Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ji Jang Bosal

Dear Sangha,

Our dear friend J.W. Harrington took his own life today. We are devastated. Please chant Ji Jang Bosal for him and Kwan Seum Bosal for his wife Jayne.

In the Dharma,
Soeng Hyang Zen Master

JW was the long-time administrative director for the Kwan Um School of Zen, occasionally my boss when I lived at Providence Zen Center and worked in its offices, and a personal friend for 15 years.

Although most of us knew he had had a very difficult winter, this action came as a surprise and a shock.

Here is JW (with my friend Tam) the last day I saw him. He had helped us arrange a 100-day blessing ceremony for my son last summer, and was on hand that day to celebrate.

Our chant for the deceased is the name of Ji Jang Bosal, a bodhisattva thought to protect the dead, children, and travelers. Chanting is a way to grieve with conscious awareness. It feels almost like gathering up all the sadness and the relief from slowly, painfully, letting go of someone we love (thus allowing their transition to be complete), and dedicating all of it to the deliverance of all sentient beings.

So I went into the garage tonight and broke out the chanting book (it has been some time since I did a Ji Jang Bosal chant), found my hands shaking.

His loss will be felt by a great many people whom he helped. He was an efficient and friendly presence, an indispensable team member, and did I mention a good friend who laughed often.

Some things in this life are incomprehensible. We acknowledge this all the time in Zen lore, but this is an event that reminds us just how surprising and incomprehensible it can be. Damn, this hurts.

During the next 49 days I will be doing Ji Jang Bosal chanting for JW, and his name will be on our altar. Please feel free to add more names to the altar, now or at any time.


Lorianne said...

This is so, so sad. Tonight I'm chanting with a heavy heart.

Rebel HQ said...

Thank you, Algernon for your beautiful words. I am speechless, and devastated. So are the children. I'll take me a long time to make peace with it, and let go... Love to you, and your family. Dorota

Pam said...

Alg, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend!

Kelly said...

I'm truly sorry for your loss, Algernon.

I will remember his friends and loved ones in my prayers.

Ji Hyang said...

Chanting here, too.

quid said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Please add my friend Penny to your altar. It is hard to get over losing a friend to breast cancer... so many are cured now. But Penny lives on in my heart, and I would be honored to have her on your altar.


Jane R said...

Prayers from here... We recently lost a friend from the Episcopal cyber-community to suicide. A shock as well. I am so sorry for your loss. We never know what is going on in people's hearts, even when they seem happy on the outside.

If you can, remember the man I just mentioned. His name was Lee.