Mitsu Suzuki, widow of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, celebrated her hundredth birthday this year. Norman Fischer tells the story of how this Japanese schoolteacher made a home for herself in American Zen.
Okusan, as we had been used to calling her, arrived at the temple with a burst of energy. She bustled straight past us into the Buddha Hall, where she immediately made prostrations and said quiet, concentrated prayers, her head bowed, her prayer beads in her hand. She then got up without assistance and, beaming, said loudly in English, “Welcome home!” We were touched by this, thinking she referred to us—that, as students inspired by Suzuki Roshi, his temple was in some way our real home. But later we realized she was saying this to herself—”Welcome home, Mitsu, to the place where your heart is kept.”
This essay is from the Winter 2014 issue of Buddhadharma Magazine. Please click this link to download a PDF of the article.