Orbiting Dicta

Death of a Jesuit Zen Master

Earlier this week I noted with sadness that William Johnston, the wonderful Irish Jesuit and long-time resident of Japan, died on October 12th in Tokyo at the age of 85.  Bill was a pioneer of inter-religious dialogue and the author of a number of superb books on Christian mysticism, especially the interplay of Christian spirituality and Zen.  His 1971 book Silent Music became and remains a classic in the field, not least because of his discussion of the scientific study of meditation comparing Zen and yoga practitioners with Christian adepts.

I was privileged to make a retreat with Bill early in my professional career and in 1985 met him again in Tokyo, where we spent a delightful afternoon and evening together touring the city and exchanging insights.  I was especially happy to share a birth date with him.

He will be greatly missed, but his accomplishments will endure and his memory will be blessed around the world.

Here are some links about the life and death of this wonderful man: