A meeting with Suzuki

-- Oregon Otto

My first and only real connection to Buddhism was an accidental invitation to enter into the summer house of Daisetz Suzuki (the major exponent of Zen at that time) in Kita Kamakura,Japan when I was only 18 years old.

At the time I thought he was an old man, but I imagine he was in his late sixties or early seventies. He was slight built man and a very gentle and erudite, conversant in many languages and his room, where we were (was rammed-jammed-packed with books.)

As a completely naive Indiana boy, I am not sure I had even heard of Buddhism. I shared (listened passively) to a conversation with Suzuki and an atheist English ship captain. It was an amazing, gentle revelation to me. (I was sitting by a pond about 30 yards from the house when his housekeeper asked me to come in).

During the conversation, the English ship captain was intellectually attempting to analyze the nature of reality. Suzuki silently assented to all his points , one by one, and then kept silent allowing this giant case to be made completely.

At the conclusion, the Englishman asked Suzuki if he agree with point by point analysis in which Suzuki nodded in assent. Then the Captain made his final assessment and asked if Suzuki agreed with the final point. Suzuki said no he did not...in fact he did not agree with hardly anything that was said.......he only understood it because he had a western educational background and he could agree with the logic train.

Suzuki than proceeded to give his summary which was short and to the point, indicating mainly the interrelationship of all things.....

It was at that point that the bell rung atop the hill and the sound was the deep mellow sound of bronze bell and it rolled down hill like molasses down Mt. Everest. It was then I had a very unusual feeling occur through me and a quietude that I never have experienced before except briefly at the sea shore and on occasion at the forest service lookouts we used to man. I had what I now know to be a minor satori.

I never became a Buddhist nor anything else, but I still remember that experiences and it one of the most important things that ever happened to me. I got interested in the Orient, ended up a college teacher and traveled to some 35 different countries with my allegiances mainly in the orient. that happened in 1947.