In Zen Buddhist monasteries and Zen Centers specific bells announce different activities. Zazen, meals, work. Han, umpam, densho. Besides helping the communication in a quiet environment, the readiness to meet this calling brings us back to the present and also reminds us that in the moment of death there’s no extra 5 minutes.
This reality about death never been so clear and sad for me as last week. My friend Sioen died in Tassajara right after ringing the wake up bell. Massive heart attack. The immediate help with defibrillator was not enough. The fact that he was taking the drugs for treatment of AIDS can explain his heart was weak, even though he was well and full of energy.
Without prior notice he was gone. I think about it and come to my mind to the message every night in ZendoBrasil “Life and death are of supreme importance, quickly time goes away and the opportunity is lost. Each one must strive to awaken. CAUTION, do not waste this life.”
He did not waste and no doubt made every effort to awaken and help others awaken too. We worked together in the City Center kitchen for 6 months. He was the fukuten, responsible for organizing the preparation of meals. Full of energy and creativity, fond of spices and peppers. He was specially good in Arab cuisine, family legacy and Indian, which he was a lover. Generous, more than once he went to buy gluten free flour so I could eat pizza or some other thing tasty and full of wheat flour. He also enjoyed a good discussion, especially on the procedures in the kitchen. Sometimes we argue to each other, but instead of it becoming a problem, the energy discussion is diluted and respect because we are following a path together was stronger.
When said good bye to him two weeks ago in Tassajara and told him my plans of coming back going back he told me “great, I’m going to be here” and “thanks for practicing with me.” Thank you, Sioen. For your practice, your generosity and talent.