Zen pioneer Charlotte Joko Beck dies

After recently entering hospice, Charlotte Joko Beck, the very influential Zen teacher and bestselling author, has died.

Beck, born in 1917, began her practice of Zen with Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi, from whom she received Dharma transmission.

She was the founder, in 1983, of the Zen Center of San Diego and, in 1995, of the Ordinary Mind Zen School. Through her teachings, and her work as the author of two modern Zen classics — Everyday Zen: Love and Work and Nothing Special: Living Zen — Beck became a very visible and widely admired force among the first generation of America’s convert Buddhists. Her influence continues on through her teachings and through those for whom she was a direct teacher.

Elihu Smith, a student of Beck’s, today shared a new message from Beck’s daughter Brenda (writing also on behalf of Beck’s son), with whom he’s been keeping in contact. It reads, in part: “Our mother, Joko, died peacefully at 0730 Wednesday June 15, 2011. Love to all and thank you for your prayers for a peaceful passing for the most amazing person I have ever known.”

According to the Twitter account of fellow Zen teacher Joan Halifax, among Beck’s last words was the statement,”This too is wonder.”