March 22, 2024
Remembering Caroline Meister


Caroline Meister


Update (4/30/24)

A Buddhist funeral for Caroline will be held on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 pm in the zendo at Green Gulch Farm. If you plan to attend in person, please fill out this RSVP form as soon as possible. Following the ceremony, there will be a reception in the Wheelwright Center and surrounding deck, and everyone is welcome to bring offerings of food, photos of Caroline, and other objects that you would like to share. You may drop off your food items in the Wheelwright Center before the ceremony, and changing rooms will be available for those who need them in the practice discussion rooms in the Cloud Hall basement. For those who can’t attend in person, the service will be livestreamed in the Online Zendo.


Update (4/23/24)

A Catholic funeral mass was held in Oak Park, Illinois on April 22 at 10:30 am at St. Giles Catholic Church. The funeral mass is viewable at this link.

At the 1:11 mark of the video, GGF Abbot Jiryu Rutschman-Byler gives a short talk on the meaning of Caroline’s Dharma name and reads her interpretation of the four Bodhisattva vows.


Update (4/11/24)

Caroline’s family is arranging a Catholic funeral mass in Oak Park, Illinois on April 22 at 10:30 am at St. Giles Catholic Church. A livestream will be viewable at this link.

An obituary for Caroline has been published in the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest.


Update (03/28/24)

As announced on Friday March 22, Tassajara resident Caroline Meister’s body was found after an extensive search and rescue effort. She had been missing for several days after not returning from a hike while SAR teams, working with the help of Tassajara residents, searched tirelessly for her.

Deep bows of gratitude for the outpouring of compassion and condolences for Caroline, her family, and the SFZC sangha. Grief counselors have arrived at Tassajara to assist the community in processing her death and memorial services have been performed.

A Buddhist funeral for Caroline will be held on Sunday, May 5 at 3:00 pm PT at Green Gulch Farm. The service will be livestreamed for those who can’t attend in person. More details to follow.

In addition, her family is arranging a Catholic funeral in Chicago; date and time will be made available once arrangements are finalized.

Tassajara Director Heather Iarusso shared an essay on Substack called “Everything Is Caroline.” You can read it here (Substack may ask you if you want to subscribe. You can select “no, thanks” if you wish to skip this step.) The article has pictures of Caroline, some art that she made, as well as images of the ZMC altar and the SARs teams that worked day and night to find her this past week. The article is up on our Facebook page as well.

Senior Dharma Teacher Paul Haller, who is leading the practice period at Tassajara, is interviewed in this news clip from NBC News.



Dear Sangha:

It is with great sorrow that we inform you that Tassajara resident Caroline Meister was found dead this morning. Caroline had left for a solo hike on Monday and never returned. Since then, countless crews and Search and Rescue teams have been looking for her in the wilderness surrounding Tassajara.

We are all deeply saddened and in shock. The sanghas at Tassajara, Green Gulch Farm, and City Center are gathering to support each other in the wake of this distressing news. 108 bells are ringing. Our hearts are broken.

Right now we don’t have much information. San Francisco Zen Center leadership is in touch with the local authorities and will share the details surrounding her death soon. Caroline’s parents are at Tassajara and it is comforting to know that they will receive the love and support of the community there.

More information about services and memorials will be posted here as soon as they are arranged.

Caroline’s Dharma name, which she received when she took the precepts with Abbot Jiryu Rutschman-Byler on June 5, 2022, is Sōshi Gōkon/Ancestral Kindness, Diamond Root.

Please join us in keeping Caroline’s family, her loved ones, and her sangha in our hearts during this difficult time.


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