Silas Hoadley — December 25, 1938 – December 13, 2022
Silas Hoadley began practicing with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at Sokoji temple in the early 1960s. He was a founding member of San Francisco Zen Center at the time of incorporation in 1962. Silas served as President and Treasurer of SFZC and was instrumental in the acquisition of Tassajara as well as the purchase of 300 Page Street. He was priest ordained in 1970 by Suzuki Roshi and was Shuso in Fall 1970 at Tassajara with Tatsugami Roshi.
According to Silas’s dharma friend Ed Shozen Haber, he was close to Suzuki Roshi, who invited Silas to be his substitute in leading retreats in Canada. He was much liked and respected by Suzuki Roshi’s students.
After Suzuki Roshi died, Silas left SFZC. He moved to Port Townsend in the mid 1990s, drawn there by his friend Niels Holm (also an early student of Suzuki Roshi), who had built a zendo in his basement. Silas made his living as a carpenter. “Here in Port Townsend Silas became the de-facto leader of the local Zen community, leading one-day sittings and retreats. These retreats were always well attended.”
“Silas was diagnosed with progressive dementia about seven years ago. He dropped out of the local Zen community and reduced his life to just a few close friends. His dementia progressed very slowly but eventually ended his life.”
Appreciation to Ed Shozen Haber, whose words are quoted above.
For more information, photos, and an interview with Silas Hoadley, please visit his cuke.com page.
A poem by Steve Tipton:
In God we trust, let’s say, and ask
who else comes up along the way to join us
and become a friend for life, a companion
side by side on the road, face to face in the moment,
with good, sure hands, steady on the job,
agile at play. Swing that hammer, hit that ball!
Alive to joy, aware of loss, awake to care,
One to clear our mind, fill our heart, light our way.
The good man has no shape, some say,
and everyone is good in their own way–
a child of God, point of light, wave of wonder–
even if a little off, selfish or sleepy. Then
it’s time to go. Ready or not, we rise
to give our all, if we’re lucky or blessed,
with all the goodness, grace, and generosity
of spirit Silas shared with us in the flesh.
From Ed Shozen Haber:
I think Silas thought of himself as more of a facilitator than teacher. He would talk about how we were each other’s teacher, also that life itself was the big teacher. He gave dharma talks that were a bit obscure and often hard to understand. I would say that they were stream of consciousness without recognizable organization but often he would circle the same themes such as the nature of power and how it appeared in different social situations. Rarely did he speak directly about the Buddhist Teachings. He was still a student trying to figure it out. He was a good friend.