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Entries in Jion Susan Postal (6)


Happy Birthday, Susan

My root teacher, Tokudo Ji-on Susan Postal, would have celebrated her 75th birthday today. She continues to teach and inspire me, and I will continue to celebrate her life. Happy Birthday, Susan. [NOTE: Lovely photo by S. Bernstein]. 


One Year Memorial Service

It's been a year now since my dear teacher Tokudo Jion Susan Postal passed from this life (see The Passing of Jion Susan Postal). To honor her memory and express gratitude for all that she did for the Dharma, for the EHZC, and for all her students, a one-year memorial service was held for Susan last Sunday at the Empty Hand Zen Center. I was particularly moved by the eko offered after the incense offering and Heart Sutra:

Today the assembly bows together and observes the annual memorial day of our founder, Great Teacher Tokudo Jion.
Through her vision this Zen temple has come into being.
Through her perseverance and skillfulness the Great Way of all Buddhas and Ancestors has taken root in this ground.
And through actualizing the heart-mind of Dogen Zenji's practice-realization she has transmitted the Buddha Way to her disciples and successors.
Respectufully we have offered flowers, candle, and incense.

This assembly has met to chant the Great Compassionate Mind Dharani and the Heart of Perfection of Wisdom Sutra.
May the merit of this ceremony return the kindness of our great teacher.
May she show her compassion to beings in the six paths of the three realms, remember this declining world, bring forth the spring of the udumbara flower, illuminate the past and present, and may the teaching of this school go on endessly. 

Many deep bows to Tokudo Jion. May her teachings indeed go on endlessly.

[NOTE: The eko is the dedication read after recitation of a sutra, to direct the merit gained from the recitation to a certain person or group].


Yay Susan

Michael Wenger (see Sumi-e) wrote a beautiful appreciation of my late teacher Susan Jion Postal in the November 2014 newsletter of the Dragon's Leap Meditation Center. I can't find a link to the piece (came in an e-mail), so I offer the whole text below (thx, Miguel; thx, Susan): 

Susan Postal knew who she was. You may ask, "how can you not know who you are?" Perhaps because it is so painful to be who you are without hiding or touching up. When I think of Susan, I think she was, is, and will be many things, but her courage stands out.

When her first teacher, Maurine Stuart, died, she carried her life practice on with very little personal or institutional support. She met many fine teachers after that, but nothing quite clicked. Perhaps she was stubborn, perhaps she was strong willed, or perhaps she was just Susan.

Things changed when she met Darlene Cohen and asked her to be her teacher. They were well matched, each had had long battles with their health, and were strong, steadfast, Buddhist women practitioners. Their hearts truly opened to each other, but not without struggle.

For two people to truly meet, it may take some heated back and forth. During Susan's dharma transmission with Darlene, there was a palpable seriousness that was also warm and with some humor. Susan's warm heart was evident in everything she did with Empty Hand Zen Center and the practitioners there. This was clear to me every time I visited Empty Hand. Her close attention to detail of the Center was very evident.

With her giving dharma transmission to Dennis Kegan, she recognized him as a teacher to carry her lineage. Zen lineage hopes to be of help to many people as well as to replicate itself through time, so that the practice can continue through time and space. In all her struggles, Susan is a good example of someone who kept her strong practice intention through difficult times. Yay Susan.

[NOTE: Susan passed from this life in February 2014. Her teachings and influence, however, are still quite active in mine].   


Zen Priests

Deb Wood (right) helps Beth Goldring (see Beth Goldring) clip on a lavalier microphone to record her dharma talk while Susan Postal (see 49 Day Memorial Service) looks on. [NOTE: So how many Zen priests does it take to clip on a lapel mic? Two, I guess. One to clip it on and one to not clip it on. Old joke].  


The Passing of Jion Susan Postal

Last night, February 7, 2014 at 11:45 PM, Tokudo Jion Susan Postal (see Jion Susan Postal) crossed the threshold out of this life. May she rest in the radiance of awakening.

Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha


Jion Susan Postal

My dear teacher Jion Susan Postal, resident priest and founder of the Empty Hand Zen Center, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is currently under palliative care in her apartment at the zen center and may soon move to a hospice facility. Here is the official announcement from the EHZC Board about Susan's health. Words fail me at this point.

"A buddha is someone who sees the way things really are. When we see the way things really are, we see that we're all in this together, that we are all interdependent. A great surpassing love arises from that wisdom, and that love leads a buddha to wish that all beings would open to this wisdom and be free of the misery that arises from ignoring the way things are. Buddhas appear in the world because they want us to have buddha's wisdom, so that we will love every single being completely and protect every single being without exception and without limit - just as all the buddhas do."

-Reb Anderson
The Third Turning of the Wheel: Wisdom from the Samdhinirmocana Sutra

Thank you, Susan. Bows and bows of gratitide.