Katagiri Roshi

In my conversation on Saturday with my friend over from New York, the subject turned to the state of the dharma there. Her experience reinforced my impressions from reading about various venues and teachers: the pressure to succeed and emphasis on self-belief in the city is reflected in how some present their mindfulness and meditation offerings, with an eye to fostering media endorsement and celebrity connections to help them make money and make their mark. 
I was reminded of a story that Blanche used to enjoy telling about Katagiri Roshi, which my friend had not heard before. He was asked to give a speech addressing donors who were attending a fund-raising dinner, presumably for the Minnesota Zen Center. People were doubtless expecting pleasantries and expressions of gratitude. According to Blanche, Katagiri stood up and said, ‘You’re all going to die.’

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