First the podcast, an abridged version of a longer conversation you can find at the bottom of this page.
There’s a saying about modern religious practice in Japan. “When there’s a birth, go to the Shinto temple for a blessing. When there’s a marriage, go to a church for the ceremony. When there’s a death, call a Zen priest.”
In the US, many might relate to this kind of buffet approach to finding meaning in their lives. Fortunately, Buddhism is continuing to evolve and offer ways to understand every juncture of our journey from birth through death and possibly beyond.
That said, Zen has a lot to offer on the topic of preparing for our own transitions and that of our loved ones. For this reason, among others, Shugen Roshi was asked many months ago to speak about death, dying and Buddhist ritual in a forum held by the MRO’s Diamond Net initiative.
The Diamond Net is a program of the Mountains and Rivers Order that connects those experiencing an acute health crisis with other practitioners for whatever support can be offered. Sometimes, that support takes the form of home visits or phone calls. Sometimes it’s bringing around meals or offering help with transportation. The Diamond Net also seeks to keep an ongoing conversation alive in our midst on subjects ranging from accessibility to green burials, end-of-life care and awareness of others’ physical challenges.
The event with Shugen Roshi was originally set for late 2019 and then rescheduled for April 2020. Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic thrust the topic into a different light. With 98 people joining from their personal quarantines over Zoom, and coronavirus-related mortality rates soaring around the world, Roshi led an at-times emotional discussion on how we face death in a world that mostly tries to deny it.
We’re pleased to share this conversation with you so that even more people can benefit from its insights.
To find out more about the Diamond Net and its ongoing activities, visit ZMM.org/diamondnet
And now, here’s the full 90 minute recording of the Zoom session that took place on April 11, 2020.