Honouring our Ancestors

Gillian Coote, roshi tells the stories of some of our ancestors who appear in the dedications we chant in our sutra service, including Choro Nyogen and his internment poems (written in the USA during WWII). She offers the koan ‘Mu’, and reflects on this monk’s – and our – doubt that, though all beings by nature are Buddha, this can’t mean us.

Maezumi Roshi and students from Zen Center Los Angeles, January 1, 1993, holding their annual commemorative service for Nyogen Senzaki at his gravesite. The text inscribed on the back of the tombstone reads: ‘Friends in Dharma, be satisfied with your own heads. Do not put on any false heads above your own. Then minute after minute watch your steps closely. Always keep your head cold and your feet warm. These are my last words to you’ — Nyogen Senzaki.