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A letter from Mitsu Suzuki

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This is a letter that was sent from Suzuki Roshi's widow, Mitsu Suzuki Sensei to Kazuaki Tanahashi (who everyone calls Kaz). - DC

July 6, 2001


Dear Tanahashi Sensei,

How are you? Perhaps I haven’t written to you so far this year.

Mr. Asaoka, an old student of Hojo’s, translated Crooked Cucumber for me. Then he recently translated the Preface and Acknowledgements of Temple Dusk and sent it to me. I guess he did so because I had written to him and said, "I haven’t read this book yet, as I can’t read English." I would like to show it to my family members and some of my friends. They had asked me to get someone to translate it but I hadn’t found a suitable person. And ten years has passed.

You created Temple Dusk in celebration of my seventy-seven birthday.* This year we have been informally celebrating my eighty-eighth birthday. A family gathering will take place when Otohiro and his family visit. Recently the "Cousins’ Group" (of three generations) held a special celebration for me.

On my birthday in April this year I invited twelve teachers who taught with me at the kindergarten until I left for the United States. We had lunch at a hotel in Yaizu, formerly owned by a close friend of Hojo’s. My daughter and Hojo’s daughter attended. It was an enjoyable meeting.

When Hojo died at age sixty-seven I was completely exhausted in body and mind. I felt that I wouldn’t be able to live to his age. I was fifty-seven. But I put my focus on attending to my health and I became better. I have become accustomed to water of my hometown after living for eight years. I have gained strength to get through heat and cold and I am fairly well. But aging makes the evening different from the morning. It occurred to me while I was in bed this morning that, at this age, day be day I feel life with skin.

The notebook for the haiku of my own selection, which became the basis for Temple Dusk, still continues. I had a sense this morning that when this notebook is completed, my life may be also come to conclusion. I would like to express my appreciation for all your help.

In spring this year a group of people were practicing at Rinso-in with Blanche and Robby for a while. So I went to see them about four times.

Baker-san gave me a call some time ago and told me that he had a new baby. He also said he was hoping to visit Japan before long.

When I see news report from the United States, many people’s faces come to my heart--Yvonne, Baker, Della, Jean Ross, Betty, Connie, Bob, Silas... They loved Hojo, helped him, and practiced with him. How precious! Again I bow in gassho to David.

I renew my gratitude filled in my heart to those who took care of me so well at Zen Center so I could live there joyfully. You are the only person to whom I can express this feeling in Japanese. I would like to tell you this so it might be shared with others.

Baker-san, Della-san, Blanche-san, Mike-san, Tenshin-san, Mel-san--Whenever I see them, my feeling does not change from years ago. I treasure my respect and gratitude. This is possible because there is not a bit of feeling that is not pure with each other.

When you have a chance to contact Chino-sensei, please tell him that he is a roshi I truly admire. He was very warm and kind to me.

Cicadas flying over the stream in Tassajara, small fish swimming under the shade of green leaves, mosquitoes, dewdrops on the path are still in my eyes. I wonder what kind of flowers are in bloom and whether lamps are lit in darkness under the large trees now.

I hope Dan, who put me up overnight on our way to Colorado, is well.

An old person lives recalling enjoyable memories. I still practice Qigong, Nakano-sensei taught me, facing Mt. Fuji everyday. Please send my love to everyone at Zen Center. Take care of yourself.



Translated by Paul Rosenblum and Kazuaki Tanahashi

Note: Suzuki Sensei counts ages in the traditional Japanese way [so she's 87 - DC].

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