Friday, August 6, 2010


With the death of Aitkin Roshi, a man who provided light in my particular firmament though I never met him, it is hard not to think:

Eventually, all those we revere will be dead and we will be left in the role we once assigned to them. No longer will there be some other boss, other teacher, other friend. Now it will be up to us ... the ones who once lacked understanding and clarity and who went to the 'sages' for help.

Now, like it or lump it, it's our turn. No more relying on others: This is it. Mother, father, teachers, friends, religions, philosophies ... poof! You're in charge.

The fact that all the mealy-mouthed Zen teachers of all times have urged us to assume the high seat, to see for ourselves, to be the arbiters of war and peace, to grow up ... still, secretly or not so secretly we leaned on them -- the wise ones, the good ones, the ones we may have praised. Our weaknesses were so many and their sagacities flashed across our skies. We were reassured. But now?

But now -- no shit -- it's our turn and no one else's. Quiver, quibble, be scared, express our egregious modesty ... none of that matters because the high seat is where we sit ... period.


  1. boss,

    what u posted eons ago at e-sangha, remains relevant to me still.

    take care,
    come look for me the next time u're a little boy. i'll be waiting for u.


  2. Thanks for these thoughts. I was was feeling the same way, which kind of surprised me--Aitken Roshi had been sick a long time, and I knew he would die soon. But I am surprised how sad I am that he is gone. I didn't realize how reassuring it was to me that the Old Boss was still in the world. It is indeed on us now. I am particularly grateful to him for offering a less authoritarian version of Zen. Early in my practice, I sat Rohatsu with him, and although it was painful physically and emotionally, the safety of the setting and the teacher allowed me to do it. I don't think I could have done it, at least not at that point in my life, anywhere else.