Wendy Pirsig

‘My first impression of Green Gulch Farm was that it was a mess, not a bad mess, but just sprawling and sloppy in the western way and muddy in the California winter way and unmechanized in the organic hippie way.  The disorder was heightened by the fact that a site had just been cleared for a new tea house about to be built by Japanese carpenters and craftsmen who specialized in that type of building. The tea house would be in the middle of the valley, and so its site, an expanse of mud, dominated everything.

            Clustered in the mid-valley, all the buildings at Green Gulch were made of dark, rough, unpainted wood and sat in the shade of eucalyptus, which fed their odor into the air.  The fields lay down toward the ocean, and above on the hillsides a few horses munched.

            We went inside The Barn, where most residential students slept and where the zendo was.  I instantly liked it.  It felt American, with high-ceilings, bare wood floors, dark bare wood walls.  That Sunday morning it echoed with feet.  The entrance hall’s second story was ringed with students’ doorways along a balcony.  Below, we took off our shoes and quietly stepped into the combination zendo/Buddha hall. There was a large, colorful Buddhist statue but it did not dominate as did the one at City Center; in fact it was nearly lost among the students as they filed in.’ (from Cuke.com) 

Wendy has been one of the people working hard to transcribe Suzuki Roshi lectures over the past few years; I heard from Peter, who manages cuke.com, that he had been working on extracts of the journal Wendy kept when she visited Zen Center in 1979 (you may be more or less familiar with the context of the visit – if you want to know more, click the link above). I read through it last week and have been sharing it with dharma friends. It is a wonderfully observant and trenchant account of life there by an outsider, some of which still resonates today.


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