connected.
The emperor of Japan is a direct descendent of the founder and he Amatasu is the sun god and is very important and is controlling the planet for 3000 years. They did lots of fighting wars he said and now it's time for the spirit of the earth itself to come back. Time to change the time cycle. So I had gone to shrines and learned what the way of shaman is. I dropped out and I hung out with them. I followed them around and I spent all my money on them and I'd put them up in fancy hotels and I'd sleep in the car and then we had a big fight - they wanted to control me completely, my activity, everything, but it was ridiculous. It wasn't a religion - a sense of God's schedule and space. They wanted to realize their own mandala. They were living in Tokyo. Sometimes I still get telephone calls from them. Still they are meditating on God's schedule. It's related to Omotokyo. It's in Kyoto but the system is interesting because this earth space has to come back. Everyday we'd say Shingyo [sutra]. It's very important.
Her name is Mrs. Lee and she married him - she's the psychic - and she's the one who Reverend Moon recognized as the spirit of Amatarasu. She's critical of religions because they're a low energy and she's critical of moon for doing that - but she uses his system.
Dc: So for six months you spent 24 hours a day taking care of her?
RY: There were others, but mainly myself. Then I could not come back to the temple - it was impossible. I'd left to be with them. Guji-san here called me to check them out and I got caught up in it and stayed with them for six months. Then I could not manage the temple at all. Then I heard my father is dead. So I got permission from them to go back to his funeral. Shirley was ready to go back to America. She'd been running the temple as a temple wife. She did everything and she was editing and writing and sending letters to me about what kind of people were coming there. And my students were there. There were three ordained monks there. One is dead of suicide, one is in America and one is in Israel teaching calligraphy to the army. I left in '85 November 18th and I came back for the funeral of my father - four months later. Then I didn't have anyplace to go. I lost contact with my family. I still don't see them. I have two sisters.
I was staying in C+F Communications in Tokyo
DC: I know you gave them $35000 to help them get going.
RY: I had trouble getting it back but Shin got it to me. Then I lost all that money. I spent it living.
DC: And on the Koreans, the Korean royalty or whatever?
Then I went to Fukuoka and made friends there and hung around at Tomi's bar, Ningyo with many interesting people.
DC: Yes, you took me there in '88 when I visited you. Cool place.
RY: And then I was doing shiatsu and working with Kazuko and started living with her. We had a fight and I went to Kumamoto to Asa to Hetate Shrine and lived next to it and hung out.
Then Shin called me up and said he was going to Hawaii and said he wanted to do a last workshop at Tenkawa Jinja and asked me to help him. He gave me money to come and I came here and I met her for the first time - Nisa. I had nothing - I'd lost everything but I found her. So I was in Kumamoto. She was living in Tokyo and I flew there every month to visit but it cost too much so I moved to Tokyo and we lived together.
Nisa: He was very tired. He's much younger now. And I was in a spiritual emergency. I had separated from my husband. I felt near to death. I didn't feel I could communicate with another man and couldn't imagine having a lover. I asked God and he said he loved me but I wondered what should I do. He said to believe in an important person and follow him.
Ryuho: That was in '91. Then I decided to live in Tenkawa and we got married and we've been here ever since doing nothing.
I really didn't relate with Suzuki Roshi so much but I told you that story about visiting Zen Center again and realizing Suzuki Roshi was living. So that was my second start in America. I had never experienced that kind of feeling before - a dead person living in front of me in the statue.
DC: I always talk to the statue. When I go by I say, "Hi Roshi."
RY: I think right now I'm working with him and he's supporting me to realize what he wanted to realize in America. I saw the same thing but in a different way. Not only in Zen but in Namu Myo Ho Renge Kyo and in Shinto, shamanism. Using many kinds of new medicines.
See memorial biographical tribute to Ryuho written by his first wife Shirley Cohen. Search this site for other mentions of Ryuho. More to come soon. - DC
Ryuho in Crooked Cucumber, the last chapter.