This Newsette is my New Year’s greeting to you and a tribute to Hozan Alan Senauke.
On New Year’s Eve I joined the Berkeley Zen Center Sangha for zazen and a wellbeing service for BZC’s beloved Abbot Hozan Alan.
Hozan is critically ill, in the ICU at Kaiser in Oakland after cardiac arrest last Thursday. His family has set up a Caring Bridge page at: www.caringbridge.org/visit/alanhozansenauke. You can find daily updates about his condition there and leave messages of support.
I visited Hozan on December 30with my friend Mushim Ikeda. Both of us have known Hozan since the early 90’s, when he was the director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. Hozan has been my mentor and friend ever since.
In the waiting room we visited with members of Hozan’s immediate family, his wife Laurie, daughter Silvie, and son Alex, who filled us in on Hozan’s condition.
Mushim and I sat at Alan’s bedside for a while, mostly in silence. Before we left, Mushim recited Santideva’s prayer, the Dalai Lama’s favorite prayer (see below). Friends who had visited before us wrote on the whiteboard in Hozan’s room, to share with his medical team, “Don’t be fooled by appearances – this man has a brilliant mind and a vast heart…Work: Saving all beings. Hobbies: Entertaining all beings (if you don’t know Hozan, he is a musician).”
On January 2, Silvie posted these words from Laurie: “Yesterday I [came upon] a wonderful quote from Joanna Macy that I wanted to share. Just reading that last sentence I can tell I’m in Hozanland. Please join me there.
“This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.
“Action isn’t a burden to be hoisted up and lugged around on our shoulders. It is something thing we are. The work we have to do can be seen as a kind of coming alive. More than some moral imperative, it’s an awakening to our true nature, a releasing of our gifts.”
As we begin the New Year, some of us setting intentions for our practice and our lives, I am adopting a practice I learned of from one of my students – to find a word that I’d like to live with and grow into in the coming year. Mine is Spaciousness.
The Dalai Lama said his favorite prayer is this verse by Santideva:
For as long as space exists
And sentient beings endure,
May I too remain,
To dispel the misery of the world.