- Shunryu Suzuki Index  - WHAT'S NEW - table of contents

Marian Derby Wisberg

Three Documents

These three documents sent to DC in February, 1996, were transcribed by a noble fan of Marian named Jerry several years ago. Thanks Jerry. - DC

I have kept Marian's paragraph breaks and general layout.  I did correct spelling when it was obvious that my changes were correct, such as changing Jun to June and beutiful to beautiful.  I left all her punctuation as she wrote it.  I've made a few notes in red within the text. 
There are three documents within this Word file.
* a letter
* an article titled Beginner's Mind
* an article titled A Report on the Peninsula Branch of the San Francisco Zen Center.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity.  
Please let me know what to do with the original texts.
I bow to you.

Letter [on the whereabouts of Suzuki lecture tapes from Los Altos]
The article titled Beginner's Mind
The Report

[Much layout did not survive transferring to web page. See PDFs of originals
Marian letter to DC on location of ZMBM tapes
Marian on Beginner's Mind
Marian Report on Peninsula Branch of SFZC

Feb. 16, 1996

Dear David,

            Frances Thompson told me you are interested in what I know about the original tape recordings of Suzuki Roshi's Los Altos Zen talks—the ones that were used in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.  Here is what I know about the missing tapes.
            Sometime between August and November of 1970, not long after in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was published, the possibility of marketing the original tape recordings occurred to someone at Zen Center. When the tapes couldn't be found someone (it may have been Silas) contacted me at Tassajara and asked if I knew where they were.  I had no idea.  Two years had passed since I last handled the tapes.  I'm pretty sure I put them back in the cabinet where I stored all the tapes recorded in Los Altos.  I know I didn't take them to Tassajara.
            The last time I saw the tapes would have been shortly before I turned my home and the Los Altos Zen group over to Les Kaye.  It may be that whoever took on the job of tape recording lectures erased this set of tapes in order to use them to record new Zen talks.  I left no instructions to preserve any tapes after they had been transcribed.  None of us involved in the project—Dick, Trudy, Roshi or myself—had the foresight to see that the tapes were preserved.  So how could anyone not involved in the project be expected to have this foresight?  At that time Dick Baker had not even submitted the manuscript of Roshi's book to Weatherhill.
            My memories of the poor quality of the original tapes make me believe they would have proved to be unsuitable for the production of a professional, marketable product.
             I am enclosing a copy of an article I wrote about how Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind came to be published.  It adds a few additional details to the account Baker Roshi wrote in the Introduction to Suzuki Roshi's book. 
            I am also including copies of "The History of Haiku Zendo"
(The title on the history reads " A Report on the Peninsula Branch of the San Francisco Zen Center) I wrote in February of 1969 and "Haiku Zendo" that Barbara Hiestand wrote and published in 1973.  If you don't already have copies of these booklets in your research files I think you will find them helpful.  You have my permission to use any of the material I wrote, in your biography of Suzuki Roshi, if you haven't finished it.
Her handwritten Marian was here.

P.S.  Please don't call or write me.  It isn't necessary to thank me.

Beginner's Mind
Marian Mountain


            In November of 1964 Suzuki Roshi, Abbot of Zen Center of San Francisco, began traveling to Palo Alto once a week to sit with a few Stanford students interested in practicing Zen meditation.  They met, before breakfast, in the living room of a student boarding house.  I joined the group in February of 1965.  The program consisted of two twenty-minute periods of zazen, a ten-minute service followed by a fifteen or twenty-minute talk by Suzuki Roshi on some aspect of Zen practice.
            By July of 1965 the Zen group had grown to around twelve members who attended regularly and another dozen or so who dropped by occasionally.  After visiting my home in Los Altos Roshi asked me if I would host the group.  He felt we could expand our activities if we met in the home of a Zen student.  I discussed the idea with my teen-age children before saying yes. 
            The first addition to our program was one I suggested—tape recording and transcribing Roshi's Zen talks.  I owned a reel-to-reel tape recorder and had enough experience operating the machine so I could carry out the activity unobtrusively.  I gave copies of the transcripts to anyone in the Zen group who wanted them.  (After learning how well the project turned out the officers of the San Francisco Zen Center and Zen Mountain Center began to tape record and transcribe lectures Suzuki Roshi gave in those locations.)
            I had recorded and transcribed dozens of Suzuki Roshi's talks when I received a clue to their ultimate fate from an unlikely messenger—my father.  In the summer of 1966 my parents, who lived in Seattle, flew to Los Altos to visit me and my children.  Since they had doubts about my involvement in what they feared was a religious cult, I arranged for them to meet Suzuki Roshi.  I explained that every Thursday morning a Zen student drove Suzuki from his temple in San Francisco to my home in Los Altos, and how I usually drove Roshi back to San Francisco after breakfast.
            Thursday morning, after all the Zen students left, my parents drove their rented car from the motel where they were staying, to my home.  Their meeting with Suzuki Roshi was short and amicable.  My father surprised me (and delighted Roshi) by offering to drive Suzuki back to San Francisco.  Roshi accepted the offer with enthusiasm.
            When my father returned from the trip I could tell he had enjoyed the experience.  I asked him how he and Roshi made out.  My father said he asked many questions and felt reassured by Suzuki's answers.  He was charmed, at the start of the drive, when Roshi tucked his legs and his robes under himself on the front seat of the car.  He was touched, at the end of the drive, when they stood on the sidewalk in front of Sokoji Temple and Roshi bowed reverently to my father's Buddha nature.  My father said he responded by shaking Suzuki's hand.  (The following week I asked Roshi what he thought of my father.  Roshi said, "He has a strong hara."   I took this to mean Roshi admired my father's strong spirit and his straight-forward attitude.)
            I only remember a couple of the questions and one of the answers from my father's driving dokusan.  After asking Roshi what he wanted to accomplish in America my father asked, "What is your personal ambition in life."  Roshi answered quite simply, "I'd like to write a book."  I assumed this meant a book on Zen practice for Americans.
            It seemed unlikely that Roshi would ever find the time to write a book.  He complained to me once, about how difficult it was for him to write in English.  He told me how Dick Baker, his senior disciple and Director of the San Francisco Zen Center, had devoted many hours helping him compose articles for the "Wind Bell," a Zen Center publication.  (Later, Dick gave up trying to help Roshi write his "Wind Bell" articles and began editing the taped and transcribed lectures Roshi gave in San Francisco and Tassajara.)
            Suzuki Roshi spoke the English language creatively and effectively.  I always felt that his best Zen talks were the ones he gave on Thursday mornings in my home.  They were spontaneous, succinct and spoken from a relaxed and contented heart/mind.
            The thought that I could help Roshi realize his personal ambition in life spurred me to action.  I asked him if he had any objections to my plan to collect and edit the best of his Thursday morning talks.  I explained that I would like to try and get them published in book form.  Roshi greeted this idea with enthusiasm.
            When I had partially edited what I believed were Roshi's most memorable Zen talks I began reading two or three of them to him each Thursday morning before driving him back to San Francisco.  He listened to the words af if he had never heard them before.  "Did I say that?" he would often interrupt.  "That is very good."  He told me he never knew, until he began speaking, what he was going to say.  Sometimes he would have a topic in mind which would give him a spring-board, but while he was talking he wasn't aware of what he was saying. 
            Everyone in the Los Altos Zen group supported the idea of publishing Suzuki Roshi's Thursday morning talks.  But when he heard about my project Dick Baker tried to dissuade me from it.  He pointed out that I lacked the necessary experience for the project.  I didn't have a college degree.  An I had only been practicing Zen meditation for a couple of years.  I understood Dick's reservations but I was sure he would support the undertaking once he read the manuscript.
            I told Roshi how Dick Baker felt about the book project.  Roshi thought about the problem and in time suggested I turn the manuscript over to Dick for final polishing.  Roshi said he would make it clear to Dick that he fully supported the plan to publish the collection.
            In March of 1967 I sent the first draft of Beginner's Mind, (the title I had chosen for the book) to Dick Baker.  Many months later I asked him how the project was coming.  He said he hadn't had time to read the manuscript.  Frustrated, because I was sure Dick would become interested in the project only after he had read the manuscript and realized its potential, I spoke to Roshi about the problem.  Roshi said he would discuss the matter with Dick.
            In the spring of 1968 Dick Baker told me he had turned the manuscript over Trudy Dixon  to edit.  Trudy was a close disciple of Suzuki Roshi.  She had practiced Zen much longer than I.  She had earned a college degree (a Master's in English, I believe), she had experience editing Roshi's lectures and she wrote beautiful poetry.  The wife of another of Suzuki Roshi's students and the mother of two young children, Trudy Dixon was dying of cancer when she accepted the editorial assignment.
            I sent Trudy the tapes and the original transcriptions of Roshi's Los Altos talks so she could double-check the interpretive accuracy of any revisions I had made.  Trudy worked on the project for months, whenever her energy and pain permitted.  She consulted frequently with Suzuki Roshi and Dick Baker to make sure the edited version of the manuscript expressed the true spirit of Roshi's spoken worlds.
            In August of 1968 Trudy sent me the final draft of her work on the manuscript.  In spite of her great physical and emotional suffering (perhaps because  of her great suffering) Trudy not only polished and perfected the lyrical quality of Suzuki Roshi's spoken word but she intensified and clarified the meaning (the reality) behind and beyond the words.
            Looking back I realize that my editorial changes in the transcripts must have made Trudy's work more difficult than it would have been if she had transcribed and edited the tapes by herself.  On the other hand my beginner's efforts may have served a useful purpose. If I had sent the tapes or the unedited transcripts to Dick or Trudy without working on them myself, someone else would have read the first draft of the manuscript to Roshi.  In order for him to appreciate fully the power and the truth of the talks he had given in my Los Altos living room it may have been necessary for Roshi to hear his words read back to him in the room where he had spoken them.
            I don't remember how many weekly sessions it took to read the first draft of Beginner's Mind to Suzuki Roshi.  What I do remember is the wonderful melding of our minds at every session. Roshi sat on my davenport facing the fireplace, feet and robes tucked under himself.  I sat in a wing chair pulled up close to him, pencil in hand ready to make notes on the margins of the manuscript.  I remember the lingering smell of coffee and cinnamon rolls, the ticking of the clock on the mantel and outside the chirping of small birds.  Sometimes the session ended early, after reading only a part of a chapter I would look up and notice Roshi's eyes close and his head begin to nod.  A few minutes later he would open his eyes and apologize
with a smile.  I would smile back and assure him it didn't matter.  The only thing that mattered to me was how relaxed and comfortable we were with each other.  Something was being transmitted, something that satisfied both of us.  Perhaps it was Roshi's realization that he had already accomplished his personal ambition in life.  Perhaps it was my realization that I had helped him.

            In late October of 1968 Dick Baker, accompanied by his wife and daughter, sailed for Japan where he planned to spend a year or two studying Japanese culture and practicing meditation at different Zen Buddhist temples and monasteries.  Dick took the manuscript of Beginner's Mind with him and I seem to remember him telling me later that he worked on the introduction to the book on the voyage across the Pacific.
            About a month before Dick sailed for Japan I left the care of my home and the Los Altos Zen group in the capable hands of Lester Kaye, a lay Zen student who eventually became ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest.  During the next couple of years I lived and practiced meditation at Zen Mountain Center at Tassajara.  Since Dick Baker and I didn't keep in touch during this period I knew little about the progress of the project except that the book had been accepted for publication by Weatherhill, a company with offices in New York City and Tokyo.
            Trudy Dixon didn't live long enough to see Suzuki Roshi's book in print.  She passed away in a San Francisco Hospital on July 9th, 1969.  She was only 30.  The week before Trudy died she made two difficult trips to Zen Mountain Center to visit Suzuki Roshi and to experience, one last time, the sounds and sights and smells of Tassajara canyon.  She stayed until her pain became unbearable.
            When I saw Trudy at Tassajara her body appeared frail but the strength of her spirit astonished me.  She slept outside her cabin under the stars.  She attended meditation in the Zendo.  Too weak to sit up she lay, curled on her side, upon the tatami-covered meditation platform, expressing the true reality of Buddha's full-lotus posture.
            Trudy Dixon was a great inspiration to Zen students and Zen teachers who knew her.  She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die.
            At the end of August in 1970, while I was still living at Tassajara, I received a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind inscribed by Suzuki Roshi.  I wrote, in part, to Dick Baker:
            "My copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind arrived this morning.  What a beautiful
gift to have returned to me.  I can now appreciate the many hours of time ane effort you devoted to the book.  It far exceeds any hope I had when I first began to work on it, and I am sure Suzuki Roshi must be very pleased with the way it turned out.  I only wish Trudy could have seen it before she passed on but I think she must be seeing it through all of our eyes now and the happiness I feel mush be her happiness too."
            Suzuki Roshi's health began to fail in the fall of 1970 but this didn't stop him from traveling to Japan to spend six weeks with Dick Baker, and to formally recognize his disciple as his Dharma heir at a traditional transmission ceremony.
            On November 20, 1970 I left Tassajara for Big Sur where I lived for the better part of the next 14 years.  Sometime in the summer of 1971 (I don't remember the exact month) I visited Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara.  He invited me to tea.  Although I had been warned that he had been very ill Roshi surprised me by his light-hearted, almost mischievous manner. 
            We sat cross-legged on the tatami-matted floor of his one-room cabin, two old friends catching up on what had happened since their last meeting.  It was a beautiful day.  A soft breeze floated through the open window.  I can still remember the faint smell of pine incense, the distant cry of a Blue Jay and the bitter-sweet taste of green tea and rice cookies.
            This bitter-sweet meeting was to be our last.  Suzuki Roshi only lived a few more months.
            In the fall of 1971, when Roshi became much weaker, Dick Baker returned to San Francisco from Japan.  On November 21, 1971 Suzuki Roshi, too ill to stand alone but supported by his son, installed Baker Roshi as the second Abbot of Zen Center in an elaborate Mountain Seat Ceremony.  Two weeks later, his American mission accomplished, Suzuki Roshi let go of all attachments to this life. 
            This morning, February 16, 1996, I phoned the office of Weatherhill, Inc. in New York City.  I asked a representative of the company if Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was still being published.  She told me that both the hardback and paperback editions were still in print.  I asked how many copies had been sold since the book was first published, 26 years ago.  She said Suzuki Roshi's book sold steadily at a yearly rate of about 2,000 hardback copies and 28,000 paperbacks.  According to my calculations, that amounts to a total sales of 780,000 copies so far.  By the end of 1996 the sales of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind should reach or surpass one million copies.  This small Zen classic has spread the secrets of Zen practice to more Americans than Suzuki Roshi could ever have imagined possible in such a short period of time.
            In his preface to Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind Huston Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote this about Suzuki Roshi's most  memorable accomplishments:  "His monuments are the first Soto Zen Monastery in the West, the Zen Mountain Center at Tassajara; its city adjunct, the Zen Center in San Francisco, and for the public at large, this book."

A Report on the
Peninsula Branch
of the
San Francisco Zen Center
Marian Derby



Origin of the Group

            Tim Burkett, who was then a senior at Stanford University, remembers the origin of the Peninsula Branch of the San Francisco Zen Center as a remark by Rev. Suzuki that if a meeting place could be found on the peninsula he would like to begin a weekly meditation group.  Tim contacted a Stanford graduate student, John Ketchum, who agreed to let the group use his living room.  Tim sent post cards to people on the Wind Bell mailing list who lived in the area and early in November, 1961 the first zazen and lecture was held at 1005 Bryant Street in Palo Alto.  Tim remembers that there were only 3 or 4 who attended the first few meetings.


The Morning Group in Palo Alto

            I first became aware of the zazen group on February 21, 1965 through a notice which Tim Burkett had submitted to the Palo Alto Times.  Thursday, February 25, 1965 was the first meeting I attended.  At that time there were about 12 in the group.  Of those who attended that morning and who are still active members of the Peninsula Branch of the San Francisco Zen Center are Tim Burkett, Bob Randle, Dan Baty, Toni Johansen, Helen Donaghey and myself. (Dec. 1965)

            At 5:30 every Thursday morning one or two students arrived early in order to move the furniture in the large old-fashioned living room, sweep and dust the room, and arrange the cushions and alter pieces.  At that time our equipment consisted of a small drum, a bell, a kyosaku, about 7 cushions and 4 or 5 copies of the Prajna Paramita Sutra. 

            Zazen began at 5:45 A.M.  At 6:25 Rev. Suzuki conducted the ceremony.  We bowed 9 times to the floor, chanted the Prajna Paramita Sutra once, and bowed 3 times to the floor again.  Then Rev. Suzuki lectured on Zen Buddhism for 20 or 30 minutes.  I remember the lectures as intimate and informal.  For several months he explained, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, and sometimes word by word, the meaning of the Prajna Paramita Sutra.  After the lecture we moved the furniture back in place and left the house, often before any of the occupants were awake.

The Evening Group in Redwood City

            On April 21, 1965 the first meeting of the evening group was held at the home of Amy Simpson who lived at 849 Palm St. in Redwood City.  Zazen began at 7:30 P.M.   No ceremony was held.  After zazen Rev. Suzuki lectured on the Platform Sutra.  At about 9:15 tea and cookies were served, and questions were answered.  Four students attended this meeting, Toni Johansen, Amy Simpson, myself, and a young man who drove Rev. Suzuki from San Francisco.  This group grew to 17 people and then dropped to an average of 8 to 10.  With two or three exceptions, the evening group during 1965 and 1966 consisted of people who did not attend the morning group.

The Morning Group Moves to Los Altos

            On July 8, 1965 the morning group moved to my home at 746 University Ave. in Los Altos.  Rev. Suzuki felt that we would expand our activities by holding our meetings in the home of one of the members.  My living room was large and my home was centrally located.  One of the first additions to our activities was an informal breakfast after the lecture.  Coffee, fruit and rolls were served in the dining room, and the family-like discussions around the breakfast table became almost as popular as the lectures.

            Another activity which began at this time was the tape recording of the morning lectures.  We now have a large collection of transcribed lectures which the members can read, and which I hope eventually can be edited and published in a book.  A few have already been published in the Wind Bell.

            During the year that the group met in my living room there was an average of 12 to 15 attending each Thursday morning.

The Evening Group Moves to Los Altos

            On June 16, 1966 I mentioned an idea to the morning group which had come to me a few days earlier.  I told them I was considering remodeling the garage into a zendo so we could hold daily meditation.  Rev. Suzuki and the students were in favor of the idea.  William Stocker, a carpenter who had attended some of our meetings was contacted.  He had free time, and was interested in the project.  He met with Rev. Suzuki and together they designed the zendo, patterning it within the physical limitations of the existing garage, after a traditional Japanese zendo.

Construction of Haiku Zendo

            Work began on the zendo on Jun 24, 1966, and for the next six weeks William Stocker worked as many as 12 hours a day on the hall.  During the week he was assisted by members living near Los Altos.  On two week ends members of the San Francisco Zen Center drove to Los Altos and spent the day working on the project.  William was a good foreman and the amateur laborers (even the women) did a professional job.  The only outside professional help, besides William's was the electrical work and a small plumbing job.

Opening Ceremony of Haiku Zendo

            On August 4, 1966 the opening ceremony was held.  Rev. Suzuki, Rev. Katagiri, Dick Baker, President of Zen Center, and Mrs. Suzuki were among those attending.  There were seventeen present at the dedication that morning.  The room ideally seated 17 (16 students plus the priest), but by using futons and cushions on the floor 26 could be accommodated.  The attendance during the last few months of 1966 generally averaged from 15 to 19.  The largest number we had at one meeting was 22.  (Here there was a space and then the handwritten words DAILY ZAZEN.)

Buddha's Enlightenment Day

            On December 8, 1966, which fell on a Thursday, the first formal Japanese breakfast was served in the zendo.  The menu and style of serving was patterned after those served at the San Francisco Zen Center.  Because the kitchen is detached from the zendo the trays were set up on a table in the "car port" which adjoins the zendo.  Members were so enthusiastic about this breakfast that it was decided to make it a once a month affair.

Meditation Schedule

            By the end of the year a meditation schedule had evolved which seemed to fit the needs of our members.  Meditation is held every week day morning (except Thursday) from 5:45 A.M. to 7:40 A.M.  It consists of two 40 minute zazen periods divided by a 10 minute ceremony and a 15 minute kinhin period.  On Thursday morning when the priest for San Francisco attends, there is one period of zazen, a ceremony, and a lecture of 20 to 30 minutes.  The custom of the breakfast in the house has been continued except once a month when the formal breakfast is served in the zendo. 

            On Saturday morning (except when there is a sesshin in San Francisco Zen Center) meditation begins at 5:45 A.M. and ends at 9 A.M. There are three periods of zazen divided by a ceremony, kinhin, and a small breakfast consisting of bread and butter, hard boiled egg, fruit and tea.  This is served formally as in San Francisco.  There is no group meditation on Sunday.  The zendo is always open and members are encouraged to come and practice at their convenience.

            At the end of the year the only group meditation held in the evening was on Thursday evening when the priest attended and lectured to the group.  Even if a daily late afternoon or evening session is added later I feel that we will continue to keep the longer morning period.  Several people who drive some distance to the zendo feel that having this longer period of meditation makes their trip worth while.  Some, who must leave for work, or home to fix breakfast for their family, stay for only one period of zazen.

            Many people have told me that even though their schedules do not permit them to use the zendo more than once or twice a week at this time, it gives them a great feeling of gratitude just to know that it is here.


Plans for a Resident Priest

            I had suggested to Rev. Suzuki before he went to Japan in 1966 that he try to find a young Japanese priest who would be interested in coming to the United States and acting as our resident priest.  I felt I could offer him room and board and a small salary.  When Rev. Suzuki returned from Japan in November of 1966 he told me that Philip Wilson and Graham Petchey had recommended a young priest who was then at Eiheiji.  Rev. Suzuki asked me to write and invite him (which I did).  Rev. Suzuki also wrote to him to explain our situation.  On January 21 we received a reply from Kobun Chino saying that he would like to accept our offer and would make plans to join us as soon as possible.

Beginner's Mind

            For about a year and a half I had been recording, transcribing, and editing the weekly lectures of Rev. Suzuki.  I had now collected enough material to begin organizing them into a book which I hoped could be published.  In March I read the edtied the lectures to Rev. Suzuki and passed them on to Dick Baker for final editing.  The tentative name for the book was "Beginner's Mind".   (At the end of this last sentence is a handwritten note:  SEE ALSO INSERT BEGINNER'S MIND)

Evening Zazen

            In May I tried an experiment.  I announced the beginning of a regular schedule of evening zazen from 7:15 to 9:10 P.M. I hoped that this would encourage members of the Thursday evening group to sit more often. It didn't. After 9 months I gave up the evening schedule.  Of course it was not a complete failure because I benefited from the additional periods of zazen which I continued but not limiting myself to a rigid schedule.

Chino, Sensei Arrives

On June 19th Chino, Sensei arrived (via steamship) in San Francisco.  As soon as I met him I recognized the same spirit that I had come to appreciate in Rev. Suzuki and Rev. Katagiri.  Chino, Sensei, spent a day or two at Sokoji and a few days at Haiku An before he went to Tassajara.  The decision to have Chino, Sensei spend the summer at Tassajara was made because it was obvious that his talents could be put to best use there.  It was the plan to have him return to Haiku An in the fall after the monastery had closed for the winter.


            Because of the work involved in the development of a new monastery at Tassajara, the group in Los Altos found itself having to manage more often without a priest.  I tried various ways of handling the situation.  I invited guest speakers from the older Zen Students in San Francisco and held discussions.  Joan Ross came quite frequently and her talks were appreciated.  I even "lectured" myself.

            The presence of the new monastery (which I visited frequently during the spring and early summer) added impetus to a desire I found growing within me—to leave Haiku An (if I could find someone to replace me) and go to Tassajara myself.  In July I asked Joan Ross if she would take over my job but she declined.

We Lose Our Priest

            At the end of sesshin at Tassajara, which I had attended, Dick Baker and I realized that Chino Sensei was needed at Tassajara more than at Haiku An.  It had been decided to keep the monastery open all year.

Zen Party

            On October 7 an outdoor party was held at the home of Norman and Barbara Hiestand.  Members from Los Altos, San Francisco and guests were invited.  The purpose of the party was to get together for fun and to introduce more people to what was going on in Tassajara.  About 100 people attended.


            Chino, Sensei had suggested to me that our group begin to eat monastic style using Oryoki.  I made up about 20 sets of eating bowls and on Oct. 19 we held our first oryoki breakfast.  The reaction was mixed.  Some members felt, and still do, very negative about eating in this formal way.  Others liked the experience and found it good training.  We tried eating once a month with oryoki and then, because we found the sequences of the ritual were forgotten we tried eating in this way 3 Thursdays out of four in the month.   The oryoki practice continues to be difficult to fit easily into the schedule, but it has been continued and extended to include Saturday morning breakfasts.

Stanford Esalen Seminar

            On Nov. 26, Dick Baker and Mike Murphy brought a group of Stanford Students to practice in Haiku Zendo.  It was the last morning of a three day seminar on meditation.  I was Happy to have Mike Murphy lead a group at Haiku since I had first sat in zazen at a seminar led by Gary Snyder three years before at Mike Murphy's home in Big Sur.


Lay Director

            The problem of defining my relationship or my position in the zen community had often left me unsatisfied. What was my position?  I finally defined it to my own satisfaction as "Lay Director of Haiku An". My relationship to myself, to my fellow zen students, to the zen priests, and to the larger zen community had been becoming clearer, if not to myself, then to Suzuki Roshi.  On Dogen's birthday, Jan 26th, Roshi told me he felt I should "join the order", (become officially a part of the sangha.)  I did not feel I could abandon my responsibilities to my children then, so I declined, but I left the matter open for consideration at some future date.

Beginner's Mind

            Dick Baker, who had not had time to work on the final edition of Beginner's Mind told me he had turned the manuscript over to Trudy Dixon.

Extended Thursday Program

            On May 3 a new program was begun-an extended Thursday morning schedule as follows:

                        5:45  Zazen
                        6:30  Ceremony
                        6:40  Lecture
                        7:00  Kinhin
                        7:10  Breakfast in the Zendo
                        8:00  Work meeting
                        8:95  Work Period
                        9:20  Clean up
                        9:30  Zazen
                        10:15  Discussion & Coffee in house
                        11:00 Zazen     (without priest)

This program was followed on an average of 2 times a month, alternating with a short program ending at 8:30 following an informal breakfast in the house.


            On May 16, Roshi held Dokusan for members of Haiku Zendo.  It had been hoped that this program would become a continuing part of our extended Thursday program so that members could avail themselves of Dokusan at least once a month if they so desired.  But because Roshi was unable to come to Haiku Zendo except infrequently now, because of his need to divide himself between the monastery and the temple in San Francisco this program was abandoned after a month.

Stanford Esalen Seminar

On the weekend of May 24 to May 27 a sesshin sponsored by the Stanford Esalen Group and led by Chino Sensei and Silas Headley was held at Haiku Zendo.  About 20 people attended the first evening.  By the time the sesshin ended there were 12 to 14 left.  The schedule for the sesshin was as follows:

Friday, May 23                                                         Sunday May 25

8:00 P.M.   Zazen                                                      6:00 A.M.      Zazen
8:30 P.M.   Kinhin                                                           6:30 A.M.      Kinhin     
8:40 P.M.   Oryoki instruction                                        6:40 A.M.      Zazen                  
9:20 P.M.   Tea          7:10 A.M.      Service
                   Zazen                                                      7:30  A.M.    Breakfast
                                                                                   8:30 A.M.     Zazen
                                                                                   9:00 A.M.     Kinhin
                                                                                   9:10 A.M.     Zazen
                                                                                   9:40 A.M.     Kinhin
                                                                                   9:50 A.M.     Discussion
                                                                                   11:00 A.M.     End
May 21, Saturday

7:00 A.M.    Zazen
7:30 A.M.    Kinhin
7:40 A.M.    Zazen
8:10 A.M.    Service
8:20 A.M.     Breakfast
9:30 A.M.     Work
10:30 A.M.   Zazen
11:00 A.M.    Kinhin
11:10 A.M.    Lecture
12:20 P.M.    Zazen
12:50 P.M.    Service
1:00   P.M.    Lunch
2:00   P.M.   Zazen
2:30   P.M.   Kinhin
2:40   P.M.   Tea
3:00   P.M.    End


            One June 18 the marriage of my daughter, Kristin Derby to Philip Clarke was held in the Haiku Zendo.  It was a Buddhist Ceremony conducted by Chino, Sensei.


            On June 20, after having sat with Roshi's suggestion that I "join the order" I had dokusan with him in Haiku Zendo and told him I had decided to accept.  I hoped that this would free me from my ties to Haiku An and permit me to move on into a new area.  I set about with renewed effort to find someone to take my position. 

New Lay Director

            On June 29 I asked Lester Kaye, a member who had been sitting regularly with  our group for about a year, if he would be interested in moving into Haiku An with his family to take over the zendo and two of my children.  On July 5 Les and Mary Kaye accepted.  They began looking for tenants to rent their home in San Jose and I began to reorganize the house (and my personal life) for the change.  It was my original plan to go to Tassajara for about a year of training beginning in October.

Beginner's Mind

            In August (a handwritten note with an arrow pointing to here reads: "Look up date when Trudy died in Wind Bell.")  Trudy Dixon sent me the final draft of the book of lectures she had been reediting.  She had written a fine introduction, organized the lectures and polished them.  It made a fine collection.  She intended to give the book to Dick Baker to take to "Tuttle" publishing co. in Japan.  Tuttle's editor had read four of the lectures and had shown interest in the book.  Since Dick was going to Japan in October Trudy thought it would be advantageous for him to take the book himself.

Change of Direction

            Les and Mary Kaye and their two young children, Margie and David, moved into Haiku An in September.  I stayed on a month while they accustomed themselves to the new job and environment.  The adapted quickly, not only to the job of managing the zen group, but of acting as foster parents to my two youngest teen age girls, Kathy and Anne.

Leaving Haiku An

            On September 30 I spent my last night at Haiku An.  There was some unfinished business such at the transfer of the ownership of the house to the Zen group, but I left this business to be completed by Les Kaye.

            I did not go directly to Tassajara as I originally planned, but instead spent four months living and practicing with another Zen student, Bill Smith.  I attended zazen only occasionally at Haiku Zendo.

            As I finish this report on February 5, 1969, I expect to leave for Tassajara in three days for the spring training session.  I have decided to postpone my ordination indefinitely.      

Marion Derby is handwritten here.