Sent December 2020
Not much to say about my zen career except that I am grateful for the practice and the opportunity to embrace it in my life. Zazen is a life buoy of sorts. There have been times when breath is all I had, or all I was.
First heard Suzuki-roshi lecture at Page Street while a college student. All too soon he was ill and I was witnessing Baker’s mountain seat ceremony. Suzuki-roshi was so jaundiced, firmly pounding his walking stick with great determination to fulfill his mission. Some friends lived at Page Street in those years thus I had the treat of attending tea class with Okusan Mitsu (as a guest). So many earnest conversations about Zen in America, what might be possible, what’s cultural and what’s dharma, what did you think about the lecture, and so on.
Bill Kwong-roshi taught me how to sit zazen in 1971, and I was among the founding group of students at Genjo-Ji, Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, in 1973. Also met dear Sojun-roshi and found the practice in the wooden attic zendo very sweet. He was probably the first non-Asian teacher I observed. Years later, I married a lay student of Mel’s and Sojun performed our ceremony at Dwight Way zendo. My husband is a night owl; in the early 90s he was in rotation for zendo cleaning duties and I would accompany him. This would be about 11pm and the zendo was still like winter (dark) sesshin. Sometimes I’d bring flowers from my garden. I remember Mel’s cushion could not be fluffed; it was a pancake! No clue how he sat so steadily with such minimal loft.
In more recent years we studied with our dear friend Yvonne Rand in Muir Beach, and then Philo. Once Bill and Yvonne moved to Philo, Yvonne was a frequent and lively guest in our Berkeley home, while teaching and tending to students here. We miss them both. We miss cooking for them and having good conversation.
When my mind recalls ones I have loved, I envision shooting stars.