Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Running & Sitting
So, back after a short break spent moving, unpacking and settling in. I’ve been having some trouble sleeping in the new house, probably because the boys are coming into our room earlier than they did in Great Neck and also because I haven’t been able to find my white noise machine. I know it’s in the box with the alarm clock, which I also haven’t been able to find. Last week I skipped my long run-it was all I could do to keep up with 6 milers as tired as I was from humping boxes and putting Ikea furniture together-so I’m a little concerned about trying to run 18 tomorrow. The marathon has been the furthest thing from my mind these past couple of weeks and last night I even considered throwing in the towel and switching to the half. I decided to defer my decision until I see how tomorrow’s long run treats my body.
In addition to being a runner and a lawyer, I am also a student of Zen Buddhism. It was with a heavy heart that I discovered that an old teacher of mine recently passed from this life. John Daido Loori, the founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism died on October 9 at age 78 after a protracted battle with lung cancer. I took dokusan with Loori-Roshi only once, about ten years ago, but I soaked up his dharma like a sponge through recorded lectures and visits to the Zen Mountain Monastery and the Fire Lotus Zendo. Logistics and life circumstances prevented me from becoming a formal student, but I feel that Daido taught me more about reality than I could ever properly thank him for. I took Jack and Dimitri up to the monastery for the Zen Kids program last fall and saw the old man making the rounds of the dining hall. By then he had already received his cancer diagnosis and was looking pretty frail. Nevertheless, his eyes were bright and it was obvious that his spirit was strong.
While some of his dharma brothers have drifted into new ageism, and Buddhism as a whole seems to be suffering from the trivialization brought about by excessive attention from pop culture, Daido retained the essence of the dharma in his teachings while simultaneously integrating Buddhism into the American context. He often described his approach as "radical conservatism." He had a healthy distrust of consumer society and was in no hurry to exchange traditional Buddhist values for passing fads.
In his own words, Loori described how he saw Zen in America in an interview with Shambhala Sun in 2001: "Zen is not Japanese and it's not Chinese. It is American. It didn't come from Asia; it has always been here. It is a way of using your mind and living your life and doing it with other people. Unfortunately nobody can supply a rule book to go by because what it is about can't be spoken of, and that which can be spoken of is not it. So we need to go deep in ourselves to find the foundation of it. Zen is a practice that has to do with liberation, not some kind of easy certainty. The wisdom of that liberation not only affects our lives but all those whom we come in contact with, all that we know, and all that we do."
He will be missed.
what can we say of it?
Forms, created by rock shadows.
-John Daido Loori Roshi