Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

November 9th, 1969 – Interview

Sunday, November 9th, 1969

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Sunday, November 9, 1969

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-09 part 1

 Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 69-11-09 part 2

[Tape starts with background group chatter.  Then the mike is set up, and more group chatter follows.  Then Peter Schneider asks Suzuki-rōshi a question.]


Peter Schneider:  I would like to ask Rōshi a question for the Wind Bell that I was going to type—tape just with him, but I think it’s a—would interest you, so—.  It will appear in the next Wind Bell.[1]   And the question is to have Rōshi talk about Mrs. [Miss] Ransom.


Suzuki-rōshi:  No.  [Laughter.]  I must tell you she was my old, old girlfriend [loud laughter].


Peter Schneider:  I’ll have some water.  [Loud laughter.]


Suzuki-rōshi:  Almost, but not quite [laughter].  When I was young, even from a boy, I couldn’t [wasn’t] satisfied with Buddhist life, you know, because of many reasons.  So I wanted to—to be a good teacher when I was very young, and I wanted to [1-2 words unclear] people who—who did not priest—did not respect priests so much.  But I—at that time, my ambition may be directed to wrong direction [?].


But anyway, I made up my mind to leave my home and to study to practice under strict teacher.  So I went to my master’s temple.  And my master [Gyokujun So-on] was a disciple of my father.[2]   And my father, when he was young, [was] very strict with his disciples.  And my master was one of the—his—my father’s disciple who [was] raised up in very, very strict way.  And he was—my master was always talking about my father’s strictness with him.  And I—that was very, you know—that was hardest situation for me to accept, you know.  My master almost blaming of my father.  “Your father,” [tapping repeatedly] you know, “raised me in this way.”  [Laughs.]  That was very hard to—to listen to.  Anyway, this is not what I want to talk [about].  But—


2nd Interview – September 16, 1969

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Suzuki-roshi with temple member-workers at Rinso-in, c. 1955





September 16, 1969

Entered onto disk by David Chadwick

Revised by Bill Redican 9/01

Interview of Suzuki-rōshi (SR) by Peter Schneider (PS)[1]


Peter Schneider: Suzuki-rōshi, will you tell me about Miss Ransom?


Suzuki-rōshi:  Miss Ransom. She was teaching us at Komazawa University when I first see her.


PS: Teaching what, Rōshi?


SR:  Teaching English, and she was teaching us conversation—how to—once a week. And at that time I have not much relationship with her, but after I finished preparatory course of University—Komazawa and became specialized in Buddhist course, I was still interested in studying English so once in a while I attended her lecture in some other course and in English course. And one summer, in summer vacation I called her because it was so hot, just because I couldn’t get home.


So I called her at the back door and sitting in the one room near kitchen I asked a cup of water but she gave us something different, watermelon, and she appeared in that room and she asked me to help her, in shopping, or such things like that when she has some difficulty in speaking with some Japanese people, but at that time two students were working, or helping her already [blank spot], so she may not need me, but she said one boy from Komazawa is leaving quite soon so she said she wanted me. That was how our more closer relationship became then.


And at first she was, she came to China, to help the last Emperor of China, Sento—Emperor Sento. She was tutor [not tutor?].  And Mr. Yoshida who became prime minister of Japan, helped her to invite or—actually Mr. Yoshida invited her to Japanese parents as a [tutor?] [blank space]—took some advertisement in paper and offered her father—I don’t know how his name, he was quite famous though.


And she is quite strict and maybe stubborn and she was trying to force English way to us and to Japanese people.  And she had always some complaint so mostly what I have to do is to listen to her complaints.  Anyway I don’t know who was her father who was famous.  So far as I know he is as famous as General [Admiral] Togo [Heihachiro], who defeated Russian fleet in Japan Sea.


I stayed with her 1-1/2 year—


Interview – September 16, 1969

Tuesday, September 16th, 1969

Interview of Suzuki-rōshi (SR) by Peter Schneider (PS)

Circa 1968–1969[1]

Entered onto disk by David Chadwick

Revised by Bill Redican 9/01


PS:  When did Caucasians begin sitting at Soko-ji?


SR:  Maybe one month after my arrival.


PS:  When did you arrive?


SR:  May 23, 1959.


PS:  You came by yourself?


SR:  Yes, by airplane.  But at that time I was not appointed to this temple.  I came here as assistant to Tobase.  Soon after I accepted, they changed the situation.


PS:  Was he living in Japan then or in San Francisco?


SR:  He, Tobase, was at that time in Japan.  So I was invited to this temple, because he started editor (?) of Sōtō School.  So they suggested … and as he moved the headquarters, he wanted to live here.  My idea was that I wanted at that time to work on propagating our way.


PS:  With Caucasians?  Japanese?


SR:  Maybe with Caucasians.  In my mind I did say so.  My idea was more emphasis on Caucasians, since before they did not work with Caucasians so much.  And headquarters wanted to work with Caucasians.


PS:  Why did they pick you?


SR:  (Confused politically)  Some of them supported Bishop _______, some of them didn’t … management of this temple, some people wanted him to be Bishop and some wanted him more … to this temple.  And the members were divided in two and he was involved in that.


PS:  What happened to headquarters in San Francisco?


SR:  Soon (after) my arrival, headquarters voted to take care . . . but of course I refused because I’m not Bishop, just to take care of business of headquarters.  Too much.  At that time Tobase’s wife was still here, so the idea was for his wife to take care of actual business and they wanted me to be a Soto Bishop.  Because I didn’t know the situation in America so well.  He actually couldn’t come back because of the confusion that was.  And I was just here taking care of this temple.


November 6th, 1967

Monday, November 6th, 1967

Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi


Friday, February 18, 1966

Lecture B

KPFA/KPFB Studio, Pacifica Radio, Berkeley, CA

Listen to this talk: Suzuki-roshi 67-11-06

Elsa Knight Thompson:[1] … by telling us something more about our guest, Suzuki-rōshi.

Richard Baker: Shunryū Suzuki-rōshi came to America about six years ago, and he was only going to stay for a year or two and [2 words].  Many Americans came to meditate with him.  He kept postponing leaving, and finally there was such a large group meditating with him in San Francisco we had no more room, and there wasn’t an opportunity to study with him as well as if we had a place in the mountains.  And we found Tassajara Hot Springs, which is a beautiful, old, historical hot springs and historical sight in the San Lucia Mountains.

Thompson: Now, we’re—we’re still talking about Suzuki-rōshi.  Didn’t he have a congregation in Japan prior to coming to this country?

Baker: Yes, he—as I understand, now I—

Thompson: We can ask him at what—prior to coming to the United States—

Suzuki-rōshi: Oh, I was appointed by our headquarters to Soko-ji Temple.  And when—while I was there, I sit every morning, and many Caucasians started to join my practice.  That is why I started sitting with them—with Caucasian.  Mostly—