There are Suzuki stories elsewhere on this site, mainly in the interviews.
There are more at Brief Memories of Shunryu Suzuki
Go to Excerpts from Crooked Cucumber for even more stories about Suzuki
and Lectures for quotes.
Haiku Zendo Chronicles, Part I - a long out of print 1973 publication of the Los Altos Zendo. - Part I is history of Haiku Zendo
Haiku Zendo chronicles, Part II - memories of Suzuki
Shunryu Suzuki in Thank You and OK
Meeting with an ordinary monk - Kaz Tanahashi
March 2000 letter from Nick Phillips about Suzuki's last words to Katagiri.
Memories of Suzuki-roshi by Rick Fields (from October '75 New Age Journal)
Zen is Right Here, Shambhala, fall 2007 - vignettes on Suzuki by DC
Remembering a Man of Wisdom byLewis Richmond
11-19-12 - Lloyd Kahn remembers Phillip Wilson which ends with a neat story about Shunryu Suzuki.
A FEW STORIES ABOUT SHUNRYU SUZUKI
which was re-published by Shambhala in October '07 as
Zen Is Right Here,
Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, Author of Zen Mind,
Beginner's Mind. Woah, that's a mouthful.
A young woman asked Suzuki-roshi in a Sokoji talk "Roshi, sometimes when I'm trying to decide what I should do, I ask myself, 'in this case, what would Roshi do?' Should I continue that practice?" Suzuki answered "Then should I ask myself, 'What would Roshi do?'"
During the question and answer period after a lecture, someone said to Suzuki-roshi, "Here I sit near the end of this session energized and thinking, there is a lot of power in this practice." Suzuki replied, "Don't use it."
From Jack Van Allen (in the green text he sent it in)
At a question session with Suzuki-roshi at Sokoji, a young man asked, "What should a Zen practitioner do with his spare time?"
Suzuki at first looked perplexed and repeated the phrase, "spare time?" He then began to smile and repeated again "spare time" and then began to laugh uproariously.
Edward Van Tassel (Off the internet)
As Suzuki was walking out of the building to meet his ride to Los Altos, a woman, at the top of the steps, called out to the driver, "You be careful now; we don't want to lose our treasure!"
Suzuki turned, halfway down the steps, made a loud SMACK! with his hands, and called out, "No more!" He threw his head back and laughed and continued to laugh as the car drove off.
A student remembers:
I had dokusan with Suzuki-roshi during sesshin I felt lost and far from home at that point in my life, and I asked him if Big Mind was lost in the dark too. He said, "No, not lost in the dark; working in the dark!" and he moved his arms about, demonstrating. He said it was like the many-armed statue of Avalokiteshvara, and he made the statue come to life for a moment.
1/27/03 - Tony Patchell's Zen dreams.
3/25/02 - Dennis Samson told me this story he remembered that Suzuki mentioned once in a lecture. I remember it too so I embellish on what Dennis told me. This happened when Suzuki was quite young, early teens I think.
He was out working with his master, Gyokujun So-on on a bitterly cold winter day. They were cutting firewood. Suzuki's mind was wandering and he didn't notice as So-on pulled back the thin steel blade of his saw so that it bent into a U shape and let it snap onto the unsuspecting face of poor little Crooked Cucumber. It was an extremely painful bit of shocking feedback that Suzuki would never forget.
I wanted to use that story in Crooked Cucumber and even wrote it up, but I wasn't sure if I'd heard it from Suzuki or Dainin Katagiri, his assistant teacher at Zen Center so I set it aside. It really points out the marked difference between what was permissible back then in Japan and in America today where it would be written up in Buddhist magazines and the general media as an example of abusiveness. Anyway, I'm glad teachers can't do that here now. Maybe we're limiting the scope of eye-opening teaching options but I think it just wouldn't work here. - DC
3/12/02 - from Dennis Samson: Once Suzuki Roshi was asked by someone, "How much ego do you need?" and that Suzuki said, "Just enough so that you don't step in front of a bus."
4-06-09 - Joan Halifax, teacher at Upaya ZC, with a story about Shunryu Suzuki and an interesting take on it all. A few tiny things are off - Sokoji wasn't a Victorian and I don't think he would have smiled when answering Okusan (Mrs. Suzuki). Thanks to Madeleine.
10-28-10 - Two stories from Mike Dosho Port's blog.
contact DC at <firstname.lastname@example.org>