Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Ramble - For Daido

Winding river, endless mountains—
the dark forest breathing mist.
There is no road into the sacred place.
It’s just that, the deeper you go,
the more wondrous it becomes.

John Daido Loori, Roshi

The verse above is taken from The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen's Three Hundred Koans, translated by John Daido Loori and Kazuaki Tanahashi, with commentary and verses by John Daido Loori. Abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery (ZMM), founder of the Mountains and Rivers Order (MRO) in upstate New York and a reknowned photographer, Daido passed away last month from cancer.

I have been sitting here looking at this screen off and on since then, feeling a little lost and trying to figure out what to write about someone who has been a major influence on my mundane ramblings for years, and my wanderings in wild untrodden places with camera, notebook and brush too. Daido was an ardent advocate for the earth, and he saw the perfect workings of the dharma in every mountain, river, forest and limpid stream he encountered - he wrote passionately of the "inherent intelligence of wildness and wild places". I wanted more than anything to learn to see the world as he did, in all its beauty, suchness, transience and authenticity, and the news of his passing cut like a knife.

The best I can do methinks is to direct you to a post written three years ago about Daido's then recently published "The Zen of Creativity". That book still rests on my library table along with two other works on photography by Roshi, Making Love With Light and Seeing With the Ear, along with works by Freeman Patterson, Minor White, Kazuaki Tanahashi and Eugene Herrigel.

Visit the Mountains and Rivers Order (MRO) for Roshi's biography and an overview of his accomplishments as abbot and founder of MRO. Then visit his online portfolio to feast your eyes on some of the most superb photographic imagery ever created by one man and his camera in communion with the living world. I miss him, but I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be back, and as soon as his forty-nine days in the bardo are up - he loved the earth too much to stay away.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the link. I'm going to go and see.

Beth Owls Daughter said...

Thank you so much for this. You inspired me to read more about him, to the point that I was compelled to post about him on my own blog today.

Blessings to you! You are my little bit of magic every day!
- Beth

thelma said...

Daido's photographs are beautiful, yours equally so, it made me go back to Gary Snyder's - Mountains and Rivers Without End....

Clearing the mind and sliding in
to that created space,
a web of waters streaming over rocks,
air misty but not raining,
seeing this land from a boat on a lake
or a broad slow river,
coasting by.

Ch'i Shan Wu Chin

Your photos are so tranquil.