Marian (Derby, Mountain) Wisberg (rip)

Haiku Zendo cuke page

Cuke Podcast: Haiku Zendo Chronicles - Marian Derby 🔊

Letters from Marian Wisberg to Wendy Pirsig, 1984 - 2004

9-16-16 - A photo of Marian Wisberg (Derby Mountain) with her husband Jack from a letter she sent for New Years 2004. (letter not yet entered) Click on thumbnail to expand.


9-02-16 - Two cards sent to DC from Marian in 1994 and 2010.

Click on thumbnail to check out this photo of her with Shunryu Suzuki at her home in Los Altos in 1964. It's SRC0007 in the photo archive on with the following note: At or near her Los Altos Hills home which became the Haiku Zendo. Identified by Jerry Halpern who also noted, "Marian did have a Samoyod type dog like the one pictured."

10-25-14 - Cindy Derby is Marian Derby's granddaughter, an artist and puppeteer. Here's her site, Cindy Derby dot com. And here's a page on it for something I didn't know about Marian - Marian Derby's puppet days.

That's Marian bottom left.

Cindy writes:

    I have had the wonderful opportunity to learn about my grandmother's puppeteer days through letters we wrote back and forth a few years back. She enclosed old photographs of her performing, and even one of her and Frank Oz in her earlier days at the Children's Fairyland Puppet Fair- the first major event hosted by the San Francisco Puppeteers Guild of America.
    This is a photo of her performing Punch & Judy at a children's hospital with a cast of about a dozen characters- including a paraquet trained to sit on the pirates puppets shoulder!

 - thanks Steve Meek for sending this info and link


10-26-14 - Another photo of Marian Derby Wisberg doing her Punch and Judy puppet show 1954 in San Francisco.


Marian contributed to Ananda Claude Dalenberg's Cloud Hidden Friends and other newsletters. Someday maybe have an index to link to specific ones. There's one in Alan Watts commemorative Issue #29 that is referred to here. Searching for "marian" on cuke's site search on the Home or What's New page will reveal many pages Marian.

Snail Zen10-06-14 -  Some early pages of Snail Zen by Marian Derby - in Group I  of 2013 Scans from Cuke Archives

Marian wrote that she'd send me a copy of the book when it was finished but I didn't get what she sent to a few people. Trying to get a copy of it. - DC


9-30-14 - Long letter from Marian Derby Wisberg to DC date August 5, 2008.

7-14-13 - My friendship with Marian Derby Wisberg by Fran Thompson

Massive correspondence between Fran and Marian is now in the cuke archives - too much to process and post though someone else can do it later. - DC

6-05-13 - Three documents from Marian Derby Wisberg sent us seven years ago.

* a letter on the Los Altos Suzuki lecture tapes
* an article titled Beginner's Mind
* an article titled A Report on the Peninsula Branch of the San Francisco Zen Center.

8-02-14 - Marian Derby letter to DC explaining what she thinks the source of the box of Shunryu Suzuki Los Altos Lecture transcripts with editing marks that ended up in the SFZC library closet - all of which now are in lecture archive on - - in Group I  of 2013 Scans from Cuke Archives

Posting on the cuke lecture and quote page and The earliest apparently verbatim lectures from Los Altos pages. Tons of posts and info sort of confusing needs to be reorganized especially in light of what is known now. Also need to do corrections of info in Crooked Cucumber and even the more recent Afterward to the 40th edition of ZMBM.

ZMBM page which has a useful chart and links to source lectures

10-18-14 - Christmas card from Marian Derby and Jack Wisberg - undated but I'd say ten years ago or so - the lack of scan of the other side makes me wonder if it was blank. - dc

8-16-14 - Have been corresponding with Joel Weishaus about Marian Derby Wisberg whom he met at Tassajara in 1969. - DC

6-04-13 - Here's another photo with Marian in it [the top one] but you can't see her face.

6-03-13 - Here's the only photo I've found so far of Marian Derby Wisberg (Mountain) who recently passed on. It's from the archive of photos in Shunryu Suzuki dot com. She's the third from the right on the 2nd row. Could have missed some others with her. Will look further. Will find more. Much work to do on photos and naming. - dc

Here's another photo with Marian in it but you can't see her face. She's second from the left.

Didn't get it at first because I'd spelled Marian's name as "Marion." Spent a half hour fixing other places where I'd done that. Now even more mentions of Marian will come up if one does a site search - though it may take a few days for the search engines to have those corrections. - dc

6-01-13 - After uploading today's posts, will look through the archive of photos in Shunryu Suzuki dot com for some with Marian Derby Wisberg (Mountain) who passed away at 90 on May 15t, Marian's cuke page.

5-31-13 - We just learned that Marian Derby (Mountain) Wisberg died on May 15th. - Thanks to Blanche Hartman for calling me yesterday and passing on this news she'd received from Fran Thompson.

Read Fran Thompson's message about Marian's passing

We knew her as Marian Derby. She was the spirited, energetic, trailblazing student of Shunryu Suzuki who founded the Haiku Zendo in Los Altos and first recorded Suzuki's lectures - for a book that became Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. In the early seventies she married Jack Wisberg in Big Sur where they first lived - and took his name. She is known to many as Marian Mountain the pen name she used for her book, The Zen Environment: the Impact of Zen Meditation.

Marian on Beginner's Mind

Marian letter to DC on location of ZMBM tapes - Zen Mind Beginner's Mind lecture tapes all but 2 still missing

Marian Wisberg (Derby, Mountain) letter to DC - 97-05-09

Marian letter to friends & DC Xmas 2010

Marian Report on Peninsula Branch of SFZC - undated - circa 1970

The Zen Environment: the Impact of Zen Meditation. (We have William Morrow, 1982 and Bantam Books, 1983). Amazon link

Borrow The Zen Environment: The Impact of Zen Meditation

Jacket Flaps

Foreword by Robert M. Pirsig

Introduction by Dainin Katagiri Roshi


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

1-21-16 - A fan of Marian's sent this PDF of an excerpt on Beggar's Mind from her book, The Zen Environment.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind - and cuke's zmbm page

Beginner's Mind - Marian's original manuscript

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind chart

Haiku Zendo Chronicles - this is the zendo that Marian founded in her garage in Los Altos, CA. It was where the Beginner's Mind lectures were given.

Earliest transcribed Shunryu Suzuki lectures

Many mentions of Marian in the interview with Peg Anderson and Will Stocker.

More will be added later today and tomorrow.

Fran Thompson's message about Marian's death

Marion Derby Wisberg died in the early morning hours of May 15.  She was 90.  Jack (her husband)  called me the next  day . He said Marion had been fine the day before.  That she had low blood pressure and went about her day as usual.  They went to bed (twin beds) and in the morning Marion was sprawled on the bed with her eyes open , stone cold.  Good way to go.  I told Jack I'd notify Zen Center and he asked me to wait until he'd talked with her son and family.  Jack gets very suspicious of others and it upsets him to let even a piece of information out of his control.  Yesterday I called Marion's family who said of course.  Marion and I still kept up a correspondence, although less often as we got older.  She called on the phone occasionally and was able to speak clearly .  She had not completed her latest book (Snail Zen)  but had arranged to put it into someone else's hands to complete.  Her ashes will be interred at a cemetery in Los Osos (near Morro Bay) where Jack has a family plot. 

Thanks to Steve Meeks for scanning "the best picture I've seen of Marian, at home in the wilderness, on the back of her book jacket circa 1982 or so. The location is likely the Coast Ridge Road climbing up to the ridge leading eventually to Marble Peak." That would be in Big Sure I think. - dc

As an Amazon Associate Cuke Archives earns from qualifying purchases.