Mind: Informal Talks on
Zen Meditation and
Practice - by Shunryu
More careless errors revealed after forty-five years.
Thanks again to Victor Sergeyev, Secretary,
PH Ligatma, publisher of ZMBM in Russian, for
That's Gyokujun So-on Suzuki, Shunryu's master
who figures in one of the errors through no fault of
ZMBM: some misstatements.
he was thirty — Actually thirty
was thirty-one. — Actually thirty.
NIRVANA, THE WATERFALL
I went to Yosemite National Park, and I saw some
huge waterfalls. The highest one there is 1,340 feet
high. — Actually 1,430.
It was 1,340 feet high! — Actually 1,430.
note: Suzuki was often fuzzy with details. So were a few
other people. The waterfall height is an understandable
and common sort of switch. Seems to be he was just being
approximate with the Kishizawa age, but if he had it in
his head that he was thirty-one when Gyokujun So-on
died, I'd say he was being approximate, using the
traditional way they calculated age, or we have the
wrong year for So-on's death. If Shunryu (So-on was a
Suzuki too,) was thirty by western counting, he would
have been thirty-one by Japanese traditional counting.
In that system a newborn is one and becomes two on the
following traditional New Year's day which is in
February. (I wonder did they really call someone's age
two on their second day of life outside the womb if they
were born the day before their New Years?) The new year
has officially been January 1st in Japan since 1873 and
the western way of counting became law in 1902. One
might assume that old way of counting age would be
forgotten by Shunryu's time, but I used to experience
older Japanese using the traditional system. I remember
asking which way they were doing it. According to my
records, So-on died May 3, 1934. Suzuki was born on May
18, 1904. So it seems Shunryu Suzuki was thirty. Errata
Ah - but just checked with the original lectures (on shunryusuzuki.com) and look what Shunryu actually said in 66-02-24 which became Zen and Excitement: "My master passed away when I was thirty three." I bet the change to thirty-one is one he himself indicated later. There was nowhere for anyone else working on the book to check and they probably weren't doing checking like that anyway.
See list with links of All Contributions ZMBM from Victor Sergeyev with Gvido Trepsa.