Remembering Robert Aitken (1917-2010)
Robert Aitken, one of American Zen’s great pioneers, has died.
Aitken was brought to Zen in great part thanks to time detained in Japanese internment camps (due to his presence as a worker in Guam at the start of World War II). In one such camp he met R.H. Blythe, whose presence and scholarly work would have a life-changing influence on Aitken.
Aitken would go on to become a Zen teacher in the Harada-Yasutani lineage of Zen Buddhism, and to co-found Honolulu, Hawaii’s Diamond Sangha. His own influence, as seen in books on Zen practice and ethics like Taking the Path of Zen, Encouraging Words, and The Mind of Clover, would become widespread. Aitken also dedicated himself to social justice throughout his life and work, as one of the co-founders of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and a stalwart voice of social tolerance and healing.