July 18, 2018
Remembering Jordan Thorn
Jordan at Greens Restaurant. Photo by Shundo David Haye.

Jordan at Greens Restaurant. Photo by Shundo David Haye.

Shokan Jordan Thorn
January 13, 1953 – June 10, 2018

With great sorrow, we announce the passing away of Shokan Jordan Thorn. Jordan was a constant warm presence at San Francisco Zen Center, welcoming and caring for students, staff and employees, visitors and Board members, and overseeing many areas of SF Zen Center practice and administrative operations.

Posting on cuke.com by David Chadwick.

We take refuge in Buddha, we take refuge in Dharma, we take refuge in Sangha.

From Scott Wren:

I met Jordan at Green Gulch in the late ’80s. I was new to practice and he had returned to Zen Center after living for a number of years in Berkeley. I remember the time I first heard him in Reb’s Book of Serenity class. Somebody erupted in laughter. The sound was big and expansive. Fresh and lively. Nothing was being held back. You could feel the breadth and depth of it.

Flash forward a few years: I was on the San Francisco Zen Center Board, and Jordan moved to City Center. I was chair of the Finance Committee and Jordan became Treasurer. We worked closely and shared our love of practice and sitting together. We also soon discovered that we shared an interest in wine. Eventually we started a tasting group that met a couple of times a year for dinners and tastings. To say Jordan liked to drink wine would be true, but would miss what I came to appreciate was the main point of his appetites. Jordan loved everything in life. From food and wine to sci-fi and sports—he embraced it all. He often struck me as the modern day equivalent of Zen bon vivant and poet Ikkyu, who famously wondered, “Why is it all so beautiful, this fake dream, this craziness. Why?”

Jordan didn’t waste a lot of time trying to answer such “why” questions. He was too busy enjoying and sharing his life with friends and students. I found him to be a wonderfully inspirational dharma friend and teacher. I’ll never forget one lecture he gave a few years back where he invoked Spiderman as a model for Zen practice. After all, Spiderman was just an ordinary, slightly weird guy who developed super powers. So he started saving people. No big deal. Just doing what came naturally. Nothing special. But, in fact, it was very special. Just like Jordan.

I count myself as very, very lucky to have known Jordan and I loved him dearly. He wasn’t bigger than life—he was life itself.

Jim Fitton with Jordan after his jukai initiation ceremony in April 2012.


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