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5/24/04 - The weekend long Shunryu Suzuki 100th birthday bash (announcement) was terrific.

A Report by DC
with an email below from Yochi Alan Drake adding more

The photos of the Shunryu Suzuki 100th birthday bash that Roovane Ben Yuhmin (the zoomin') so thoughtfully put on Shutterfy. - that links is dead now - DC, Sept., 2018

Thanks to Robert Front (Roovane Ben Yumin), for coming up with the idea, pushing it, and then coming all the way from Taiwan with his daughter to join us. 

Saw a lot of old friends at the Friday night reception and the memorabilia show was well presented with a lot of new stuff I've not seen or forgotten such as photos and examples of Suzuki's calligraphy - something he didn't do a lot of. Went there with Andy Ferguson and got out of it just what I wanted which was mainly a lot of schmoozing with old friends. It's not like everyone showed but it was great seeing those who did. This is not really a devotional community, so it wasn't too gooey thank goodness. Spent some time with Hoitsu and his wife Chitose Suzuki, and Suzuki's other son, Otohiro. 

Hoitsu Suzuki gave a lecture Saturday in which he talked about, among other subjects, coming to terms with his resentment toward his father - a theme he frequently revisits - see interviews with him on this site. I'll try to get it transcribed and up here in a while. 

The Saturday birthday ceremony, with Blanche Hartman in charge, was perfect - went smoothly and didn't last too long. Suzuki disciples and abbots offered incense and made brief statements to Suzuki at the altar. Akiba Roshi, head of Soto Zen in America, made a statement and Hoitsu ended it by saying simply, "Happy birthday." I arrived after an hour and a half of rehearsals and so sat it out in back behind the bell. I thought that was fine and I didn't stand out by not participating more because I could see across the room that Lew Richmond was also just watching. I said that to some people afterwards and they said no he's not here and then I said hello to Albert Kutchins up close and realized that that was who I thought was Lew from afar. He said that happens to him a lot. 

Skit night at Green Gulch was especially enjoyable. It started off with Edward Brown doing some pretty funny standup on cooking at Tassajara in the Suzuki days. Next Laura Burges sang (with good voice on key) two songs topically appropriate for the occasion: Waking Up is Hard to Do (of course to the tune of Breaking up... [which I'd originally written as "Making up" till Michael Katz put his magnifying glass on it]) and a very cool old cowboy poem explaining reincarnation (I'd just the week before heard it recited at Tassajara by a visiting musician). It starts with a cowboy dying, being buried, a horse eating what grows above his grave, the reciter observing the horse's manure and remarking to his deceased friend, "you ain't changed that much." Mel Weitsman on recorder and Liz Tuomi on keyboard played a Telemann partita, there was a great three act skit mainly done by Tassajara folks which started with Mel and Reb finding Tibetan-style a baby girl to be the reincarnation of Suzuki Roshi. Later in that skit Luminous Owl mistakenly channels D.T. Suzuki instead of Shunryu. Rick Slone played three classical guitar pieces quite skillfully, Danny Jokelson played a very humorous charmingly rambling song about Green Gulch, City Center students did a wacky ballet impression of the morning schedule, I (DC) sang a cappella an old medley of Zen songettes from the late sixties and early seventies and a more recent composition with guitar called Every Day is a Good Day. Maybe I'll put the words for those down here. Hoitsu Suzuki finished the evening with traditional Buddhist singing - I forget what it's called - accompanied by two little bells he rang. I think that's complete except to say that Michael Wenger, who put the whole weekend together did a great job getting that skit night organized. 

Instead of a lecture on Sunday a few Suzuki disciples and students briefly told stories and made comments. That tape is also being transcribed. Afterwards there was tea and then questions and discussion. 

And that was it. I know the schedule said there was something happening at Sokoji and I know Hoitsu and his wife went there but I don't know what happened. I also don't think there was any meeting of Suzuki-related groups.

It all went great - much better than I had imagined. And it was great seeing everyone.

From: Yochi Alan Drake
Subject: The Representative Groups and the Sokoji Temple Meetings
June 19, 2004 9:07:21 PM EDT


a coupla places on you mentioned, in reference to Sunday of 100th SS-R birthday celebration:

DC: 4:00 pm: Meeting of representatives of groups in Suzuki Roshi’s lineage - [I don't think that happened - I didn't hear anything about it but I don't go to stuff like that anyway. - DC] [But I was wrong - see email at end of my report.]

AD: you may know by now that the meeting DID happen, but either way I'll take the opportunity to comment anyway. in fact, the meeting was an excellent gathering of 35-40 representatives from zen center related Zen centers, groups, sitting groups, etc., across the country. in ZC dinning hall the meet was opened, but not "lead" by Michael W. as it was an unstructured discussion of how within our "home based" communities we meet, organize, etc. there were discussions focused in our challenges, which seem to have a common grass-roots thread, extending out from our common foundation experiences at Zen center. it was all very inspiring. an excellent gather. a yes, you-should-have-been-there experience — at least if you are/were involved in small (and larger) group formation and plans of long-term continuation. responses to the meet were very positive.

I've also found another mention of this presumed non-meeting on your site which includes your comments on the posted event that occurred directly before the representative group meeting. you said:

DC: I know the schedule said there was something happening at Sokoji and I know Hoitsu and his wife went there but I don't know what happened. I also don't think there was any meeting of Suzuki-related groups.

AD: rushing back from GG we arrived at Sokoji Temple a little late, catching only the tail end of whatever ceremony there was. I saw/heard but the reading of a of a notice in Japanese with a sometimes pleasantly funny English translation, an appreciation of SSR. it all ending with each person present offering a pinch of incense to the memory of SSR. his portrait was set in a prominent place on their elaborate altar complex. it was a relatively small event with mostly Sokoji community members. there two handfuls (give or take 2 fingers) of ZC peoples there, significant dignitaries among them. afterwards we retired to the community room in the basement (actually on the ground floor off the parking lot.) much much finger foods, including a few of the unusual — to me at least — among them what i believe to be spam sushi. plenty of good pastry sweets, which I was happy to see. very good to be in company of the gracious Japanese community. lots of gigglers, Hoitsu Suzuki Roshi among them. because I lingered, I was a mite late to the "groups" meeting (to close this circle…)

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