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4-16-14 - Miriam Bobkoff's Ocean in View blog of years is coming to and end. - details of her passing last post on this blog and found below on this page.
Andrew Main wrote about Miriam in a note to cuke in 1999.
Barbara Horn in a 2008 note mentioned this about Miriam
On Philip Whalen by Miriam Bobkoff:
Although I knew Phil in San Francisco and at Tassajara, I became close to him when we both came to New Mexico with our teacher, Richard Baker-roshi. There was a handful of us, our belongings companionably tucked into the same moving van, beginning a new life in circumstantial intimacy.
Following through on his commitment to practice Zen Buddhism with Roshi caused Philip a lot of troubles over his last 30 or so years, to which he gave the same abstracted kindly attention that he gave anyone else’s miseries. He had scarcely held a job in all his life; but having taken on the job of practicing Buddhism with Roshi’s other students, he did it faithfully for several decades.
Thus in the 1980’s these troubles had grown to include living in Roshi’s Santa Fe house which was often swamped with visitors; and practicing meditation in an improvised zendō. He had had to go into exile in the desert of New Mexico, where he expected at any moment we might turn on the water taps and only a trickle of sand would come out. Settled in at the temple on Cerro Gordo Road, he was entirely dependent on other people to go anywhere or get anything he needed. No stepping out the door and onto the Municipal Railway bus system to carry him to--well, but then there were no excellent bookstores or restaurants with any “suption” to them here, no Japantown shops, and no ocean, either; and his friends and peers were 1500 miles away.
Instead he had us. Absent a ride or some company, except for talking to the cat he spent his time down in his room among his books. When Roshi would give koan seminars, the least allusion in the text might send Philip puffing down the stairs to find the book which would elucidate whatever question. Roshi had a hard time keeping us on topic in these seminars, and he would try to tell Philip to stay put and not derail the discussion. But it was always too late, Phil was gone already and then back again, dropping into the armchair, pulling off his glasses and putting his face down onto the book to read aloud what, usually, he had already correctly told us before he left the room. Nobody within a couple of thousand miles knew as much as Philip about Buddhism, Zen, literature, or a lot of other topics.
About practice matters his advice was always impeccable. You had only to watch him; what emerged from behind his wall of entertaining opinion was a single-minded purpose, accurately perceived. The worst thing about Philip’s being dead is that I can never again call him up and find out exactly what would be the right thing, the correct traditional thing to do.
For as long as he lived in New Mexico, the correct traditional thing was to go to that zendō-that-used-to-be-a-Tibetan-shrine every day, and to try to teach us practice pygmies how to take care of it.
I was living in the robing room on the east side of the zendō then. For the first year or so I would call him every day from work to ask if he needed anything. Every day he did. Today he was running out of milk, tomorrow carrots; and I found myself in the supermarket every day. When I’d plan to go for a hike, I would first head up to the house and let Philip know the itinerary. He thought it was part of his job to know where to send help if I didn’t come back safely. When I got home I would check back in with him. That was the only time in all my life that I’ve had someone looking after me in just that way.
Philip’s curmudgeonly compassionate Buddha life ended last year. There are tributes and memorials to Phil all over the Internet. This issue of the Broadside is ours.
From the July 1999 Comments page of cuke
7/21/99--from Miriam Bobkoff in Santa Fe: My landlady's old friend who has been teaching something-or-other in Japan for 30 years, is now back in this country. She jumped right out of the porch swing when she heard I was Baker-roshi's disciple, because however many decades ago she was good friends with Jean Ross, but they lost touch when Jean left Japan; and she wants to know what became of Jean. Updates even years or decades old better than none, if you have any. Her own teacher was Peg Kennett, she says. I'll write again when I find out her name, we were talking over my landlady's fence but actually haven't yet been introduced. She seems a bit lost and anxious to connect with the familiar, so I'll probably see more of her. She mentioned that she'd seen Crooked Cucumber in the airport and had been paging madly through it, so I loaned her mine.
Anyway hi. (On my own account I wanted to thank you for showing me who Della was; when I was young and stupid and a new student, she was this friendly older lady there at Page Street whom I couldn't understand how she fit in, and (blush) had little patience for. Always good to be reminded of all the extraordinary people I haven't recognized when I've had the opportunity to know them.) (Probably am doing the same thing toward someone else now, my patience and discernment haven't improved noticeably.)
[I sent Miriam a copy of an article I wrote about Jean Ross for the Wind Bell. It's the unedited version. I'll post it under Interviews cause I don't know where else to put it. That seems like the best place. Of course, I have more on Jean that I'll try to get together and on the site in the future. She was a real woman Buddhist trailblazer, and one of Suzuki-roshi's first disciples. It's a sad story though.--DC]
MB, November 6, 1944 - October 23, 2014
Miriam died at around 12:15 PM Thursday in her apartment at an assisted living facility in Santa Fe. Although her condition had been worsening steadily, the timing of her death came as something of a surprise, even to the caretaker and hospice nurse who were with her. She had had a rough day on Wednesday, but her afternoon caretaker wasn't particularly alarmed, so I didn't have my cellphone on when the Thursday mid-day caretaker tried to reach me shortly after 11 AM. I found out the news at around 1:30 and tracked down my wife, MS, in the community college classroom where she was teaching, then we went over at 2:30 after her class was over. Miriam was lying peacefully, looking very much like herself.
She did not want any memorial service, which is not to say that there won't end up being one (sometimes the survivors get the last word). I know that she wanted at least part of her electronic legacy maintained, but don't remember her saying what she wanted done with this blog. I'll have to reread her will and associated documents for guidance and ask her other Santa Fe friends if they remember her saying anything. If I don't get clear guidance there, I'll ask if readers have a preference between keeping the blog online as an archive and having it go away. I would like to figure out how to get as much as possible of the no longer accurate information taken off, but I'm fairly inexperienced with the Blogger software and quickly got intimidated the last time I started to deal with the process.
Thank you to any of her other friends and readers who see this.
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