Yehudah (Alan) Winter
3-02-17 - Alan remembers Saturday mornings at Sokoji
On Saturdays, as I recall, we would do 2-3 sittings (I think 2) with a service and end with a breakfast. I always remember the raw egg that we’d crack over the hot white rice. Yummy, but certainly not anything I ate at my parents’ table. Then we would clean the zendo. One task was waxing and polishing the floors. it was great fun to go racing across the floor with a cloth, buffing it as we went. One time, several of us were washing dishes when Okusan came in and very seriously asked, “what you think of Suzuki Roshi.” We all started vigorously shaking our heads and acknowledging him as a very great teacher. Pregnant silence followed broken by her saying, "maybe good teacher, but not such a good husband.” We were shocked and no one said a word. I know I was still in the realm of thinking he had super human powers. That idea was broken when I was cleaning the baths at Tassajara and he came to use the private bath. After he left, I went in there to clean it and discovered it was a total mess. Suzuki Roshi a slob…impossible, yet there was the reality. The impression of his being above human foibles was totally erased when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. How could someone with such high spiritual power get something as disgusting as Cancer!?!
Nothing like a death to bring out the memories.
Tim Buckley was a drug addict before he found Zen. He was the real shoot ‘em up thing, having been into mainlining heroin. I’m taking this from memories of what Tim told me not from having seen him actually do any drugs. After all, I only knew him after he was doing Zen. One summer I heard or saw (since the description he gave me was like I’d been there when it happened) that he’d been stung by a scorpion. He was strolling near the old kendo, wearing Birkenstocks, when one of the more vicious scorpions native to the mountains of Big Sur got caught between his foot and his sandal. He did a cartwheel, which must have been quite impressive as he was a tall man, and hit the ground. He told me it was the greatest rush experience he’d ever had, far surpassing any shot of heroin he’d experienced.
I also drove Tim’s black, bubble-top Volvo back up to Zen Center from Tassajara at least once. The strongest memory I have was when I was driving Roshi up at night. He was asleep sitting up in the back seat. At one moment, I caught a look at his face in the rear view mirror, headlights bathing it in light. My thought was “how care worn he looks…those deep folds of skin in his forehead.” I can still see that image.
[In this interview Tim remembers Alan living in Jamesburg when we first bought Tassajara. He'd worked at Tassajara with the Becks and had suggested to Ed Brown that he do so. - dc]
Ed Brown wrote: My friend Alan Winter and I decided to attend meditation at the Zen Center in San Francisco. We had talked about it a lot, but now we were actually going.
Alan told me long ago at Tassajara that once he and Ed were way in the woods in Canada I think camping and they got in some spat and Alan said something like fuck you to Ed and Ed took offense and said, You said fuck you. It was to me. There is no one else here. I'm not going to talk to you anymore. And then, Alan said that Ed would not talk to Alan anymore and that they were way out there in the wilderness for another two weeks or something and Ed stuck to it. - dc
12-15-13 - Joanie and Yehudah (Alan Winter) are back in Uganda. Check out their Fundraising for Compassionate Listening Trainings in Rwanda and Uganda!
Their page on The Compassionate Listening Project
SR0020 - That's Alan on the far left with kitchen apron. That's Kobun, Shunryu, Li Gotami, Anagarika Govinda, Tim Buckley with camera on right. For all names see SR0019 in SFZC photo archive. Alan is not in that one.