RIP Barrie Mason 4/1/2021 - Wednesday evening
Farewell dear friend. She came to the Zen Center first in 1968. She's been involved with various Buddhist groups since then. She was a regular at Sonoma County's Back Porch Zendo for six years. In recent years she's been practicing with Chris Fortin's sangha in Sonoma County.
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Barrie on coming to Zen Center and Shunryu Suzuki down at the bottom of this page.
barrie died in her home. i visited her a week ago, she was in discomfort but was warm and welcoming. her housekeeper found her body in her bed on friday morning [originally reported Thursday morning]. she was diagnosed with cancer about 3 months ago. she was going to be admitted to hospice after a recent short hospital stay but died before this could happen. bruce and i went to her home yesterday afternoon, i washed her body and we chanted with gathered friends and neighbors. her body is at pleasant hill mortuary in sebastpol where she will be cremated. her younger brother bill will come in from out of state to take care of her affairs
she lived on a small piece of property that she owned in santa rosa ca. with her partner richard, 2 beloved goats, chickens , and 8+ cats. in addition she faithfully and with great devotion fed and cared for many feral cats . she loved and cared for many plants on her property and grew lotuses. she would have a lotus viewing every year for the sangha. her neighbors testified to a very loving and caring person who took care off and looked out for everyone. there was great grief in the air. she was clearly loved but it seems only recently began to let in that people cared for and loved her.
barrie had worked in the past as an mft in women’s shelters and acute care mental facilities. the woman who lives in the trailer in the back of barries property met her in a woman’s shelter 45 years ago and they remained friends. sanna rose, a friend who remained in touch with barrie and helped her throughout her illness had known barrie for decades.
barrie as you know was a character. she had a great love and abiding love for suzuki roshi.
i was so glad that she was practicing with dharma heart zen. she did it on her own terms , which is how she lived her life. she could have a gruff exterior but underneath there was a tender heart of gold. she was a bodhisattva in her own little corner of the world.
the sangha will miss her, as will her neighbors, friends and many animals!
Barbara Wenger sends a photo and writes:
Barrie with Lichen Brown. We were with the 1973-75 Zen Center preschool on an outing to Golden Gate Park's Children's Playground. We were dressed as clowns...a scary thing these days! I've gotten to know Barrie better over the years and am deeply sorry for her loss.
From the Winter 1970-71 Wind Bell
Steve Weintraub took me to a lecture at Sokoji in the winter of '68-'69. That was my introduction to Suzuki Roshi. I went to zazen a few times and met Steve's roommates on Pine Street, Margret Kress, and Tim & Betsy Ford. I was impressed how kind they were to each other.
After zazen and service, students would file past Suzuki Roshi one by one and bow to him. I hadn't been told about this procedure and had no idea what to do when I walked into the small room and was face to face with Roshi. He gave me a very severe look and gasshoed towards me, so I bowed to him and walked past him thinking, “He's not very nice.”
In the spring of 1969 I met Bill Lane, and moved into an apartment with him on California Street. We worked nights the Rincon Annex sorting mail. This apartment was closer to Sokoji than I had lived before so I attended more often, mostly to lectures. I went to Trudy Dixon's funeral. At one point in the ceremony Suzuki Roshi let out an emotional scream. This impressed me as a very genuine thing to do at a funeral. Later in the summer Bill and I visited Tassajara for a weekend where I heard Roshi give his lecture about “putting rocks in the air.”
Bill and I were tired of working nights the Post Office and sleeping days above noisy California Street so we accepted a caretaking position at Lower Tubbs Island Bird Sanctuary. After I year there I moved into the building on Page Street where I began to have more contact with Suzuki Roshi. He lectured usually once or twice a week, sat zazen in the zendo with us, ate meals in the dining room with us, and led sesshins. Once I was walking in the upstairs hall with Michael Gilmore and Myron Thomas who was carrying a six pack of beer. Suzuki Roshi came towards us from the other direction, I expected him to say something to them, but he greeted us in a friendly manner. One Sunday morning after breakfast I was in the flop room with other students reading the Sunday paper. Roshi came in, asked for a cup of coffee, poured in sugar, drank it, and said “Strong medicine!” He then did sort of a somersault in his robes and got up and left.
During this period Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was in San Francisco. Because I liked his writing, his lectures, and because some of my friends were following him to Boulder, I thought about going. I asked Suzuki Roshi if I should go, he told me he didn't think it was a good place for a young woman. I am very grateful for his protective advice.
In the fall I went to Tassajara.
Katagiri Roshi led the training period because Suzuki Roshi was not well. When
it was announced in the zendo that he had terminal cancer people sobbed. We came
up from Tassajara for the ceremony to see Richard Baker installed as Abbott. I
was shocked to see how Roshi had turned yellow. We went back to Tassajara, Roshi
died during the Rohatsu sesshin.
I visited the mortuary to sit with Roshi's body, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was there also, the three of us were together in silence in the little room.
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