Mourning Philip Kapleau, Zen Teacher and Buddhist Pioneer

May 22, 2004

Source: Democrat and Chronicle

On May 22, 2004 the the Democrat and Chronicle reported,On March 1, 1966, Philip Kapleau, then a vigorous 53 years old and fresh from a dozen years in a Japanese Zen monastery, attended an evening meditation session in Rochester. He had just published his to-be-famous The Three Pillars of Zen and was touring to promote the book. 'The minute he came, he said: ‘Sit on the floor,’' said Audrey Fernandez of Brighton, remembering the meeting that was to change her life and enrich the religious character of Rochester. 'Then he began to teach.' Kapleau, a former court reporter and businessman who turned to Zen in his 30s, died May 6 at the age of 91. He had been in poor health for more than a decade, ill with Parkinson’s disease. His passing, friends say, marks the end of an era in which a Westerner introduced Zen Buddhism to a world eager for peace, order and discipline during the social storms of the 1960s and beyond. After that chance March meeting 38 years ago, Kapleau stayed on, founding the Rochester Zen Center in June 1966. It is now one of the largest centers for Buddhist study and practice in North America, with 600 local members, and sister centers in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Sweden, Germany and Poland."