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Saturday, May 30, 2015

New Errata for ZMBM

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice - by Shunryu Suzuki

More careless errors revealed after forty-five years.

Thanks again to Victor Sergeyev, Secretary, PH Ligatma, publisher of ZMBM in Russian, for sending this.

That's Gyokujun So-on Suzuki, Shunryu's master who figures in one of the errors through no fault of his own.


ZMBM: some misstatements.


He [Ian Kishizawa] had joined the Soto order when he was thirty — Actually thirty two.

My master [Gyokujun So-on] died when I was thirty-one. — Actually thirty.

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.


DC 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 noted.

Ah - but just checked with the original lectures (on 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.