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Reader's Comments 
Crooked Cucumber and whatever. 

February 2000

Go to Readers' Comments: 20001999

2/1/2000 - from Rick Martijn, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada

I just want to take a very brief moment of your time to congratulate you on your wonderful book on Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi ... it's a most enjoyable and inspiring read. I've given away two copies as gifts and I've put it back on my personal list of books to read [again] ... I very rarely read a book twice, but this one is a must. And no doubt I'll be reading more of your works in the future.

[I wrote Rick back and he sent me this. I should put it in a section about where to buy the book and bookstores and all, but later.-DC:]

Thanks for letting me know about the upcoming availability of the book in soft cover. I bought hardcover copies of your book through for less than $27.00CDN ... what a bargain! Barnes and Noble are currently offering it at $25.02CDN shipping included. Here's a great website for comparative book shopping on the web :

2/1/2000 - from David McGrath: Subject: new book

I like "To Shine One Corner of the World: Encounters with Suzuki Roshi."

[That's what it's going to be I think - though the subtitle may not use the word "encounters," maybe "meetings."- DC]

2/3/2000 - from Seth Segall: This is just a thank you note. I read Crooked Cucumber and appreciated it immensely. I am so impressed at the fairness of the portrait... although I never met Suzuki Roshi, I really felt as if you had presented Suzuki whole... your love for him, his failings, his accomplishments... to show a man's many shortcomings and still convey his unique greatness.. and to once again offer a way for us to hear his unique way of magically manhandling the English language is a wonderful gift to the world. Suzuki always seems to be saying "don't listen to my words but my music," and the music is beautiful. May every dharma teacher have a biographer who has such a rich and complex sensibility.

After finishing it I ran out and bought Thank You and OK and found I enjoyed it every bit as much. My poor wife had to suffer through my reading to her from nearly every chapter. I didn't want it to end. I am looking forward to your new Suzuki book. May it have many funny stories.

I was left (among other things) with the koan of Suzuki's love and respect for very imperfect teachers like Alan Watts and Trungpa Rinpoche... It was hearing a series of lectures by Alan Watts in 1965 that first brought me on the path that led me to the dharma... I guess that makes him one of my teachers and I owe him for that... and yet I wonder still what to make of drunken bodhisattvas. Thanks for presenting the koan of imperfect teachers in all its complexity.

With appreciation, Seth Segall

2/4/2000 - Thanks to Gordon Geist for pointing out errata on the index page and in the Suzuki Roshi lectures. I'll put on new lectures very soon. - DC

2/5/2000 - from RJCOMP: I have read many wonderful books, Buddhist and of course others, but never felt the desire to tell the author how wonderful it was. It is. Thanks for taking all the time to get it right. Few writers can tell you about someone by just describing them. You did. You painted a real person.

2/9/2000 - From Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, old Suzuki student, poet, and thespian.:

2/10/2000 - from Ken Spiker: I remember another story about Suzuki, this one told to me by a friend He used to sit zazen often at the Zen Center in the late 60's; he was always wearing these tight polka dot shirts. One day after zazen Suzuki came up to him and said, "Let me show you my Secret!" He led my friend to a cupboard and showed him his bottle of Secret Deodorant!

2/12/2000 - from Deborah: Thank you for writing this book. I was enjoying your style of writing and the snippets of wisdom. But, there on page 58, I cried. When Shunryu sees the flowers Mrs. Ransom has left at the tokonoma. I needed to read that.

I am a poorly practicing 6 yr. student of Buddhism. I've been feeling bad about my lack of commitment to practice and this feeling of incompleteness, that I am not doing enough for the good. Thank you for reminding me to bow. I look forward to more of the relationship to your book. Thank you too, for the opportunity to write this to you. Metta, Deborah

life and death: they are entwined. who understands himself from his own strain presses himself into a drop of wine and throws himself into the purest flame. -Rilke

2/15/2000 - a note from Ken Spiker about cults and not.

2/17/2000 - from Mel Graves: [Listening to "Spirit Changes," a classical, jazz, sometimes rock composition by Mel Graves of nearby Sonoma State University was a fantastically inspiring experience. I went there with Kamala Buckner to hear her husband Tom who sang the vocal parts - wonderful selections from great religious writings the world over. Kamala is a dancer and was a Zen student who's memories of Suzuki Roshi I hope to get on this site someday. Tom is a world famous vocalist, Baritone I think, whose operatic voice blended well with the piano, drums, horns, and strings of Mel Graves dynamic composition. - DC]

Thanks so much for coming to the world premiere of "Spirit Changes". I am sorry we did not get to talk in more detail at the reception. Also thank you for the autographed copy of your terrific book about Shunryu Suzuki. It looked so interesting I moved it ahead of a couple of other books I had planned to read. Boy am I glad I did. It is thoroughly enjoyable. You are a very gifted writer. His life is jumping off the page and into my heart and mind like it was a movie. I finished your book while I was in New York. It remained gripping to the very end and I got a lot out of it. It was also nice to talk to Tom and Kamala about it a bit since they know many of the people in it.

2/18/2000 - From Falota Cristian: I love your web site. Do you have a picture of Suzuki Roshi sitting zazen you could put on your web? Which is the exact birth date of Suzuki roshi and according to chinese/japanese horoscope he was what? 

I should put the photos from the book on the web site. They include a photo of Suzuki Roshi sitting zazen. He was born on 5/18/1904 in the year of the year of the dragon. - DC

2/19/2000 - from Philip Cohen: Subject: True Home Sangha meets Sunday

It was a pleasure to meet you at your book signing in Petaluma, the other night. I am re reading "Crooked Cucumber". The love you have for Suzuki Roshi comes across on every page. I find myself smiling with each story. I started reading on the long drive back from Santa Barbara. After enjoying a small section of the book I would look up and enjoy the beautiful countryside around me. Your writing always has this effect on me. I hope you can join us one of these days. We meet at 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 on Sundays. We sit in a tiny zendo in Penngrove. To go there take Old Redwood Highway South from Cotati. Take Highland Ave. to the right. If you hit the Green Mill, you've gone too far. Up Highland about half a mile, you'll see a sign on the right announcing 345, 343 Highland, Lawrence Swenson. Cross the private bridge and park in the small parking lot on the left between the two houses. If it is raining we usually meet in Larry's house, the main house, the first one you see. If its not raining walk up the drive towards the horse gate. Go through the gate. Please close it so Moose the horse doesn't get out. Continue up the hill about 50 feet, look to your left, you'll see the zendo. Walk up and sit. We sit for half an hour, we do walking meditation for about 15 minutes. Afterwards we do something different each week. This Sunday we are having a Dharma discussion.

[I love small Zen groups. I'll get over there as soon as I can. And I want to put this info on the web site where I mention Zen groups Remind me. - DC]

2/23/2000 - from Randy Constantine: I picked up a copy of "Crooked Cucumber" in my local book store. I was waiting patiently for the book to come available. I really loved -Zen mind, Beginner's Mind-. I was shocked and sadden when I read the copy-write law on the inside, concerning a book of Dharma. What would Shunryu Suzuki say.... that his words are not given freely for use by all? I replaced the book on the self and refused to purchased it!

[I replied: Hi. Thanks for the note. This is a new one. I think you may be putting up unnecessary obstacles between yourself and the written word. Don't worry about that copyright law. It's on all books including Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that are not self published. I agree with you that dharma should be freely given. My website is free and I put up Suzuki Roshi's lectures on it and the introduction to the book is on it too. What would Suzuki Roshi say? Who knows, but he usually chided people a little who were attached to purity. If you want it for free why not go check it out from a library. If the copyright message still bothers you take a black marker and cross it out. Also, you can go to my website and read the introduction. When you're through with that tell me and I'll put up chapter one etc till you've read the whole book. Eventually I want to see the whole book and all of Suzuki Roshi's lectures on the internet for free. My site's free with no advertising. [It's all there now 17 years later and has been for many years - the books, the lectures and more. - dc]

Good luck. David]

Randy wrote back: Thank you for your reply. I will now purchase the book.

2/23/2000 - from kde in portland: thank you for you book the crooked cucumber...i talk because i am searching...have had many dreams about things which i could not understand at first...have always been interested in buddhism...but during a 2 year period of breast cancer and many losses i was given beautiful dreams of things: go to red and yellow, the himalayas moving with faces of people, flags waving in the wind...and on page 286 of your book i came upon the oryoki style of eating of which i have dreamed so profoundly...being still in a nuclear group with only the simplest of eating utensils, using our robes to intermingle and become tablecloths, clothing, dishes...i am certain that my soul brings me here to living in portland and will soon be in the seattle area of you know of any centers in these cities that i can go to and experience...i laughed and cried when i read your beautiful book...thank you...especially your description of this beautiful, compassionate man's last days...reminded me of my grandfather who died with dignity in spite of tremendous pain at the age of 96.

2/25/2000 - two letters from Bob Simon.

2/29/2000 - from Jeff Flowers: Your book was extraordinary. You went to great lengths to be accurate in your every statement and my appreciation goes out to you. I hope you continue to write, as I have read many other writings of yours. Thanks again, I really enjoyed it.

2/29/2000 - from David Cohen

A thought for the day: Clive Staples Lewis defined the future as "something which everyone reaches at a rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.

Go to Readers' Comments: 20001999

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