Tag: ancestors

FLASHBACK: Issan Thomas Dorsey Roshi, Sanctus

issan-girl-boy

I first came across the name of Issan Dorsey when reading a book called Shoes Outside the Door, about the San Francisco Zen Center. SFZC was famous as the home of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, one of the first Zen teachers in the West, and later infamous as the home of Richard Baker Roshi, successor to Suzuki, who was at the center of a knot of scandal involving sex with students, misuse of community funds, and all the stuff that makes for good reading. At present Baker Roshi is still teaching, but not at San Francisco Zen Center, and SFZC has survived the death of Suzuki Roshi and the scandal of Baker Roshi and keeps on going.

Dorsey was one name among many in a four- or five-hundred page book full of names, interviews, histories, but he stood out. A gay man, a former drag queen, a sometime junkie, Dorsey used his Zen training and the Dharma transmission which Baker Roshi gave him to minister to people, mostly other gay men, with AIDS. Under his leadership, a club for gay men who were also Buddhists became a Zen center that supported a hospice, the first hospice run by Buddhists in the U.S. Dorsey himself died of AIDS in 1990, but his Zen center, now also known as Issan-ji Temple, continues to serve.

I followed Suzuki Roshi into a biography, Crooked Cucumber by David Chadwick, and Dorsey Roshi into another biography, Street Zen by David Schneider. Then I went on to other things, but I never quite forgot Issan Dorsey. Last year, when I began to practice Antinoan devotion and observe the calendar of the Ekklesia Antinoou, I looked at the Calendar of the Sancti and found Dorsey Roshi again. I am honored to count him as a spiritual ancestor.

I recommend reading Street Zen–try your local library system before you try Amazon. Here are some links pertinent to Dorsey Roshi’s life and work:

Hartford Street Zen Center, which he founded

a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece on Dorsey from June 13, 1988 by Katy Butler
Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemakers reflects on Dorsey
And from Joan Halifax Roshi, two stories (this is a pdf).

There’s much more out there: Dorsey Roshi’s legacy is alive, and so is he. Now let me combine traditions, if I may:

Ignis corporis infirmat, ignis sed animae persistat!

Nine bows to Issan Thomas Dorsey Roshi!

(Originally published at Antinous for Everybody)

POEM: To Tolkien on his birthday

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An icon by Robert Lentz

You wandered among the trees, pipe gripped
between your teeth, dreaming of elder days,
when you might have been a poet singing
in a firelit hall. Instead you wandered among
the trees and told your tales to friends in pubs
and wandered back to dreary students
grubbing at the ancient roots of language.
Every language a mythology, every mythology
a universe: Your languages, your mythology,
your universe endure, your memory enshrined
along with Homer, Virgil, Dante, Amergin
and Taliesin and the lost poets of the North,
Ent-namer, mythmaker, word-lover, Elf-friend.

Requiem for the trans dead, movement eight

VIII. In paradisum

Imagine there is a city.

Imagine there is a city which is also a garden.

Imagine that trees grow in this city

which flower and fruit at the same time.

Imagine that a river runs

through this city

and four rivers spring out of it

and the waters run out

to the four directions.

Imagine the streets of this city

are broad and clear,

paved with white

or inlaid with mosaic.

Imagine the windows

of the houses are open

to the light and the air,

and the doors

of the houses are open

to visitors and guests.

Imagine that fountains flow

in the parks, and the pigeons

eat from your hand, and the dogs

play without aggression

as the cats look on

from the window sills.

Imagine the people

walking there, walking in

the street, singing

in their doorways,

cooking at their hearths.

Imagine them in all colors,

imagine them in all genders,

imagine them in all races,

imagine them in all sexualities,

imagine them in shining robes,

in glorious hats, in golden shoes,

in jewelled sandals, in shimmering veils.

Imagine that you are welcome there.

Imagine being led into the city

through the gates that are never shut

while trumpets blare on the towers

and flash mobs dance in the streets.

Imagine there is a house for you

and in this house is every thing

you ever wanted and every person

you ever loved knows the address.

Imagine what you would call this city.

Jerusalem? Antinopolis? Alexandria?

New York? Shambala? London?

Imagine that you are going there, now.

Imagine that you are home.

Requiem for the trans dead, movement seven

VII. An ancient dirge

On this night, on this night,
every night and all,
fire and fleet and candlelight,
and gods receive your souls.

If shoes and stockings
were taken away,
at the first gate
put them on

If skirt or trousers
were taken away
at the second gate
put them on

If shirt or blouse
were taken away,
at the third gate
put them on

If hat or wig
were taken away,
at the fourth gate
put them on

If jewels or gauds
were taken away,
at the fifth gate
put them on

If cash and cards
were taken away,
at the sixth gate
take them up

If hungry and thirsty
you may be,
at the seventh gate
there waits for thee

food and drink
fire and friends
light and a guide
on this night

on this night
every night and all
gates stand open
for the trans dead
gods receive your souls

Requiem for the trans dead, movement six

VI. Libera me

O Antinous the Liberator, deliver us.

Deliver the living from transphobia

and the trans dead from their fears.

Deliver the living from the fear of Eros

and the trans dead from their unrequited loves.

Deliver the living from the tyranny of gender roles

and the trans dead from the tyranny of the body.

Deliver the living and the dead alike from all evils

that would harm the body, that would assault

and deform the soul. O Antinous, liberate us!

 

May Panprosdexia free the minds of the living

and the souls of the trans dead.

May Panhyle free the bodies of the living

and the remains of the trans dead.

May Paneros free the hearts of the living

and the hearts of the trans dead.

May Pancrates burn the bonds of the living

and likewise of the trans dead.

May Paneris contest with all hatred among the living

and defend and protect the trans dead.

May Panprosdexia succor the living

and find all the trans dead, wherever they may be,

and lead them home to the light.

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement five

V. Communion

Lux aeterna
May light eternal shine on the trans dead
and may the light of judgment shine upon their murderers.
May light eternal shine on the path they take
and may the light of condemnation shine upon their bullies.
May light eternal shine for them, a beacon in their darkness,
and may light like a laser search the consciences of the bigots.
Light can be a blessing, sunlight, moonlight,
a candle in the darkness, a string of tiny bulbs,
but light can also be a curse, probing, searing,
burning, cauterizing the wound so it will not bleed.
May the dead walk safely into the light.
May the living walk safely under the light.
May the guilty find no rest, only the torment of light.
When there is justice, then may the trans dead
rest and remain in peace.

Requiem for the Trans Dead, movement four

IV. Offertorium

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex Gloriae

O Antinous, Liberator of souls,

Navigator of the Boat of Millions of Years,

Lover and beloved of the queers, the homos,

the fags, the dykes, the trannies,

the green carnations and the pink stars:

Deliver the souls and spirits, the bones and shades

of the trans dead from the wandering road,

from the unhallowed place.

May Panprosdexia lead them

out of the deepest pit.

May Pancrates rescue them

from the lion’s mouth.

May Paneros draw them

from the bottomless lake.

May Panpsyche guide them

through the restless winds.

May Panhyle protect them

and their bodies’ resting-place.

O Antinous, beautiful, just, benevolent,

gather them aboard

your Boat of Millions of Years

and take them to the afterlife

of their heart’s desire.

 

Hostia et preces

To the gods we offer sacrifice and prayers

on behalf of the trans dead, remembered

and unremembered, to all the gods

in all the heavens, in all the hells,

in every purgatory and limbo, on behalf

of all the souls, male or female or both

or neither, that they may be welcomed

onto the Boat of Millions of Years

and taken to the afterlife

of their hearts desire.