Many thanks to Marc Fisher for sending this touching Katagiri Roshi story:
“In the spring of 1969, in Berkeley, California, my very first morning zazen was with Katagiri, who was affiliated with San Francisco Zen Center. As part of our breakfast that followed our sitting, we ate in sitting position but slightly relaxed. The first part of our meal was cantaloupe, say about a sixteenth of a whole. I was seated directly in front of Katagiri. There was a great contrast between my messy scoop work, causing dripping galore, and Katagiri’s pristine scoop work, most surgical and jewel-like in nature. That contrast was revelation enough to inspire me to take up an ardent sitting practice.”
Congratulations to Eko Jeff Kelley on his dharma transmission from Byakuren Judith Ragir, guiding teacher at Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul. The ceremony took place this summer at Hokyoji Zen Practice Center. Eko lives in Seattle, where he is a teacher and leader at the Seattle Soto Zen Center.
Eko Kelley and Byakuren Ragir
This spring, Shinkai Bonnie VersbonCoeur received dharma transmission from Zentetsu Tim Burkett at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis. Shinkai teaches and practices in Minneapolis and her home base of Belfast, Maine. Congratulations Shinkai!
The Dainin Katagiri lineage chart is maintained on this website under the Biography tab as part of “Ceaseless Effort.” You can find it within that document as an appendix. Currently it appears on pages 26-27. Reports of updates to this lineage record are most welcome.
Lately I’ve enjoyed some great Katagiri stories told by his dharma heirs. These stories renew Katagiri Roshi’s life for me and I really appreciate them.
Dokai Georgesen of Hokyoji wrote the essay “Not Bad Is Good Enough” for their blog.
Dosho Port of Wild Fox Zen often tells Katagiri stories in his blog postings. His January 20 entry is “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” and on October 28 he posted “It’s Not So Easy.” Find more of Dosho’s Katagiri stories using the “Search Wild Fox Zen” feature.
Teijo Munnich at Great Tree Zen Temple writes about Katagiri in their newsletter. These links take you to PDF versions of the newsletter, then scroll down to the stories on page 2. They are “Flowers of Truth,” “Pulling Me Up the Mountain” and “Chalky Dust.” (Bonus: the front page of this issue has photos of Tomoe Katagiri.)
Your stories are welcome here! If you have a Katagiri story you’d like to share, post it in the comments area below or send me an email via the Contact tab. Peace, Andrea
Today is Katagiri Roshi’s birthday. He would have been eighty-five. Not so old, really. I think of him everytime I’m driving my car and see a dead animal on the road. That’s because whenever he was riding as a passenger and saw an animal lying dead, he raised his hands and offered it a solemn gassho. No matter how tired he might be after a week-long sesshin at Hokyoji, or how sick he was feeling from chemotherapy, he would show respect for the animal’s suffering. Ever since I saw him do this, I’ve followed my own version of his practice. I nod my head to dead animals, accepting their reminder of impermanence, and appreciating the lesson I learned from my Roadkill Roshi. In peace, Andrea
December 15 is the 40th anniversary of Katagiri Roshi’s 1972 arrival in Minnesota, along with his wife Tomoe and their two sons. He lived and taught here for eighteen years until his death in 1990. Teijo Munnich sent this poem that Katagiri Roshi wrote on March 13, 1989, soon after learning that he had cancer:
The sage is life,
The stone is alive
and walking with you;
Mountains, rivers, pebbles, trees, flowers,
All are walking with you.
At that time everyday life
walks with you side by side.
Many thanks to Gary Webb for this delightful account of meeting Katagiri Roshi. If you have a Katagiri story to tell, you are invited to post it on this blog (click below on “Leave a comment”) or get in touch with me through the Contact tab or by mail. Peace, Andrea
From Gary Webb:
One day in 1986, when I was living at Marpa House in Boulder, Colorado, I was asked to show a special guest around the center. I was somewhat shy but at peace as I showed Katagiri Roshi around. At one point we crossed paths with the statue of a bodhisattva, which was approximately four feet tall on a pedestal. Roshi paused, folded his hands, and bowed to the statue. So naturally I did the same. After touring the shrine halls and public spaces, we again came upon the statue. Once again we folded our hands and bowed. Thereafter I always bowed to the bodhisattva in the hall and thought of Roshi.
In 2000, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend the summer practicing at Marpa House. Upon my arrival one of the veteran students gave me a tour of the place. As we came upon that same bodhisattva statue, my guide stopped and with folded hands bowed and said to me, “There are many paintings and statues of the buddhas and bodhisattvas here, but for some reason we always stop and bow to this one. Don’t ask why, no one knows. I’ve asked everyone, even the director of the center, but nobody knows. But because it’s a house tradition we all bow.”
October 10 is a notable 40th anniversary date. On that date in 1972, the first organizational meeting of what was to become the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center was held, just a few weeks after Katagiri Roshi announced that he would to move to Minnesota.
New photos! Tsugen Narasaki Roshi joined Katagiri Roshi to lead a special bendo-e retreat at Hokyoji in September 1988. Jim Dildine was there and took some great photos. Jim recently sent copies and they’re now in the Hokyoji album under the Images tab.
This blog is a place to collect, preserve, and share stories and memories of Katagiri Roshi. In over 35 years of teaching Buddhism in America, Dainin Katagiri touched the lives and hearts of many people. If you are one of them, become part of the Katagiri Project by clicking on “leave a comment” and posting a story or memory to share with others.
This blog is a place to collect, preserve, and share stories and memories of Katagiri Roshi. It is moderated by archivist Andrea Martin.
In over 35 years of living and teaching Buddhism in America, Dainin Katagiri touched the lives and hearts of many people. If you are one of them, we invite you to become part of the Katagiri Project by posting a story or memory that you would like to share with others.
You’ll find a text-entry box below the comments. Thank you!