Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Impermanence and John Daido Loori

I haven't had much time to post the past two days, but the quick turn of events with John Daido Loori Roshi at Zen Mountain Monastery caught my attention. Recently, it was announced he was stepping down from his leadership position. Seemed like a regular transition, with the elder teacher going into "retirement" - which, of course, doesn't mean hours of sitting in front of the TV and lawn mowing. However, this morning, Rev. Danny Fischer posted the following letter, which basically says that Daido is on his death bed.

I remember early on in my zen practice studying Daido's book Eight Gates of Zen with other newcomers at my sangha. Later, I worked through a few of his koan commentaries, as well as writings of zen and art. He's a gifted artist, and a powerful dharma teacher. If he is indeed in his last days, I wish his community and all those who have studied with him a peaceful mourning period, and blessings in the coming days. And thank you Roshi for your wonderful teachings, beautiful art, and for your part in planting the seeds of the dharma in it's newest home. May you be completely liberated from suffering, whatever happens in the coming days and weeks.


ZenDotStudio said...

Yes I saw these posts too, Nathan and wondered at what seemed like the sudden departure cited initially. I join you in the wishes and prayers for all and hold him fondly in my heart. His book "The Zen of Creativity" is one I have valued and referred to often over the years and recommended highly to others.

Robyn said...

This is my sangha, Nathan. Daido Roshi's dharma heir is my teacher....(the one who does a great job at attracting and keeping younger members, if you remember). Since I practice mainly in Brooklyn and joined the community after Daido Roshi had mostly stopped teaching, I only had the opportunity to meet him once. He very generously came to talk to a group of us attending an Intro weekend at the Monastery - something he could of easily not done and no one would have thought anything about it. He invited us to ask anything of him, and at first it was clear that he was very tired and ill, but as he got going it was like he had been injected with some powerful drug. His whole countenance changed. He cut through the BS in a way that left no doubts but also with gentleness and humour. For me, it was unforgettable. I am so grateful for that hour he spent with us (it was only last spring, so not all that long ago).

I also feel fortunate to see him and his teaching through my teacher and the other teachers and senior monastics at ZMM. He has built a very strong community in an uncompromising way. We gain and lose so much!

Algernon said...

I am so out of the loop! I had no idea, and Daido roshi has been kicking me in the ass for years without my having met him ever. (With a nod to Robyn, I have sat at Fire Lotus Zendo, however.)