January 10, 2023
Remembering Silas Hoadley
Suzuki Roshi with three students

Suzuki Roshi with three students; Silas Hoadley at far right. Photographer unknown.

Silas Hoadley — December 25, 1938 – December 13, 2022

Silas Hoadley

Silas Hoadley (2014) by Tim Buckley

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:

For Silas

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.


  1. Benjamin Barney

    Silas created a peaceful meditative Home Place for me in Lukachukai, Arizona, Navajo Nation. He remodeled my house, built a meditation room to my house and created his own version of the Navajo traditional Hooghan. Wanted to visit him as soon as isolation and cold weather ended … but now can visit him by watching his silver Buddha statute in my Solar Room … benjamin barney, Lok’aa’ch’egai, Arizona, Navajo Nation.

  2. isaac gardiner

    Last time I saw Silas was a few hours before he died. First time was when he gave me a ride to the first day long retreat I attended after coming to Port Townsend. He was the first person I met here. Roughly 17 years in between. Lot of work projects, lot of hours at the local ice cream shop watching him drink mochas “extra hot” and talk, all dharmas, couple of road trips to a jobsite 2,000 miles away, innumerable long weekend sesshins, lot of Silas stories. Few weeks before he died we were talking and he looked at me and said “They tell me my memory’s not very good. That the modus now.” Just taking it for what it was worth. All memories now.

    clear water is cool
    fireflies vanish
    there’s nothing more

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