|James Ford and me at my ordination ceremony July 2004|
Today the Temple is hosting a farewell party for my teacher, James Myo'un Ford, Roshi, as he prepares to move his life westward to Long Beach, California. He'll be making the Temple his home base for the next two weeks, and today many sangha members will come for a pot-luck dinner at 5, followed by a ceremony of celebration, which should be sufficiently moving and embarrassing for him in turn. Advice, roasting, and stories will all be invited from the crowd. There will be gifts and even a song especially composed for the occasion by Nat Needle: Why are James and Jan Going to the West?
As I sit and wait for the hordes of well-wishers to arrive, I am moved to reflect on my own good fortune to have encountered James. We met in 2001, after I had left my first Zen teacher over disagreements about his ethical behavior. It was a sad and confusing time for me, and then suddenly James appeared (from the West!) and adopted me as his student. Later, he ordained me, and then made me his first Dharma heir. His generous style of teaching has had a profound impact on me. I regularly say that he saved my life. It's not an exaggeration.
Together with my husband David Dae An Rynick, Roshi, and James' second Dharma heir, Josh Mu'nen Bartok, Sensei, we created Boundless Way Zen, a new American Zen school that emphasizes koan study and shikantaza in equal measure, and which promotes the practice of Zen in everyday life. James plans to remain in touch as he heads to Long Beach to start a west coast branch of Boundless Way Zen, and I look forward to many phone calls and skype visits, as well as his occasional return to the east coast when his life permits. The Dharma bond exists outside of space and time, and for that I will be grateful forever. Safe travels, James!