November 20

Dear Ones,

I have just completed one round of three chemotherapy treatments for Stage IV pancreatic cancer, a terminal illness. While I sincerely appreciate the benefits of this treatment, I have been listening deeply to this body/mind and soul searching whether to continue with more of this chemical intervention. As of yesterday morning I have decided to not do more chemo, and instead have begun working with Memorial Hospice based in Petaluma as I continue to respectfully engage in the process of dying.

One can't exactly say where such a decision comes from, but I feel more clarity and relief since deciding to focus on "palliative care." This change will allow me to focus on taking good care of this precious body/mind. I feel very fortunate to have wonderful hospice care people based locally and look forward to working with them.

It has been eight weeks since I received this diagnosis. Every day has brought new situations and opportunities for learning, and this will continue in the remaining weeks. I appreciate your understanding that my energy will continue to diminish as time passes, and so my ability to respond will become increasingly limited.

My wife, Lane Olson, will continue to facilitate family communication, and Mary Stares, my assistant, will do the same for sangha and the wider circle of friends. I continue to be deeply grateful for all the love I feel, the chanting and messages of support for my well-being and for the benefit of all beings in need.

I love each and every one of you,
Abbot Myogen Steve Stucky

16 thoughts on “November 20

  1. Molly Gorden

    i 've taken on your transforming practice of gratitude as i begin waking up each morning , breathing with you , sending love . please know you've changed my life from afar,returning me to practice,Roshi,with this, and with your shining example. we love you..
    with 9 bows,
    Molly Sokai

    Reply
  2. Shoho Kerstin Kuebast

    I love you too, Steve! Thank you so much for you love and wisdom!
    Fare well - much blessings, clarity and love for this dying process.
    May its intensity lead you to your innermost being, undoubtedly and with certainty.
    May the last remainder of this songs composition be forever penetrating, illuminating.
    And may our connection always shine its love.
    With you, dying
    Shoho

    Reply
  3. Scott Wren

    Dear Steve,

    I have been closely following your trajectory these past many weeks via the email updates and am greatly moved by the way you are meeting everything. It has been a deep teaching for me and many others I have spoken with--and we are all holding you close in our hearts and minds. May you continue to experience the serenity that comes with acceptance.

    With love,

    Scott

    Reply
  4. Colleen B.

    Thank you so much, Abbot Steve, for sharing your decision. You inspire me so. I'm moved to share a poem by another beloved teacher of mine, poet Bruce Weigl:

    When I'm Gone

    When I'm gone, I won't be here anymore, if you can imagine that. I can.
    I can imagine being gone, and then being somewhere else, somewhere
    entirely different from this place, but with mist as at Dak To,
    only with softer greens and blues, and no small arms fire chatter
    in the untroubled trees, and no poison-tipped bamboo sticks.

    And when I'm gone, I would bequeath the space I had occupied
    to the dreamers, and to the disenfranchised, and to the lost singers of songs,
    so that they might pitch their trash bag tents in peace
    and ease back into the darkness that I love, when I'm gone.

    --Bruce Weigl, from The Abundance of Nothing

    Reply
  5. John Renwick

    Hojo san

    Where is the teacher?

    and, not knowing where to stop, these lyrics i can imagine you singing

    give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above, don't fence me in
    let me ride through the wide open country that i love, don't fence me in
    let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off forever, but i beg you please, don't fence me in

    Reply
  6. Tai Sheridan

    I remember the koi pond and
    'not busy bridge'; the old fig tree
    a weathered guard; once you
    talked about how the solstice
    works, planets, sun, and time;
    it took me years to understand
    why you would listen patiently
    to interruptions, nonsense; you
    the workhorse pulling an empty
    plow, tilling fields so we might
    learn about ourselves,
    and love of course, but more -
    Nobility! So old fashioned, yet
    as bright as a full moon; we are all
    still singing It's a Wonderful World,
    your strumming and vocals have
    enough joy and gravitas for this earth
    to keep spinning awhile; i think of
    you under warm blankets when i
    throw mine over my shoulders
    and sit still at dawn, listening to
    the crows announcing the day; the
    bell rings and you are in my marrow.

    Bows and Blessings, much love...
    Tai

    Reply
  7. Lisa Schiller

    Dearest Steve,

    You have given us all so much. When I first heard of your condition the words out of my mouth were "I love him" You have inspired so many to live in love and compassion. All of arms surround you as you find your way on.
    In gratitude,
    Lisa Schiller

    Reply
  8. Shoen Brian Ferrell

    May all beings on this planet realize the fragility of life. May we all wake up and accept the undeniable truth of death and impermanence. May we not be fooled into believing it only happens to the sick and elderly. We're all riding in the same boat. And may this teaching of impermanence help us wake up and make the most of every precious moment of life. I am with you Myogen. Not physically in your direct presence, but I am here with you in this present moment, on this beautiful home we share called Earth. I also share with you the understanding that life is a precious gift, not to squander, but to appreciate and savour. I love you with all my heart,
    Shoen

    Reply
  9. Steven Harper

    I feel your love Steve... thank you.
    May you feel love from me, love from all of the many people and beings your life is touching, and especially the deep love of the green mountains walking.

    Reply
  10. Dear Myogen Steve

    I continue to think of you and send you comfort and well being. I was just thinking you were in the middle of a big project and probably you had projects at home too and how if it were me, I would feel a little sad, that I could not finish my projects, then I realized probably this creative force just continues wherever we go, the projects are just different.
    Much love and peace to you and best to Lane, Baika

    Reply
  11. Judith Randall

    Dear Steve,

    When I think of you over these past weeks, as I so often do, the image is of a great, ancient redwood tree, deeply rooted, reaching way high into the sky, surrounded by the family of trees in its circle, and those in the vast forest beyond, as far as the heart can see. For me, you will always be that tree, grounded, with life energy flowing up, up and out into everywhereness.

    I remember a simple teaching you gave once at Tassajara at the beginning of a talk. You said that while you were putting on your robes, you were caught up in thinking about something, and when you came back to the present--you said to us--"I fell in love with the sound of cloth." Thank you for all the present-moment teachings you have given us, and will give us, for as long as you live. May we pass them on with as much confidence, love, and light-heartedness as you have.

    With love,

    Judith Randall

    Reply
  12. Michael Maher

    Dearest Myogen, Dearest Teacher, Dearest Heart whispering to Heart,

    Thank you...deeply.
    The gift of your teaching...is profound beyond words.
    It does, and will, stay with all of us, until it can not.
    May you Dear One, and All beings, be eased free of their sufferings.
    I wake and breathe for you Dear Teacher,
    And then wash my old hands and face,
    with the holy water that pours forth
    as I hear myself singing about a red red robin...

    We hear you singing Dearest Friend...
    We hear you singing...

    Gate...Gate..Para Gate...Parasom Gate...Bodhi SvaHaaaaaaa....

    sing When the red red robin...

    Reply

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