Although we hadn’t exactly wailed at the news of Roshi’s passing, our grief was real. The death of a teacher is always a momentous event for a sangha. But when that teacher is also the community’s founder, the occasion is particularly poignant. In our case, it was clear that the funeral we were planning should be a fitting tribute to a man who’d had a profound—very often life- changing—effect on our lives. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if Roshi would have seen the three-day funeral ceremony, arts tribute, and interment service we’d prepared in his honor as our version of Dongshan’s feast for stupidity. I even imagined Roshi popping into the Monastery office to look over our shoulders as we discussed the invitations, the menu for the banquet dinner, the artists for the performance . . . and thought he might be shaking his head in disapproval, or looking at us with his chin tilted down, glasses halfway down his nose as he exclaimed, “Forgeddaboutit!”
At the memorial on October 11, Shugen Sensei told the sangha that when he’d asked our teacher about his wishes for the funeral, the latter had said: “Not too big.” Shugen Sensei gazed at the crowd of some three hundred people huddled together outside the Monastery on that cold October morning and shrugged as if to say, “Oh well.” He did this lightly, almost jokingly, but he very well knew—as Roshi himself must have known, despite what he’d asked—that this was one event we could not easily limit. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people had known Daido Roshi and had been deeply touched by his teachings. Many of them had been avid readers of his books, some had seen his photographs and were moved by their power, others had heard him speak and never forgot the deep, gravelly voice booming, “And what does all this come down to? THE NON-DUAL DHARMA!” I suspect that if we had been able to invite every one of those people to the funeral and arts tribute, we would have needed to rent a stadium, instead of the 1,500-seat Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston.