Author Archives: Jay Pennington

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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 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 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.)

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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

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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.

...continue reading

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Photo: Sara TashkerThe 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.

 

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Photo: Renshin Bunce
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

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sitting_w_body_123113_x450Steve'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

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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. SteveStucky_RenshinBunce_withPhCredit_colorbalSince 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.”

...continue reading

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Steve in Eiheiji Rakusu NEF_RenshinBunce_closeup
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

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Photo: Renshin Bunce

My death asks so much of you. Please accept this as a teaching for yourself and for our Sangha. Accept with gratitude. —Myogen Steve Stücky

In a modified ceremony on Sunday, December 15, Abbot Steve Stücky formally stepped down from his position as central abbot of San Francisco Zen Center. ...

See full article with transcript of the ceremony and photos on the Sangha News blog.

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Tass-card_121213As mentioned in the last post, Abbot Steve now receives regular medication injections and is able to “dose” himself as needed. This is a relief for all of his caregivers and, once again, we give thanks for the wonderful care he is receiving from Petaluma Hospice and, in particular, his doctor Steve Hadland and lead nurse Cynthia Clarkson.

During last week's hospital stay at a visit to the on-site chapel, Lane was recognized by hospital chaplain Joé Annette Lille of Stone Creek Zendo, who offered words of comfort. When Steve woke up later that day, he found a beautiful card of the old gatehouse altar at Tassajara made by Peggy Denial and signed by Joé. It sits in his bedroom now. "We are the beneficiaries of such tender mercies," says Lane.

SJS_121213As his mobility has declined, Abbot Steve has found a way to set up an office in the living room where each day he keeps up with communications, as he is able. Tonight he will skype with the annual Dharma Eye Zen Center Solstice Party in Marin County. He and Lane are sending solstice greetings to all in the ten directions.