While I do follow both music and Buddhism (and how the two sometimes mix together, as you’ll see in my article about just that in our next issue), I was definitely surprised to learn today that there’s a punk band who took its name from John Daido Loori, the pioneering late founder and abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and the Mountain and Rivers Order. The band is taking a break as of this past summer; after the jump you’ll find a track called, appropriately enough, “Buddhist Priest,” as well as live video from the band’s last show before its hiatus.
Some fair warning: despite this band’s name — as you might guess — any act that describes itself as “screamo” and/or “hardcore” is not going to be making music that conjures the stereotypical “Zen” feeling of some sort of calm, quiet minimalism. Also, there will be cursing.
Though defunct, you can hear more of them on their Bandcamp page.
As for why Daido Loori have named themselves that, I reached out to them to and see if they might share the story. First, drummer Charlie responded, and let me know that the band is not broken up, as I’d reported in an earlier version of this post:
“One of our vocalists, Isabel, studied under Daido Roshi if I’m not mistaken. I’ll get her to get in touch with you, and explain a little bit more.
“Also, we’re not broken up! We’re on a hiatus, as our members go to school all across the East coast, but we’re putting out a new track very soon, and hope to tour over the summer.”
Next, I heard from Isabel:
“Hi! My mother was a student at Zen Mountain Monastery and a lot of time in my childhood was spent there, as well as my parents’ wedding and my baptism. Daido Loori was a significant influence on my mother’s spirituality as well as my own. When I was a small child, he taught me many values that have inspired me to this day. He was just as much of a friend as he was a teacher. I named the band Daido Loori in homage to him.”
And there you have it.
As for John Daido Loori, the Zen teacher: though he passed in 2009, he remains an important figure. To learn more about him, you might wish to get started with our 2001 profile of him, “Zen’s Radical Conservative,” and “The Great Way,” a classic teaching by him, as published in Buddhadharma.