Friday, November 13, 2015

To the Devils who Helped me along the Way

David Silva shared a photo to David Chadwick's Timeline.
David: do you know where this photo might have been taken? This is rumored to be Mel's priest ordination.
Sometime in 1983 -84? I landed at San Francisco International Airport having arrived from the Austin Stroebel Airport in Green Bay Wisconsin; it was my 'Hijrah' or change of pace and space inner and outer. I was practically made to leave the cold Wisconsin State by an elderly lady who was also my fellow printmaker at the print studio at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. I was told it was time form to make my change in my lifestyle as i was becoming self destructive as well to others. Rosella Kelly told me to leave for New York where her son was being ordained a Zen Priest and had intended to open his own Monastery after. I agreed with her and the same day went around to look for all the financial support i could find so that i can find my way there to the Daibosatsu Zen Center in the Catskill Mountains.

"On America's Bicentennial, July 4, 1976, International Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monastery, opened its doors. Located on 1,400 acres high in the Catskill Mountains Forest Preserve, DBZ continues to offer an ideal setting for authentic Zen practice to lay and ordained Zen students of all religious and cultural backgrounds.
Students from all over the world gather to receive traditional monastic training. Here they are given the opportunity to actualize true realization and understanding through deep, introspective inquiry."

I never made it to New York however, as i later the same evening learned from Rosella that her son, Dennis Kelly was moving to the West Coast in the San Francisco Bay Area to set up his own Monastery.instead of New York. Hence I changed my destination the next day and bought a plane ticket to San Francisco to meet with a man i had never met who has just been ordained a Zen Priest with his new Buddhist name Junpo Kelly. When i landed at the Airport my initial reaction as i was about to step out from the airport entrance was fear. I practically turned back and as i was making my turn I bumped into a bald headed gentleman all dressed up in a priest robes carrying in his hand large stick. We stepped back from each other apologizing and his assistant handed me a brochure saying that i should go to Berkeley where the old Korean Monk  was going to give a talk that evening. Somewhere in one of my sketchbooks of that time I might still have this brochure stuck to one of the pages. What are the chances of such a meeting and i took this as my cue that I was destined to enter the Zen Buddhist faith and the road opened up for me from then on.
I took one of the airport shuttles into San Francisco and later found my way on to the BART train that took me all the way to Berkeley. I walked up and down the main street looking for the Zen Center asking every stranger i met and was finally pointed out the Berkeley Zen Center or the Old Plum Mountain Zen center and that was where i first met Mel Weisman, who was not yet the Abbot then. Off curse i was refused any form of lodging for the night and was told that perhaps i should go to the'City Zen Center in down town SF on Page Street. So i headed back to the BART station and along the way noticed a sign stuck to a window of a laundromat that had the picture of Lord Ganesha on it and below it said that there was a celebration of Deepavali being held at the Golden Gate Park sponsored by the Hare Krishna Movement and there was free food and drinks  provided. My journey continued on to the Park hoping that i will find some help there which I did not. There was no food or free drinks but a whole lot of religious books on Hinduism and an elaborate statue of a Hindu Priest a Swami Prahbu something and western Hindu devotees dancing and all over the place clad in safron baggy pants and half naked with long beads hanging from their necks; Hare krishna! Hare! Hare!
Tired and worn out from walking and lugging a huge back pack on my back and portfolio in my hand filled a whole lot on my prints which I had hoped to be able to sell and earn my keep, I set to find the San Francisco Zen Center located on Page Street. Where is Page Street I asked a stranger passing and he pointed up above my head at the street sign and lo and behold, Page Street It said and still does. I was at the very end of the Street which ends up at Golden Gate Park. There was only one direction to head on to, to find 300, Page Street, the Zen Center and I started walking not carinf how far i had a walk ahead of me, I felt happy inside and free.
I passed by a curio shop that had lots of strange stuff like strange looking incense and all kinds of colored candles. I was curious and took a few minutes to look into the shop and then i noticed a beautiful lady with long black hair smiling at me an she called me in and i was captured. I ended up having my Tarot card read at the cost of $25 which back then I could ill afford as i was in need for my survival on the street in the next few days, but she managed to talk me into it, she told me i need to have my tarot read as it was destined. The thing that i remembered most of the reading was that she told me that the Devil was my ally. I was hocked and somewhat disturbed by this revelation and she felt it. She smiled at me and told me not to fear as sometimes the Devil can be one's biggest ally in times of need. She told me not to assume the Devil as being negative all the time; I left still feeling disturbed by the whole episode. 
Thus began my quest for the Zen teachings which I later spent several years of my life. Although I never did get to listen to the Zen talk that was supposed to have been given by the Korean Zen Master in Berkeley, I did ended up living in the Zen Monastery at green Gulch Zen Center in Sausalito, Marin County, California. No doubt many devils helped me along my journey and three was drug dealers who happened to be the best of my friends and who were among the most spiritual people i had the opportunity to met up with. This included Dennis kelly who was at one time a drug dealer and then there was the 'Buddha Ron' who lived at Stinson Beach and then there was Joshua Bowes who lived on Haight and Ashbury, without whose help i would not have had the time of my life in San Francisco.

Stinson Beach is a census-designated place in Marin County, California, on the west coast of the United States. Stinson Beach is located 2.5 miles east-southeast of Bolinas, at an elevation of 26 feet. Wikipedia

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San FranciscoCalifornia, named for the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. It is also called The Haight and The Upper Haight.[5] The neighborhood is known for its history of, and being the origin of hippie subculture.

Jun Po Denis Kelly began his Buddhist practice at Zen Center San Francisco in the early ’70s, later becoming a student of Eido Shimano Roshi in New York and subsequently a monk. He received his Zen Master recognition in 1992. Interested in bringing his Zen lineage (Rinzai tradition) into American culture without the Japanese cultural bindings, Jun Po left the monastery and founded the lay Buddhist Hollow Bones order, of which he is abbot. A yoga instructor as well, he traces his lineage to BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. He established the Hollow Bones seven-day Zen retreats for the Mankind Project.

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