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That Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Shunryu Suzuki-roshi shared a close friendship is familiar lineage lore for many and a central story in the history of Buddhism coming to the West. It is also part of the living memory of those who knew both teachers. Perhaps Jakusho Kwong-roshi stands as a premier witness of this friendship. Kwong-roshi became one of Suzuki-roshi’s dharma heirs and drew inspiration and guidance from Trungpa Rinpoche after Suzuki-roshi’s death. Perhaps not a lot of people know that Kwong-roshi erected a stupa on his land, Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, in honor of Trungpa Rinpoche – that is how deep the gratitude and lineage exchange goes.
This video is taken from footage I gathered at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center during two trips I made in 2008 and 2009. My initial intention was to interview Kwong-roshi about his relationship with Chögyam Trungpa and about the drala principle. But Roshi went on to discuss many other subjects – and in the handful of days I spent during my visits I received an intimate glimpse of life at SMZC (one that added to times I did retreat there in the 1980s). Roshi was very generous with his time, as was his wife Shinko, his son Nyoze, and the other residents.
In this footage, Kwong-roshi talks about what it means to become a teacher, for having to become a teacher was the position Kwong-roshi found himself in in 1971, the year Suzuki-roshi died. In this interview, Kwong-roshi shares many aspects of this journey, and also gives us glimpses into what it meant to know and study with Suzuki-roshi and Chögyam Trungpa.
– Bill Scheffel – 7 June 2011