Reader's and DC's Comments 2003 - now

See also What Was New in 2002.

Go to Readers' Comments: 2001-2002,  2000,  1999

There used to be a lot more comments on but I don't post most comments so much here anymore because it's just too time consuming. They do get in the site here and there but just not posted here. But anyway - here's what there is.-DC, 2006 - Working on blog software so folks can add comments to cuke automatically. - DC, 1/30/08

The main thing that's gone up in this section in 2006 is/are the letters from Eric Arnow from Thailand and Burma.

A lot of comments from cuke readers have been posted on Others Contribute

[such as 8-18-14 - In response to earlier DC post, Andrew Main on Canon's Corporate Name Etymology]

11-05-14 - Steve Tipton responds to Jeff Broadbent and DC's exchange.

11-02-14 - On Progress East and West and Why and What - Jeff Broadbent comments quite intelligently on DC's speculations posted 10-30 on Saunters - but now am posting this response here on Comments and linking from What's NewSaunters, and Engaged Buddhism  and on Jeff's cuke page.

2-04-14 - Byron Black wrote about Nanao Sakaki. He lives in Jakarta now. We had some back and forth about Japan and Indonesia. It's all here.

3-07-13 - I was perusing the blog in prep for a tele-seminar I'm giving on Suzuki-roshi's "you're perfect just as you are and you could use a little improvement", and I saw the question April had about the sesshin drink.  When I was resident at SFZC, ZMC, and GGF, although the idea of the drink was probably once based on amazake, the drink I had (and had to prepare when I was in the sesshin kitchen) involved a combination of kokoho rice cooked and simmered with a lot of water, grated ginger, and honey (or was it molasses?).  I'm confident April will be able to figure it out with those ingredients and that rough outline. 

Thanks for continuing to be the record keeper of the first generation of Roshi's students...  At times, I am moved to tears, at the stories, and the connection i feel to this extended "family". It is a huge gift you are offering us, and I am immensely grateful. 

Jesse Wiens

Jesse was referring to the message below.

2-26-13 - Received a link to an Amazake page on Wikipedia in answer to yesterday's question about the SFZC sesshin drink. - thanks Rhonda. O boy. Rhonda sent another link:Making Amazake from scratch...with DONABE. Rhonda writes: "I looked around to see if I could find my recipe for Amazake but all my cookbooks seem to be at our country house.  I found this link which looks good. Yum, amazake, it is nice to be reminded of that deliciousness."

Rhonda was referring to the message below:

2-25-13 - April Bodman writes with a question: "I've been trying to find a recipe for the hot ginger drink they serve before bed during Zen Center sesshins. I've searched all of the ZC cookbooks and tried Googling it every possible way I can think of....nothing. Do you happen to know how they make that? Also I'd be interested to know the history....Is it a traditional japanese concoction or just something one of the inspired cooks at Tassajara dreamed up? Hope you can enlighten me." If you've got a lead on this please send it here. Thanks. - dc

7-13-12 - About communicating with vermin and ants and Dainin Katagiri

I recall reading somewhere on Cuke how Katagiri-roshi encountered a mouse in his quarters once and chatted with it, being able to coax it into a box for safe removal (then later he was irritated when they got into the chocolate hidden in his closet). At the time I meant to write to you but I forgot until after sitting this morning. When I was living in Brazil I began having an invasion of ants in my kitchen. They were constantly getting into the sugar jar. Ants are a very clever people. No matter where I put the jar or how I sealed it, they would eventually find my sugar stash and I felt sorry for them and ended up just letting them be. But then there were so many in my kitchen I felt something had to be done. So I leaned over the sugar jar and explained that I didn’t mind them sharing the sugar if they wanted but they had to stop invading my kitchen. I rapped the jar a couple times and reminded them I wished them happiness, but enough was enough and they had to go. That was the last morning I had ants in my kitchen. I was amazed to see them filing out after that, and when I returned that afternoon they were completely gone. From then on, I started leaving a little sugar or some banana outside my window for them but saw them only occasionally, and apart from a few recidivists now and then, they didn’t come back inside and I think we were all satisfied with the arrangement. Naturally, I am aware that all sounds rather absurd, but it is what happened and my wife was skeptical but she could offer no other explanation for their sudden departure. I’m reminded that St. Anthony once preached to the fishes at Rimini and I think perhaps there is a teaching here but I don’t know what it might be. Imagine what can be done in the human realm with the same sort of willingness to let things be in their own natural order, without possessiveness and violence, and with a little love and forbearance. We could all have some sugar in our lives.


Here is the Katagiri reference.

I found something very interesting about another mouse, from an interview with Paul Rosenblum, when someone intervened to stop a cat from killing a mouse at the zen center. Suzuki Roshi said, "Don’t you know that the mouse is a bodhisattva? Giving its life to the cat. Why should you stop the mouse from being a bodhisattva?"


6-30-12 - A Response to the April 2012 appeal for funds for the Cucumber Project and comment on Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind from the Curmudgeon Buddhist. Sent in May. Also posted in Notes on ZMBM

4-18-12 - Dear David - Thank you for your kind message to Stephen Gaskin. I'm his oldest daughter, (Eva is my half-sister), and I'm acting as long distance Email Manager for him. My dad lost his sight in one eye some years ago, and reading on a computer screen is taxing.

I've enjoyed reading your books, Thank You and Ok and Crooked Cucumber. I met Suzuki as a kid and found him fascinating and deeply kind, reading more about his life was really interesting and moving. So thank you for your work.


Dana Gaskin Wenig

DC note: I had mentioned that mate Katrinka worked with Stephen's daughter Eva at the Pelican Inn in Muir Beach which Katrinka managed for ten years.

Posted on cuke today:

Corresponding with Dana Gaskin Wenig, Stephen Gasking's oldest daughter. He and she are going to come up with something for cuke to augment what we've got. Here's her note in Comments with a brief sentence in Brief Memories of Shunryu Suzuki.

There are many mentions of Gaskin on cuke such as this out-take from Zen Is Right Here(formerly To Shine One Corner of the World). Here's his Wikipedia page.

I know there are some other mentions of Suzuki in Stephen's books, at least one other. I've got it but it will take time to find it. I can think of one in Amazing Dope Tales that I can find the beginning of in Google Books:

I didn't know Suzuki Roshi, but I was slightly acquainted with him. I sat with him once or twice and went to hear him lecture a few more times. But I didn't have to go see him all the time, or spend a lot of time in his presence: He...

I'd like to complete this quote from that book. Thanks. - dc

[Thanks to Mark Bittner for finding and transcribing the full excerpt. - dc 4-23]

Stephen and Ina May Gaskin excerpt page

4-05-12 - from Willem Malten in Santa Fe on no nuking Los Alamos

3-09-12 - Two emails about Kokoro, the former Sokoji

6-06-11 - John Steiner sent this frog in memory of Suzuki Roshi who was fond of frogs and mentioned them now and then in lectures. Just located 41 instances of him using that word.

Photo sent by and maybe taken by Tim Jones in or near Austin, Texas, and labeled, "nocturnal images from a small pond just outside the house in Hays County."

5-06-11 - There's a fantastic new documentary out about Chogyam Trungpa, Crazy Wisdom. We got to see an early screening of it this weekend and it is really wonderful. They have a short section in there about Trungpa and Suzuki Roshi, and I was wondering if there were recordings made of Trungpa's lectures at Tassajara and City Center? Obviously, those would be really important recordings to copy and preserve! - Joe Galewsky of the Desert Mirror Zendo and Guest House in Albuquerque, NM>

I told Joe I didn't think we recorded Trungpa's lectures at the SFZC but maybe somebody there knows.

4-07-11 - "We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity." - Paulo Coelho - thanks to Charlie Musselwhite for sending that from his Blackberry

4-05-11 - In answer to Ann Brown's question of two days ago, Here's the SFZC's service and ceremony audio page. - thanks Brit Pyland who also sent this self portrait or maybe hands portrait.

4-04-11 - My stay at a Chinese Monastery from Eric Arnow

4-03-11 - Ann Brown of the Kumeido, the Little River Zen Center in Mendocino asks

Hey, I was wondering if you have a recommendation for a site that has audio recordings of our Soto Zen particular Daihishin Dharani and the Heart Sutra.

I pointed Ann toward Elsie Mitchell's incomparable Way of Eiheiji. I also said I am sure that some groups have such recordings.

Any other suggestions? I don't have time to Google right now. If so please let us know at  Thanks. - dc

Here's the SFZC's service and ceremony audio page. - thanks Brit Pyland

4-03-11 - Peter Levitt writes in response to his own question of yesterday:

Dear David and Kaz

I hope you both are well. I did a bit of research and found reference to a meeting on the same day Suzuki-roshi gave that talk in SF that indicates that Kawabata was in Japan that day, which probably means he was not visiting SR the day before in San Francisco. I'll check more on this, but it seems pretty tight as evidence. Oh, well.

What seems most likely is that somehow Suzuki-roshi heard or read Kawabata's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which had quite a bit about Japanese culture in it (I read it yesterday) and his discussion of the arc of Japanese literature/culture took off from there.

So, maybe "case solved" on this one. If not, I'll let you know.

all the best


4-02-11 - Peter Levitt writes: On Sunday I based my talk on some notes from a talk Suzuki Roshi gave on Sept 14, 1969. In this talk he says, "Yesterday [visitor] Yasunari Kobata was speaking about something about Japanese literature.' I am assuming he means Yasunari Kawabata, the great novelist who is the only Japanese novelist to receive the nobel prize in literature. Kawabata is my favourite Japanese author, and I think same for Kaz [Tanahashi], so I am very interested in this reference. Do you have any information (or memory) of the visit to which he refers? Are there any records indicating that Kawabata came to see SR, or that he gave a talk around mid september 1969. If so, I would love to know about it.

DC says: I don't know anything about this. Do you? If so please write me at < Thanks.

3-05-11 - Les Kaye , abbot of the Kannondo, writes:

I am hoping you can help me fill in some details of an event that took place at Tassajara during the summer of 1968, plus or minus a year.

I was at Tassajara with my family for a week, which just happened to coincide with a visit of several well-known Japanese Roshis. Suzuki-roshi was there, of course, as was Yasutani.

I can’t remember the other Roshis.

The event took place in the old zendo. All the Roshis (four or five?) were on stage. After a ceremony of some kind, the audience was invited to ask questions of any roshi. I raised my hand and asked, "What is the best way to establish Zen in America?" After a short conference it was announced that each roshi would answer the question. Yasutani said something dramatic. Two other Roshis also said something dramatic. Suzuki-roshi stood up, said, "I have nothing to say," and left through the side door. Everybody roared.

My question for you is: who were the other Roshis, besides Yasutani?

DC answers: Other visiting teachers were Soen Nakagawa Roshi, Eido Tai Shimano Sensei (at that time), Maezumi Sensei (at that time), and Robert Aitken. Kobun Chino Sensei (at that time) was also there. I need to look at a photo. I think that Peter Mattheisson might also have been there. He later became a teacher. I should look at the photo of this event to name some other guests but that's all the teachers I think.

See this story in Brief Memories

See excerpt from Crooked Cucumber about this event with a note about how I mistakenly attributed the question to myself, DC, in the book,

Les Kaye on cuke and elsewhere

Philip Deslippe of wrote and asked:

I am trying to do research on the Unreformed Buddhist Church of America, and I noticed a mention you made of it on the Crooked Cucumber site in an interview with Irene Horowitz. I was wondering if you might be able to suggest people who would remember this group, or other sources of information about it.

DC then asked on cuke: Did you ever hear of Unreformed Buddhist Church of America? It's mentioned a couple of times by Irene Horowitz in her long cuke interview in connection with Neville Warwick, Dr. Ajari who's mentioned now and then by old-timers on cuke.

2-19-11 - Zen and Chinese medicine and Shunryu Suzuki - no I don't know anything about it but came up with an interesting memory via Loring Palmer and a suggestion for the questioner.

1-19-11 - Tarot not Taro

10-27-09 - Eric Arnow - Report from China and Letter to Barak Obama

7-22-09 - Fil Lewitt sends a Tassajara story

3-23-09 Jerry Bolick on his history with the Buddhist Bookstore and Ananda Claude Dalenberg.

3-18-09 - Richard Baker comments, referring to Ivan Illich, on Mark Bitner's question about Shunryu Suzuki commenting on Western Civilization (after DC commented).2-06-09 - Nailing down the Gary Snyder quote about there being two jobs for a monk: sitting and sweeping the temple - as discussed here on cuke in the past - five years ago. Thanks to Andrew Main

9-25-08 - A message about Thank You and OK!. I don't usually print emails and letters I get about my books but I do get them and thought I'd share this one. Thanks Nicolas. - DC

8-08-08 - An auspicious day.

An important note about how I shouldn't demean Suzuki's legacy with personal opinion and my shocking response.


as a great admirer of SS, i was sadded to see the "impeach em both now" section of what a genuine shame to see his legacy made smaller by association with your personal view.


DC's response:

Thanks for your note.

I know you're right. But there's tons of personal view on this website. There's Suzuki stuff and non Suzuki stuff. It's not pure. I'll put yours on it too. I'm really busy now but I'll post your note. When I get time I'll make a Don't Impeach Em Both Now tee shirt.. But also you're right and I do have plans to separate Suzuki stuff and keep it pure. In the meantime It'll all be in the mix. In the even smaller meantime I'll post your note.

Further DC comment: He is right. I'm working on the SSLP hot and heavy now and also on finishing up a soon-to-be-released publishing project and I don't mix them. The Suzuki stuff is going to be out of my hands and passed on at some point so I should start separating it and let it have its own website and I'll have my personal expression and opinion website separate. They should both have blog aspects and allow the reader to directly enter comments. It could be two distinct sections of cuke but better two different domains. Gotta get on this.

4-07-08 - Yesterday I got an email asking about Shunryu Suzuki and his habit of buying the worst vegetables. Here's that email, my response, a response to the response, and a response to that. - dc

3-26-08 - Another offer to buy!

From: Keral Patel 
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 4:07 AM
Subject: Domain name
Hello Sir,

I saw your domain name If it is for sale then please let me know.

I am interested in buying this type of domain names

Thanking You.


DC's answer:

How about $2,000,000

We're all bozos on this bus." - Firesign Theater, originally a site for Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki (Broadway Books)
Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan
Zen Is Right Here: Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki, Author of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind 

3-25-08 - Oops, linked to the wrong Robert Adams site yesterday. That's the one Andrew specifically doesn't recommend. Here are the suggested ones and Andrew Main's note on Adams.

3-24-08 Robert Adams - an Advaita teacher - check out Robert Adams Infinity Institute - thanks Andrew - in links

3-14-08 - A message from Brother Lor on Opray's Eckhart Tolle classes.

2-05-08 - two new letters from Eric Arnow

1-30-08 - Tom Cabarga on how Cabarga Creek got it's name.

1-13-07 - See this email about web site development from a good reader named Richard O. DeWald and Here's his web site. Take a look at his frustrating experience with the SFZC on his blog:My refuge as a sesshin stooge.  And then go to Buddhism Without Bullshit: My sesshin at Dharma Field. Let's hope I am together enough to take advantage of his offer. - DC

1-07-08 - Correspondence between Jeanie Stearns and DC mainly concerning Phillip Wilson

11-06-07 - A picture and a poem from Gene DeSmidt

10-01-07 - Karl Renz will be in the Bay Area (Mountain View, San Francisco, San Rafael) October 3-7 (see the schedule) Read Andrew Main's informative message about this Advaita-like independent teacher - with links and quotes.

9-09-07 - A thoughtful email received a week ago from Robert Anderson in which he expresses concern about idealizing Shunryu Suzuki.

7-08-07 - Reuven Benyuhmin sent some interesting emails yesterday  - about his name, the word "bupkis," misrepresentations of his past, the meaningless trivia of a great deal (maybe 100%) of what we're involved in, and the emptiness of everything - in response to the Early Tassajara, Zen Mt. Center, Practice Period Alumni List (1967- 1989). This, as everything on cuke, is printed with his permission, and, as with everything herein, can be modified as he wishes. We are not journalists but... but... what are we? Reuven sort of answers that. - in Reader's Comments

4-06-07 - Two interesting quotes received recently:

The first is from Joseph G. Veit's A Course in Miracles emailing of 4-05-07. Here's more on and how to get on this list.

"Belief can never take the risk that it will find out that it is, in fact, false.....Faith is not afraid of questions or challenge. It is not concerned with convincing." --Steven Harrison, "Doing Nothing"

And, a thought from MK - Is there statement that's ever been said or thought that isn't more accurate with a question mark on the end?

 An interesting email just received with the subject line of: After forty years our paths cross again.....sort of.

3-22-07 - A note received a few days ago from Gary Gach.

11-30-06 - Used Readers' Comments today for this exchange on the ten fetters which exposes the folly of Mahayana Buddhism.

12-23-05 - 3 recent contributions

Loring Palmer writes from Rishikesh.

Check out Reuven's latest contribution at Sangha News.

10-23-05 - Reuven Ben Yuhmin submits a calligraphy and explanation. Dig it.

4-27-05 - David Schneider comments on the tenken position.

A new email from Eric Arnow in Thailand from a week ago. Read 'em all.

4-11-05 - from Dan Kaplan

Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2005 09:25:47 -0700 (PDT) 
From: Daniel M Kaplan 
Subject: some thoughts on the webpage 
Hi David

In perusing your website., I looked at the suzuki roshi related group list. I found it interesting that there seem to be innumerable other zen centers run by former zc folks not listed, i.e katherine thanas, steve Stucky, lew richmond, ed brown etc. Wondered why they weren't listed, unless it just takes up too much space. Hope you are well. Enjoyed seeing you, however briefly at the koan seminar. An interesting evolving experiment in practicing together. dan

DC responds to Dan Kaplan's suggestion: To make it short, I responded to Dan that the limitation wasn't space but time, that I just can't keep up with everything. But I can't dismiss what he said. It would be nice to have a thorough list of Zen groups in the Suzuki lineage and Katagiri's too, with photos and a nice presentation.

So I ask readers to send in links, images with photos of the teachers and places, names of the groups and where they are, contact info and info on teachers with no web presence. I'll collect what I get and we'll see what happens. - DC 

6/09/04 - Correction from alert reader on the source of the two jobs of a monk being to meditate and sweep the temple. See What's New, 5/15/04, below. [I know this isn't 2003 but I don't have a 2004 Readers' Comments page. Maybe some night I'll do it. - DC]

5/05/03 - A letter of 4-08-03 from Mitsu Suzuki, Shunryu Suzuki's widow.

4/24/03 - From Dr Alastair J. Reid, Girton College, Cambridge [sent 4/21/03]

4/18/03 - A note from Neil Rubinking

4/03 - There are some comments in the Current Events section.

4/12/03 - Two obscure and interesting errata in Thank You and OK! pointed out by alert readers.

4/10/03  - Bishop Joey comments on the article (4/05/03) on  the  Saint Stupid's Day  Parade which he founded. Comment located at bottom of article.

3-10-03 - Selling my house, downsizing, setting sail on a new voyage. - DC

2-13-03 - A note on war and peace from my old high school friend, Lindsay Sharp in Austin: 

I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed Crooked Cucumber. I remember a poignant line in the book, when Shunryu was in Japan before the war and the government was asking men to join the armed services "to preserve peace." I've got an Americans for Peace sign in the yard.

1-24-03 - Thanks to Albert Rudolph for the following exchange which echoes the thoughts of others. - DC

David: Your posted "Shunryu Suzuki lecture given at the City Center in San Francisco on Sunday, June 7, 1971" ---- have you considered editing out the "you knows" & touching it up a bit? I think it would be much more useful that way.

Albert Rudolph

I will be putting up a slightly edited version such as you suggest in a short while.


Thanks, because I decided not even to read the lecture do to the annoying 323 "you knows" etc. (which aren't such a big deal when you hear the lecture).


Here it is. [not that lecture anymore, but there are other verbatim and lightly edited lectures via this link.]


1/16/03 - a question from a reader in Thailand on work and practice at Zen Center and then his observations on the practice in Thailand and Burma.

1/8/03Here's Stuart Lachs' reply to some of my comments of 12/21/02 which you can see the link to below. Also there are a few new comments from me in reply to his reply. To see what this is all about, go to the Shoes Page and check out Stuart's article on the Myth of the Zen Master. 

I'm a little tardy with this posting because, not long after posting my reply to Lachs, I went to the emergency room and ended up getting an angioplasty. I was out in a day but there was Christmas and some complications after New Years and I got a bit lazy.- DC

Go to Readers' Comments: 2001-2002,  2000,  1999