John Daido Loori
came home from the Korean war
lost his soul
to the Buddha and
became a Zen master,
but that was much later.
moved to Mt. Trempler, NY,
bought an old church,
lit some incense,
made it a monastery,
slept in a leaky vestibule
with two followers,
sat zazen always -
even when he was smoking the cigarettes
that finally killed him last Friday.
I am sure he was not surprised
by that slow ambush.
he had tea with death every day.
with the clearness
of a cold lake.
earlier today, they scattered his ashes in the garden
by the cottage where he lived his last days,
and where, come spring, they will cut flowers
to offer the Buddha on the main alter.
I once asked him why place flowers before
our graven Buddhas of rock or wood.
“explanations never really explain” he said,
and this was, i think, his way of saying -
“just live your life.”