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R.I.P. The Death and Revival of Kitabu Roshi…A Present from God

December 27, 2014 by · 0 

Jesus from Sabine

We cannot cause ourselves to be born, nor can we resurrect ourselves after death. Still, there is a power beyond us who can work a miracle as a matter of course. Most of my life I was drawn to the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas, to the rich aromas of home-cooked foods, and the promise of the circle of love provided by family and friends. There was no Thanksgiving for me this year, and almost no Christmas.

Thanksgiving weekend I died. While there were those who observed the drama within the realm of time and space; they saw the ambulance and watched the medical staff working on my body,I was aware of nothing at all...absolutely nothing. The story of what happened to me comes from family who accompanied me to the hospital. They saw the heroic efforts of the EMT's and doctors. Through them I learned just how fragile my life was from moment to moment, day by day. They counted the time but for me nothing existed, not even me. This was the void, not the philosophical void but the all engulfing reality.

Talk is not good enough.

Talk is not good enough.

I have taught Zen and demonstrated the Martial way in many countries. Though I never claimed I exerted full control over my ability, I could use my understanding and inner-power at will. A sense of mastery comes from being able to adapt to circumstances, expected and unexpected but what is it like to lose everything, to have no power at all? There can be no self-reliance, no joriki (self-power) where there is no self. In Zen, no-self is called muga. To grasp this as a concept is not grasping at all. By virtue of the death experience muga became my reality. It was not a thought but nothing had value unless the void could be left behind. Family watched around the clock while I remained unresponsive. From their vantage point there might not be a return. I was in  a coma. In that state I could have been a stone.

Suddenly, as the blowing out of the light, my consciousness returned. My life before the crisis was clear but my mind was empty of  everything leading up to my  re-awakening. Returning to the world came with great physical pain. It seemed that pain was the map back to the world. I followed it. Now I was brand new with old memories to remind me of where I came from and who I had been. I say "had been" because that life now seemed to be only reflections on a sun-drenched lake. There was nothing substantial to hold on to.

Koln, Germany-A street painter brings colosr to life

Köln, Germany-A street painter brin gs colosr to life

In this photo submitted by Soul Sword Art Director, Sabine Kleftogiannis, a street painter in Köln, Germany, produces "living art" from mere colors. We, too, are the products of a consciousness not our own. We need to acknowledge that to expand our awareness and truly come alive.

Two days before Christmas the hospital released me to finish recovering at home. I was not 100% but my progress amazed the medical team. What amazes me still is knowing that there was a period when I was dead. I was dead in every way. I felt nothing, heard nothing and knew nothing but I returned with a fully functioning mind.

Long before I discovered the Zen way I embraced Jesus Christ. There was no conflict. We cannot give birth to ourselves. We cannot resurrect ourselves after we die. We need a power outside of self to act on our behalf. Even if there are highly technical machines and medical giants working to restore us, everything and everyone is ultimately powered by God. The entire universe is swimming in the ocean that is God. In Zen, faith in Other power, such as God, is called tariki. I am humbled and encouraged to bear witness to this power who is always present.

Elightenment Centerfold Kitabu

A few days before Thanksgiving I lost contact with all life and everything in it. By Christmas it was all given back to me. No words can express how my inner-life has changed. For many years my teachings have been inspired by my satori. Now I feel a new deepness merging with the old. I was given two special gifts, a brief death and restoration. I give thanks for these gifts.

Sometimes there is a warning, even if only a split-second heads up but there may not be. Death can just happen. The world can be snatched away and you can do nothing to alter the course of events. To know this is a good thing.

Sun-faced Buddha, Moon-faced Buddha. We are not the sun. We are not gods. We are reflections of each other.

If anything can penetrate the darkness, it is love. The love of a spouse, one's children, a sibling, and in my case my students acted as radar leading me back to the earth plane.

Many people said they prayed or were praying for me. I do not discount the power of prayer but I found that the presence of a loved one, whether in body or voice had an amplified affect on my condition.

As if to underscore this point, as I was finishing this article, my phone rang. It was  Bobbi Humphrey,"The First Lady of Jazz, "renown for her mastery of the flute. She had received the slightest hint of my ordeal and wanted to know what happened to me. Our friendship began in the 70's. She celebrated the release of her first album and I celebrated the publication of Kung Fu: The Master, my first book. We met at WNYE Radio station in Brooklyn, New York. At the close of the program we rode the subway together and discovered we lived only a block apart. A spiritual friendship was forged that never faded. Hearing her concern, feeling her genuineness, touched my heart. Bobbi decided to take a loss by accepting an underpaying gig because it would put her minutes from my city. We would soon be face to face after years of emails and phone calls. That is the kind of friendship that has a healing affect on the soul. Many of my friends, students, and family made sacrifices for me during my ordeal, Bobbi Humphrey, is one more example.

Death has taken so many of my friends and family in recent years, one died only hours ago. He was Reverend Jean Castel, the husband of Gospel singer, Paulette Castel. We had a forty year History. I share the grief. This time I am in the unfamiliar state of balancing worlds. I feel like I  have dual citizenship. Who speaks, spirit or matter?

When light illuminates the darkness there is no darkness left. The Light awakened me from what could have been eternal sleep.  Everything seems different now but the peace of that experience prevails from day to day.It is all I have connecting me to the known and the unknown.

I am the late Roshi Kitabu Turner. The world I see now is already gone...how amazing this is.

Blue eyes

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