This summer, as many of you may already know, our dear friend and the former prior of the Portland Buddhist Priory passed away in her room at Shasta Abbey in the care of hospice and the monks; she was 81 years old. Rev. Master Meiko was ordained in 1984 by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett and was given the name Houn Meiko, which means “Bright Peace” or “Beautiful, Exquisite, Brightness” (Meiko) “within the Dharma Cloud” (Houn). Rev. Master Meiko received Dharma Transmission in 1989 and was certified as a teacher of Buddhism in 1991 by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett. In 1999, she was named a Master of the Order by Rev. Master Daizui MacPhillamy.
Rev. Master Meiko was originally from Burbank, California. Before becoming a monk, she worked, raised a family, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from CSU Sacramento in philosophy and communications. During her early time at Shasta Abbey, she worked in many monastic offices, including a turn as a monastic instructor, sacristan and as chaplain for the Bear River Meditation Group.
In 1997, just after Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett passed away, volunteers were sought for the position of Prior for the Portland Buddhist Priory, and Rev. Master Meiko stepped forward and was appointed. She was Prior in Portland for eighteen years. During her time in Portland, Rev. Master Meiko served a growing congregation of lay practitioners including a large group of Dharma school children and their parents and a succession of rescued German shepherds (and a few cats!). While she was in Portland, Rev. Master Meiko ordained Rev. Clairissa Beattie to the monastic sangha and practiced with and taught her and other monastics who were resident at the Portland Priory over the years.
Rev. Master Meiko worked tirelessly to maintain and restore the temple’s aging building, overseeing the re-siding of the building; adding a wheelchair accessible ramp; working wonders on the landscaping and overseeing the building of the outdoor Kuan Yin pilgrimage shrine which serves as a guest room.
At her funeral at Shasta Abbey this summer, the following appeared in a ceremony booklet:
In 2015 Rev. Master Meiko ﬁnally returned to Shasta Abbey where she again became a pillar of the monastic sangha, serving in the Bursar’s office and ﬁlling in to help wherever she was most needed. The light of her selﬂess compassion burns brightly and will continue to do so into the future as a shining example for countless beings. She was a monk for over 37 years. With deep love and appreciation, we offer our gratitude for her life and wise teaching.
We at the Portland Priory owe her a deep debt of gratitude for her steadfast, energetic and bright offerings and we offer merit for her benefit, wherever she may be!
Reﬂections on Walking the Path
Rev. Master Meiko Jones
(This article first appeared in the Portland Buddhist Priory Newsletter, March, April, May, 2002.)
Choosing to walk the way of Buddhist practice, we are invited to join others of the past, present and future on the journey of a mystic, to set foot on a path unfamiliar to us, a pathway whose dimensions none of us have known, to simply take one step at a time without really knowing where we are going. It is to face the unknown with an open heart, without any apparent support, with no promise of anything. Just the way ahead, the way within, an internal traveler who walks away from the pleasures of the world step by step and journeys deep into the recesses of his or her own heart-body-mind, alone.
Embarking on this inner journey, we find the Teachings point us to use right mindfulness as a compass, to bring careful attention, astute observation and clear seeing in living the present moment. We do this through our meditation, allowing what is in front of us to arise, without judgment, opinions or ideals, not to hold onto it, and then offer it up as it passes on away. Within this, our resolve is to be ready and willing to meet any hindrance or obstacle that should arise in our path with our wish to be awake and present. This practice asks much of us: a deep commitment to Preceptual living, perseverance and radical patience, to continuously come back, time and time again to the present moment, to what is in front of us. Honor it and allow it to pass away.
Each one of us comes to Buddhist practice accustomed to quick satisfaction, getting what we want and being in control of things. These ways of being will no longer work as we begin to walk the Way. In fact, in our choice to follow the Teaching comes the choice to not do things in the familiar way any longer, no more business as usual. We commit ourselves to taking one step at a time without really knowing where we are going and are willing to do this over and over again. Listening carefully, we find there is That within that is willing and we must respond to this, to have the faith to surrender to what is before us and in doing so allow the way of self to be dissolved without wanting it not to hurt and to simply sit there within it entering what I have heard referred to as a spiritual holocaust. Some say this is becoming a spiritual warrior, I would say it is simply being an honest human being, being quite ordinary in our sincere wish to live truthfully and with little harm. And through this offering, the heart softens, as do the preferences interestingly, we find we do not have a whole lot to do with it except to continue following the Teaching. We meditate, bringing careful attention and Preceptual awareness to each moment as it presents itself.
And though we are alone on our journey, we are not alone. We walk together with those who have previously walked before us. We walk with those who continue to walk the Way this day. This being said, gratefully I invite you all to join me, join the family of Buddhas and ancestors in making the journey inward, embracing the mystery and awe of it all.