Friday, August 30, 2013

Toni Packer's Passing: Her Contribution

Toni Packer passed away a few days ago.  She was an important figure in Westernizing the wisdom we have received from the East.  In 1981, she and a group of others established a meditation center in Springwater, New York, an hour south of Rochester.

Significantly, although Toni's meditation teacher was the director of the Rochester Zen Center, Phillip Kapleau, this new center did not bear the label, "Zen," but was simply called "Springwater Center."  A number of changes from the traditional Zen forms were instituted, the most important of which, from my point of view, was the elimination of hierarchy.  They didn't even use the term "teacher" (although looking now at the Springwater website, I see that they do, probably because, after all, one has to call someone who leads a retreat something, and "facilitator" doesn't quite capture nature of the role).

In 2007 I spent two weeks at Springwater.  My teacher was Adyashanti at the time, and I was not looking for another path, but I was really interested whether and how it might be possible to have a spiritual community based in the Eastern wisdom without hierarchy.  I had a wonderful time there and was pleased with what I saw.  There are regular meetings of all of the residents and decision-making is consensual.  I think this is a model of a good direction for meditation-based spirituality to go in the West. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get comments from readers who want to mutually explore Truth as we at the same time remember that the words are just fingers pointing...