Elizabeth Sawyer Remembers Alan Chadwick
Prasnaparamita, the Mother of All BuddhasCarved from a bay tree burl by Barton Stone and Elizabeth Sawyer at Occidental, California; completed August, 2013.
Elizabeth Sawyer was a Zen student, living and working at Green Gulch in 1979 when Alan Chadwick arrived there from Virginia, terminally ill. She soon became acquainted with Acacia Downs, Alan's principal caregiver, but other than that she had very little contact with Chadwick. Sometime in May of 1980 she was asked by the Zen leaders if she would look after Alan for a few days while Acacia traveled to a meeting of Chadwick apprentices and supporters that was being held in Santa Cruz.
Having anticipated something of this in a dream the night before, Elizabeth readily agreed to help out. When she began her duties the next day, however, she soon realized that Alan had specific ideas about how everything should be done. Recognizing that she would never be able to adequately fill Acacia's shoes, she just resolved to make the best of it without getting her feathers unduly ruffled when Alan should find her lacking.
It was this "Zen" state of mind that kept her awake and living in the present moment when an incident occurred that disturbed Alan and summoned up his wrath. Elizabeth was able to respond in a particularly enlightened manner that created the opportunity for an awakening moment and a catharsis for Chadwick.
In March of 2014, Elizabeth spoke with Greg Haynes at her home in Occidental, California, about that fateful confession and absolution at Alan's bedside not long before his death at Green Gulch Farm on May 25, 1980. (14:45)