Reminders of Impermanence

In my quieter moments I am still spending time keeping Zen Center’s dharma talk offerings up-to-date, as well as trying to fill in some of the gaps from the past few years when people were not doing this so reliably. The other day I decided to look through the website’s listings from previous years – the drop-down menu goes back to 2007, although of course the archive of cassettes and reels goes back to the 1960s (and I am still a part of a project to get all those digitised and available to everybody).
What struck me most forcefully was how many people on the list have died: the first four names on the 2007 list are Jordan Thorn, Steve Stücky, Blanche Hartman and Jana Drakka… there is also Darlene Cohen, Lou Hartman, Daigan Lueck, Lee Lipp, Marvin Mercer.
In a way this is inevitable; in a large community with many senior teachers, some will die over the course of years, though it could be said that most of the above died too soon. I also think of names not represented on that list – Hal Papps who was not a teacher, but a long-time resident when I first arrived, David Coady, and Jerome Petersen, who didn’t give talks in my time, all of whom died in the building while I lived there.
Some of the names on the list are well-known in the zen world; others are not. Marvin was an incredibly unassuming man who completely embodied service without a fuss, David a sweet man who was a pleasure to be around even if he didn’t believe it himself. All of them impacted my practice in some ways, and of course, that means they still do, and in that, they live on.

2 thoughts on “Reminders of Impermanence

  1. Hal was my good friend for most of the 1970’s at the City Center. We lived in the neighborhood and hung out with a few other guys who practiced regularly. He had a sharp mind and we often talked about lectures and what was going on at Zen Center. Hal liked to go to movies and since I was broke all the time he would offer to pay my way…otherwise I would have missed a lot of ’70’s movies. Sometime several of us would go to a restaurant for a meal and conversation/companionship. Towards the end of the 1970’s Hal got a job teaching English in Japan. He met a lay Zen teacher there that he liked a lot. When he returned to the US he came back to SFZC where he remained for the rest of his life at one center or another. We corresponded up until his death and he would send me news of Zen Center. We also co-wrote some haiku type poetry in that correspondence. Hal was very devoted to Zen and had a very good understanding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s