4-7-05 - From DC to Lucent Technologies.
Hi. I saw the discussion of your logo on http://www.spindrift.org/sumi_links.htm. I am the biographer of Shunryu Suzuki who made the sumi circle that the San Francisco Zen Center uses and am also an ordained disciple of Suzuki. I'm not speaking for the Zen Center but I imagine that no one there much cares about your logo. I think it's fine and silly of anyone to protest. Nobody owns the form of the sumi circle and nobody can say in finality what it signifies. It certainly can't be legally claimed by anyone. I remember Suzuki making the one that the SFZC uses and which I used in the bio on him. It was done for a fundraising brochure or at least he did a bunch and this one was subsequently used for one. There are zillions of them in Asia and the rest of the world. I can't speak for Suzuki either but I bet he'd just laugh at anyone trying to make anything of this. Do as you please. I think you've got a cool logo. Don't worry. If anyone gives you any trouble feel free to quote me, though there is not anyone who can claim any authority on this matter really - as far as I'm concerned. Not saying that I approve of your business practices.
4-10-05 From RW to DC (after a few emails saying hello) [I leave the whole email intact and highlight the part about Lucent - DC]
I like your website, David. It's very much like you - providing equal ground for "mundane" details along with the "spiritual", and a place for everyone's say. It reminds me of a time at Tassajara when you were telling about a lecture there many years before by Kobun, who had put not only his audience to sleep but himself as well while a long tendril of drool descended from his lips. As you told it I was cracking up so hard I could hardly breath, because of the vividness of the scene you painted along with the obvious love and respect you had for the man.
The last time I laid eyes on you was at Kobun's memorial at Jikoji, but you were engaged in an argument with Stanley White and I didn't approach you.
You may have a vague memory of me - after sitting with Kobun from the time he came to Haiku Zendo (actually, I was sitting at Haiku Zendo from 1969 when I was 19) until 1978 when I lit out for Tassajara to work right after the fire (actually, to eat good food and sleep and to stop hassling the good folks at Bodhi, a wonderful summer!). I lived at Green Gulch and was the weird guy who lived in what later became the gaitan folding chair closet, and hung out with Eric Larsen there from 1978 to 1981, then was at Tassajara from then until 1984. I can't think of anything about me distinguishing enough that you might recall me, particularly. But I did work as a server at Greens with you for a couple years after that, and sometimes you'd give me a ride from Zen Center to the restaurant and/or back.
Since then, I got into graphic design and then computers, worked in Silicon Valley until 1998, quit and went to Berkeley for a BS in Conservation and Resource studies, have been working the last five years in the Golden Gate National Park running the computer lab for an environmental ed place (Crissy Field Center at www.crissyfield.org) - lately finishing an MS in Environmental Science, Policy and Management also at Berkeley.
A few years ago I read your book of adventures in Japan ("Thank You and OK" - ??) and enjoyed it a lot. I'm sure "Crooked Cucumber" is equally honest and I hope to get to it.
The Lucent thing is really an expression of my shock in Silicon Valley at seeing the sumi circle on the phone at my desk, as a promotion for a global corporation. I take your word for it that Suzuki would not have minded. In general I've found most Buddhist leaders to be pretty protective of their symbols, though. In the years before Suzuki's death, I believe that the average differential between the salary of a corporate head to the salary of the person on the work floor in Japan was about 10 to 1, while at the same time in America it was 150 to 1. The differential in this country is now about 450 to 1. Lucent made a pretty typical corporate move a few years ago, laying off all but 600 of its 20,000 union engineers and shipping their jobs oversees (to people who probably need the work because of the disruptions caused to their communities by globalization). My understanding of the Japanese corporate ethic of Suzuki's time was one of great responsibility from the leaders to their workers. Lucent is typically American in being very much the opposite, where workers are nothing whatsoever but a set of numbers on a ledger. I don't know what Suzuki would have thought about corporate ways today, but remembering lectures from Yoshimura, Katagiri, and Kobun (thousands of his) I think they had little wish to criticize social institutions of any sort. I criticize them, though. If you get a chance sometime take a peek at Naomi Klein's "No Logo" about corporate theft of community identity. It's very typical for corporations to make a business out of co-opting whatever real culture communities create, in many cases weakening that culture. The rest I said on the website.
Mostly I just let those web pages run and don't think much about them. I think yours is about the second email I've received in several years based on the website. May I quote what you sent me on the site, in my "letters" section? Want or don't want your name used? Want or don't want a link to your website?
All the best to you and your family. I hope to see you around. I rarely get to the Zen scene much any more, though.
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