A traditional pairing of services will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of San Francisco Zen Center's first central abbot, who passed away in the early hours of December 31, 2013. A half-hour morning service follows a relatively abbreviated evening service the previous day.
Memorial services at City Center:
Tuesday, December 30, evening service, 6:15 pm (Kaisando)
Wednesday, December 31, morning service, 6:30 am (Buddha Hall)
Myogen Steve Stücky placing a photo of Suzuki Roshi at Zen Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration at City Center in 2012 (photo: Susana Millman); at Tassjara in 2009 (photo: Liping Zhu); and on a horse-drawn plow at Green Gulch in the early 1970s.
Myogen Steve Stücky brought to the abbacy his many years of practice—as a resident of Zen Center from 1972-80, as the founder and guiding teacher of the Dharma Eye Zen Center in San Rafael (1995-2013), and as co-leader of the San Quentin Buddhadharma Sangha. Steve received dharma transmission from Sojun Mel Weitsman in 1993. For many years he supported a family as a self-employed landscape designer/contractor. He was in training for several years as an Internal Family Systems therapist and pastoral counselor, and was a previous board president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association. He became co-abbot in February 2007, and Zen Center's first central abbot in 2010. In September 2013, shortly after committing to an extended abbatial term into 2017, he was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. His health declined rapidly until his death on December 31 of the same year, at age 67. He is remembered, in part, for courageously sharing his dying process with the sangha through the Subtle Eye blog during the difficult months of his illness. He is survived by his spouse, Lane Olson, who he lived with in Rohnert Park, three adult children and four grandchildren. (Full obituary.)
The procession, presenting several ceremonial objects at the altar, such as Steve's robes, bowls, staff and other items. His ashes were carried in around the neck of Linda Ruth Cutts, as shown here.
(All ceremony photos by Shundo David Haye.)
The funeral ceremony for Abbot Steve was held at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center on Sunday, February 9, at 3 pm. The two-hour ceremony was live streamed on the web and projected on screens for the overflow seating in Cloud Hall at Green Gulch and in the dining room at City Center—all while a steady downpour refreshed the land amid one of the most severe regional droughts on record. A reception afterward filled both the Green Gulch dining room and the Wheelwright Center. This post offers some records from the day honoring the memory of Myogen: ...continue reading
The following videos record an interview with Steve made at Tassajara late last summer by Ryan Gray, a retreat participant and videographer who decided, somewhat spontaneously, to make the video soon after meeting Steve there (see his explanation below*).
Part 1 (9:19) presents some very general background on Tassajara, as well as on Zen and meditation. Part 2 (13:29) gives more detail about daily life at Tassajara and a brief history of Zen.
Abbot Myogen Talks Part 1 from Urban Warrior Academy on Vimeo.
The funeral ceremony for Myogen Steve Stücky at 3 pm on Sunday, February 9, will be live streamed from Green Dragon Temple on SFZC's live stream channel. In addition, the live stream will be projected on a screen at City Center for those who wish to join in the ceremony by coming together in this way. The recording will be available on the channel shortly afterward for later viewing.
Photo: Renshin Bunce
A funeral ceremony for Myogen Steve Stücky will be held at 3 pm on Sunday, February 9, 2014, led by Abbess Eijun Linda Cutts at Green Dragon Temple, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, 1601 Shoreline Highway, Muir Beach, California. (The Obonsho, or bell, begins at 2:45 pm.) A reception will follow the ceremony. Please carpool, as parking is limited.
In lieu of flowers, and in accord with Steve’s wishes, the family suggests that donations may be made to San Francisco Zen Center’s Widening the Circle Capital Campaign, on the web at imagine.sfzc.org, or mailed to the address below. Comments to the family or Zen Center are also welcome on the Subtle Eye blog, or by mail. ...continue reading
It has been 5 days since Myogen's death and 97 days since his diagnosis. Hardly time for me to have any sort of perspective. I have been thinking about him a great deal over the last days and weeks and a couple of things stand out for me. ...continue reading
Steve's body is laid out in a room dedicated for sitting with him at his home. The room, once used as a zendo by both the former home owners and briefly by Steve's Dharma Eye group, opens onto a courtyard with a koi pond and soothing fountain sounds. People can continue to sit with Myogen until 4 pm today, when the funeral home will come to take the body.
A public ceremony will be offered at the funeral home Monday morning at 10 am. At some point during this ceremony, family and dharma heirs will step out into a small adjacent private room for the cremation while the assembly chants in the chapel. Sojun Mel Weitsman will preside. All are welcome at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, 1700 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol, California (707-823-5042). ...continue reading
The following obituary was posted on SFZC's Sangha News blog this afternoon.
Daitsu Myogen Steven Stücky (Great Pervading Subtle Eye; March 6, 1946 – December 31, 2013)
San Francisco Zen Center’s first central abbot, Myogen Steve Stücky, died shortly after 4:00 on the morning of December 31 at his home in Rohnert Park, California. He was 67. Since receiving a diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer in late September, he has been widely admired for courageously sharing publicly his ongoing personal process of living with terminal illness, first in a dharma talk titled “Gratitude,” given two days after receiving his diagnosis, and subsequently with posts on his Subtle Eye blog. His longtime emphasis on body practice—learning from and respecting the body—took on a particular poignancy in the months leading up to his death. As he said in his talk, “Each of us can do something, right up to the last moment.”
Photo: Ren Bunce
Steve died this morning at 4:04, peacefully at home with family. At City Center beginning at 6:00 this morning, we rang the densho (bell) 108 times, followed by a service. Similar services were held at Green Gulch and Tassajara, and we are all sitting with his memory today.
Family and sangha members are preparing the body and dressing him in an okesa that had been sewed for him over the last several months.
All are invited to come and sit with the body at his home beginning at noon today until late afternoon Thursday, including through the night hours. No appointment is needed. The address is 335 Alden Ave., Rohnert Park, CA 94928. Enter through the garden gate at the front. ...continue reading
I have not provided an update since before the Stepping Down Ceremony on December 15th, and I am having a surprisingly difficult time calling Steve not Abbot Steve but Senior Dharma Teacher Steve. Although this is the title normally given to abbots who step down, it just does not have the same ring. In the ceremony the moment of change happens when the person who is holding the whisk transfers that to the other hand, takes up the fan and puts down the whisk. It takes but a moment, ceremonially. It seems a much more complex process outside of that defining ceremony. So I'm working with the new title as I continue to struggle with this disease. ...continue reading