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Thread: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

  1. #1

    Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Hello friends,

    From Sweeping Zen:

    By Adam Tebbe
    June 15, 2011

    Charlotte Joko Beck, Zen teacher, author and founder of the Ordinary Mind Zen School, has died peacefully today, June 15, 2011 at 7:30 a.m., at age 94.

    Born on March 27, 1917 in New Jersey, Beck studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and taught piano for a time. She married and raised four children before separating from her husband and working as a teacher, secretary and assistant in a university department. She came to Zen practice in her forties and studied with the late Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi roshi. For many years she commuted between San Diego and Los Angeles to practice with the roshi. Of her experiences, Beck said in an interview with Shambhala SunSpace (http://www.shambhalasun.com/), “I meet all sorts of people who’ve had all sorts of experiences and they’re still confused and not doing very well in their life. Experiences are not enough. My students learn that if they have so-called experiences, I really don’t care much about hearing about them. I just tell them, “Yeah, that’s O.K. Don’t hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?” Otherwise, they get stuck there. It’s not the important thing in practice.” Asked what is the important thing in practice, she replied, “Learning how to deal with one’s personal, egotistic self. That’s the work. Very, very difficult.”

    Joko Beck also studied with both Haku’un Yasutani roshi and Soen Nakagawa roshi. She became one of Maezumi’s twelve Dharma successors in 1978 and went on to establish the Zen Center of San Diego in 1983 (where she served as head teacher until July, 2006). She is the founder of the Ordinary Mind Zen School, a loose fit organization of her Dharma successors which is non-hierarchical. As a teacher of Zen, Joko Beck was free from the patriarchal trappings of Japanese Zen. Joko’s approach to Zen teaching was greatly informed by Western culture, and she discontinued shaving her head, seldom wore robes and seldom used titles.

    Joko was the author of two very important books that are frequently recommended by interviewees at Sweeping Zen— Everyday Zen (1989) and Nothing Special (1993). Her first book, Everyday Zen, is a book in which she described what meditation is and, more importantly, what it is not. Author Ruthann Russo writes, “…she says it is not about producing psychological change, achieving some blissful state, cultivating special powers or personal power, or having nice or happy feelings. She does say that meditation practice is simple, and it’s about ourselves. To practice effectively, we need to remove ourselves from all external stimuli. Then we experience reality, which is challenging for most of us.”

    Her second book, Nothing Special, is, as Maezumi himself once remarked, very special. In it Joko expresses what is the original essence of Zen—unencumbered by some of the formal practices and activities we’ve come to associate with Zen practice over the years. For Joko, Zen is simply being right here in the moment, with nothing extra. Zen practice will yield us nothing other than this moment. In the book she answers her students questions and helps highlight, again, what Zen practice is really about. She says, “Practice has to be a process of endless disappointment. We have to see that everything we demand (and even get) eventually disappoints us. This discovery is our teacher.”

    In 2011 Joko began eating less and was rapidly losing weight. Her family placed her under the care of hospice. She is survived by her four children: Eric, Helen, Greg (Dharma name Tando) and Brenda (Dharma name Chiko).

    Dharma successor Barry Magid says, “One of her great virtues as a teacher was that she did not try to clone herself. She let us digest her teaching and grow in our own different directions. Her Dharma seeds are scattered far and wide. They will go on sprouting in ways we cannot predict and cross-fertilize with other lineages. The Ordinary Mind School may grow or wither, but her influence is now everywhere.”

    According to the Twitter account of fellow Zen teacher Joan Halifax, Beck’s last words were,”This too is wonder.”
    Additional memorials can be found here:
    http://sweepingzen.com/2011/06/15/charl ... n-pioneer/

    Metta,

    Saijun

  2. #2

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Hi.

    _/_

    May the force Be With You
    Fugen

  3. #3
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Thank you Saijun.

    Many bows to her contribution...

    Gassho,
    Shawn

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Thank you Joko...

    _/_

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    she was a brilliant lady and gifted teacher

    this may be her greatest lesson yet

    let go

    gassho
    Greg

  6. #6

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    gate, gate paragate
    *
    with gratitude.

  7. #7
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Those words she spoke about experience really resonate with me. I realise I've become attached to "experience" and put a great deal of overemphasis on it. It's something that rules my life as well as my interactions and relationships with people.

    Thank you, Joko Sensei, for freeing me from the trap of "experience" attachment. And for many other things I will only get to learn from you later.

    Let's talk more about this experience thing later, sangha, when I am able to deal with it (things are kind of overwhelming for me now and I think I am more teaching-resistant and discussion-resistant than I already am )

    Gassho
    Julia

  8. #8
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Sanpai




    Taigu

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    _/_ _/_ _/_

    Ron

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Gassho.

  11. #11

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Flowers fall even if we love them
    Weeds grow even if we hate them


    I think we are all teachers . . . we all leave our mark on those around us, whether we mean to or not. Deaths help me remember to not underestimate my responsibility to and impact on the folks around me. They are my teachers, and I am theirs.

    To all us teachers,
    Gassho,
    Eika

  12. #12

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    This week's Saturday Treeleaf Zazenkai will be dedicated to Joko, whose words and attitudes about Zen practice have been so influential and life changing to so many (including in my life).

    viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3857&p=55145#p55145

    Her first book, Everyday Zen, was our first selection in our "Beyond Words and Letters Book Club" ...

    viewforum.php?f=2&st=0&sk=t&sd=d&start=150

    and worth reading again and again (as is here second book, Nothing Special).

    Endless Bows, J

  13. #13

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Thank you Joko,
    _()_
    Peter

  14. #14

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    I think this quote sums it up for me:

    "Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru." Charlotte Joko Beck

    The loss of a great teacher and the sadness we feel due to this loss will be the teacher we need at this moment. Thank you Joko.

    Gassho,

    Bryan

  15. #15

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Deep Bows,

    Gassho,

    Hans

  16. #16
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011


    Thank you Joko Sensei _/_

  17. #17

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Nine bows to Joko Beck

    RImon

  18. #18
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    Flowers fall even if we love them
    Weeds grow even if we hate them


    I think we are all teachers . . . we all leave our mark on those around us, whether we mean to or not. Deaths help me remember to not underestimate my responsibility to and impact on the folks around me. They are my teachers, and I am theirs.

    To all us teachers,
    Gassho,
    Eika
    Lovely Eika....

    Firewood has become ash...yet I still feel her warmth.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  19. #19

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Gassho.

    Risho

  20. #20
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Hello all,

    _/_

    bows to each of you, as you have been my teachers for the past 3 years...and Metta to all who knew and loved Charlotte.


    Kelly/Jinmei

  21. #21

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Gassho
    Shohei

  22. #22

    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    Joko Beck's books have helped me to sustain a daily sitting practice and have helped me to both relax and persevere.
    I am grateful for her life.

  23. #23
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    “Practice has to be a process of endless disappointment. We have to see that everything we demand (and even get) eventually disappoints us. This discovery is our teacher.”
    Wonderful

  24. #24
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Charlotte Joko Beck 1917-2011

    A teacher lives on in her teachings.
    Gassho,
    Soen

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