Memorial Service for Maezumi Roshi

· Sangha News

by Sankai Lemmens, MRO
photo by Peter Cunningham courtesy of Stephanie Young Merzel

On Sunday, May 17th, Shugen Sensei officiated a memorial service during the Sunday Morning Program to mark the 20th year of the passing of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi—Daido Roshi’s teacher and the first abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery—in May, the “Month of Azaleas.” The service began with a food offering, then Sensei offered a poem (below), and the sangha chanted the Emmei Jukku Kannon Gyo. There were azaleas on the altar.

Born in Japan as the third of seven sons, Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi studied with his father Baian Hakujun Kuroda, Koryu Roshi and Yasutani Roshi. Maezumi Roshi took his mother’s family name, because there were no male heirs.

Roshi settled in LA in the late sixties. In 1981 Roshi formally opened the Zen Arts Center (now Zen Mountain Monastery), and in 1987 he gave Dharma Transmission to Daido Roshi. Maezumi Roshi died in his brother’s temple, Kirigaiji, on May 14, 1995.

“Do not let the wisdom seed of the buddhas and ancestors be discontinued. Thus I deeply implore you.”

With these words, Maezumi Roshi left this life. He died before I got to Zen Mountain Monastery. In my first week at the Monastery, I watched “Now I know you”, the movie made about Maezumi Roshi’s life and legacy. I found myself crying helplessly, deeply moved by this man (whom I never met), his smile and his commitment. Through Daido Roshi I feel I got to know Maezumi Roshi.

What better teaching than: “Please enjoy this wonderful life together. Appreciate the world just this! There is nothing extra.”

Memorial poem by Shugen Sensei:

Hakuyu Taizan Daiosho – Great Mountain

Let us appreciate
the great mountain
that bends in the spring breeze
and walks on flowing waters.
Shobogenzo—the true eye treasury—
you imparted to us.
How did you know
it was medicine for
an ancient sickness?
Twenty years since you’re changing forms;
you said we could call,
but you wouldn’t answer.
Yet today I hear your voice
in the eyes and hands in this hall,
I see your face in the azalea blossoms
on the altar.
Let us appreciate—
let us appreciate
this fragile human life.

May 17, 2015

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