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Thread: Friday is an Auspicious Zeniversary

  1. #1

    Friday is an Auspicious Zeniversary

    Greetings to all:

    I have been reading through a wonderful small book by the late Zenkei Blanche Hartman (former Abbott of the San Francisco Zen Center) called "Seeds for a Boundless Life." It's a book of very short passages, most no more than a page long. I have been reading a passage and then reflecting on it for a day or two before moving on to the next passage.

    Anyway, in a few of the passages, Zenkei discusses her life before Zen and the transformative experience that brought her to Buddhist practice. Because a couple of those passages are relevant to what is going on in the world right now, I would like to share her story with you. On page 10, in a passage entitled "The Most Transformative Moment," Zenkei tells us that:

    "During the Vietnam War, I was a political activist. I fought for peace. There was some contradiction. There wasn't any peace in me. I hated the people who disagreed with me. That was a kind of war within me. In 1968, I was just beginning to look at the way in which I was vigorously clinging to my opinions about things and denigrating others who had different opinions.

    When there was a strike at San Francisco State University, the police came with their masks and clubs, started poking people. And without thinking, I ducked under the hands of people to get between the police and the students. I met this riot squad policeman face-to-face, with his mask on and everything. He was close enough to touch. I met this policeman's eyes straight on, and I had this overwhelming experience of identification, of shared identity. This was the most transformative moment of my life -- having this experience of shared identity with the riot squad policeman. It was a gift. Nothing had prepared me for it.

    I didn't have any conceptual basis for understanding it. The total experience was real and incontrovertible.

    My life as a political activist ended with that encounter, because there was no longer anything to fight against. The way I described it to my friends was, the policeman was trying to protect what he thought was right and good from all of the other people who were trying to destroy it -- and I was doing the same thing. Since I had no basis for understanding the experience ... I began to search for someone who would understand it."

    Later, on page 35, she talks more about her search, and states that "in searching around, I was fortunate. I met Suzuki Roshi, and I went for zazen instruction on Friday afternoon, the third of July, 1969"

    So, 51 years ago this Friday, Zenkei Blanche Hartman sat zazen for the very first time, making this Friday something of a Zeniversary.

    Gassho,
    Juki

    sat today/lah
    Last edited by Juki; 07-01-2020 at 01:07 PM.
    "First you have to give up." Tyler Durden

  2. #2
    That is good story. I turned 18 that year and it was a very divisive time with great polarization, violence and political views tearing families apart. It was also a time that led to change. Today’s events often brings back memories of then. Today and then bring back those lines from A Tale of Two Cities...”it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness....”

    Doshin
    St

  3. #3


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  4. #4
    I was fortunate to meet and sit with Zenkei while she was still with us. She was/is a wonderful teacher.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Later, on page 35, she talks more about her search, and states that "in searching around, I was fortunate. I met Suzuki Roshi, and I went for zazen instruction on Friday afternoon, the third of July, 1969"

    So, 51 years ago this Friday, Zenkei Blanche Hartman sat zazen for the very first time, making this Friday something of a Zeniversary.
    Thank you for the reminder of this, Juki! Zenkei Blanche seemed much loved in the Zen world, especially in north America.

    In years to come, some here will be writing books saying "I remember the first time I met with Jundo Roshi on Skype..."

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  6. #6
    Thank you Juki! I have been eyeing this book for awhile, maybe this Zeniversary is the time to get it.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  7. #7
    Thank you, Juki

    Gassho,
    Washin
    st-lah
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

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