Robert Thurman pays tribute to Daido Loori and his legacy in American Buddhism.
Oh Daido! Dear Daido! Farewell! Go in peace and come back soon!
We first met in the summer of ’81 to hold our American Institute of Buddhist Studies summer school at your newly acquired―and still to be organized and paid for―Zen Mountain Monastery on the beautiful slopes of Mt. Tremper in the ancient Catskills near Woodstock. I remember holding a planning meeting about the summer school while riding with you in your cool VW sedan. We were on our way to your new restaurant―one of the many ventures you undertook to build finances for your beloved monastery. You were so kind and quick-minded, deep and yet super-practical. Over the decades you created a marvelous Zen asylum and academy for seekers of enlightenment, your Zen Mountains and Rivers Order. You worked tirelessly to help people tame their minds and hone their bodies. You developed the Zen Mountain Monastery with discipline and grace. Your vision was broad and humane, taking your Zen arts of peace into prisons, hospitals, and schools.
You always showed intelligence and good humor, and bore the stress of leadership with humility and passion. Your teachings and writings were outstanding and helped to open the minds and hearts of many. Your tremendous creativity, your poet’s eye for the beauty hidden in the small corners of nature and in the feelings and faces of people―caught in the usually unminded momentary gaps in the drives of life―were gifts that still take our breath away. Your skill in organizing the dharma business network to support the sangha was exemplary. And your Zen Environmental Studies Institute should set an enduring precedent for all Buddhist centers and spiritual institutions. The only thing you didn’t get to was developing the “Soto Supershots,” the championship Zen basketball team that we had so much fun envisioning on one fine anniversary day.
Your Zen Mountain Monastery and its large community is a great achievement. With its Dharma Communications it will continue to have an immense impact. Its continued flourishing firmly anchors and proudly shares the wisdom lineage from Maezumi Roshi to Daido Roshi and onward. The Soto tradition should be proud. All of us in the fledgling American Buddhist sangha salute you and bless you on your journey. Although the Zen tradition doesn’t get into the formal recognition of reincarnations, we will surely bump into you in some dharmic setting, and welcome you back to continue the endless and delightful work.