January 12, 2011
Zen teacher Darlene Cohen, known for teaching us all how to live joyfully even in the midst of chronic pain, has died at 68. David Chadwick writes about her final moments with husband, Tony, and son, Ethan, on cuke.com:
Darlene Cohen, Su Rei Ken Po, Great Spirit Manifesting Dharma, died at 1:15 AM this morning.
She was with Tony, Ethan and Matthew. Tony says that one moment she was breathing and the next moment she wasn't. The family had been with her for many hours.
Lisa Hoffman [ordained by Darlene in 2008] reports that Darlene is dressed in her priest robes with her lavender rakusu on a red cloth on the bed in the main room upstairs at Russian River Zendo and that she looks peaceful, like she is about to smile. She has been washed and bathed with yerba santa tea collected from Tassajara.
Lisa wrote soon after Darlene's death, "We will begin chanting in the Dai Shin Dharani upstairs shortly, and then move down to the Zendo with her for the Taiyo ceremony which will be at 7 AM. All are welcome to be part of the ceremony, which is attached so that people further away can have a feel for what we will be doing.
"We will be sitting with Darlene for the next day and a half at RRZ -- all are welcome, and she will be cremated shortly after that."
Farewell dear friend of forty years, great spirit, great attitude, a real inspiration. - dc.
Darlene Cohen began sitting at San Francisco Zen Center in 1970. Read an SFZC tribute to Darlene from 2007 as she battled cancer. Her bio on her website is here. She is the author of several books, including Arthritis: Stop Suffering, Start Moving: Everyday Exercises for Body and Mind and Turning Suffering Inside Out: A Zen Approach to Living with Physical and Emotional Pain. You can find her books here. She also contributed several articles to Tricycle including an essay in the special section "Pain Without Suffering." Wife, mother, and grandmother, Darlene is survived by her husband of many years, Tony Patchell, son Ethan, and grandson Anthony. Best wishes to them and her larger family in the dharma community touched by this loss of a great teacher and friend.
Image courtesy SFZC