This weekend is the Mourning Moon, the last full moon before the Winter Solstice, a good time to let go as the new year approaches. Earlier this month was Sensei’s 1-year memorial date, and I’m so grateful for his wise and gentle exit. Many deaths are a surprise and many people are unprepared for the loss, leaving them with grief for years to come. Sensei’s inner strength, resolve, and contentment carried his message to us.
I’m reminded of his words while I was saying a heartfelt goodbye to Carole at the airport in Boise, leaving him to stay with her in Oregon as I returned to work at UCI: “Don’t be sentimental”. The words echo in my mind every time I feel some personal drama beginning to play out in my thoughts, and I tell myself: “Right. That way leads to a spiral of sadness. It is what it is, and there’s no need to exaggerate it.” In 2005, Sensei accepted the offer to stay in a spare cabin on Carole’s remote ranch in eastern Oregon, and after getting him settled I flew back to California to “house sit” his place at the temple, while I taught a physics class at UCI.
Well, the story of his time in Oregon continued, just as my work for UCI continued to take me back and forth from California to a lab a few hours away in Washington. I changed my mind about moving there, but he stayed on, wintering over as Carole’s guest and was interviewed for the local paper (article1 and article2). After some time, Rose “adopted” him and he relocated a bit to the West to her small ranch in the John Day area. We’d met Rose at a local hot springs and she was immediately taken by Sensei’s insight and practice. Some time later, she brought him back to the temple in LA via San Francisco where he met with Blanche Hartman of the San Francisco Zen Center and gave a lecture at One Taste where Rose had settled for a time. It was very easy for him to wander in a lifestyle of “rent-a-monk” as he once joked, for the year that he was away. Everything was just as it is. Simple.