One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same any place in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear. — Dave Brubeck

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sonja Margulies Roshi

Sonja Fenne Margulies (March 7, 1931 - May 5, 2013)
Sonja Margulies-Fenne began Zen practice in 1968 was ordained in 1975 and received dharma transmission from her teacher Kobun Chino Roshi in 1983. For many years she was the co-editor of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.
May 15th, 2013

I just received word that Sonja Margulies-Fenne died in Salt Lake City where she had moved to be with her son, Peter.  She was 82. She was a wonderful woman and inspiring teacher.

Her Zen teacher, Kobun Chino Roshi, gave her a stick in 1983. She told me the story about her dharma transmission that might fit into the current conversation about authentically authorized zen teachers. She had been practicing for about 15 or so years with Kobun who taught at SF Zen Center with Suzuki Roshi, and he—Sonia’s words—wanted to cut the umbilical cord and allow her to stand her on her own feet. She resisted for one reason or another, and, as she told me, they went back and forth, and back and forth reaching a kind of koan quality, “What do I do with this one precious life of mine?” 

At the end of one sesshin, during her exit dokusan, again they talked, and once again, seemed to arrive at no solution that satisfied her. (I think that Sonja was telling me, just like she told Kobun, that she didn’t want to give up her life on the beach in Santa Cruz, her writing, her poetry,  her interest in psychology, and especially the cozy conversations with friends and her daughter Robin). So she got up and bowed to Kobun just as any good priest would honor his or her teacher. As she turned around and put her hand on the doorknob, Kobun called out “Sonja!” When she turned her head, he threw his stick at her. No time to think, she reached out and grabbed it.

Although she did many things expected of a Soto lineage holder, she remained very low key. Her practice center was the living room couch in her simple Santa Cruz beach cottage. Her teaching never lost the tone of a cozy conversation. And the depth of her love for the dharma shone through her self-care when she survived breast cancer and the care she gave her daughter, Robin, while she died from cancer. Beyond words.

Local News: Poems by Sonja Marqulies

Lenore Friedman wrote about Sonja in Meetings with Remarkable Women: Buddhist Teachers in America 

In memory of Tom Marshall, S.J

Monday, March 22, 2010

This morning, after his funeral mass at the Jesuit Sacred Heart Center in Los Gatos, I chanted the Heart Sutra as well as the Kanon Gyo at the graveside of Tom Marshall, S.J., a lay brother of the Society of Jesus, an ordained Zen priest in both the Soto and Rinzai lineages, and a wonderful friend. Here is the dedication I wrote for the occasion:

God that hews mountain and continent,
Earth, all, out; who, with trickling increment,
Veins violets and tall trees makes more and more,
Listen: We humbly place our feet on the Path of liberation.

May your path continue, dear Tom.
We, the many people whose lives you touched,
Send you on your way with our gratitude.

We remember your many gifts to us,
The books you gave us to train our minds,
Your ready compassion and your sweet smile.

Denis Genpo, Les Keye and your meditation companions salute you.
Your Jesuit brothers honor and bless you.

May your teachers, Shakyamuni, Maha-Kasyapa, Hakuin Ekaku, and Taizan
Welcome you.

May the Jesuit blessed and saints, Alphonsus, Peter Faber, Xavier, and Father
Open their wide embrace.

We dedicate any merit from your meditation and chanting
To relieve suffering in all of life and to clear your way, dear Tom.

You are among the bodhisattvas and other great beings,
Wide-eyed in the Cosmos, totally alive, right now.
Earth hears no hurdle,

The door to deep meditation opens yet again.
The teaching goes on without end.

Yes. Just look at It All!

All Buddhas throughout space and time, all bodhisattvas, saints and great beings,
the Mahaprajnaparamita.

[Many thanks to GM Hopkins, S.J. for allowing me, by his silence, to use portions of his poem, “In Honour of Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez.” The italicized lines are from Tom's private correspondence.]

We will miss you. We love you.

The Beginnings of a Christian-Zen Bibliography

Abe, Masao, "Emptiness Is Suchness" in The Buddha Eye, edited by Frederick Franck.  NY: Crossroad, 1982 Abe, Masao, Zen ...