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Bodhidharma Ron Allen

Ron Allen carried a huge Dharma name, Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was a legendary figure who carried Buddhism from India to China and marked the beginnings of Zen practice there. Ron Allen carried Buddhism into the heart of Detroit, embodying the “ Five Fingers of Zen.”

1) Always trust yourself. There is no truth outside yourself.
2) Always start from where you are right now.
3) Always believe in the infinity of your life and the world.
4) Always direct your thoughts and feelings toward what is good, what is noble, what is
5) Always meditate and pray for the peace of the world and the happiness of all beings.

Ron trusted himself implicitly and courageously, this trust led him to believe in himself as an artist and as a practitioner of Zen. His confidence offered a path for many others. I would not have entered the seminary without the example of Ron entering first.

He pulled his inspiration from the very moment, and in discussion with him it was clear that a true conversation happened with vital input from the ever changing present. He allowed no slack on this, prompting all to jump into the water of creative speech as it occurred to them now.

Ron was no small thinker, he manifested the universe as he spoke. His language broke out of the small world of human logic and into the beauty of infinite creation. Ron had a connection with the infinity of his process and this created an energetic beauty around his being.

Exploring the definitions of good, noble and true, Ron was exactly himself and relied on his own experience of the world to emanate these qualities. They contradicted any set pattern, they offered new gateways, they presented a challenge to the community to live in a goodness that wasn’t codified, a sense of nobility that came solely from knowledge of self, a willingness to let truth unfold, vital and unprescribed.

Carrying the world as one man, Ron wished for peace and happiness for himself, and what he wished for himself, he wished for others. For him, the knowledge of form and emptiness was visceral. He knew he was himself. He knew he was everyone. There was no question. It was all

Ron Allen with other Buddhists on couch laughing

This photo of us sitting on the couch laughing captures some of the joy that came from being together as a Sangha. It captures a certain intimacy that came from diving into serious spiritual practice together.

Ron was embodied by this word, intimate. He was intimate with his own inner workings. He was intimate with the world. I loved him so much. I still do.

Brahana Sarah Addae, 2023

This text by Ron appeared as an insert in The Tibetan Book of the Dead playbill. Click to enlarge/download