This is our eighth anniversary issue. One year for each petal of the lotus seat. Old enough to celebrate the slim odds of surviving the high mortality rate for magazines of any ilk, let alone of the singular independent Buddhist variety. Yet as a measure of time, “eight years” has no meaning. The experience of that amount of time is, on some days, very very long. Almost geologic. On other days, it seems just around the corner, as if the collapse of time might best be apprehended in terms of spatial proximity.
Lately I’ve been counting numbers. Sometimes, I add up numbers in my head; sometimes, I count numbers on my fingers as if the comfort of counting like a child will release some primitive sense of passage. I think about dates. Birth dates, death dates. How many years someone was alive. Or how long ago some one died. How many years older or younger they were than me when they died. Or than each other.
I’ve been counting a lot since Rick died. He died five weeks ago, on June 6th. We first met 25 years ago in New York at a weekend of dharma teachings by Dudjom Rinpoche. Lex Hixon was also there. Lex and Rick and I continued to weave in and out of each others lives in dharma and all three of us played instrumental roles in starting Tricycle. Then in 1995 Lex and Rick were both diagnosed with cancer. A few months later, on May 15th, Maezumi Roshi died quite suddenly. Lex and Rick and I all had bonds with him, and I had often consulted with him on diverse matters relating to the magazine. On November 1st of that same year, Lex died.
I’ve had other opportunities to know that some deaths kick up the settled dust of others. So it is these days that Rick and Lex and Maezumi Roshi seem to have all died about five weeks ago. In the absence of meaning, I persist in this counting game. The naming of time feels like something akin to running after a butterfly with a long-handled net, as if the swift superimposition of form onto emptiness can capture something—anything—that can be known by its dimensions. “He was 57 years old when he died. Rick was a year older than Lex when Lex died.” Keep filing the statistical data. Measure, describe, define the form. The space of unobstructed formlessness seems too full of sadness.
And so we enter our ninth year of publication with the continued constancy of change and transformation. Grateful for the lasting wisdom of those no longer with us, we are challenged to accommodate our losses and to—as Soen Roshi used to say— “Go bravely forth.”
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