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Trudy Dixon
Baiho Sesshin

Trudy with zafu at Tassajara 1967 from Fall 1967 Wind Bell

 

The Winter 1970 Wind Bell is dedicated to Trudy Dixon (pp.1-8, 13)

 

Trudy Dixon in the SFZC Wind Bells

 

Trudy Dixon in cuke.com
 

From Interview with Mike Dixon - Mike Dixon page

 

from Richard Baker's revised introduction to the 2011 40th anniversary edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

followed  by interview with Stuart Lachs and a Baker comment from a disciples meeting.

 

from Afterword by DC to 40h Edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (annotated)

 

As Maezumi pointed out, we don’t really know what happened in the past, but as I see it, a team of people heeded their highest angels to create this book. Marian came up with a manuscript entitled “Beginner’s Mind” in which she had minimally edited most of the lectures she’d recorded. Suzuki suggested she pass the manuscript on to Richard so he could edit it. She gave it to him in March of 1967 just as Tassajara was preparing for the first practice period. When he finally read it the following fall, he agreed it was good material for a book—after more work. He worked with it awhile, but he was busy with the growing Zen Center and its fundraising efforts and turned for help to Trudy Dixon, a Wellesley graduate who’d also done graduate studies in philosophy at UC Berkeley. She agreed, even though she was married with two young children and was dealing with breast cancer.
 

    The result was a close collaboration. Trudy and Richard would each meet with Suzuki to clarify what he meant in particular passages, and they would also meet together to discuss how best to express his meaning. Trudy devoted the last working energy of her life to this book - honing the language, organizing the talks into three sections and deciding on the quotation headings. As she was dying she continued to sit zazen, until it became reclining zazen, and finally lying down zazen. She is remembered for her intelligence, spirit, and courage.

 

From Interview with Peter Schneider: Suzuki said to Peter, "It’s interesting for me to look at Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind to see how students understood him." Peter was combing two ways of saying this - first and third person. How about Suzuki said to Peter that it's interesting for him to look at Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind to see how students understood him. Or the whole thing in 1st person.

 

Late draft for ZMBM still called Beginner's Mind - editors Richard Baker, Marian Derby, Gertrude Dixon

 

See zmbm.net

 

 

1964 - Soko-ji group photo by Joan B. Mayer Della Goertz far L, unknown visiting priest with Dainin Katagiri to L, Shunryu Suzuki to R, Grahame Petchey, Connie Lueck? far R. 2nd row R to L - Trudy and Mike Dixon, Richard Baker, Phillip Whalen, Silas Hoadley. Jean Ross in back.

 

 

Trudy in Shunryu Suzuki Transcript archive

 

Her name comes up for being the transcriber of a couple of early lectures. There's a fragment of a lost lecture gathered from her draft for Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

 

The Traditional Way - Summary of Reverend Suzuki's Sesshin Lectures

Sokoji, San Francisco

By Trudy Dixon

64-08-00 Wind Bell

 

Eulogy For Trudy Dixon Given During Her Funeral Ceremony

69-07-11 - includes audio

 

Shunryu Suzuki hand written draft of eulogy

 

 

From Sesshin Shosan ceremony

69-09-00-E

 

Student C [Katharine Thanas]: Docho Roshi, Trudy's ashes are on our altar. And she is with us in our memories and in many other ways. How does she exist for us now in form or emptiness or neither-- both?

 

SR: In both-- in sense of form, she exist in front of you-- in each one of you. And the emptiness-- she is ready to help every one of us.

 

Katharine: Domo arigato gozaimasu.

 

from Peter Schneider interview with Shunryu Suzuki
69-09-16-IB

 

P: So in 1962 you made lay Buddhist students.

 

S: Ordained thirteen lay students. Since then I ordained Trudy, three months ago. (but according to Mike Dixon Trudy was also one of the thirteen in 1962. So Suzuki was ordaining her again when she was dying. - dc]

 

 

from Suzuki lecture on 70-02-28

 

Today we will have another memorial service for Trudy Dixon. I feel, you know-- whenever we sit, I feel her present in zendo always, you know. Those who knows Trudy maybe difficult to forget her in zendo. He was sitting, you know, he passed away July 6-- I think 6-- and he was at Tassajara, you know, forth-- fifth-- fifth. And he-- she left, you know, Tassajara one night before she passed away at Children Hospital. So he-- she went back just to die in the hospital. And I think she knew she was in critical condition, judging from what she said and what she did. But she-- she was, you know-- she didn't mind so much about her life. She was always happy to sit with-- with-- with us. So it is difficult for us to forget her. So we want to have another memorial-- another service for her.

 

Thank you very much.

 

DC comment on this from here

 

At the end of a lecture dated the last day of February, 1970, Suzuki mentioned a memorial for his disciple Trudy Dixon. This would be beyond the date for a six month memorial so I don't understand the timing, maybe he couldn't do it earlier. But the main thing that occurs to me is that I don't remember any other post funeral memorial service for a student at the Zen Center. And Suzuki prepared a place for a memorial for her on the Hogback at Tassajara, where now there's a memorial post for him and Katagiri, Trudy, and a stone for Trungpa.

 

 

Remarks at the Ceremony Officially Opening Beginner's Mind Temple

begins with

 

Suzuki (speaking formally): On this day of the opening of Mahabodhisattva Zendo and main office of Zen Center, we arranged this altar, making offering of fruits and vegetables which were produced in this land of Mahabodhisattva, reciting sutra of Daihi-shin Dharani, the Sutra of the Great Compassionate One.

 

With this merit, we want to express our way-seeking mind with our deceased friend Trudy Dixon, Baiho Sesshin [1 word missing], and Zenkei Dosaku Koji, Soto Sanjo, and Chester F. Carlson, and all those who helped our activity by the spirit of Buddha or by various kinds of offering.

 

 

from Eko Lecture 6
70-07-06

 

The last chanting will be the chanting for the-- for monks, you know, or students who is related-- who was-- who passed away: student related to the temple or monastery. We, for an instance-- last year Trudy Dixon passed away, and we had a ceremony-- memorial service the other day. But not only [on] memorial days but also we recite sutra every morning for monks and students who passed away, and the parents or ancestors of we students, and our donors, and the people who worked for the country-- for our country. That is-- is the last service we have every morning.

 

 

Shunryu and Mitsu Suzuki at the San Francisco Airport on their way to Japan, April 10, 1963. Others (L to R) Virginia and Richard Baker (holding Sally), Betty Warren, Connie Lueck, Mike and Trudy Dixon, Della Goertz, Giles Guay, Pauline Petchey (holding David)

 

 

Letter from Trudy Dixon to Shunryu Suzuki - sent to Japan October 1966.

 

 

Ed Brown from Tomato Blessings Radish Teachings p. 151

 

I sat outside in the sun and cried, feeling lost and disoriented. I had done the best I knew how to do, and that was being trashed. I was shocked to learn that people saw me as using them.

 

Trudy Dixon came over and sat down next to me. Trudy was a senior member of the community whom I respected, and for her to take an interest in me was a surprise, especially since she was fighting cancer and probably would not live much longer. Yet she took the time to listen to my stumbling account of the situation, as well as my bewildered I just don't know what to do."

 

Her response, "I believe in you," stunned me. I couldn't believe it. By now the sun was even more warming, and I was touched that this person who had worked on Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind with Suzuki Roshi would say such a thing. Still, I protested that her faith was probably misplaced, and she simply repeated herself. "I have faith in you." It made a world of difference.

 

 

From Tim Aston interview

 

Before I came to Zen Center I knew Mel Weitsman pretty well and I respected him and Phil Wilson - he used to paint and I lived with a woman he knew. I went to Mexico in ‘64 and came back and started attending zazen at Sokoji in ‘65 when I was 22. I was working at the post office so I was just part time. First I went to a lecture. Katagiri was there on the alter and Suzuki came out and I looked at him and I got a rush, an inspiration and I determined right then to start coming there on a regular basis. There would be five or eight people in the zendo Trudy Dixon and Norman Steiglemeyer, Rob Gove, Silas Hoadley, Stan White, Tim Burkett who was an actor and went to Minnesota to be a goat herder, Bill Kwong who ran the kitchen on Saturdays.

 

 

From Sterling Bunnell interview

 

I had Trudy Dixon as a client and her mother and grandmother both had died of breast cancer. And the type she had was triggered by having children. She had had one breast removed and had another child and it came back. And for a year she was feeling alright but knew she had disseminated[?] cancer and she was very afraid and I felt very apprehensive about how she would face it because there was a great big monstrous charge of fear in the back of her mind but toward the end of her life she went on a fast to starve the cancer as she put it and she transcended the situation. I went to see her afterwards and she was a different person - she was the most positive, clear minded person that you can imagine and that was only shortly before her death and I remember Suzuki gave a talk at her funeral and he described carrying her ashes and saying goodbye to her and he was fighting back tears and then he gave a howl like a wolf and it was very moving.

 

DC on Trudy - 1-17-17 - Was just communicating with Mike about stuff on Trudy's page and he mentioned how Kobun Chino say a light around her when she was sitting at Tassajara toward the end of her life. I remember her being at Tassajara toward the end of her life. She came to the zendo for zazen, sat a little but changed to lying down to do zazen on a tatami on the right side of the zendo up front. Angie Runyan was taking care of her there.

 

From Katharine Cook interview

 

I remember how his voice broke when he talked about Trudy at her funeral and he obviously loved her very much and valued her as a disciple. And he really started to cry and it was so moving to me. She's gone and I'm here and I have to be true to her example and it's hard for me to talk to you all about her - that's how I took it.

 

 

From Dave Haselwood interview

 

You really did sink or swim on your own there. There was almost no direction at all in those days. Maybe for people like Dick Baker there was, but I don't know. Most the people who I knew there stayed for quite a while: Trudy and Mike Dixon and Bill Kwong.

 

 

from interview iwth Georganne Coffee - Annapurna

 

I remember Suzuki-roshi at Trudy Dixon's funeral and his doing the lion's roar and him saying that she was his greatest teacher. That she took care of her illness like it was a friend.

 

 

from interview with Bob Halpern

 

He told me that he was very impressed with Trudy Dixon. Once after the Monday morning sitting in Mill Valley he said let's go visit Trudy and we rang the door bell and Mike answered the door and he had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, unshaven and instead of jumping to attention like everybody does what he'd been through was so devastating walking someone through their dying when you're as young as he was and going through his own turmoils about his sexual orientation - and he just went oh hi Roshi and just kept talking there with the cig in his mouth dangling out of the corner and we talked to Trudy for a while and she was so interested in him and what he had to say and seemed to be equally interested in me. She was just interested in other people in how they were doing and how they felt and what they had to say - even though she was very ill with cancer - and so we left there and he said after he'd gotten into the car, "Now there's a real Zen master."

 

When his son Otohiro went into the army and he asked me to move into his apartment by Katagiri's across the street from Sokoji

 

Roshi asked me to vacate the apt so Trudy could live near ZC for the last few weeks of her life - I left my clothes in the apt and was crashing up the block and I'd go there after ironworking to take a shower and change and we used to carry Trudy across the street to meditate - lie on her back because she was so weak.

 

And I'd visit her and tell her whatever was going on in my brain and she'd ask things about it and I'd be so oblivious that I was talking to a dying woman that I'd sit there relaxed lying back in an easy chair and ask her to make me a carrot juice which would use up all the available strength she had for three days that she needed to sit.

 

DC: Yes I remember at Tassajara she had special food in one of the fridges in a bag marked for Trudy do not touch and you told me that you couldn't stop yourself from stealing it even though there was only enough for her.

 

 

from interview with Irene Horowitz

 

IH: When my son came to visit me, Trudy and Mike Dixon were going to Wyoming, which I think is where they had relatives. They offered to lend my son and me their car while they were away, which was very nice. We dropped them off at the airport and then had the use of their car for a week or so, then picked them up again. It made things interesting for my son's visit because we went all over the place. That must have been '66. My son is in Texas now.

 

 

from interview with Ardis Jackson

 

When the plan emerged to buy Tassajara, I was on the first scouting trip. The only people I remember are Dick Baker, Yvonne Rand, Bill Kwong, Gary Snyder, Mike and Trudy Dixon, and Ronn and me. I certainly remember Yvonne Rand getting lost. High drama. I remember seeing a photo taken from a distance where we are all hiking in single file with Dick at the lead. It seems to me that there were about 12-15 people. I wouldn't be surprised if Jean and Mel were there. It would be nice to have a complete list. Suzuki Roshi was not on that trip.

 

Trudy Dixon and I made many, many hand-written notes to Dick Baker's contacts on the East Coast requesting financial donations. They were very productive.

 

 

from interview with Joanne Kyger

 

I was sorry I didn't resume sitting when I came back. I met Jack Boyce who had been up in the Siskiyous with Lew Welch and they came down and had been following their own sense of Zen from Huang Po - there was a lot of mental interest. There was a little book by Ruth McCandless that was on Zen. Some Frenchman had done a book. So Jack started sitting with Suzuki and by this time it had become a real sangha. Trudy Dixon was sitting there - it was 64. I'd gone in 6

 

 

from interview with Lew Richmond

 

LR: I think a very valuable book would be a book that tells it like it is. All the spiritual communities are screwed up on issues like this. And all of Suzuki Roshi's lectures should be published. I made a go of it. I edited all of them or the ones that I thought should be in a book, a bunch of them and sent them off to Weatherhill and I wouldn't be surprised if it's still there. It was pretty minimal what I sent them actually - it was just a proposal - not a real editing job. Anyway I tried to put it together into a book. ZMBM is successful because it's a translation of what he said into what he meant.

 

Trudy died too. Supposed she had lived. There would have been a different mix of power. Her hand in that book shows that there was an important element of discipleship in their relationship. Anyway there's a lot of unfinished business and one thing we should all do is to finish that business. There's a difference between the spiritual heirs of Suzuki Roshi and the institutional heirs. He had official heirs and unofficial heirs. All the people who read his book are his heirs in a sense. Far too much attention can be paid to the institutional legacy which in some ways seems irrelevant to the spiritual legacy. I think the project [biography] is very important and the lectures is another part of it. And the fourteen worst lectures he ever gave were the San Do Kai lectures. The only time they came alive was when he allowed himself to digress from the text.

 

 

Mitsu Suzuki to DC

 

Someone told you how we visited Trudy's house. No Baker-roshi driving from here to Wyoming - Trudy very sick. Trudy want wanted to see roshi so driving. Before die. Just before die she was there and she asked Suzuki-roshi to please come and Baker-roshi was driving. Sally-chan and Ginny-san maybe. Two nights stay.

 

DC: What do you remember

 

MS: Just Suzuki-roshi and Trudy in a small room sitting and talking and sitting. Maybe one night two nights staying at Trudy's house and she was very glad and we are drive back and that car maybe Trudy's husband drive and come back to. Before die. Just before die she was there. She asked Suzuki-roshi to please look at my home, my ranch. I said, Trudy asked you - go! Trudy was special person. Please accept. Nother person never go to Wyoming. Trudy asked Hojo-san. I said please. Very special. She died at the hospital. Just nakunata I heard and Suzuki-roshi went to the hospital and he recited the Hannya Shingyo. No one else. Only Suzuki-roshi and me. Anyway, we missed her. Already died.

 

 

from interview with Otohiro Suzuki

 

O: I don't know. I couldn't go back. I heard about it. . . . 6 or 7 months later, or something. Have I seen my father cry for her? I probably didn't see it. Probably my father cried, but I didn't see it. Was I too young to know? Was I too stupid to know?

 

DC: I didn't know my father's emotional life at all. There was a distance. Whereas, with my mother, I know what my mother's emotional life it. Your father kept his emotional life a secret, maybe. That's like men, you know. I know your father cried when Trudy Dixon died. He cried when George Fields died. George Fields owned this bookstore. He cried at different times. But even if we don't cry it doesn't mean we don't feel something.

 

 

from interview with Pauline Petchey

 

When Grahame became president before he went to Japan, we had to talk more with other people at Zen Center and the feeling we got from Dick and Ginny was why are you talking to them? Mike and Trudy and Hal and Pam came along and it was so cliquey. We had to break out of the relationship with Dick and Virginia to talk to other people. All groups are like that.

 

When Grahame came back from Japan there was an election held in January or so and you could see the factions starting - Mike, Trudy, Pam around Dick and Grahame and those who favored him. There were clicks. And because of that, of Dick and Grahame dividing the votes, Phillip Wilson was elected president.

 

Peter Schneider in interview with Peter and Jane Schneiders

 

After Eiheiji I went back to San Francisco and was met at the airport by Dick, Ginny, young Sally, Trudy and Pauline Petchey. They were all there to see Grahame off. I stayed in the city a night or so and saw Suzuki Roshi and gave him a Buddha.

 

In the summer of 67 I think, Dick gave me the transcripts of [the lectures that went on to comprise] Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind that Marian Derby had given to him. I was Dick’s number one cohort at Tassajara and had been a tech writer. I read part of them and praised them but said I don’t have time for this. Dick didn’t either - he was president of Zen Center, fundraiser, doing the Wind Bell. So he gave them to Trudy who had plenty of writing experience in school. At that time she knew she had cancer, it had maybe even spread. Her mother and maybe grandmother had died of it after having children. Trudy did it. She did all the work. He had no time. He met with her and Suzuki Roshi and he was her editor. It’s not clear how much - some - but she did the hard work day after day. He did some design work and found the publisher, asked Mike for the art [the drawing of a fly is what Mike came up with]. Trudy listened to the tapes - not Dick. I think Dick did considerable editing of Trudy’s work and talked to Suzuki Roshi about it.

 

Suzuki Roshi said it wasn’t his book. He said "It’s interesting for me to look at Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind to see how students understand me."

 

And then there's Trudy Dixon who wasn't ordained as a priest therefore is not included in Suzuki's definition of disciple at least at one time. But at her funeral he wailed out, "Oh my disciple!" and said he'd never hoped to have a student that great. So keep this in mind - this stuff only matters so much. - dc

 

[Peter was asked to edit ZMBM before Trudy but he was too busy being director of Tassajara.]

I think Dick did considerable editing of Trudy’s work and talked to Suzuki Roshi about it.

 

 

from interview with Stanley White

 

I knew Trudy and Mike before they came to Zen Center. She was an unhappy person and a difficult person to relate to. She came from a rich ranch family in Wyoming. She was a tough gal. She stuck that cancer out till she withered away to a pound. [Trudy was the saint of Zen Center and everyone revered her and I remember after her death Stan saying, I never liked her.] Everybody was making out like she was a very warm and easy person and she was very cold and difficult to know. She practiced hard and came to Tassajara with cancer and sat lying down. [She almost died there.]

 

 

from interview with Kaz Tanahashi

 

Trudy was an assistant. When she looked at Suzuki Roshi to get some instruction for work or something, she was so sincere. I had a very good feeling about that.

 

 

from interview with Steve Tipton

 

Trudy's [devotional, idealizing] thing and Dick's some too in the intro to Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind feeds into that - there's a kind of truth to it but there's a kind of mistake to that - that finally to see who he was is to step out of that mistake. He's just a guy and a guy who comes out of and in a way embodies a whole world and a tradition that from its own angle might be a lot clearer about what it means to be a good person.

 

Dick had a way of processing Suzuki Roshi for public consumption - look at the Wind Bells that Dick did - he'd write and rewrite it. Don't do it to that point of contrivance whether it's Dick or Trudy's style.

 

 

from interview with Tomoe Katagiri

 

D: What was your impression of Suzuki Roshi when you met him?

 

T: He was very gentle person. I felt like a nice breeze. Very comfortable breeze. The first meeting -- he came to the harbor, the pier. He came there when I arrived. He came with two Fujinkai [women's group] members. I think so. One is Tama Yamaguchi. The other one, I don't remember her first name, but Shimura-san. Next day Trudy Dixon's husband, Mike, he helped us to pick up my things at the harbor. Trudy Dixon and her daughter Ann they helped to . . . my apartment . . . She took me to the fabric store.

 

 

from interview with Betty Warren

 

BW: There's no stopping, no place to reach. I think that is a sort of enlightenment, to realize that there is no stopping place.

 

DC: The idea of nirvana, Hindu ideas of enlightenment, --

 

BW: No. It isn't a place you get to. Some people do get to a much more rarefied place. Some people said that Trudy Dixon was enlightened as her cancer progressed. One thing she said to me once was, "This blessed cancer." Implying that the cancer had brought her to a new stage of understanding, or enlightenment. She wouldn't have called it enlightenment. It had brought her to a new understanding.

 

DC: It seems he respected her a great deal. Once when Bob Halpern took Suzuki to see Trudy he came back to the car in tears and said, "Now there's a real Zen master."

 

BW: . . . facing their own mortality. I think they may get a new lease on life. A new appreciation of the value of this moment. How wonderful it is to be alive in this moment.

 

 

from interview with Yvonne Rand

 

YR: That's right, but to try to understand who that person was is important and it's important that Trudy worked on it - that she was a woman, that she had clearly an extraordinary understanding of his teaching. His openness to women practitioners from early on even though he was…he was still remarkably open to women practitioners it's important to notice that - the collaboration between Suzuki Roshi and Trudy. Dick Baker did the whole thing with Weatherhill and published the book and he did the look of it, but the really important thing in Suzuki Roshi’s mind was the work with Trudy.

 

serious and where there was some real connection - his ignoring someone for some long period of time even a year or so, so that the only way to have any interaction was to channel you into the dokusan room and how few people he seemed to have that kind of relationship to. How much we as American students took it personally, got hurt feelings.

 

DC: He did that to Mike Dixon and to Dick and Phillip and Reb as I remember it.

 

YR: Clearly it was an indication that he was taking someone quite seriously. I think he did it with Trudy too.

 

 

DC on Earliest Transcribed lectures

 

I scanned the first one and ran an optical character scan on it and then spent forever correcting the glitches, reading the original and fixing the copy line by line. But that was too time consuming. Then I got an email from Gloria Disco who offered to help transcribe them. So I sent her the first ten which she's going to type onto disc and email me. She said she transcribed a number of the early Los Altos lectures for Trudy Dixon - totally . I don't know which, if any or all, of the lectures in this set were done by her or which may have been done by Marian Derby who taped the Los Altos lectures - the zendo was in her home. Marian did the first taping of Suzuki's lectures, told him she wanted to do it for a book. All but three (I think) of those tapes are gone and until I found ten years ago or so what was labeled Marian Derby's original transcriptions of those lectures, all we had of all but a few lectures was ZMBM. Now we have these apparently verbatim transcripts of these early 48 lectures.

 

  

from Marian Derby letter derby-three-documents

 

 

In the spring of 1968 Dick Baker told me he had turned the manuscript over Trudy Dixon to edit. Trudy was a close disciple of Suzuki Roshi. She had practiced Zen much longer than I. She had earned a college degree (a Master's in English, I believe), she had experience editing Roshi's lectures and she wrote beautiful poetry. The wife of another of Suzuki Roshi's students and the mother of two young children, Trudy Dixon was dying of cancer when she accepted the editorial assignment.

 

I sent Trudy the tapes and the original transcriptions of Roshi's Los Altos talks so she could double-check the interpretive accuracy of any revisions I had made. Trudy worked on the project for months, whenever her energy and pain permitted. She consulted frequently with Suzuki Roshi and Dick Baker to make sure the edited version of the manuscript expressed the true spirit of Roshi's spoken worlds.

In August of 1968 Trudy sent me the final draft of her work on the manuscript. In spite of her great physical and emotional suffering (perhaps because of her great suffering) Trudy not only polished and perfected the lyrical quality of Suzuki Roshi's spoken word but she intensified and clarified the meaning (the reality) behind and beyond the words.

 

Looking back I realize that my editorial changes in the transcripts must have made Trudy's work more difficult than it would have been if she had transcribed and edited the tapes by herself. On the other hand my beginner's efforts may have served a useful purpose. If I had sent the tapes or the unedited transcripts to Dick or Trudy without working on them myself, someone else would have read the first draft of the manuscript to Roshi. In order for him to appreciate fully the power and the truth of the talks he had given in my Los Altos living room it may have been necessary for Roshi to hear his words read back to him in the room where he had spoken them.

 

I don't remember how many weekly sessions it took to read the first draft of Beginner's Mind to Suzuki Roshi. What I do remember is the wonderful melding of our minds at every session. Roshi sat on my davenport facing the fireplace, feet and robes tucked under himself. I sat in a wing chair pulled up close to him, pencil in hand ready to make notes on the margins of the manuscript. I remember the lingering smell of coffee and cinnamon rolls, the ticking of the clock on the mantel and outside the chirping of small birds. Sometimes the session ended early, after reading only a part of a chapter I would look up and notice Roshi's eyes close and his head begin to nod. A few minutes later he would open his eyes and apologize with a smile. I would smile back and assure him it didn't matter. The only thing that mattered to me was how relaxed and comfortable we were with each other. Something was being transmitted, something that satisfied both of us. Perhaps it was Roshi's realization that he had already accomplished his personal ambition in life. Perhaps it was my realization that I had helped him.

 

Trudy Dixon didn't live long enough to see Suzuki Roshi's book in print. She passed away in a San Francisco Hospital on July 9th, 1969. She was only 30. The week before Trudy died she made two difficult trips to Zen Mountain Center to visit Suzuki Roshi and to experience, one last time, the sounds and sights and smells of Tassajara canyon. She stayed until her pain became unbearable.

When I saw Trudy at Tassajara her body appeared frail but the strength of her spirit astonished me. She slept outside her cabin under the stars. She attended meditation in the Zendo. Too weak to sit up she lay, curled on her side, upon the tatami-covered meditation platform, expressing the true reality of Buddha's full-lotus posture.

Trudy Dixon was a great inspiration to Zen students and Zen teachers who knew her. She taught us how to live and she taught us how to die.

At the end of August in 1970, while I was still living at Tassajara, I received a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind inscribed by Suzuki Roshi. 

 

Dick Baker, who had not had time to work on the final edition of Beginner's Mind told me he had turned the manuscript over to Trudy Dixon.

 

 

Marian Derby on Beginner's Mind (as she'd originally entitled the book)

 

In August (a handwritten note with an arrow pointing to here reads: "Look up date when Trudy died in Wind Bell.") Trudy Dixon sent me the final draft of the book of lectures she had been reediting. She had written a fine introduction, organized the lectures and polished them. It made a fine collection. She intended to give the book to Dick Baker to take to "Tuttle" publishing co. in Japan. Tuttle's editor had read four of the lectures and had shown interest in the book. Since Dick was going to Japan in October Trudy thought it would be advantageous for him to take the book himself.

 

 

From Shunryu Suzuki card to Elsie Mitchell

 

Sep 17th '65

 

Dear Mrs. Mitchell,

 

I am so glad to tell you that I am arriving at Boston Airport at 5:30 PM Wednesday the 22nd by American Air Line.

 

My tentative schedule is to stay at your home for 2 nights, Wednesday and Thursday. I would like to leave about 9 am, Friday, for Northampton and stay there 3 nights. I will come back to your place on the morning of the 27th, Monday. I am not sure about my going to Wyoming until I call Mr. Mike & Trudy Dixon* from your place, but I must come back to Los Angeles for the annual meeting of Japanese members of Soto School in North America.

 

I am so glad that you will arrange my transportation to Mrs. Schalk's* place at Northampton.

 

If it is convenient for you, I shall be very happy to give your members my lecture.

 

Of course this is my proposed plan, but you can discuss it with your members and if necessary with Mrs. Schalk.

 

Please give my best regards to your husband and Don too.

 

I shall meet you soon.

 

With Gassho,

 

Rev. Shunryu Suzuki

 

P.S.

 

Mrs. Schalk's Phone is (413) 584-5655

 

 

from  Haiku Zendo Chronicles 1

 

In 1968, Suzuki Roshi suggested that Trudy Dixon of Zen Center take over the final editing of "Beginner's Mind." Trudy was very ill at the time. In fact, she died before the book was finally in print. Nevertheless, her profound understanding of Zen and her great ability as a writer resulted in the beautiful and powerful edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. The book is a great gift to us all from both Trudy Dixon and Suzuki Roshi.

 

 

DC post - 050804 tassajara cont

 

 She [Daya] and I went at sunrise to Tassajara's ashes site where Suzuki, Katagiri, Trungpa, and Trudy Dixon are remembered.

 

 

DC from chapter Nihongo in Tassajara Stories

 

Dot Luce had been coming from Carmel into Tassajara to join us for zazen and work since the first year. If I couldn't get to Jean's for zazen she'd come pick me up. Saturdays we'd go to San Francisco to hear Suzuki's talk. My biggest disappointment that summer was not going to Trudy Dixon's memorial at Sokoji. It was on a Friday and I just didn't think I could afford to miss class. I could barely keep up. Always regretted that. But waves of Suzuki's emotional and powerful elegy for Trudy are still echoing in through our collective consciousness. Read or listen.

 

 

DC note in interview with Jonathan Altman:

 

Suzuki Roshi said to me that he had students and disciples and that the disciples were the ones he had ordained as priests. But some people whom he had not ordained he would say were his disciples - like Trudy Dixon. He didn't say it much.

 

 

In 1963 ZC Board meeting notes where Trudy was the secretary, she's spelling Suzuki's name as Susuki. - dc

 

 

from interview with Mike Dixon

 

MD: Yeah. When I first started going I was living down on Pierce Street and going to art school. I was living with a guy I'd gone to the Brook Museum with. Trudy used to come over on weekends. Eventually I took her to see Suzuki, when we were still living over there. She was very much into studying philosophy, and had studied at Wesleyan and was continuing graduate studies at UC Berkeley. She'd been studying Heidegger and Wittgenstein. She was curious about it. I took her in there, we were staying toward the back, and he talked for a while. Then he started talking about philosophy. The study of philosophy, as opposed to the study of Zen, or practice. He was always holding out the idea of practice to us at that time. He didn't have so many students then. As opposed to just thinking and being curious about it. The idea of actual sitting practice was different. He told a story about a philosopher he knew in Japan who had killed himself. Just as he told this story he looked very intently at Trudy, who was studying philosophy. She went backward a few inches. It seemed very relevant to her. Then we moved to a place on Larkin and Pacific. We continued to go to lecture for awhile. Then one day we got up and said why don't we just start sitting, start practicing, and see what it would be like. We did. And we continued. That was probably '63.

 

MD: One time I said something to someone else, that I thought in the early days my experience was that there was something about it that seemed particularly intense or difficult at times. He heard that and he jumped right on it and supported it. Yes, that was really true. When we first started sitting there was something going on that was ­­ in my own mind it was finding our way ­­ something that made it particularly intense at times.

 

DC: This included who?

 

MD: Betty Warren, Della, Trudy, myself, Dick, Bill Kwong, Phil Wilson, Norm Stiegelmeyer, Graham, Paul Anderson, Fran Keller. And then Mel (64) and Ed (66) came a little later. Ed and his brother Dwight. Mel was living at one point with Dan Moore ­­ the visionary ecstatic poet. Used to smoke a lot of dope. A lot of people did. Mel moved into his house. Mel played recorder. Mel taught me how to read music. I got my flute and we used to play music together and I learned how to read with him. That was before he came to Zen Center. I think Dan Moore brought him to Zen Center.

 

MD: In my own mind related to that story I told you about, that I'd never realized before. It must have been about ­­ when we lived in Mill Valley ­­ must have been '65 or '66 . He gave all of the old students a rakusu. They were the kind you order from Japan. He had this little ceremony and he gave everybody in the original group one except me. I'd been sitting longer than some of those guys. Dick got all pissed. He said, "How come you're not giving Mike one? What the hell's wrong with him?

 

DC: I would have been so hurt.

 

MD: I was cool. And for some reason I wasn't hurt particularly I just thought it interesting. Trudy went in with everybody else. I wasn't even there. They all got their rakusus. Trudy's was blue, like the ones we make now, but it was bigger. It looked machine made and had a big circle on it. I was wondering what was going to happen on this. Trudy said, "Suzuki asked me, ‘What did Mike say?’" I knew that was coming up so I was cool. When she came in with her rakusu, before she said what Suzuki said I just said, "Oh fantastic. Congratulations." I did feel very nice about it. I didn't really care, but I was sort of wondering. Then later she said that Suzuki had asked what Mike had said. "So I told him, oh he gave me a kiss, and said 'This is great, Trudy. I'm so happy for you.'" So that's what he got back from me.

 

DC: Were you sitting with the group at the time?

 

MD: Yeah, of course. I did everything. I was treasurer.

 

DC: Typical Zen mind fuck, man. I would be so jealous if people who came after me got ordained.

 

MD: You could say, well, I'm special. I didn't get one. I could go on that trip if I wanted to. So then later when he was getting on in years and I thought well, I want to get a rakusu from Suzuki. I want to get my name from him. All the other guys got names. Trudy was Bai Ho Sesshin ­­ Winter Plum blossom. I just told somebody that I wanted to make a rakusu. That was when we were at Page Street. 

At some point when I knew an ordination was happening I said I wanted to sew a rakusu. I was the leader of that group, the head student. I bowed and said, "Please accept us." And he said, "Yes, I will." So he wrote on the back of my rakusu. My name is Ko Kai.

 

 

MD: Sometimes I would think he was rather buffoonish. He'd act clumsy sometimes. Not in a bad way. Nothing that worried me. One time when I told him that Trudy had died (in the hospital) ­­ I think perhaps I should have called him before she died, or at the time she was dying, if that would have been possible. I didn't know when she was going to die. I think he might have liked to have been there. When I told him that she had died he was very emotional on the phone. It almost worried me. But when he came to the hospital he was completely in control and more his usual self. 

 

DC: How was he very emotional?

 

MD: His voice was cracking with emotion. He was making a very obvious effort to control himself. I'd never seen that side of him before. It disturbed me, because I didn't know he was like that. A picture that goes with that, is a picture of him later, sitting on the altar, and separating her ashes with chopsticks, one by one. Part of her ashes went to Wyoming and part stayed here. He looked at each one and would say, "Beautiful ashes." 

 

DC: Is there anything else you could say about Trudy?

 

MD: Her working on Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind was a very satisfying thing for her to have been able to do, the kind of thing she always wanted to do. Her philosophy had been leading up to it, and her interest in writing and everything else. It all came together with her intense interest in Suzuki and Zen. She had a chance here to accomplish this book which has grown on to be a very significant thing for a lot of people. She did it right at the end of her life. She and Suzuki became quite close. That's probably why he was so emotional when she died.

 

DC: He said at her funeral he'd never hoped to have that good a disciple.

 

MD: She had a real way­seeking mind. Even before she met him she had that very strongly. When she was young she had . . . quotations from thinkers and writers ­­ trying to distil everything down to some truth. Then her study of philosophers. It all went to Suzuki. I encouraged her a lot toward Zen and awakened philosophy. . . .

 

DC: The idea of philosophy for me is so boring and tedious.

 

MD: I used to know some of these guys in Berkeley. They were pretty . . .weird. There was one of those guys that Suzuki told us about, he was going to commit suicide over there ­­ I don't know if he did ­­ mad philosophers getting so overwrought ­­ trying to figure everything out would put you over the edge.

 

DC: In my particular case, I tried to read philosophy in high school, college, I just couldn't follow it. I'm just not constitutionally capable ­­ something about attention span ­­ but when I read Zen stuff...

 

MD: Dick used to be interested in some of that and he would talk to us about Heidegger. Dick would get a Heidegger book and skim it or get a summary, and then that was Heidegger. Trudy would consider that very half­baked understanding. 

 

DC: I admire somebody that can skim it or read a synopsis and come up with a little world­view ­­ I couldn't even do that. I'd forget it.

 

MD: Regarding Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: I was busy making my paintings. I was not so involved. When we moved to Mill Valley we stopped going to zazen every day like we had been in the city for years. I was getting more into art and less into Zen at that point. She and Dick would meet and talk about it. She would work on it. She went over the original tapes to some degree. She would talk to Suzuki a lot about it. She talked to him about particular points in the lectures she wanted to clarify. She went non­stop on it with a real intense interest and involvement.

 

I'm pretty sure that was when were when we were in Mill Valley. She already had cancer and didn't know what would happen next. Hoping it would go away, but it was slowly getting worse. She had breast cancer. She was going through intense stuff ­­ my trying to help her by fasting and being very thin. Diets. Eventually the hospital. I tried to keep her out as much as possible as she preferred to be out and could do more things. But it got more and more painful. I don't think she was into all that when she was working on this. She had a respite. The book came out in '70 and she died in '69.

 

So she was working on it in '68 and '69 probably. My memory for dates is real bad. I don't remember her talking to me a lot about it though I'm sure she did talk to me about it. I don't remember things like that very well. It was very satisfying for her to do the book and it brought her closer to Suzuki. I remember being at Tassajara when she was quite sick. She had trouble moving around. We were all in Suzuki's cabin. She was lying there. She seemed very happy to be there, with him. He seemed happy to have her there. That was just at the end. I on the other hand was getting kind of weird dealing with it. I was getting fed up and impatient. Emotionally confused about a lot of things that were going on. Difficult time. She seemed quite calm. The whole experience was rather intense and quite inspiring. Interesting.

 

DC: Did Angie come here?

 

MD: She was in Mill Valley. She helped take care of the kids. I sent the kids back to my parents at one point because it got impossible and they were willing to take them on for awhile. Then Angie and I just took care of Trudy together. Eventually just me. It took quite a lot of doing ­­ cooking and carrying her around a lot to various events. Carrying her out to the car and carrying her into a restaurant and stuff like that. She got lighter and lighter. But her spirit was great. She became a lightning rod for a lot of people. People would come around and get whatever they got out of the experience. It would happen that people would bring a lot to it. She could just be herself, and they would take something away from it. She wrote quite a lot of poetry toward the end of her life which was quite good. I've got it someplace. Maybe you can look at it.

 

DC: One thing I've got in mind is archiving, so that has no limits to it. Something like that would be good.

 

MD: That would be good to get out there in some way. Some of it's really good.

 

DC: Zen Mind Beginner's Mind is the magnum opus of Suzuki from one point of view. Everything he said that's recorded can be divided into Zen Mind Beginner's Mind and everything else. That's a lot because of Trudy's work. She did a great job. Everybody wants to come up with a book that other people love. There's hardly anything like it.

 

MD: I've met people from time to time who have told me that the book has saved (seized?) their life. And twice my son Will had been trying to get into college, or something, and Zen Mind Beginner's Mind will come up and he's had the opportunity to say well my mother edited that book. We can't help but think it helped Suzuki to accomplish what he wanted to accomplish.

 

Trudy had studied Philosophy at Wellesley - Heidegger and Wittgenstein. I took her to see Suzuki and it didn't take her long to latch on to that. Heidegger had supposedly read D.T. Suzuki at one point and had said that if he understood correctly what he'd just read it was what he'd been trying to say for the last fifty years. I'd heard about Suzuki through an art student who said this is a really interesting guy who you should go check him out and so I went over and heard a lecture and thought he was really interesting thought at that point it was hard to figure out just what he was talking about because he didn't speak very good English. And the whole idea of Zen was pretty far out to us in those days - not too many people were talking about things like that."

 

From 1-20-17 email -  I don’t remember much of anything else about Trudy at Tassajara because I wasn’t there most of the time. I guess I dropped her off and then picked her up. I do remember her lying down in Suzuki’s cabin there though.

 

 

from Richard Baker's revised introduction to the 2011 40th anniversary edition of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

[This part close or identical to original]

 

Then Trudy Dixon, another close disciple of Suzuki-roshi who had much experience editing Zen Center’s publication, Wind Bell, edited and organized the manuscript for publication. It is no easy task to edit this kind of book, and explaining why will help the reader understand the book better. Suzuki-roshi takes the most difficult but persuasive way to talk about Buddhism—in terms of the ordinary circumstances of people’s lives—to try to convey the whole of the teaching in statements as simple as “Have a cup of tea.” The editor must be aware of the implications behind such statements in order not to edit out for the sake of clarity or grammar the real meaning of the lectures. Also, without knowing Suzuki-roshi well and having experience working with him, it is easy to edit out for the same reasons the background understanding that is his personality or energy or will. And it is also easy to edit out the deeper mind of the reader which needs the repetition, the seemingly obscure logic, and the poetry in order to know itself. Passages which seem obscure or obvious are often illuminating when they are read very carefully, wondering why this man would say such a thing.

 

The editing is further complicated by the fact that English is thoroughly dualistic in its basic assumptions and has not had the opportunity over centuries to develop a way of expressing nondualistic Buddhist ideas, as has Japanese. Suzuki-roshi uses these different cultural vocabularies freely, expressing himself in both Japanese and Western ways of thinking. In his lectures, they merge poetically and philosophically. But in transcriptions, the pauses, rhythm, and emphasis that give his words their deeper meaning and hold his thoughts together are apt to be lost. So Trudy worked many months by herself and with Suzuki-roshi to retain his original words and flavor, and yet produce a manuscript that is in understandable English.

 

Trudy divided the book according to emphasis into three sections—Right Practice, Right Attitude, and Right Understanding—roughly corresponding to body, feeling, and mind. She also chose the titles for the talks and the epigraphs that follow the titles, these being taken usually from the body of the lectures. The choices are of course somewhat arbitrary, but she did this to set up a kind of tension between the specific sections, titles, and epigraphs, and the talks themselves. The relationship between the talks and these added elements will help the reader probe the lectures. The only talk not given originally to the Los Altos group is the Epilogue, which is a condensation of two talks given when Zen Center moved into its new San Francisco headquarters.

 

Shortly after finishing work on this book, Trudy died of cancer at the age of thirty. She is survived by her two children, Annie and Will, and her husband, Mike, a painter. He contributed the drawing of the fly in the part two chapter titled “God Giving.” A Zen student for many years, when asked to do something for this book, he said: “I can’t do a Zen drawing. I can’t do a drawing for anything other than the drawing. I certainly can’t see doing drawings of zafu [meditation pillows] or lotuses or ersatz something. I can see this idea, though.” A realistic fly often occurs in Mike’s paintings. Suzuki-roshi is very fond of the frog, which sits so still it might be asleep, but is alert enough to notice every insect that comes by. Maybe the fly is waiting for the frog.

 

Trudy and I worked together throughout the development of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and she asked me to complete the editing and see the book through to publication. After considering several publishers, I found that John Weatherhill, Inc., through Meredith Weatherby and Audie Bock, were able to polish, design, and publish this book in exactly the way it should be published. The manuscript was read before publication by Professor Kogen Mizuno, head of the Buddhist Studies Department, Komazawa University, and an outstanding scholar of Indian Buddhism. He generously helped with the transliteration of the Sanskrit and Japanese Buddhist terms.

 

 

Trudy felt that understanding how Zen students feel about their teacher might, more than anything else, help the reader to understand these talks. What the teacher really offers the student is literally living proof that all this talk and the seemingly impossible goals can be realized in this lifetime. The deeper you go in your practice, the deeper you find your teacher’s mind is, until you finally see that your mind and his mind are Buddha’s mind. And you find that zazen meditation is the most perfect expression of your actual nature. The following tribute from Trudy to her teacher describes very well the relationship between Zen teacher and Zen student:

 

 

“A roshi is a person who has actualized that perfect freedom which is the potentiality for all human beings. He exists freely in the fullness of his whole being. The flow of his consciousness is not the fixed repetitive patterns of our usual self-centered consciousness, but rather arises spontaneously and naturally from the actual circumstances of the present. The results of this in terms of the quality of his life are extraordinary—buoyancy, vigor, straightforwardness, simplicity, humility, serenity, joyousness, uncanny perspicacity, and unfathomable compassion. His whole being testifies to what it means to live in the reality of the present. Without anything said or done, just the impact of meeting a personality so developed can be enough to change another’s whole way of life. But in the end it is not the extraordinariness of the teacher which perplexes, intrigues, and deepens the student, it is the teacher’s utter ordinariness. Because he is just himself, he is a mirror for his students. When we are with him we feel our own strengths and shortcomings without any sense of praise or criticism from him. In his presence we see our original face, and the extraordinariness we see is only our own true nature. When we learn to let our own nature free, the boundaries between master and student disappear in a deep flow of being and joy in the unfolding of Buddha mind.”

 

 RICHARD BAKER Kyoto, 1970

 

DC got this intro off: Suzuki, Shunryu (2011-03-15). Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind . Shambhala Publications. Kindle Edition.

 

from the interview with Stuart Lachs

 

In the introduction to ZMBM we have a description of Suzuki, generalized to include all roshi, that is extremely idealistic. Some people might be inclined to call it propaganda in that it is so far from reality.

 

DC - I certainly agree with you. I am uncomfortable with it - the one Trudy wrote anyway - and always have been. Sorry, Trudy.

 

SL: Interestingly, this false description of the roshi has not been removed from the latest edition of ZMBM, at least you have not said so, if it has. Too bad!

 

DC - Yes, but also it's a bit of Zen history. It's not necessarily what would be written today - at least I hope not. It's not necessary to rewrite it. I think that only the historical errors needed to be changed. The rest just shows us what Trudy Dixon's and Richard Baker's understanding was thirty-three years ago. It's true it could be changed because the essence of the book is the Suzuki lectures, but maybe best to leave the intros so we can see those too. We build on what others did in the past. We can see now their flaws like a runner can see the missteps of the prior runners and the person who passes him the baton - but he'd better not dwell on them too long because he's got to grab that baton, forget about them, and run!

 

DC and Mike Dixon on Trudy's description of a Zen master in ZMBM - 1-17-17 - Mike Dixon commented in an email: I was a little surprised to see your and (someones ) reaction to Trudy’s statement about Suzuki. I guess you could say it is idealistic, but I think it is right on, and she does bring out the “utter ordinariness” aspect of it all, and then you remember that she was 30 years old and dying, and still able to make such a statement! I think a number of us did have that kind of significant moment on meeting Suzuki including Trudy.  I think what she says about his ability to reflect you back to yourself without any sense of praise or blame was very important to her.

 

DC responded: As for Trudy's statement in ZMBM, that was something I wrote to Stuart long ago. I don't have so many opinions now. I see it as describing her relationship or what a teacher is to her. But having known many so-called Zen masters...

 

 

from Suzuki-disciples discussion April 1998

 

Richard Baker: Suzuki Roshi read the Introduction I wrote and Trudy wrote. He read it several times. He didn't say I should change anything.

 

 

Trudy in the SFZC Wind Bells

Trudy from 1970 Winter Wind Bell dedicated to her

 

Trudy mentioned in following Wind Bells and Tassajara 25 Year Book

 

Tassajara 25 Year Book - hi res - mid resolution

 

64-1 - news - Trudy re-elected secretary, now a trustee, to be on Wind Bell with Baker

64-6 - Rev. Suzuki's Sesshin Lectures by Trudy Dixon

 65-1 - outgoing secretary, new one Irene Horowitz

 65-5 - ask Suzuki or Trudy to buy Three Pillars of Zen

 67-1 - Trudy now Wind Bell editor with Baker's resignation. Passes on library job to Lynn Warkov

67-2-4 - p.33-Trudy and Mike listed as donors p.35-and loaners for Tassajara, p.42-Trudy and Mike listed as senior students at new Marin Zendo, pp.44-5-Suzukis visit her at family ranch in Wyoming, p.45-photo up top of Trudy with zafu at Tassajara, listed as ZC trustee and associate editor of Wind Bell on back cover.

70-1 - issue dedicated to Trudy (pp.1-8,130) Photo to left from there.

72 - p.5-mention of Suzuki speaking of three minds at her funeral, p.16-Baker offers incense to Trudy at his Mountain Seat Ceremony

73 - p.4-article on Tassajara ashes site mentions Suzuki prepared a place there for Trudy next to his own.

97-1 - p.15-Ed Brown tells of experience with Trudy also posted on this page here.

99-2 - p.13-mention of Trudy's editing Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind in Mel Weitsman's Introduction to Branching Streams Flow through Darkness.

 

 

 

Trudy in Crooked Cucumber

 

From chapter 16, The City

 

In the spring of 1968 Richard turned the manuscript over to his good friend Trudy Dixon, who, like Richard, had edited Suzuki's lectures for Wind Bell. Trudy took on the task even though she had two small children, had undergone surgery for breast cancer, and was in poor health. She threw herself completely into it, listening to the original tapes, painstakingly working on the material word by word, thought by thought, organizing it and conferring often with Richard and occasionally with Suzuki directly.

 

 

TRUDY DIXON had been doing graduate studies in philosophy at UC Berkeley, specializing in Heidegger and Wittgenstein, when her husband, Mike, first took her to Sokoji in 1962 to hear Suzuki lecture. Mike was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. They arrived late and stood in the back of the zendo. Suzuki embarked on an unusual line of thought that evening. He compared the practice of Zen with the study of philosophy—expressing one's truth with one's whole body and mind instead of thinking and being curious about the meaning of life. He said he'd had a good friend in Japan who was a philosopher. Ultimately his intellectual pursuits didn't satisfy him, and he killed himself. At exactly that point in the lecture, Suzuki looked intently at Trudy. She backed up a few steps. Trudy could not get that experience out of her mind. She and Mike continued coming to lectures and soon decided to start practicing with Suzuki. They became close disciples.

 

     In Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Trudy put her whole being into expressing the essence of Suzuki's teaching. After she passed the manuscript on to Richard, she concentrated on taking care of herself at her home in Mill Valley and dealing with her approaching death. She remained cheerful on the outside, but her mind was possessed by fear, which she revealed to her analyst. After an operation her lungs filled with liquid, and she couldn't breathe. She struggled for breath with all the energy she could find until she went beyond thoughts, words, and fear into what she called breath-struggle samadhi. After she had undergone five difficult days of recovery, Mike brought Suzuki and Okusan to visit her. She said the sight of them was like seeing the sun rise for the first time.

 

     She went to Tassajara and fasted. There she had a powerful, joyous experience that included life and death, health and illness, fear and courage. She said she finally stopped fighting and was "accommodating the enemy," as Suzuki had described it. On the verge of death Trudy had been reborn. Her analyst said that at her next visit she seemed like a new person, a fearless and radiant woman. To her husband, caretakers, and friends she became an inspiration. "My self, my body," she wrote, "is dissolved in phenomena like a sky's rainbow caught in a child's soap bubble."

 

     One day after zazen at Bill Kwong's Mill Valley zendo, Betty Warren visited Trudy. She arrived wishing there was something she could do. Trudy burned away Betty's pity with one phrase, referring to her illness as "this blessed cancer."

 

     On Mondays Suzuki visited Trudy at her home after giving a talk to Bill's zazen group. One day after such a visit he returned to the car with Bob Halpern. Suzuki's eyes were wet. "Now there's a real Zen master," he said of Trudy, as he sank into his seat.

 

     On July 1 Trudy's brother drove her to Tassajara. They shared a cup of clear creek water with Suzuki, slept outside in the moonlight, and returned the next day to the hospital. A couple of days later she came back to Tassajara and practiced zazen lying on her back in the zendo with Suzuki and the students. On the eighth she and her teacher returned to San Francisco.

 

     On July 9, 1969, Mike called Suzuki at Sokoji and told him that Trudy had just died in the hospital—too quickly for Suzuki to have gotten there. Suzuki fell apart crying on the phone, which disturbed Mike—he thought of Suzuki as imperturbable. Suzuki came to the hospital and was composed by then.

 

     At Trudy's funeral two days later Suzuki was uncharacteristically emotional. He cried and said, "I never thought I'd have a disciple this great. Maybe I never will again." As is customary, the funeral included an ordination in which Suzuki-roshi gave his deceased student the precepts. Then he delivered a eulogy.

 

Go, my disciple. You have completed your practice for this life and acquired a genuine warm heart, a pure and undefiled buddha mind, and joined our sangha. All that you have done in this life and in your past lives became meaningful in the light of the buddha mind, which was found so clearly within yourself, as your own. Because of your complete practice, your mind has transcended far beyond your physical sickness, and it has taken full care of your sickness like a nurse.

 

     A person of joyful mind is contented with his lot. Even in adversity he will see bright light. He finds the Buddha's place in different circumstances, easy and difficult. He feels pleasure even in painful conditions, and rejoices. For us, for all who have this joy of buddha mind, the world of birth and death is the world of nirvana.

 

     The compassionate mind is the affectionate mind of parents. Parents always think of the growth and welfare of their children, to the neglect of their own circumstances. Our scriptures say, "Buddha mind is the mind of great compassion."

 

     The magnanimous mind is as big as a mountain and as wide as an ocean. A person of magnanimous mind is impartial. He walks the middle way. He is never attached to any side of the extreme aspect of things. The magnanimous mind works justly and impartially.

 

     Now you have acquired the buddha mind and become a real disciple of the Buddha. At this point, however, I express my true power. …

 

     Then Suzuki let out a long, mighty roar of grief that echoed through the cavernous auditorium.

 

 

From Chapter 19, Final Season

 

People were just catching their breath when Richard Baker stepped forward. After the Heart Sutra was recited, Richard stood before the Mountain Seat altar and said in classical style: "This Mountain Seat, climbed many times before, is the everywhere bodhimandala. With the help of my Master and everyone here, in the ten directions and the three times, I will climb this mind-seal altar. Do not wonder about it at all."

 

     He offered incense to buddhas, bodhisattvas, and ancestors, to Trudy Dixon, Katagiri-roshi, and "to my own subtle and compassionate teacher, Suzuki Shunryu-daiosho,"

 

***


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