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Gordon Greene:

I saw myself dead for the first time. As a Zen priest, we may think of ourselves as dead because death is embedded in the ordination ceremony. And, as a Zen teacher, we may think of ourselves as dead because that is embedded in koan training with our teacher. But that February night, I was walking into a large room in order to give a public talk and there at the doorway Ming had placed his portrait of me. I knew the photograph he had started with but this was my first time to see the finished drawing. In the portrait, my eyes were closed and the sensation was unmistakable - that is me dead. And it made me so happy, and still does to this day. Ming is one of the few people who has seen me as I am. But it is not just seeing, it is creating me as I am.

It is no coincidence that the subject of my talk that night was death, using my experience as a chaplain in a hospital to spark discussion of people's experiences with death. At one point Ming recounted his own powerful experiences with death - as a young man, seeing his dead father's face in a morgue, illuminated only by moonlight. Hearing this, I somehow felt doubly seen - those silver lines on a blue background, a face in the moonlight, you cannot say alive or dead. February 10, 2009

Gordon Greene, PhD
Head Priest, Spring Green Dojo/Rinzai Zen Temple in Wisconsin
C.A. Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison