On Sunday, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist who came to the United States in 1962 and went on to become one of the country’s most influential, if not most controversial, Zen teachers, died at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles. He was 107 years old.
Although said to have no dharma heirs, Joshu Roshi had legions of followers who founded about 30 Zen centers, from Seattle to Oslo, Vancouver to Berlin, some of which later closed. He led a large center in Los Angeles and two training centers in the Southwest, one in New Mexico and one at Mount Baldy, in the mountains east of Los Angeles. The poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen lived at Mount Baldy in the 1990s, lending his teacher a semimythic status among spiritually inclined rock fans.