In Memory of Thomas Nash

Thomas Nash, a member of the Stone Creek Zen Center community, has passed away. We will conduct a memorial service for him soon.

Some years ago, he gave a way-seeking mind talk at Stone Creek. The text he prepared follows:

To Zen To Stone Creek Zendo

In 1968 I was introduced to Zen Philosophy by Allen Watts
on San Francisco’s KMPX underground radio station.
On his Sunday morning show, Allen shocked me once by saying in
his (sometimes) arrogant voice, that you should get “it” together,
or kill yourself. I wondered about this statement? Soon I was meditating

One of my most early memories is that of a funny little man that
would do this magic trick with a radish. He would hold the radish
with both hands cupped, shake them, then hold each hand to his side.
I would then point to what hand I thought the radish was in. He would
grin, then open the empty hand and we would laugh and laugh. I would
point to the other hand with the same results. I searched and searched,
but never found out where the radish went?

This funny man magician was named Suzuki and he was our family cook in Japan,
1947 durning the American occupation. My father was a Army Major then.
My Nanny at the time, would translate my two year old Japanese words
to English for my parents. I spoke little English.

Growing up as a “Army Brat” my father (Col Roshi) would hold a
Saturday morning inspection of our rooms. If we failed the inspection,
it was held again the next Saturday. I learned about detachment from
friends, schools, homes, because of moving so much. Nature became
my Zazen as I would sit for hours in this quiet. I wandered the East
Bay hills, or sat fishing off the Berkeley Pier, watching, observing the
“slow flow”

On many nights, my friend and I would follow the underground storm
drains that ran to the Bay, underneath the city. Sometimes, in the dark,
my brother who is blind, would be our fearless navigator. If he took off
running and you were to scared to run into the unknown, you would be
left, marooned, in the void.

In the Army, boot camp retreat, we chanted our cadences, rising before dawn,
running in the silence, standing still, breath slowing.

Viet Nam Third World! The simplistic beauty of the rural farming hamlets.
No excess, trash, junk. everything in place, perfect!

Trail incense shrines in beautiful setting. A familiarness of temples,
curious about walking monks in robes.

Waiting, quietly in the pitch black for my eyes to adjust to night vision,
my breath softens

The no mind focused,heightened awareness of point man on combat patrol.

Going Native, squat eating with chopsticks and wooden bowl.
Staying at Mamason’s, not going back to my unit.

The Zen Mind of the Sixties Revolution! Anything goes!
“Orange Sunshine Acid” Nirvana. Everyone is Buddha!

“Going back to the Boonies” “Dropping Out! Checking in!
“Following the Tao” My sole possessions, three blankets, a cooking
pot, and “Begging Bowl” “Have any spare change?”

Sitting! Watching the tide change above my cliff side bush at
“Green Gulf Ranch” shiny eyed cows munching!

The reckless shallow water dive. Born again, now a Quadriplegic.
Saved by the Dharma! Surrender! Detach! Trust! I still sit and do nothing!
In the space between the lines, magic abounds!

Building a intentional spiritual community, deep in the bible belt,
“Zen Mind Beginners Mind” our Gospel! 300 on hillside watching
sunrise, sitting Zazen, Meditation in Action!

Our teacher passes on Suzuki Roshi’s mind melt and…..
As we would look into each other’s eyes
Besides recognition or greeting
There would be a hint of excitement
The possibility of unspoken attainment
Losing the self, dropping the fears
The judgments that bind us from flying free
A unconditional majestic love
Carrying us to a sacred place
A state of clear beauty
Where healing, understanding, protection is possible
Back to “Forgotten Roots”  our “Original nature”
All capable of returning to
Once again and again

Sonoma County, many Zen Groups later
In Woman’s Voice’s I find Stone Creek Zendo,
Jisho and You! A fresh heartfelt look at Zen!

Thank You!

Thomas Nash
May 2009