August 24, 2010

At Palolo Zen Center, Honolulu Diamond Sangha, Hawaii

I offer brief thoughts on the Memorial Service for Aitken Roshi last Sunday at Honolulu Palolo Diamond Sangha. Hundreds of people came from all over the world to bear witness to Aitken Roshi’s life and teachings. The Zendo and all the surrounding rooms were shoulder to shoulder with people in the soft Hawaiian breeze that filtered through as the service proceeded. The service included Zazen, music by Beethoven, a Dharma talk by Michael Kieran, Aitken Roshi’s successor, chanting, offerings of words speaking directly to Roshi, and offerings of flowers by his grandchildren, special friends, and representative of the Hawaiian nation. It was a deeply moving experience to be present for this taking leave.

Lunch was served afterward. Awhile later, about 60 people gathered for several hours in a circle in the Zendo to share their special stories and memories of Aitken Roshi. The stories were deeply personal, sometimes very funny, and always demonstrated Roshi’s love of Dharma and his ways of teaching.

A tribute to Aitken Roshi will take place in the Bay Area, California on October 30. Time and place are yet to be determined due to the potential large numbers who would attend on the mainland.

Aloha Aitken Roshi out there on the moon. Aloha everyone. I leave the Island tonight. With farewell to this grand blue/green ocean that heals and caresses the body, the sun blazing with healing rays. Gratitude to the Hawaiian people for their beautiful hospitality and allowing the waves of people to share in the bounty of light. Mahalo.