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Ming Zhen Shakya
Master Jy Din - A Tiny Remembrance

by Ming Zhen Shakya, OHY
January 7, 2004

Sometimes, even after we study a person, exploring the drifts and shafts of his interior life, we come to the realization that we do not know him very well at all.

Perhaps because our relationship is a working one, we just admire the man for how well he does his job. We are too busy digging up recollections, grading the quality of his excavated memories, to gauge the man himself. There is something vague, missing, and he remains a shadowy figure beside us in those tunnels we explored.

And then he dies and time passes; and suddenly, as it happened to me recently, a little memory surfaces - a tiny flash that lets us see that all those old anthracite obscurities have compressed into something quite engaging. In a dazzling moment, we get him into focus.

When Master Jy Din dictated the memoirs that would become Empty Cloud: the Teachings of Hsu Yun, he came to town and stayed in a hotel. After a while, when he became tired of answering questions, he told me that he wanted to take a long ride through the desert. He wanted to visit a couple of people - a female disciple of his in Lake Havasu City and an old friend in Phoenix. We left early the following morning because his disciple had made reservations for lunch at a fine restaurant on the Lake.

We stopped at her house, an expensive ranch style home. As she led us into the living room, we noticed some engravings on the wall. She had three Whistlers, an Albrecht Dürer that dated from 1510, and a rare Rembrandt entitled, as I recall, "Bust of a Bearded Man." There were others, and all in all, it was an impressive collection.

We went to lunch and ordered the few vegetarian entrees on the menu; but the lady was still so excited to see Master that she was too nervous to eat. He laughed and summoned the waiter, indicating that her food should be put in a container "to go." The waiter took her plate away and returned with one of those ten inch square white Styrofoam boxes which he placed on the table in front of her.

Master Jy Din reached across the table and picked up the box, took out a pen, and on the soft plastic lid, he wrote her name in Chinese characters: Fa Lian.

We had driven to the restaurant in her car; so we returned to her home, got into my car, and continued to our second visit, Master's old friend in Phoenix. When we were half way there, Master realized that he had mistakenly left a loose-leaf sized zippered bag at her house. In the bag were some brochures and a couple of slim books that he had intended to give her; but the bag itself he wanted to keep. It was a souvenir bag from a flight on the Concorde, given to him by a friend. Master got a kick out of owning something that had flown faster than sound.

I told him not to worry. I planned to be in the Havasu City area in a few weeks and I would pick up the bag and return it to him.

On our way back, we stopped at the Grand Canyon - a destination he said that he had dreamed about for years.

Finally, he was back in his hotel, there was more dictation, and then he flew back to Honolulu.

A few weeks later, I went to Lake Havasu and stopped at the lady's house to retrieve the bag. There, framed and positioned between the Rembrandt and the Dürer, was a section of Styrofoam lid, the part on which Master Jy Din had written her name. 

Last modified: July 11, 2004
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