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Reader's Comments 
Crooked Cucumber and whatever. 

January 2000

Go to Readers' Comments: 2000 index,  1999

1/31/2000--from Dan Kaplan: I seem to remember hearing that Suzuki roshi used to describe Soto Zen as walking in the mist, or the fog. You don't even know you are getting wet, but after a while , you are soaked. So, how about the title " Walking in the Fog (or the Mist): Encounters with Shunryu Suzuki roshi"?

1/31/99--from Greg Eichler: Within the hour, I have finished reading your book Crooked Cucumber.

I just wanted to say thank you for having written it. On an intellectual level, it brought home to me the importance of Suzuki-roshi in the genesis of Buddhism in the West. On an emotional level, I cried when I read the last few paragraphs before his death. Both the intellectual and emotional responses to your biography have prompted me to begin sitting zazen at the Zen Center.

Thank you for helping me to make that fundamental, life-changing realization. The change of events begun by Suzuki-roshi continues even now on the verge of the third millennium.


[I wrote Greg back, as I always do, and got this from him--DC:]

It's okay to use my name. The more I get into Zen, the more I see that even
using my name is in a way anonymous. :-)

1/28/2000--From: Ken Spiker

As to the contest; Well, okay, if you say so... Like one of those kathakali dancers with the funny hats, you mean. But where are his arms?! I was rather hoping you'd say he was looking at a statue of the Virgin Mary on the steps of the church or something. Actually I like "Who's asking?" as the best answer to the contest. Cheers,

1/25/2000--From Joanne Myoren Bobier: Greeting from Southwestern Ontario! I'm absolutely delighted to see that 'Crooked Crucumber' is coming out in paperback! I will call the bookstore this afternoon and, if they are already not aware, make them aware of it and order my copy!

It will be a wonderful edition to my spiritual and Buddhist library. Thank you again for this book. It touched me in a very deep place and I look forward to having it pick up time and time again. It will become a 'best friend'..

In Gassho, Blessings to you

1/24/2000-- A note from Paul Shippee, an old Suzuki student. Also I included links to his Internet health business so that anyone interested in making a living that way can contact him.--DC

1/22/2000--from Frank Anderton:

David, sorry to hear you've had the flu. Hope you're much better. I've been suddenly caught up in classes once again, just now getting back to the continuation of my last letter, more about Suzuki and Katagiri. [See this email together with his others.]

1/22/2000--From: Ronald Criss

I just wanted to drop a line and tell you how interesting the web site is. I wouldn't characterize myself as a Buddhist, but I have been reading the Dhammapada and studying a little bit of Theravadan Buddhism. I was doing a web search when I stumbled upon your site. Actually the link was obsolete, but a search for "Crooked Cucumber" brought me to your site. 

As a former graphic artist (BFA) I want to tell you that I really appreciate the design. Simple and coherent. Nice colors and well coordinated type, color harmony, etc. (Same with the hardcover book too, by the way. Cumptich did an excellent job. Even the barcode is part of the design!!!). Anyway, I was hooked. I immediately went to Amazon and one-clicked a copy of the hardcover! So the site is definitely an effective advertising tool.

Well I'm reading the book now. I really like your writing style. I had a copy of your other book (Thank you, and OK) which I didn't really get into, (My wife is Japanese, I spent 5 years there so I often pick up books about Japan) so I think I sold it to a used book store. Well now, dog-gone-it, I'm going to have to buy that darn book again so I can find out more about the author of Crooked Cucumber! What a string of advertising! Website to book - book to book! And of course if you write any others...

Well, take care of yourself, and domo arigato, mata atode, neh? Pax, Ron

1/21/2000 - from Lakshmi: First, I LOVED your books (both of them). Thank you so much! Something weird is happening with your "author's events" link on the website, did you know? I actually would realy like to know about any upcoming readings/events you might have in the Bay Area, but when I click on that link, I get a page that just makes no sense. Blessings. [Thanks a lot. I fixed it. - DC]

1/21/2000--From: Larry Prager

Larry Prager's letter about Shunryu Suzuki

I recently finished Crooked Cucumber and wish to congratulate you on a really superb effort. During the summer of 68 I lived at one of the Bush Street Victorians and spent time at Tassajara. The year before I had experienced the Haight, and perhaps it was there that I developed an abiding skepticism about people. As a fledgling writer, I saw lots of 'unreliable narrators.' There was a good deal of this about Suzuki Roshi. I recall JC, who managed one of the Victorians, taking me aside the morning after Suzuki Roshi joined us for breakfast, and telling me that Roshi liked me, since he had admonished me to finish my oatmeal and he didn't normally do that. This ascribing of hidden motives to Roshi's simplest comments struck me as hero-worship, though I admired JC quite a bit and was aglow with the possibility that perhaps she was right after all, perhaps Suzuki Roshi did like me. 

Despite my doubts about others' perceptions of Roshi, I couldn't blame them. I never met a man who so moved me. Those days were wonderful - you could go across the street and discuss posture with him without a year's wait, and I did, though he couldn't help my peculiar bone structure. I later ran into him in his private bath at Tassajara ( I was in it at the time - it's in the Archives ), and again, though I didn't at the time understand my incredibly idiotic mistake, was impressed with his presence, with his treatment of a foolish young man. Even in my subsequent years as a half-pint entrepreneurial capitalist, I kept his framed picture on the wall.

I want to thank you for the biography. It is admirable and splendidly written, and best of all, it got this Zen civilian ( I am currently serving in the Judaic branch of service ) to take Zen Mind off the bookshelf and re-consider things.

Best of luck on your new book,

Regards, gassho, and shalom.

1/20/2000--A cartoon from Nonin at the Nebraska Zen Center in Omaha.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

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1/20/2000--from Chong Go: Thanks for the great biography of Suzuki Roshi. It's honesty was really inspiring. One of the first books that motivated me to actually practice zen was
The Zen Enviorment by Marian Mountain. But after that book, I never heard anything else about her. What happened to her? If possible, please give her my thanks.

With palms together...

1/18/2000--From: Steve MacLeod, Main Library, UC Irvine

I just finished your biography of Shunryu Suzuki, which I enjoyed very much. It was a wonderful book... and, I think, very funny at times. I went to the SF Zen Center a few times in 1967, before I left the Bay Area, but a friend of mine -- Ken Wada -- became very involved there. I last saw him in 1970 and he was still there. I'm just curious if you remember him since he probably would have been there when you were. If so, do you know what became of him? Thanks, and I hope you are getting over your pneumonia...

1/ 16/ 2000--from Jonathan Wolfson:

I have just finished reading your wonderful biography of Suzuki Roshi. Thank-you so much. So many pages filled my eyes with warm tears of  thankfulness and love. 

I am a lazy student of the dharma up in Alaska though I lived in Berkeley  for ten years. Your book has been a great inspiration for me. In the spirit of warmth and kindness you have brought the wonderful history and teachings of Suzuki Roshi forth.


1/15/2000--from Joseph Brenna: I'll make it short - Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was my introduction to Buddhism and dharma - and is still the dharma book I reread most often. I had the book for seven years before I understood a word of it. When I was finally ready, I read it every day for a year - and then began to try meditating. Then entered a Shambhala Center and became a student. Though I never met Suzuki Roshi, my gratitude to him is boundless. 

Your book has further deepened my appreciation, respect and love for this remarkable person. It is really inspiring to consider these teachings in light of the day to day challenges Suzuki faced - and somehow for me this adds even more depth to his words. Your account of Suzuki's life is heartbreaking and inspiring. It totally leveled me - in a good way.

Thank you.

1/13/2000-From Ken Spiker:

Thank you for your wonderful book on Suzuki Roshi. It brought back a lot of memories from the 60's; I always thought of the Zen Center as my spiritual home, though I wasn't really ready to face the prospect of hard practice. I first became interested in Buddhism and Eastern religions by hearing Alan Watts on KPFA. [Following are some terrific memories of Suzuki Roshi which I put in the Suzuki Stories section.

1/5/2000--Mark Shores: 

How is "Shunryu" pronounced? I've been saying it something like shun-roo with the accent on "shun." Thanks!

I get that question a lot when people have to introduce me at book signings. I tell them to say "Shunyu" or "Shundyu" with just a touch on the "d." Or, if there's time I may get further into it and say that the Japanese "r" is said from the front of the mouth and not the rear like ours. It's got some "l" and "d" in it and works better in diphthongs like  this than the English "r."

[See a prior comment on how to pronounce "Shunryu."]

1/01/2000--From Christopher

I just stumbled across your Crooked Cucumber web site. A delightful find. I have a copy of your OK book. Loved it. And Thank You,

Go to Readers' Comments: 20001999

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