Lion's Roar

Mel Weitsman, DHARMA DRAGON

WHEN MEL WEITSMAN DIED in early January, he left behind a legacy that continues to unfold in American Zen. A Soto priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, his dharma name was Hakuryu Sojun—White Dragon/Essence of Purity. As a respected teacher in his own right, he was known as Sojun Roshi.

In 1967, Suzuki Roshi encouraged Sojun to start a practice place in Berkeley. For fifty-four years, his heart was home at Berkeley Zen Center, even while he served nine years as co-abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, one of the most important Zen communities in the U.S., and led intensive Zen training periods at Tassajara, the community’s monastery near Big Sur.

Sojun Roshi’s important legacy includes more than thirty transmitted disciples who lead Zen centers around the U.S. It also includes nearly three thousand recorded lectures, spanning the territory of Buddhism, Zen, and the world we inhabit and create.

Here are a handful of excerpts from Sojun Roshi’s talks that shine with his deep and ordinary wisdom. When I use this word “ordinary,” I mean it in a way that is at once precious and plain. This is the mind and practice Sojun Roshi inherited from his teacher, ordo

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