It is with shock and sadness that we hear of the sudden death of Kyogen Carlson, co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center and pioneer in the transmission of Zen to the West. He collapsed of a heart attack this morning on his way to eat breakfast with his community.
Kyogen ordained in 1972 under Jiyu Kennett at Shasta Abbey, later serving as her personal attendant for many years. He and his wife, Gyokuko, later left Shasta Abbey to work with the Zen community in Portland, OR. They eventually established Dharma Rain Zen Center, a community that continues to flourish as it builds a large-scale practice and residential complex in Portland. Before his passing, Kyogen had just seen the walls go up on the community’s new meditation hall.
The author of Zen in the American Grain, Kyogen was a strong supporter of lay practice even while championing high standards of monastic training. Among Western Buddhist centers, Dharma Rain has long been considered a leader in developing programs for families and children.
An obituary by Sallie Jiko Tisdale follows: